My heartbreak at the Third Chemo

It's time to update ya'll on my cancer progress.
I don't know why I've been avoiding this post.
It may have something to do with having to share of my heartbreak, which makes me relive it.
Anyway, here it goes.

Chemo session number 3 was brutal.
I attribute that to a few things:
1. Heartbreak
2. Anxiety
3. Bad diet and exercise (attributed to the heartbreak and anxiety)
4. No mental preparation.

One of the things I mostly pride myself during these past months of world-changing news and lifestyle was the fact that I, after battling for 30 years, had finally stopped biting my nails. I mean, I even stopped before losing Sammy and after cancer news, surgery, and first two chemo rounds.
Chemo number two was wonderful. The side effects were minimal. I got to share time with new friends, Nory and her daughters.
And then it all spiraled down so fast I found myself unable to control my urge to bite my nails during a barbecue at a friend's house infront of all my friends.

We had a terrible loss.
We had a rat visitng the garbage in our backyard. My father-in-law uses a deadly mice venom that attacks the nervous system which has no cure or antidote. He thought he controlled where the poisoned food was. He did not take into consideration where the rat would move this food.
Our dear Alee ate some and lost her life after a two day battle. I'm just happy Kaylee didn't put anything in her mouth. Can you imagine? I've since asked my FIL to change his methods to less dangerous. This is the second pet in his house to die of this reason.

At 1:00 am I woke up from her unusual barking.
I found her with my father-in-law trying to calm her. She was convulsing.
I begged him to take her to the doctor's. She came back at 2:00 am with a catheter to give her an inyection if she convulsed again.
It was reckles of me to care for her, but I couldn't stop thinking of my girls losing their beloved puppy. At 3:00 am she puked which made me really happy. After this, she started regaining strenght and even seemed normal. I cuddled her all night until at 6:00 am she convulsed again.
I rushed to wake my FIL to give her the shot. Emmalee woke up at around this hour when I came out of the shower.
"Go back to sleep, baby. It is still not time to wake up," I said.
"It's ok, mommy. You don't have to play with me. I'll just go outside to play with Alee," she replied.
My heart broke so badly.
"Alee is very sick, Honey."
I had never seen that worried look in her eyes.
"Is she throwing up?" she asked.
Poor thing still had her food poising fresh in her mind.
"Yes, baby. She is."
"I want to see her."
At this time, Kaylee also woke up and asked in her lovely toddler voice "Onsta Alee?" (Where's Alee).
I knew Alee was still sedated from the shot, so I took them both to where she lay and allowed them to pat her once.

At 8:00 am she was taken to the vet.
The vet said that if she didn't stop convulsing, he would have to sleep her. I asked him at 1:00 p,m how she was doing and he said she had convulsed two more times. He said that as long as she was sedated, she was not suffering and we could wait one more day.
I called the next day with no hope in my heart.
And then the doctor gave me great news: Alee had not convulsed since I had last called.
We could pick her up and bring her home.
I was so hopeful I brought Emmalee along to pick Alee at 1:00 pm.
At the doctor's office Emmalee did what she had always done when someone was near her precious puppy: She introduced her.
"This is my sister Alee," she would tell those entering the house with Alee jumping at them, and she did with the people on the vet's office too.
My heart was breaking more.
She loved her "sister"
The doctor instructed me to bathe her and try to get her to eat.
I gave her a warm bath and tried to feed her some chicken.
She wasn't having any, so I went to blend it to feed it with a syringe.
When I came back with the food, Alee started making a noise like a cry and threw up blood.
We rushed back to the vets. Emmalee was upset she couldn't come with.
The doctor said it was probably due to a med he had given her and gave her a countering shot.
I left feeling it was not the last time I would see Alee.
As I was leaving, she gave me this look like saying "Don't leave me." I hugged her and told her she'd be fine, that we were both going to fight and survive this.
I called at 5:00 pm and the doctor told me Alee had passed. Turns out that when I left, she couldn't breathe, so the doctor had to intubate her. When he did, she started spouting blood everywhere. She had severe internal bleeding and nothing could be done. She had died shortly after I had left.
I tried to explain her passing to the girls.
I sat them and told them their puppy was not coming back. They didn't understand.
Kaylee kept asking the following days "Onsta Alee" and Emmalee kept telling people her puppy was at the doctors, even though I kept explaining she was not and was not coming back, The girls didn't seem much affected.

It was until we went to my friend's barbecue that I knew how Emmalee felt. My friend Meli had a puppy that resembles Alee a little. Emmalee grabbed the puppy's blanket and put it around the puppy. She hugged her close to her face and whispered to the dog: "Don't eat anything bad. Don't throw up so you won't get ill like Alee."

