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Staring Down Cancer

Christmas on Chemo

This new chemo is a nightmare. You all have been so kind by sharing tips on controlling mouth sores, but I still cannot stop getting them. I went down to half a pill. It has been a week and I now have six sores on my tongue, all in the baby phase. I have rinsed with salt water and steroid mouthwash. One person suggested I use neosporin, another reader, abreva. It is so frustrating because nothing I do seems to keep them at bay. They are tolerable now if I eat soft foods, but if they get bigger - like they did last time - I will have to go to a liquid diet. For all of you out there who are in the same boat, do you just live with the sores and settle in to a liquid diet? How far should I go before I cry uncle?

I am at one of my lowest points. I want so badly to tolerate this drug because it is really working on my liver metastases. I am sad about my kids coming home from college and me not feeling well. I want to run around with them, go to movies, visit friends. But between these sores and my low energy…who knows?  I did get the Christmas tree up the other day, and that was good. My son comes home from NYU tonight, and I wanted him to feel cozy and Christmas-y. The rest of the family gets home on the 20th.

I gave this chemo a second try and had to stop by Thanksgiving because of mouth sores. If you can believe this, that was the first time I have been cancer drug-free in 10 years. My doctor wanted to wait until the sores healed before I went for my third try at a lower dose.   I could not believe the energy I had. I could work all day, come home and immediately take the dog for a nice walk. It was so weird. Normally, I walk in after work and am fried. All I can do is feed the dog. Walk him? No way. Then I would spend the evening feeling guilty that he is not getting enough exercise.  At that point, I realized that with cancer drugs, I am operating at about 60 percent capacity, and that really pisses me off. That is so hard for a type-A girl like me. There are so many things I want to do. I am curious and friendly by nature. Sitting around and watching TV is not me. I am a girl on the go and always have been.

Instead of intense sadness, my mom said last night that I should focus on the fact that I have made it 10 years and keep up the hope and determination to live many more years. But, she reminded me that crying is one of the best releases in the world and to never suppress it. I agree with that. Unfortunately, I can never time those crying jags. They can come any time. This week, after lunch with a girlfriend and a good hug, she said, as always, "I love you." The tears just kept coming. The rest of today I will focus on the excitement of picking up my son at the airport and making his favorite dinner...chicken, mashed potatoes and peas. Thank you for caring enough to write me and give me guidance. It takes a village!

Noreen Fraser is living with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer. She is the Founder and CEO of the Noreen Fraser Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to funding groundbreaking women's cancer research. To stay in touch with Noreen, please 'LIKE' The Noreen Fraser Foundation on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.  Noreen can be contacted via email at noreen@noreenfraserfoundation.org.