Thursday morning arrived with unwavering reliability. The alarm went off. There was no cosmic “just kidding!” to derail me from the path that I had forcibly been placed. I ate a breakfast bar, took my second dose of steroids, some vitamins, a Xanax, and frosted the skin over my port with numbing cream.
It’s all about perspective and distraction. I decided to rename the event from “chemo #1” to “my engagement ring showing party”. It would be the first time that Brian and I saw our moms since getting engaged. Better to focus on that, I decided.
We arrived at the cancer center and I got checked in. I had some blood drawn. Then we sat down with Dr. C to discuss any last minute concerns. I love Dr. C. Her primary focus is never on cancer, but on life. She forces cancer to take a back seat to the big, important events that make up a life. She has never once allowed me to be intimidated by disease. She happily took part in my “ring showing party”.
Before we were done, Dr. C shared some recent research with us. It turned out to be exactly what I needed to hear. It has been found that there is a correlation between attitude and side effects of chemo. People who view chemo as poison that will harm their body typically have many more unpleasant side effects than those who view it as life saving medication. And with that, I had decided to remain positive and imagine these drugs seeking out and destroying any unwelcome invaders.
The four of us gathered our luggage, and moved to our permanent location for the afternoon’s festivities. I got comfy on the big recliner (with heat and massage options… very Zen, very spa-like) while the nurses helped squeeze 2 more chairs into our cramped quarters. I changed into my aloe infused fuzzy socks and covered my body in a warm blanket.
My nurse came in and introduced herself. She was wonderful and caring and promised to explain every step along the way as I received my first round of medications. At that point, my port was accessed for the first time. So much of this cancer stuff makes me feel like a robot. I got plugged into the IV and she began administering my pre-meds (benadryl, steroids, fluids). Before long I was sleepy from the benadryl, but there was just too much happening around me to fall asleep. The cancer center always feels like an airport. People rushing around to their respective terminals.
Judy came prepared with a lovely picnic lunch for all of us in the luggage that she had packed. We ate sandwiches and snacks. I brought a bridal magazine and a travel neck pillow.
After all of the pre-meds had been administered, it was time for Taxotere. My nurse triple checked my medication and then suited up to give it to me. I was warned to pay attention for back pain, itching, and throat tightness. I braced myself to feel something, but nothing ever happened. No allergic reaction. No pain. No discomfort. Just the four of us sitting around, having a picnic.
About an hour and a half later, the Taxotere bag was empty and circulating through my body. Time for Cytoxan. Again, I braced myself to feel something, but all I felt was normal. Thankfully, chemo #1 was very anticlimactic.
After it was all over, we went our separate ways. Brian and I went to pick up my newly colored wig, get my ring sized, and go have some dinner. Chemo didn’t slow us down that day.
Friday, my mom and I returned to the cancer center for hydration (to help with symptoms) and Neulasta (to boost my white counts).
It is now day 3. The day that everyone says you should start to feel the symptoms, and I can honestly say, it’s not so bad. I’m tired. I’m lethargic. My stomach feels slightly disturbed. My body is achy from the neulasta, but it’s nothing I can’t handle.
It’s definitely easier when the unknowns are brought into the light. It’s easier when you have an army of family and friends wishing you well and praying for a speedy recovery. It’s easier when you have love to lift you up and guide you forward.
1 down. 5 to go.