The girls with Mely's dog October 2014

I went to the kitchen and cried my eyes out. After dinner, I couldn't help biting my nails despite my husband's complaints and demands of me stopping.

Around that time, Emmalee has been coming to my bed each morning asking me if I am sick.
I tell her I am, but that I will get better before her birthday.
To this she always gives the same reply: "And then we'll go to Panama?"
Sweet darling dreams of going to Panama. She can't see a plane go by without telling me that's how we'll go back to Panama.

I had a yeast infection, which both my oncologist and my gynecologist said would be common during my cancer treatment. I went to have it checked and used the opportunity to get a pap smear.
The test came back with an Atypical squamous cell (ASCUS) result. The gynecologist sent me the result via Whatsapp with a recommendation to get a colposcopy. I googled colposcopy and read it is biopsy to find if I have cervical cancer. I broke up in tears and panic. Crazy panic! I call my mom with desperate tone that left her worried sick. "Tell me where to go, which doctor?" I asked. She sent me the name of an oncologist-gynecologist and my husband rushed me there. I entered his office in tears. He tells me not to cry. He looks at my results and examines me. He tells me he has 30 years of experience and promises I do not have cervical cancer. He even says the ASCUS will probably go on its own and the other gynecologist should have never done the pap test with an active yeast infection. He is very reassuring, and I leave his office in peace after moments of complete despair. He will see me again before my fourth chemo to repeat the pap.

The lady at the public hospital that schedules the appointments had given me the wrong date for my appointment. The doctor's note said the appointment was for the 13th of June and she gave it on the 15th. The 15th was when I was supposed to have my chemo. Nothing could be done. I would have to go to the appointment on the 15th to get the prescriptions for the third chemo and have it moved one day to the 16th. When I got there the 15th a sign in my doctor's door read: Doctor Pineda incapacitated; go get a new appointment. I went to this heartless lady to ask what I could do. She said my doctor was sick and was giving appointments until the 20th. "What about my chemo? I should be getting chemo today!" I pleaded. "I can't do anything. Go ask oncology pharmacy," she replied as if I had told her I wasn't getting my flu med without even squinting.
I started crying and went to oncology pharmacy.
Normita, head of the pharmacy, told me not to cry because she would help me get my treatment. She checked my blood test and said I could receive chemo. She said she would get the prescriptions from another doctor and I could have my chemo right away. She even got me an appointment with this doctor so that she could write the prescriptions for my fourth chemo because it was unlikely that I would get an appointment with my doctor before that time.
I was not mentally prepared for chemo that day, though I was very happy I would not be delaying my treatment a single day.

The horror! This chemo round felt like fire in my veins. It stung badly. By the end I begged the nurses to let my husband in to tend for me. "Caress my head," I asked. He was caressing it with one hand while holding his phone with the other. "No Honey, put that thing down and caress me with both hands. My head is on fire."
The effect was immediate and relentless. For the first time since surgery we had to move the girls to sleep in my in-laws' room. My headaches and pain were so severe I was making the bed shake. When my husband couldn't find a way to comfort me or make me stop moaning and shaking, he hugged me tight and I could feel him crying.
After this, I got an infected abscessed toe for no reason, and a weird inflammation on my left arm. I thought it was lymphedema so I wore my arm compression sleeve. Turns out it wasn't lymphedema and the sleeve made the swelling worse.

I went to the oncologist-gynecologist appointment for the pap test. My mom was in town at this time and came along. He became very worried because my arm looks like bacterial cellulites. He told me I need to see an infectologist right away and I need to be on antibiotics for my toe as well. He won't be doing the pap test until I am better. He urged me to see my oncologist. I told him he is completely booked at the public hospital after his sick days but I was able to get an appointment with him at his private practice later that day. While he was talking to me, I asked my husband to go see if he can get an appointment with an infectologist in the same hospital ASAP. My husband was able to get me an appointment for 3 pm that day, but I have to be at the public hospital at that hour to see the new doctor to write my fourth chemo prescription. I begged her secretary if there was another time the doctor could see me, but she said no. I went back in with the onco-gyn who was doing a check up on my mom. When we come out, the secretary (bless her heart) rushes to meet me to tell me the infectologist will see me right away. He had finished with his morning patients early and wanted to help me out.

