Fall allergies while on chemo

Cleaning up Yard during AutumnEarlier this week I noted there wouldn’t be any real post that day due to not feeling very well and my brain fog being too thick. For the last few days it has been hard to put thoughts together and breathing has been very hard. Luckily today I seem to be back to normal and believe it was in fact fall allergies which took me down for the last few days.

One thing I love about our home is that we have a lot of old trees surrounding the house. Of course that also means a lot of leaves. Sunday of this week was a very nice day. It was slightly cool, but there was no wind at all. This was perfect for one last time to clean the leaves in the yard. I spent a few hours in the afternoon with my leaf-blower and hauled a full pickup load of leaves to the dump site. Not only did I feel that something was accomplished by removing all the leaves, I also got some good exercise in.

It didn’t occur to me at the time to worry about my fall allergies. I am already taking Claritin every day. I partially take Claritin to combat fall allergies; and partially to combat the side-effects of certain drugs I am taking; more specifically Claritin helps battle the side-effects of Neulasta and Xgeva. Even though Claritin does a fine job of keeping fall allergies at bay, it does have its limits. I apparently found those limits by using a leaf blower to shoot a lot of allergens into the air.

I didn’t exactly have my normal fall allergy symptoms. Typically during fall I get a runny nose, my sinuses feel plugged, and my head feels like it is going to explode. This time I had a little bit of a runny nose, but I don’t believe my sinuses were clogged at all. My head didn’t feel like it was going to explode either. Instead I had a harder time breathing and I just felt “off”. Additionally my brain fog seemed to really get thick. I just couldn’t put any thoughts together at all. Finally today, four days later, I feel almost back to normal (well the new normal for me being on chemo).

This morning I was in contact with another cancer patient going through chemo. She has a similar experience when doing yard work. To combat this she has to take a shower immediately after doing any yard work and ensure she doesn’t come in contact with the clothes she was wearing again until after they have been washed. Additionally if she has done something like raking she will put the blue mask on. That day I did not take a shower until the evening. Now I know to do that right away.

Now that there is a light layer of snow on the ground hopefully fall allergies won’t be an issue. Furthermore, if my treatments go right I hopefully won’t be on chemo come spring when I have to worry about allergies again. Either way I now know my body definitely reacts differently to fall allergies than it used to. I guess it’s just one more thing to watch out for while on chemo.

Got my bone shot today

20815350Every four weeks I have to get a shot to rebuild my bones. This is due to the fact my cancer has spread from my lymphatic system and into my bones, known as bone metastasis. The drug I take is called xgeva, also known as denosumab. In this post I will briefly blog about what xgeva does.

Xgeva (denosumab) is a drug often used to treat osteoporosis and hypercalcemia. Recently it has also been used to treat bones which have been weakened by cancer. Since my cancer has spread heavily to my bones I am at risk for bone-related injuries. Actually I probably already broke or fractured a pinky finger last month. My pinky is mostly healed now, although I am still waiting to lose the nail. Hopefully this xgeva shot will help prevent any further bone injuries and reduce the bone pain I am experiencing.

How Xgeva works is pretty cool. There are cells in our body that continuously break down our bones and other cells that continuously rebuild those same bones. The balance between these cells doing their work allows bones to be healthy. Certain conditions such as cancer in the bone marrow throws this whole system out of balance and bones can become too broken down. Xgeva is basically an antibody which interrupts the proteins that break down the bones. The benefit of this is the bones are allowed to be rebuilt and be strengthened.

I had my first xgeva shot on my second round of chemo, which was exactly four weeks ago. Every four weeks I will continue to have xgeva shots. So far I haven’t had any noticeable side-effects from xgena. I believe the pain I feel in my back has been going down, possibly due to my xgena injections. Hopefully this round of xgeva will bring my bone pain down even further.