Monday, March 19, 2007

Monday, March 19th, 2007 -- 1st Chemo Session

Hiya Bloggy,

Well, it's Monday morning... the day has arrived! And yes, I have to admit, despite a good attitude, etc., I'm a tad bit nervous. I don't know if it's me being nervous or anxiety, but really, what's the difference? On the one hand, I'm calm because I know that no matter what, I'm going to be fine and these heavy duty drugs that are toxins are, nasty as they might seem, a GOOD thing and they are going to give me the best chance possible of the cancer not recurring. So, ok, they may have to kill off all my healthy cells along with the bad cells, and then my body's systems have to regroup and regenerate the good cells... but it's a battle where the good cells are going to be the winners in the end.

Hey, look at the bright side... neither George Bush or Stephen Harper are the leaders of this battle. Heaven help me, if either of them had any input, I'd have every reason to be AFRAID!!! (grin).

So, it's 10am and I've taken the diva outside, fed her, showered and am dressed. Steve will be coming to pick me up at 12:30, so I have 2+ hours to unwind, have some toast and tea, and putter around on the computer to entertain myself.

I'll come back later tonight and update this entry with how the first session went. I'm sure once the first session is over ... well, after the first week is over... I'll be more relaxed because I'll know more what to expect.

Ciao for now!

UPDATE: I am home now... and have actually had a 2 hour nap to boot! It was not bad and the process of being in the chemo room is no big deal. I suppose, for someone who has not had a lot of exposure to hospitals, IVs, machines, etc., it can be scary, but trust me... after spending weeks in a hospital, the chemo room is very anti-climatic (grin). And the time just whizzed by because (grrrrr) I introduced Steve O. to the game "Blockus" and the bum kept beating me at it!!

Here is the evil game and I'm sure we are going to have many more screaming matches over it!! HAHAHA!! Actually, this is the traveling version for two.. there is also a game for 4 people which I may have to bring with me if we get a foursome to play.

Here is competitor #1... and yes, he DID win about 29 games (grin) and yes, I only won one against him! I tried to use the excuse that he was taking advantage of my being pumped with chemo, then said that I think I was feeling bloated and he was taking advantage of that... but he just wasn't giving me any leeway with the excuses!

And then along came Competitor #2... Jo! She was working downstairs so when she was off work, she joined us up at Chemo Party Central. She, also, had never played this game so caught on very quickly and she took on the Steve Champ. She won a game against him, but he won another 4 or 5. We definitely have to gang up on this boy!

So, when we first got there, Nurse Fran explained the various drugs I was going to be taking and all the potential side affects. She, like all the staff at the Cancer Agency, is just great!

I didn't get a picture of Nurse Kati, but she came on towards the end. Talk about going back in time!! Kati was one of Kim's nurses... Kim being our good friend who unfortunately passed away almost 2 years ago (May 10, 2005). Kati recognized all of us as "that great support group of friends!!" So I said, "Ya, we were so close during that time we decided to do it again!" Anywho, Kati should be around during our many visits to the Agency :)

So, starting at the beginning I had to take an Ondansetron pill and 3 Dexamethasone pills. These were the prescriptions I had to fill before coming in... and they both are used to reduce nausea caused by chemotherapy. These pills are expensive!! The Ondansetron is $20/pill and the Dexamethasone is $54 for 30 pills. Thank goodness for Extended Health Insurance... my "anti-side affects" medication is $100 for 4 days, but I only had to pay $3.17. Phew!

I had a bag of calcium/magnesium mix then infused into my port, that you can see by my collarbone. This bag of goodies is to help alleviate this side affect where my feet will go numb and be perpetually cold... as well, my fingers will tingle and be really sensitive to touching anything cold. She even advised wearing gloves if I was going to be outside in the cold, or if/when I'm taking something out of the fridge/freezer. It also means I can not drink any fluids that are cold... they must be at room temperature, otherwise my throat could close and I won't be able to swallow, which could then bring on a panic.