The infectologist happens to also have a dermatologist specialization so I beg him to treat my toe. He told me my toe was too swollen and the anesthesia would not hold and I would be in a lot of pain. I told him I didn't care; I was willing to withstand the pain. If that toe was not treated I wouldn't get chemo. He agreed to treat it. I asked Rodolfo to take off his belt so I can bite on it. I was glad I did. The anesthesia shot was terrible to endure. Mom said the doctor used plenty to spare me from the pain of draining the abscess. He did well as I felt no more pain as soon as the anesthesia's effect kicked in. He says my arm is not cellulites but an allergic reaction to a bug bite. He gives me prescriptions for antibiotics that will cover both my arm and toe.

After two doctor's appointment that day, I went to the public hospital to see the new doctor for my prescriptions for chemo #4. She was late to her afternoon appointments because one of her patients passed away. I was supposed to go in at 4 pm, but at that time she was on the patients of 3:00 pm. It's 5:00 pm and my appointment with my primary oncologist is at 6:00 pm. I beg the next patient to let me in as I am just going in to get prescriptions because she is not my treating doctor. He agrees (bless his heart) and lets me in. We make in time for my 6:00 pm appointment.

Dr. Pineda checks my blood work and my arm and toe. He says my arm was an allergic reaction but it could easily turn to cellulites. He tells me he wants to move my chemo two days back. I don't even argue with him. I did not feel mentally, emotionally, or physically ready for another round. The two days could get me closer. My heart was heavy; my body was broken. I was also able to tell him my BRCA 1 came back positive. He tells me when need not worry about that right now and I follow his advice.

It was such an exhausting day I barely held my head up to go with mom to my grandma's house to cut a cake for mom's birthday. Mom's birthday was the next day, but she was going back to Panama that day as well. She comes into my room in the morning. I am so beaten I can't hold my head up. She prays with me before she leaves for the airport. I barely get a "happy birthday" out before she is gone and I drift back to sleep. This was a Tuesday. Chemo #4 was on Friday.

I am happy to report Chemo #4 was almost as good as Chemo#2. I had minimal to cero side effects. I finished my last session with Doxorubicine and Ciclophosphamide, which possed the greatest threat to burning my arm if they permeated my veins. My right arm is aching terribly from the inside burns in my veins. I think I did better on Chemo#4 because I was mentally ready for chemo, had had more days to rest, and was recovering from lossing Alee. Also, I did more exercises and coupled it with better dieting. I will let you know of my diet in an upcoming post.

Thank you for reading my cancer journey. Thank you for keeping me in your prayers.
Please pray for a serious case of insomnia I'm experiencing right now.
Pray for tolerance to the new diet which has depravation symptoms.
Pray for some neuropathy symptoms I've been experiencing. These scare me because I will be starting my next four chemo sessions with Docetaxel and Carboplatin which are more toxic and produce more neurological side effects. These scare me the most as they take months after chemo to cure or can become permanent damage to my nervous system.
Pray for my cognitive function. I can barely think straight or remember anything.
Pray for my heart. I've been experiencing clinical depression due to being sleep deprived and from the never-ending fatigue. I am not taking meds for this as it is still not serious.
Thank you once more.


  1. Linda, I can't stop reading your blog. I think I've read even like the really old ones! Bless your heart, I keep you in my prayers and your family and every single thing that revolves around your family and the ones you love.

  2. Linda..I happened to run into your blog a few months ago and I identified so much with your loss of Sammy as I too was grieving the loss of my baby. Your words really touched my heart and helped me survive the most difficult time of my life. It has helped me remember to put my faith and trust in Him even if all seems lost. I have continued to read your journey and you are a true servant of the Lord and your life is a testament to His greatness. I want to let you know that you matter more than you think and that your life has a purpose..His purpose and that your words have had an impact in my life. Thank you for sharing your heart! God bless!

  3. Trust over Fear

    "Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe" (Proverbs 29:25)

    Fear is one of the enemy's favorite tools to keep us from going forward in our lives. As soon as we make a decision to step out in faith and do what God is telling us to do, immediately the enemy will bring fear. He'll put thoughts in your mind like, "What if I fail? What will others think? Maybe I don't have what it takes." He'll do his best to use fear to try to convince you to shrink back and just stay right where you are.

    The Bible tells us that fear is a spirit. It affects your emotions. But when you choose to put your trust in the Lord, no matter how you are feeling, you are combating fear.

    Today, I encourage you, don't allow fear to trap you and hold you back. Instead, take a step of faith knowing that God is on your side. He is for you and with you, leading and guiding you in the path of victory all the days of your life!

    "Heavenly Father, I choose to put my trust in You. I choose to press forward and overcome fear. I believe You have my best interest at heart and know that You are leading me in the paths of righteousness all the days of my life. In Jesus' Name. Amen."