At this point it had been 18 days since I had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer. Only my close friends and family knew what was going on. To this day I still have so much admiration for everyone that sent messages, emails, the phone calls, the care packages, the meal train commitments, and even the hugs that at this point Covid-19 wasn’t going to stop me from getting close to those that wanted to share a hug with me. Screw you virus. I have cancer.
The day had come for treatment #1. I didn’t really know what to expect. Aaron, my husband, was allowed to go with me and he’d be there for all the support I needed. We knew that the treatment would take a few hours and then we’d be free to head on home. If you look at the pictures at the top of this page you’ll see one of two bags handing on the IV stand. The one on the left is just a standard fluid. The one on the right is my cocktail. To bad that cocktail doesn’t come in a nice fancy glass that makes you feel happy and like you want to get up and dance. Lol! The second photo isn’t me flicking off Norton Cancer Institute even though that’s what it looks like. It’s actually my flicking off the word Cancer. I have so many inappropriate words for that one word. And then the last photo is of my husband and I right before we went into the building for treatment #1.. Now mind you, each time I have a treatment I have to call a phone number and they run through all the Covid questions; have you been in contact with anyone over the 14 days days, do you have any of the Covid symptoms (then they’d go through every single one), and lastly, have you had a Covid test in the last 14 days. Every. Single. Week. But back to treatment #1.
After arriving and of course saying no to the questions, we went in the front door where they checked both my and my husbands temperatures which were normal. We headed up to the third floor where we’d get checked in, I’d get a fancy (not really) little white bracelet and then we waited. A few moments later, a Nurses Assistant called my name and we went back. Bless their sweet hearts. They asked how I was doing? I mean what else do you ask someone you just met who’s about to get loaded up with chemo. Haha. They have to hate asking that question. They know why you’re there. Off we went into our own private room. And let me tell you. If you want some quiet time, get cancer, take chemo and enjoy a few hours to yourself. These rooms were awesome! They had a recliner. You have your own TV. They give you heated blankets (remember me talking of those heated blankets :)), snacks, and water. You have a call button if you want them to get you anything else too. And they’ll dim the lights for you so you can sleep. But take my word and don’t get cancer. All that is better at a resort or even in your own home. 🙂
Once the Nurses Assistance had me checked in and we went over everything; current medication; allergies, height, weight, etc. the Nurse came in with all the necessary tools and plugged into my port. You’ll see a picture of that in a later post. It felt as if they were plugging into a little rubber ball in my chest. A strange feeling. They began taking vials of blood (three to be exact) to make sure my numbers were ok so I could receive the chemo. In the meantime I was started on fluids as we waited for about 20 minutes until the nurse came back and gave the results. Fortunately, my numbers were great. From there I was given a steroid to help with any kind of reaction I may have from the chemo. Then I had to wait around 20 minutes before they could begin the chemo. Twenty minutes came and twenty minutes went and it was time to have my very first chemo cocktail. I did get tired over the hour it dripped into my port and started going through my blood stream. I really wanted to tell my body how sorry I was that it was having to process this toxic chemical that it was being introduced to. So I prayed and asked that God just help me get through it. I had a long road to go. Twelve weeks of this particular chemo cocktail. Taxol was the name. Possible side effects included an Infusion Reaction (which I never had), hair loss (yep… that happened), joint/bone/muscle aches, and cramping (yep… those happened too), nausea and vomiting (the nausea happened), diarrhea (I had the opposite problem), fatigue (yep) and a few other side effects but I didn’t have to deal with those.
Once the hour was up, the nurse pulled out of my port, put a Band-Aid on it as if I had a little splinter or had a scrapped knee, gave me my discharge papers and off Aaron and I went. I don’t recall where Aaron and I ate lunch that day but I remember those first few weeks we ate out pretty much each week. To us, it was a break from reality. No kids. No crowds, No words at times. It was just a way for us… to be.
I won’t bore you with each and every visit and the details. Most weeks were the same. One thing that wasn’t the same was that Aaron couldn’t go each week. It was a restriction thanks to the damn Coronavirus. He would take and drop me off each week though. And be there when I was finished. Some weeks I was more tired than others but we’d grab some food, head home, and veg out on the couch until it was time to pick-up the girls from school. At this time, I was still working. I’d work Tuesday-Friday. Monday’s were chemo/rest days. Did I mention that the steroid they gave me kept me up at night. Yeah, many nights I was up until 1, 2, or 3 in the morning. My body was tired but my mind couldn’t stop running around.
And don’t let me forget to tell you about the ice. Yes, ICE. One crappy thing about Taxol is that it can cause neuropathy. That’s simply numbness in your extremities that can be temporary or permanent. My Oncologist recommended that you soak your hands and feet in ice pellets for at least 20 minutes. Freezing your hands and feet simply didn’t allow the Taxol to get to those areas. So each week when it was time for Taxol to start dripping into my bloodstream I would place my hands (with rubber gloves on) in one of those puke buckets they have in hospitals and hold onto the ice pellets. My feet would be in the same type bucket but between two ice packs. Good news was I could wear my own socks. Granted they did offer their socks. Ha. I’ll pass. I tried to get to 30 or 40 minutes verses just 20 but it was SO hard to do. I’d pull my fingers and toes out here and there and wiggle them around but once my time was up to pull them out I couldn’t get them out fast enough.
Over the next few weeks, my appetite started to lessen. Water started to taste bad. And my hair started to fall out more and more. Fortunately, I kept my hair until 8 weeks into treatment. Then it was time to part with it.
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