I was then hooked up to a bag of Oxaliplatin (chemo drug) and a bag of Leucovorin (folic acid). The Leucovorin is used to prevent side affects as well, to increase the anti-cancer effects of the Flouoracil (5FU) chemo drug that I will have in my portable pump for 46 hours. The combination of these two drugs took two hours ... two hours of us being able to play games :)

I didn't have any side affects while this was being done, although I must admit, when she did put the IV needle into my PortaCath it felt a lot stronger than just a "prick"... but (grin), I survived :)

After those were done, I then got another bag of Calcium/Magnesium mix... and then a 20 minute shot of the Fluorouracil (5FU). This is to give me a good dose of the 5FU before the pump is hooked up. Once that was finished, the PortaCath was flushed out with saline solution and I was ready for the PortaPump.

The PortaPump is an interesting device. It comes already preset with the 5FU in a balloon in the pump, which is the size and appearance of a baby bottle. There is 243.8 ml of 5FU in the pump that has to be dispersed over 46 hours. I can wear the pump on a belt (ok, so I only own ONE belt and it is multi-coloured so is not going to go with too much in the way of a fashion statement) or in a fanny pack, or in my little Roots bag. I just have to get used to having it with me for 46 hours at a time. I have an appt. on Wednesday at 3:45pm to go back to the Agency to get unhooked from the pump this week, but then I luck out!

For all the remaining 11 chemo sessions, when the 46 hours is up and I have to be unhooked, I don't have to get to the Agency to have it done, they will set up Home Care Nursing and a nurse will come out to my apartment to do it. Yayayaya! That is one less trip I have to worry about having someone drive me there and, IF I were to have side affects, then they would probably hit on that 3rd day, so who wants to be out driving somewhere if you aren't feeling up to scruff?? BUT, as you all know, I have things to do, people to see, scrapbooks to make and books to read... I don't have time for no steenkin' side affects!! (grin).

It is now 10pm and I'm just finishing watching Dancing With The Stars. Ok, Ok, I admit... I am watching it to see how Heather Mills does with her one leg. I do NOT like this woman and find her to be completely full of herself, BUT, I do admire her 100% for just getting out there and doing what she wants to do and not letting her disability hold her back. Good on her!

As for side affects... I think I've got it real easy. I do have the headache which my tylenol/codiene doesn't appear to be touching and it is totally weird about the cold drinks! All my Crystal Light, water, milk, juice, etc is in the fridge. I LIKE my drinks cold. So having been warned, I only took a coulple of sips of cold Crystal Light... and wow... it's true!! The throat gets real sandpapery, and I know if I was to drink normally, the throat would just close up. Totally weird!! So, I let it stand out and get to room temperature and it's fine that way. Hopefully this will only last for a couple of days after each treatment.

Well, I definitely have babbled on and most entries won't be quite this long... but for those who like to read stats and for my own brain to remember what drugs I'm getting in what order, I wrote it all down here :)




Bonnie said...

Well, it's almost 8pm your time and I hope all went well today. I want to call and ask, but I don't want to bother you if you're sleeping! Anyway, know you're in my thoughts this evening.

Kathy said...

Thanks for the update, sweetie! I was going to call but kept worrying that I'd wake you up - this Blog is great - update info without worrying about disturbing you! Lots of prayers and healing white light are being sent your way!


Bonnie said...

Cheryl - you are so wonderful with your description of the oncology center, I feel like I was there with you! How cool that Jo stopped by! Next time I'm up you'll have to teach me that game. Love all the pics too! And I am so happy that the visiting nurse will come to remove the pump, I know that was a concern of yours, about having to get back up to the cancer center if you weren't feeling well. YAYAYAYA!

Elf DebC/KC said...

YOU ROCK! I mean, you just did this whole thing practically standing on your head! LOL. Now THAT would be a picture! LOL Still sending tons and TONS of prayers your way!


Anonymous said...


Prayers and white lights are constantly heading your way.

Hugs, Maryann

Karen Rysavy said...

I MUST learn that game! Cheryl, I had to come by and read up on Big Day #1. You are so descriptive, I felt like I was there with you too! Dang, if'n I was, I coulda learned a new game (new to me anyhow). Anyway, just wanted to send my hugs and get caught up. Lub ya girlie!