Sunday, May 16, 2010

Finding Chemo

this is me, pre-chemo

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming.

First and all the credit for today's title goes to Husband. That was good. Real good.

Hey, were are almost up to real time folks! Wow. Today is Sunday. I started my chemo last Friday. Here's how it went.

I sit in the chair. I have my tinkerbell tote bag filled with all the things recommended you take with you to chemo.

Lip balm. Check.
Blankie. Check. My tink blankie.
Book or Magazine. Check. Grace Kelly.
Ipod. Check. My nano.

Comfy socks. Not yet. Got to get those. I have 5 different snuggly socks, all with no mate. Where do those socks go anyway? That is what the aliens are after you know. That is how they plan on making us go mad and destroying us. They are taking us down, one sock without a mate at a time.

Nausea meds and super Pills. Check. In addition to what they will give me by IV, I have four additional prescriptions. I have lorazepam, an anti-anxiety and anti-nausea med. I have Prochlorper, a stronger anti-nausea med. I have my lidocaine and prilocaine cream for my port. Last I have one bottle of medicine with two pills in it. Cash price of these two pills if I did not have prescription coverage? $240. My co-pay? $30.00 when it's usually $10 for a month supply of something. Wow. That's must be like the truffles of medicine. They will review with me today how I use all of these.

Peppermints or some kind of mint for dry mouth. Check.
Neckroll pillow. Need to get that.
Bottled water. Check.

They also say don't ever take your chemo on an empty stomach. I haven't eaten since dinner the night before as required before surgery but I have packed a few snacks to eat as soon as they plug me in: a banana, a cheese stick, some watermelon, and some cranberry juice. I eat the cheese stick.

So here I go, drum roll please. My chemo nurse, Kitty, doesn't have to stick me, they left the needle and outside port in me, so I am ready. She says the first several bags are all nausea meds for chemo. The last two, one that will drip about twenty minutes, and the other an hour, are the actual chemo drugs.

I don't think I've told you yet what my chemo regimen will be. It's called AC-paclitaxel:

doxorubicin (dox-oh-ROO-bi-sin) or Adriamycin® (a-dree-a-MY-sin)
cyclophosphamide (sye-kloe-FOSS-fa-mide) or Cytoxan® (sye-TOX-an)

These are the two drugs I will start with, given together, every two weeks, for four courses. So a total of eight weeks on these two. Also, the day after chemo and the day after that I will take the super pill, the expensive one, called Emend. It is a powerful anti-nausea drug. Also, the day after my first chemo treatment, I will be receving a shot of a drug called neupogen. This helps when the chemo kills my bone marrow. I will have to go to the cancer center each morning to receive the shot, seven days in a row.

paclitaxel (PAK-li-tax-el) or Taxol® (TAX-all)

This drug will be given to me for 12 weeks, on a weekly basis.

So 20 weeks of chemo folks, count em. This is what they hope this regimen will accomplish for me: reducing my tumor size and cancer cells in my body, and more importantly, reducing the risk of a recurrence at some later point.

This is a breakdown of the party they are throwing for me. I just have to show up:

1) 5 months of chemo. I am hoping that sometime during that I will be able to return to work.

2) A month or so of rest.

3) Surgery to remove what is left after the chemo. Looking like a left mastectomy for me.

4) Rest a bit after that surgery then another dose of chemo with radiation.

5) Rest again.

6) Last phase, breast reconstruction surgery to fix Flopsy and give Mopsy a makeover to match Flopsy.

All in all with treatments, surgeries, and rest periods, my calendar has been cleared for the next year. It is possible though that I will be able to return to work, once I get in the swing of things. (please oh please oh please oh please)

Anybody wanna do lunch? Read me a story? Pat my bald head? I'm available.

Photo0229.jpgOk, where was I? They plug me in, I get started. No biggie. I am still feeling very loopy after the surgery and my incisions are hurting me. Husband steps out to buy me lunch. We eat a bit while I am still plugged in.


Photo0203.jpgI finally get to the last two. Ok, here I go. The first one is a red bag, looks like Kool-Aid. The second one burns a little going in. After those are done they hang a bag filled with saline to flush my port and tube out. I am done.

I am exhausted. I can't believe I am finally on my way. I can't believe this day is finally over.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

We are heading for home, I actually finished early, arriving home around 3pm.

I get in my bed. My bed. My bed. So far nothing really, just a little shaky. Then a lot shaky. Then I notice my hands aren't working right. They keep freezing on me. Like I grab something and my hand won't come out of the grab. This must be the neuropathy they were saying is a chemo side effect. Tingling and numbness in the hands and feet.

My phone rings. It is Kitty, my chemo nurse. Right on time. I am relieved to hear her voice. "Hi, just checking on you. How's it going and you want to keep Fridays as your chemo day, right? I am making you a calendar."

I tell her about my increasing shakiness and my hands. "Have you taken a vicodin yet that they gave you for after your surgery?"


"Ok, take a vicodin, and go ahead and take the lorazepam. This will help you after the rough day you've had, it's an anti-anxiety medicine with the extra benefit of helping counter nausea that may be coming. Take care hon. Call us if you need us."

I do it. Awhile later, I feel much better. I am wired, even though I woke up at five something I don't fall asleep that night till two something.

I am thinking about my day. I am thinking about my life. I am thinking about the people I love. I am golden hair covering my pillow. I close my eyes.

If we want liberation, we must rewrite the Sleeping Beauty myth. No one is coming and no one else is to blame.
- Elizabeth Lesser

I'm going to have to save myself.


I hate that.

Tink gets chemo

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