hello from the other side…….

Yes! It’s me!! I am alive! I logged on to my Caring Bridge site and saw my last post was January, my bad…. turns out chemo, cancer, doc appts, scans, etc all SUCK and take up lots of time and energy. I promise not to stay away for so long again!

Yes! I’m on the other side. The done with chemo side! Chemo chews you up, spits you out, tears you down, runs you over, backs up and runs you back over, runs you over again, you get the picture. On January 31st I received my last AC infusion. Boy was I glad to kiss that shit goodbye. I’ll be happy if I never see bright red medicine in a GIANT syringe ever again! I started my Taxol journey on February 14th. Yes, Happy Valentines Day to me. Good thing I had Gordo there with me that day to make everyone laugh. Taxol, although it doesn’t cause the nausea and extreme feelings of death had it’s own set of problems. After my first infusion I got chemical burns on the backs of my fingers and lips and blisters all over the tops of my hands. To combat this in the subsequent weeks I cryogenically froze myself (yes, just like Austin Powers) by chomping on and keeping my hands in Sonic ice during infusion. This helped! I then started developing a crazy rash that was on my heels and elbows. At treatment number 5, the docs said this is getting cray and cut my dose by 20%. They promised me that it was still effective up to a 30% dose cutting, so I trusted and we kicked it down a notch. All my symptoms got SO much better! I was cruising along till Taxol number 9 came along.

April 11th I went in for number 9. It’s strange how life gives you routines. As weird as it was, I was in my groove. Drop off the kids, pack my chemo bag, pick out my crappy sugary snacks, get my ice, have a friend pick me up, laugh at my eyebrows (or lack there of), drive to the hospital, check into the cancer center, have my port accessed, wait for blood work to come back, get excited over white blood counts and hemoglobin numbers, and start the meds dripping. Everything was cruising along as it always does on infusion day. I met a super sweet chick on my third round of AC that was getting her first infusion. We instantly became fast friends and have looked forward to sitting next to each other and bitching about cancer, chatting about our kids, sharing how to draw your eyebrows on and not look like a cholo tips, what craptastic snacks we each brought for the day, etc. Jeni is a nurse and boy am I glad she was there on this particular Tuesday.

Not long after the Taxol started dripping, after all the pre-meds, I started to feel weird. Apparently, I turned BRIGHT red and it was traveling up my body. Jeni yelled to Derek, our fave chemo nurse, and he came running. The rest was a pretty big blur for me, but they had their crash cart box, epi pen, H1 blockers, and lots of other “life saving” meds. I felt my heart racing like it was about to explode and apparently that’s exactly what almost happened. They pumped me up with a bunch of meds and steroids and almost instantly I felt better. As fast as my body went up, it came down. Very confidently Derek came over and said “oh, we’re gonna finish this bag today.” I just looked at him and said OK, but was thinking WTF?! They gave me some saline and were ready to go again. As soon as it started dripping again, it happened again. By this point, my Oncologist has sprinted down the hall in her heels and all the nurses were crowded around. Everyone declared NO more!

Apparently, it’s not out of the normal to have a reaction. But to have it twice, that never happens. My body gave us 2 warning shots to tell us it was done. Being who I am, I was not OK with this answer. The doctors all told me I needed 12 of these treatments and dammit 12 was what I was going to get! My oncologist and Derek urged me to listen to them and their concerns about how dangerous it would be to go forward with more. Taxol’s scariest side effect is cardiac toxicity and clearly I was wadding in those waters. I told them I would think about it and see them next Tuesday.

This Tuesday I came back with my mind made up that I was done. I had been given two second chances with this shit and that may be all I get. A couple things Derek told me that day sat with me. #1 Jeni saved my life. Had she not been a nurse and sitting by me I may not have gotten help in time. (thank you sister!) #2 He has had two patients who had the same thing happen, they tried again and they went to the ICU then later died. At some point the treatments are no longer healing and are dangerous and I have hit that point.

I rang the “all done with chemo” bell on Tuesday and man that felt amazing! Every time I saw someone do it during infusion I envisioned my turn up there to ring it, it was all the feels for sure!

So, what’s next for me: surgery. I am all set to have a double mastectomy on May 3rd. Dreading the hell out of this, but will also be happy to have this hurdle behind me. As a woman who breastfed all three of her babies (for a total of 46 months) I am mourning the loss of the sisters. But alas, they have cancer in them so they need to get the hell out! Bye Felicia.

Some highlights over the last few months:

-my best friend came to visit from CO (twice!)

