My first meeting with Dr. Simpson I had explained about some pain I was having when I was breathing. I also informed him how I had this pain before in fact it sent me to the hospital the Christmas eve prior. Since I was having a very similar pain and being diagnosed with cancer I believed these weren’t a coincidence. By telling him this it made him change the scan he requested. Instead of getting an MRI, I was now getting a full CT. To me it was just a scan I really had no idea why the change.
September 6, 2017 I arrived at Dekalb Imaging to get my CT scan followed by a heart echo. At the time of the CT I believed it was to tell if the cancers had spread to any other body parts. The heart echo was to determine if my heart was strong enough to handle my medications in my chemo cocktail.
September 7, 2017 I had surgery for my port placement. The port is basically a way to infuse the chemotherapy drugs, take blood or other medication without the multiple needle sticks. It reduces the risk for muscle and tissue damage. It made sense doing a port but at the same time I was very weirded out by it, and honestly, I still am. The surgery itself wasn’t bad at all. It felt like it took seconds to be honest, I’ve never had surgery before so perhaps this was just how things work. The surgeon left it accessed since I was going to be receiving chemo the next day. Yes, everything moved that fast. I still wasn’t sure how the port worked or what it would look like without this bandage on. All I could see was this big bandage on my chest. What I mean by accessed, which I understand now but didn’t then, they had the needle stick that attach to the tube that would be later connected to my IV drip. Obviously I’m not a medical professional so I don’t really know the fancy terms this is my way of describing it. I was told the cancer center would disconnect it after chemo.
So remember how Dr. Simpson changed his mind on the type of scan after I told him about the pain? Shortly after I got home from surgery I received a call from the hospital saying I needed this medication (Lovenox) and I had to start it tonight. Now, I had just had surgery my aunt had dropped me off and was on her way home. I am still out of it and I’m telling the lady on the phone I had no way to come pick this medication up. She was like, oh no someone will be bringing this medication to your house. First of all I didn’t even know that was a thing. She goes on how I have to inject this into my lower stomach every 12 hours and to begin tonight. Looking back I am sure she explained what the medication for and why I had to take it. What I would find out the next day was I had a blood clot in the vein going into my liver. These shots were blood thinners.
My original treatment plan consists of four chemo drugs infused every three weeks for a total of six treatments. In a previous post I discussed the drugs I would be getting and my hormone properties of each of my cancers so I will not go back into that.
September 8, 2017 this was the day I feel it truly began. The reality of cancer and how my life would never be the same. I was now a cancer patient.
As I arrived for my first treatment I had no idea what to expect and I was a mix of feelings. Part of me was anxious mostly cause I didn’t know what to expect and also I was just ready to begin.
The first treat was very long, it ended up being an 10-hour day from getting there and having them draw my blood, meeting with Kelli the PA and then going into the infusion room. My infusion center isn’t big maybe 15-20 chairs which are recliners. They have pillows and warm blankets available if you want them. Once they got the all clear on my bloodwork they start with a steroid bag which is about a 20 minute infusion, next up is the Benadryl bag which is also about 20 minutes followed by an anti-nausea bag also 20 minutes. These are precautionary to prevent any allergic reactions. The first infusion is so long because the chemo drugs are infused at a slower rate and then they wait a certain amount of time after to make sure there are no allergic reactions to it. What comes next is once the onsite pharmacy is done mixing your drugs they are brought out to the nurses’ station. Two nurses come over to the chair. One is holding the bin with all your chemo drugs in it and the other has my chart. The one holding the chart looks at my wristband while having me tell her my name and birthdate, then the other nurse reads each drug and the rate of infusion to the chart nurse who verifies each drug. Then the chemo drugs start. It wasn’t like I thought. The Benadryl made me sleepy so I may have napped a few times, the drugs themselves I didn’t notice much except one of them toward the end of the bag made me wicked hot. After they were all through they put my Neulasta that will disperse approximately 27 hours later. This was to help boost my white blood cells post chemo. Then I was on my way home.
I felt alright the next day in fact I went to lunch with one of my friends. That night was when the Neulasta shot was dispersed. I had to reach out to my neighbors to help me verify it was empty since I couldn’t see whether the line was on empty so I could remove it from my arm. It was that evening that I started feeling off. I went to bed and when I woke up Sunday morning I felt like I had the flu. I did manage to get up, let my dogs out and feed them. I moved from my bedroom to the couch and I just slept. I had never been so tired in my life. Some of what else I felt was very much like the flu, my body ached, I had a low grade fever, my throat was in so much pain and my hair hurt, yes hurt no other way to describe it. My dogs are the best they curled up next to me and my oldest would nudge me awake when they had to go outside. They were also great when I would get up to go to the bathroom, they would walk me there and then walk me back to the couch. I barely drank anything this day and did not eat anything. Sometime Sunday night into Monday morning my fever broke and that helped a lot. Now by no means was I functioning this day, however, I was able to respond to messages I received Sunday. I still was having problems with my throat and mouth developing sores throughout it. I did manage to force 40 ounces of water down that day. Now remember I was use to drinking at least a gallon of water a day so this was a big change for me. I also ate that day. I made myself a grilled cheese, something I had no eaten in forever. Actually through all of this I would begin to eat things I hadn’t eaten since I was a kid. Maybe it was a comfort thing or just easy to eat or I could actually taste it. I still slept most of Monday away. On Tuesday I would attempt to go to work but that was short lived and went home shortly after arriving. Tuesday’s feeling would be best described as being hungover without actually having a fun the night before. I was still having a lot of mouth/throat pain so I was barely eating and drinking. I lost 11 pounds that week. When I got to the doctors on Friday they prescribed me something for my mouth since I had developed something call thrush, which is quite painful and thankfully the only time I ever got it. I believe this was the reason I lost so much weight that week. When it cleared up I kept eating grilled cheese and mashed potatoes since that’s what I was craving. I put the weight back on. Two weeks after my treatment I finally got back to doing my cardio again, which consists of my spin bike. This treatment would be the longest I went before getting back into my cardio routine. I also would travel on one more work trip after this treatment before deciding I would not travel until chemo was finished in December 2017. Cancer was beginning its takeover of my life.