The Day I Almost Died

This post is about events that happened on September 29, 2017.

If that title doesn’t get your attention. I don’t know what will. The reality of cancer is the treatments for it are extreme. They poison, burn and cut. Not much has changed in the way of how they treat cancer. Keep in mind my posts are about my experiences through this whole cancer journey. Everyone responds to treatments differently. If you are facing a breast cancer diagnosis or a loved one is remember I am more like the exception not the rule.

The day before my second chemo treatment September 28, 2017 my mother flew down to take me to it. I felt I had to get through the first one to know I could handle it before she could see me go through it. The morning of treatment September 29, 2017 everything was normal. I woke up and did 30 minutes on my spin bike before heading into treatment. Everything was going normal, well as normal as having cancer at 36 could be. I got to my cancer center and they accessed my port and they took my bloodwork. Then we met with Kelli(PA) in another room to go over how I was feeling and then mom and I were off to the infusion room to picked out a chair where our day would be spent. Soon enough we were off and running with my steroid bag followed by the Benadryl bag and finishing with my anti-nausea bag. The next part was when the nurses came out to verify the chemo drugs. This time since I had no adverse reactions during the first treatment they would be infusing them at the normal prescribed rate. Up first was the Perjeta, a HER2 targeted chemo drug, last time was a 90 minute infusion and would be a 30 minute infusion today. I was thinking this is great it’s not going to be another 10 hour infusion day. This was just about when everything went wrong. About 8 minutes into my infusion I told my mother “something isn’t right”; “I don’t feel well”. Then I began tasting it in my mouth, I was standing up to get the nurses attention and my chest was getting tighter and breathing was becoming very difficult. Around this point I was back in my chair not sure if I collapsed or what, then my entire throat closed up. I have never experienced anything this scary in my life that I can recall. I was in and out of consciousness, I could see everyone scrambling and I remember Selena, at the time I didn’t know who it was, lean over me and say I’m so sorry and stab my leg with something and another nurse shot something into my IV. I was hooked up to oxygen and was having all my vitals being taken. At this point I felt I had like 10 people standing around me shouting out numbers talking about the ambulance is on the way. I was slowly coming back to alertness and my doctor was telling me it’s going to be okay. I was being told I would be leaving in an ambulance to go to the ER for observation, this part was beginning to freak me out and I think they could see this and I was reassured this was all precautionary after an anaphylaxis reaction. When the gurney and firemen came into sight I was becoming aware of what was happening and I started to realize I was leaving my mom alone to take the car to the hospital. By no means do I feel my mom isn’t fully capable of finding the hospital, however she just witnessed all of this. I remember asking Selena to input the address into her cell phone so she wouldn’t have any distractions or frustrations. Mainly frustrations. I was also told treatment was suspended for a week and I would not be getting this medication any longer.

I had never been in an ambulance before so this whole experience was a first. They kept me on oxygen and kept asking about the drugs I was on and ones they administered and why I was on certain things. I was trying to explain they give the steroid, Benadryl and anti nausea medications as precautionary to prevent an allergic reaction, clearly unsuccessful with me. I realized they probably didn’t get a lot of chemo patients and weren’t aware this was common practice for the multiple chemo drugs treatments. I have always referred to these chemo infusions as my hard chemo just for future reference. I did learn when you come to the ER in an ambulance you get right in. I was brought to a room and hooked up to the wall, ok it was some machine that would take my blood pressure every 30 minutes. This was when I asked for fluids since they had taken mine when I got in the room and I still had my port accessed. That nurse told me she would check with the doctor and get back to me. It was at least an hour before the ER doctor would come in and do some checks, then she said they would have to check with the pharmacy to see how long this medication would stay in me based off the amount that had been infused. Apparently, this would determine how long I had to be observed. Hours went by before she returned to only get a phone call and step out and disappear. By this time, it was after 5 and Dr. Simpson showed up to check on me. We discussed what this meant for my treatment and he was very upset to see I was attached to the wall and I couldn’t be walking around with my blood clot being the biggest concern. He told me he would get things started to get me out of here to go home.

I received a prescription for Epi-pens which I would now have to carry with me. I asked them why since it was a chemo drug that put me into anaphylaxis shock and none of my other allergens do this. I was told once you have an anaphylaxis reaction you are now more prone to getting them with other allergens. Wow this just keeps getting better. This was when I believe it truly sunk in the severity of everything I was doing and realizing this treatment could actually kill me. However, I’m not going out without a fight.

The next post on my Cancer Journey series will be called Second Chemo Take 2. I will go into what that infusion was like and discuss the side effects I experienced throughout these chemo treatments.

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