Chemo…the good, the bad & the ugly

Lady Deadpool update:

We are now firmly entrenched into Kayla’s treatment regime.  Every day:

  • 2:00   Anti-nausea drugs (Ondansetron)
  • 3:00   Chemo (Temodol)
  • 4:12    Radiation  (with weekends off)

An Oncology visit & bloodwork on Mondays and a visit to the Radiologist on Thursday.  Throw in some alternative treatments and that’s her week.   When you factor in my schedule and all of Tyler’s activities,  it’s no wonder I’m tired :)

She has also started a new semester back at school, which means a whole new course load, new teachers and classmates. Admittedly there are days of overwhelm where the fatigue, side effects and wear & tear of all her treatments take their toll but overall she is doing well – she is a marvel.

What’s up with Shannon?

Yes, those really are needles sticking out of my eyes!  Sometimes the cure seems stranger than the problem...

Yes, those really are needles sticking out of my eyes! Sometimes the cure seems stranger than the problem…

It’s time to give a wee update about me. I am also on daily oral chemo (gefitinib) and overall it has helped to decrease the bone pain which is obviously welcomed!  And compared to my IV chemo 12 years ago, this is a walk in the park.

That said, I will not minimize some unpleasant side effects.

Hair gains & losses
You may recall, my first oncologist sent me off with visions of Rapunzel locks “Oh, you’ll have lovely hair growth, particularly beautiful eyelashes”

Though a wonderful breast cancer doc, he was clearly not fully versed on this lung cancer drug.  As the literature states, it is aberrant eyelash growth.  This does not mean lucious…it means my eyelashes are growing INTO the eye.  At first it felt like I had sand in my eyes, however over time has worsened and now contributes to swollen stys and the painful feeling of having things continually scratching & poking my eyes.

When I told my acupuncturist about this, she knew exactly what I needed….to stick needles in my eyes!  “Seriously?!!” However, I completely trust her so I agreed to the procedure.  And strangely enough, it really does help.  It seems slightly insane yet many things about this journey are ever bordering on the bizarre.

Now, back to the hair growth
Does anyone remember the 80′s movie, ‘The Fly” where Jeff Goldblum slowly turns from a man into a fly.  I often feel like I’m living that scene where he wakes up and finds aberrant hairs popping up in strange places on his body.

Oh yes, every morning is an adventure to see how much more my new moustache is filling in.  And sadly the only Rapunzel-like hair growth I’m experiencing is in my nose hairs. And how about those knuckles.  arg

All the while, my head of hair gets ever thinner – my wee ponytail is now the size of my pinky.  Sheesh, this is humbling :)

Skin issues
One thing that Oncologist A did say that has come true is that it messes with your skin.  Here’s the medical description “pustular rash, sometimes itchy with dry skin, including skin fissures, on an erythematous base.”  Translation: zits.  Ahhh, a nice addition to the moustache & puffy, red eyes….

Potential Lung/Liver issues
Oh I could go on ad nauseum about many side-effects (sorry, I already have) but I’ll end with a positive note.

I consider most of what I am experiencing as unsightly & uncomfortable inconveniences.  The critical side effects they are watching for are a) Interstitial lung disease or b) serious havoc with my liver.  After having contracted auto-immune liver hepatitis from my initial chemo 12 years ago, this is one of their biggest concerns.  If either of these things occur, I will be taken off the drug.

I am checked monthly and so far, my liver enzymes are only slightly elevated so I soldier on.

Thank you
And soldier on, we do….with the help of the most amazing support system imaginable.  I cannot say enough about how much it means to us to have your love and support.

  • Thru your prayers, emails, cards, blog comments, flowers, voting for us to win Oprah tickets (we won, yay!)…
  • Thru practical offerings of delicious food, driving, snow removal, playdates with Ty, gifts, sending cleaners in, planning fundraisers, contributions to the Carpe Diem Fund, ….
  • Thru sharing of time and talents be it rewiring chandeliers, re-plumbing bathrooms, capturing our journey through photos and video, making jewelery from our prayer beads, setting up websites
  • Our amazing healing community.  Doctors, surgeons, nurses, techs at both ACH and the TBCC who treat us so incredibly well.  And our many alternative healers  – acupuncture, energy work, massage, therapists, yoga, homeopathics, naturopathic medicine … amazing.

The list is TOO endless to mention but every nite when I slip into sleep, it is with a spirit of gratitude for how widely we are blessed.  Thank you!

Now off to admire my moustache…. :-)

Carpe Diem!

About Shannon Duke

I'm Shannon Duke and I’ve combined my business skills with the wisdom that literally saved my life and have built a system that redefines success. Today I am passionate about helping you achieve life-fulfilling and life-enhancing success in both your business & personal life. Read My Story


  1. Shannon, you are ever graceful, meeting life head on, challenges small and gargantuan alike! The popular vision of grace seems to be one of conventional beauty, everything moving smoothly and effortlessly along. We know that true gracefulness is accepting what comes and moving forward with love and purpose. You are the epitome! Love to you, Kayla and Tyler! <3

  2. Karen Thorsteinson says:

    Your honesty, sense of humour, patience and perservance through all of this inspires and astounds me. I am truly in awe of your strength. I will continue to pray for you and Kayla and Ty. I wish you all the best. Never give up!!!

