Neupogen; Why Sometimes You Can’t Go Home For the Holidays

There is a new kind of terror lurking in my chest. It sets my heart to a manic pace just thinking of it.

Neupogen. The little leaflet that comes with these injections says that a majority of people don’t experience severe side effects. It also says that your doctor has chosen this drug for you as the benefits outweigh the potential side effects. For four days in a row I was instructed to self-administer these shots to boost my white blood cell count. White blood cells are your immune fighters in the blood stream. If the count dips too low, you are a wide open target for any foreign invaders that might be lurking around.

With each weekly Taxol treatment my WBC keeps taking a nose dive. The first time this happened, my doc decided to skip treatment and wait a week until counts rose. It’s strange to feel disappointed about not getting a chemo treatment. The fact is, we’re on a NASA level countdown right now. I had it all worked out in my mind that the last treatment would be right before New Year’s, and would be the period to the end of a terribly structured sentence. Alas, timing is one more thing out of my control. So now we’re pushing into January…

After the dip that followed the next Taxol treatment, I began my first round of Neupogen. Let’s start by saying that you’re already pretty beat up by the chemo. 24 hours later the injections began and for me the bone pain was by far worse than the chemotherapy.  What is happening is that these shots are stimulating the bone marrow to grow new blood cells. This forced growth causes the bones to expand slightly. With each movement or cessation of movement, there was a shock wave up my spine so terrible that I had to grip the wall, doubled over in pain. Imagine this scene while trying to do things a mom would do… like ease a 4 year old’s tired meltdown. Tylenol didn’t even touch it. There was no escaping my body.

I am a little itchy with worry over what that blood count check will show today. I hope treatment will proceed. (Aside from dragging this out, treatment may not be as effective if the schedule isn’t kept to.) I hope my counts are good. Last Thursday’s fever landed me at the doctors with more blood work and antibiotics. Say a little prayer and see lots of those good white blood cells swimming around.

SO… Dear Family and Friends, I politely excuse myself from the Holiday festivities this year. I miss you. I have cabin fever, HOWEVER… Where once I was all mind over matter, and immune to your colds and flus, I find that I must now hunker down in the bunker with my Thieves, my antibacterial hand soap and hand sanitizer. Maybe you can Skype me in over the Turkey.


8 thoughts on “Neupogen; Why Sometimes You Can’t Go Home For the Holidays”

  1. Hang in there, sister. This too shall pass. I had to take Neulasta injections once a week…kicked my butt worse than the chemo. But for me, it was worse in the beginning of the treatments (I had pain like back labor or an elephant kicking me at the base of my spine, right in the middle of the Hudson Valley Mall) and got less bad with each treatment. Sending healing thoughts and prayers your way, as always.

  2. blech. That sounds awful. So sorry. Liz took the neupogen a few times when she was getting ready to donate her stem cells to her sister last summer – I remember the achy bones though I imagine it must be significantly harder when you’re reeling from the effects of the taxol already (and dealing with a 4 year old.)

    hang in there.

  3. Thinking of you and the family/ husband and son and sending Love! Relax into their arms and into their Love whenever you can! Many of us are hoding yo all from near and far! May more ease come and may your white blood cells, warriors that they are, rally and help you to heal!

  4. Seeing you whole, beautiful and healed in my daily prayers for you. You are love and beauty and all that is good. I picture you as all that each and every day.

  5. Hi Melissa!
    Just wanted you to know that I am thinking of you ☺

    Hoping that the WBC’s were elevated and another chemo treatment knocked off the to-do list. Sending love and healing energy your way!
    Please give my love to Joey and Julian too.


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