-Tennyson lost her first tooth! (the tooth fairy passed out on the couch after chemo and forgot her job duties–thankful for sweet children imaginative minds and last minute scrambles)

-The bigs and Garrett went on our yearly family ski trip to Steamboat–the kids tore up the entire mountain

-Beckett turned 5!!

-we went back to MDA for a check up and they confirmed tumors are shrinking and I was having a great response to chemo (main tumor down 52%, lymph nodes show no sign of disease, and all the small tumors gone!)

-my hair is growing back! bright white and super soft and fuzzy just like a little duckling

Thanks for the continued flow of love and support to me and my family. We are all so appreciative! I would also like to give a special public thank you to my amazing husband. I have not been the easiest person to live with or love lately (thankfully the anger stage has passed for now) and he doesn’t back down. He doesn’t go anywhere. He’s just there, like a rock of love lifting me up higher than he ever has. I love you babe, with all my heart.

 

 

 

18 Comments

  1. Renee Thompson
    April 25, 2017

    Sweet Erin, I was so happy to hear from you! I thought of you when I read this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. “What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you (Bravery)!” Love and hugs, Renee

    Reply
  2. Tricia Hernandez Jones
    April 23, 2017

    Wow, Erin! What an amazing woman you are! And funny on top of it! Hope I can meet you in person some day! Sending you so much love and will be thinking of you on May 3rd especially.

    Reply
  3. Nancy Diaz Lemmon
    April 21, 2017

    I love the fight in you and how you refuse let cancer keep you down. So thankful for you and your loving family. ❤️❤️❤️

    Reply
  4. Deb Lowrey
    April 21, 2017

    I have no words through my tears. You are an amazing person, Erin Braswell Gibbs!

    Reply
  5. KathyW
    April 20, 2017

    Erin, you are a friggin WARRIOR! I’m amazed by you. Love to you and the fam.

    Reply
  6. robin kiggins
    April 20, 2017

    ok, 3rd time reading this fucking amazing story, and i can finally wipe away the tears enough to comment! cancer auto response: buh bye now. you are a chemo warrior and LOOK OUT… ERNIE’S BACK. :::some diva hair flip / hand wave / hip pop. thank you for sharing your story, and journey with us, you have such a circle and tribe surrounding you with love. i am so happy i got to come to texas not once but twice, and sista, for you, there’s no place i wouldnt go. i love you i love you i love you.

    Reply
  7. Adelle
    April 20, 2017

    Sending you sooo much love, blessings and healing energy! ❤❤❤

    Reply
  8. Annie Frost
    April 20, 2017

    You are SO strong!! I’ll be thinking of you May 3rd and will send extra healing energy your way ALL day! ❤️❤️

    Reply
  9. RoseAndSteve
    April 20, 2017

    HOLY CRAP ERIN YOU ALMOST DIED TWICE!! Your job is NOT done on this earth sweetheart! You are such a fighter! And so funny too…byE Felicia! Don’t you worry. Soon you will look back at ALL of this & say: It’s over & I was true badass cancer fighter who won!! We love you guys! Xoxo

    Reply
  10. kirsten
    April 20, 2017

    finally!! an update. Joss and I were just wondering when we’d get another good update, so thanks to you, lady!! happy tears from here for sure! 🙂 miss and love you todos los dios, badass mama that you are.

    Reply
  11. Kim Smith
    April 20, 2017

    You are an inspiration, Erin!!!! Congrats on this huge step. We knew cancer didn’t stand a chance against the Gibbs fam! Sending love and healing wishes through this next step (for which, 46 months is an inspiration, too!!). They served you and your kiddos well!

    Reply
  12. Linda
    April 20, 2017

    Oh my gosh, you are awesome!!!

    Reply
  13. Alliso. Sharamitaro
    April 20, 2017

    Hell f’ing yeah!!!! You’re such a soldier. Thanks for being so strong and so funny and keeping us updated. Sending you and the family love and light always!! xox

    Reply
  14. Peggy Verner
    April 20, 2017

    I love you, Erin! Such a happy day! You continue to amaze❤️

    Reply
  15. Kiley
    April 20, 2017

    Erin you are an amazing human being! Your strength is so inspiring! Keep pushing sister, kick cancers asssss!!!!

    Reply
  16. Tanya Hobart
    April 20, 2017

    Sending you love, hugs, and strength!

    Reply
  17. Chelsea Lietz
    April 20, 2017

    You are a badass. Our love and prayers continue for you and yours.

    Reply
  18. Brooke Hinton
    April 20, 2017

    Tears tears & more tears!!! With you for the WHOLE journey my love!! Love you so much! Your strength & humor through all of this is astounding! So amazed by you. So honored to call you a BEST friend & sister!!!! XxxxO

    Reply

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