    You are loved!!!

    Karen, Kris and the family Thorsteinson

  3. Hello Friends of Shannon and Family,
    We are currently collecting items for a silent auction to be held in several months. If you have anything you would like to donate – please send me a note… [email protected]

    Thank you.

  4. Your name should be Grace!! You epiomize it with every breath you take and every moment that you share with us. I know that it cannot be easy for any of you and that there must be times (especialy with that moustache ;) that you feel very graceless – but you, Kayla and Tyler are such inspirations and embody grace to all of us who watch in amazement at your strength, courage and attitude. All of my love to all of you!!

  5. Michelle Richardson says:

    My dear friend, thank you so much for the update about you. Ever candid, real, and inspiring in your perspective and approach to everything you and your family are going through. Know that my love and healing energy (and that of my family) are aimed squarely in your direction. Michelle oxoxoxox

  6. Diana Izzotti says:

    Another amazing peek into your lives – thank you Shannon. You live with such passion and humor. A prayer for healing light and peace each day at 4:12 is being extended to both you and Kayla. xx

  7. I remember reading your story just over a year ago after I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in Calgary. I thought, if Shannon can do it, I can do it. The wonderful doctors in Kalispell, Montana diagnosed me correctly six weeks later as a recurrence of the advanced ovarian cancer I had 18 years earlier. They have been my primary care team ever since. I still think, if Shannon can do it, I can do it. And I pray that youand Kayla both will overcome this.You are both such an inspiration – you are awesome.

  8. Shannon, again you find a way to be real and share the perpetual ups and downs, inconveniences, pain, and gargantuan issues and simultaneously make me laugh, weep, and feel inspired! You absolutely must be exhausted, just getting through a day and yet you live through each moment as it comes. NOT easy, the FURTHEST THING from easy!!!….and you do it! BIG HUGS!! TO YOU, KAYLA, AND TYLER!!

  9. Cassie Head says:

    You both are so strong, and have so much going on, yet you still manage to make us laugh. (I did like the “zits” part,) Hope the liver enzymes stay good, and that the drugs do all that are supposed to do. Our love to you, Kayla and Tyler, and all our prayers, too. Cassie and Jim and the Washington prayer group. :0)

  10. Joan Winther says:

    I just read the latest shannon news.
    I don’t know how to send her comments like other people do–will you do this for me?

    Shan, you are the most remarkable person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing –no kidding, your updates are so interesting, it is unbelievable anyone going thru the trauma and pain that you are can still find humor and good things to tell us–as opposed to what the rest of us would be saying “Woe is me–me hair is falling out and me eyelashes are falling in, and I need some sympathy”.

    Keep up the great attitude!!

    Love Joan

  11. debbie zimmel says:

    When I sit here and read your blog, your overwhelming challenges, the loving and supportive comments, I marvel at the dignity, strength, honesty and love you and the kids continue to have. Thank you for keeping us updated and allowing us to walk this path with you and your wonderful kids. Our thoughts and prayers are always with you. Much love dave, debbie and girls. xoxoxoxo

  12. Darling Shannon!
    Thinking of you, Kayla and Tyler everyday with LOVE, SUPPORT, and PRAYERS!!! Always!!!

  13. Barb Myers says:

    Wow Shannon!
    What you and your family are going through is unimaginable, even with your very descriptive account of your journey. What an inspired and amazing writer you are. Kayla is actually going to school through all of this? That is beyond incredible! I do read your blog frequently and it actually leaves me speechless every time – no idea how to respond. I’ll just say that you are all in my thoughts every day and I continue to send you positive vibes by the millions! Butterfly of Hope will be walking for you in the Relay for Life events across the country in June and in the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers in August and September. Until then, keep up that amazingly positive spirit and tremendous sense of humour.
    Butterfly Hugs to you, Kayla and Tyler,
    Barb Myers

  14. The Stepan's says:

    Keep up your good work in getting better, staying so strong and positive through it all.
    Our prayers and thoughts are with all of you.

  15. Sam Bryden says:

    So glad to see that your sense of humor is still going strong. Laughter is good for the soul. I hope that you and your kids continue to find joy and laughter everyday. Keep soldiering on my friend.
    Xoxox Sam

  16. Diana Izzotti says:

    Beautiful, beautiful! Once again you’ve shown cancer that it may have broken into your house and tried to take over, but not a chance! I love the shave party idea. Kayla looks like she might be having just a tiny bit too much fun giving you a mohawk. There is only love, hope and healing in that whole exercise, and I applaud you all for celebrating life. You make me smile. Love and prayers, Diana xx

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