Sunday, October 24, 2010

So Chemo Goes Like This...

Since I last wrote I have undergone my first chemo treatment.  I have also met with my radiation oncologist, whose job it will be to radiate the heck out of me after surgery, but first things first.  Chemo goes like this:  the nice nurse tells you that she's going to "access your port."  This means sticking a needle where the perfectly skilled surgeon had just placed a chemo port a few days before (In case you're wondering, as I had been, a chemo port basically looks like a raised round spot under my skin -- not terribly visible).  It had only just healed, but never mind.  Luckily, that's as bad as the needles get.  All of the medicine goes through this one spot.  First they shoot in some anti-nausea stuff and allow it to work for 30 minutes.  Next comes the Adriamycin, which caused Aaron to remark "oh, it looks like Hawaiian Punch!"  A nice thought, but one look at the nurse administering the drug completely covered in plastic so as to protect herself from the drug, and you remember that cancer is some nasty business that requires some equally nasty drugs to bring it down.  The final medicine is the Cytoxin, which takes the longest to administer.  All together, the whole chemo process should take about 2 hours.  I say should here because my first chemo session took much longer due to computer problems.  (I told them I was fine with waiting and receiving the correct chemo cocktail as opposed to not.)  Luckily Aaron was there to wait with me, give me soup, watch Sports Center with me (Go Rangers!), and the whole process didn't seem that long or bad.
Now for the side effects:  The first day I felt great.  "This whole chemo thing isn't so bad", I thought.  A huge box of Omaha steaks had just arrived on our doorstep, courtesy of the wonderful in-laws, and Aaron had offered to grill something yummy.  My appetite was good, and the steak divine.  Then came the following day.  It started out alright with just a little fatigue, but slowly progressed into "I just don't feel right"-land.  Aaron took me to the hospital for my Neulasta shot (to make my white blood cell count rise), and while I was there the side effects started to take hold.  I rode back to the house with my seat reclined, thinking, "just a couple more minutes..." the whole way.  (How lucky are we, by the way, to only live 15 minutes from a world-renowned cancer institute?  Very, very lucky.)  So we made it home and I found I just could not get comfortable.  Stretched out?  No.  Scrunched up?  Not a chance.  Walking around?  Too tired.  Basically this turns into a lot of me whining with a very confused husband (poor fella).  I spend the next couple of days sort of nauseated, pretty tired, and all together uncomfortable.  I take my drugs and try to sleep.
It goes on like this for most of Wednesday and Thursday (chemo was on Tuesday), and Friday I feel a bit better.  Also helping my spirits, the aforementioned in-laws came to town.  It seems they couldn't trust their son to make all of the delicious steaks on his own ;)
So by now it is very early Sunday morning and I'm feeling the most like me since Tuesday night.  Granted, I'm up writing a blog at 4:15 am, but I can always take a nap later.  It's what we call "cancer time."  I'm operating on cancer time now, which means I can walk out of room mid-sentence if I think I need to take a nap or a breather.  Let's hope I don't abuse this too much.


  1. Thanks for sharing, Joyce. I'm glad you've had lots of support during this first round of chemo and that you were able to enjoy the steaks before the post-chemo ickiness set in. Your positive attitude continues to be inspirational.

  2. One down!
    Yes, chemo time it is. Combine that with Southern time and you can take as long as you need to for anything!
    Glad to hear you are feeling better.
    Hang in there, there is a light at the end,