I was less nervous this time. I have done this once and knew what to expect now. Travis was by my side as always. This time I didn’t get the fully private room like the first time but did get a partially private room. When I walk in I’m AGAIN the youngest of anyone at the cancer center. My anger begins to bubble up again.
I sit back getting ready to be poked and prodded. Things are going normal until they connected the carboplatin. Soon after that I began to have a sharp pain in my chest. The nurses were concerned and decreased the drip rate. The pain subsided. They then returned the drip rate to Normal and the pain returned. It was decided to admit me to the ER. I was terrified. Was the chemo now causing me heart issues? I had read that Herceptin can cause issues for the heart and now here I was. At the ER they did an EKG and decided to keep me overnight. Then a cat scan with a strain. The nurse couldn’t put the needle in and poked me 10 times trying to get the needle in. I laid there with tears streaming down my face with the ridiculous amount of pain she was inflicting upon me. I barely slept.
The next morning I had a stress test. The doctors decided that my heart looked fine. At my follow up appt with Beekman she decided to switch me from carboplatin to cytoxin. She said that if the heart pain continued she may decide to stop the chemo. Not have chemo? That was music to my ears.
Breast Cancer (Photo credit: bloomingdalelibrary)
I am sitting in a tiny room surrounded by books, pamphlets and magazines about Cancer. A Cancer Library. Since my surgery, I have often almost forgotten that I have cancer. I look the same, feel the same…..but now it’s time to buckle up and get ready for the Chemotherapy ride. The nurse sits with me and goes over every chemotherapy drug they are going to give me. My chemotheraphy cocktail is TCH. Taxol, Carboplatin and Herceptin. She gives me thick paper copies of each drug and goes over the side effects of each one. Exhaustion, nausea, hair-loss, neurapathy, mouth-sores, cardio-toxicity, menopause…..the list was endless. With a smile she asks me if I have any questions. Do I have any questions? In my mind, I wanted to ask her am I nuts? I feel great and I am going to sign a paper to make me feel like that? But we weren’t done. She then tells me about Neulasta. Neulasta is a shot that is given a couple days after the chemotherapy infusion to increase white blood cell production. This ALSO has some side effects; bone pain, joint pain, mouth sores, GI sensitivities etc… I signed my signature on papers to agree to all of these fabulous ways I was going to feel. Now it was time to get my blood drawn. There is a special lab devoted just to cancer patients. I received a special stamp card that basically signified I would be a frequent visitor. Like, a frequent flyer card but not nearly as fun. I took my place in the chair. The techs knew I was a new girl. I still had my hair……, my skin wasn’t yellow….. They asked me questions, took my blood and told me how much they looked forward to seeing me again. Again? Right, again. With my green stamp card I would be visiting my new friends in the lab quite often.
Chemo 101 day was not yet over. Now it was time to get an ECHO. The echo cardiogram was necessary so that they could have a baseline for my heart function. Since there are so many cardiac side effects with the chemotherapy it is required. There again I sat in another waiting room, 30 years younger then the average age of my fellow patient. It was a painless procedure really. A little gel, ultrasound and pictures, done. If there was a competition for who had the healthiest heart out of all of the people in the waiting room I am certain I would have won.
The day would not be complete until I went and had lunch with my dear friend Michelle followed by some more wig shopping. This time we went to Fantasy Attic, a treasured Halloween store. These wigs were not nearly as nice as “la fancy” wig but they were also only $30. After trying on many I decided to splurge on another wig. A long, red haired wig, otherwise known as “Ginger”. Now Ginger wasn’t nearly as well made as la fancy wig but I still thought it would be fun to wear. My wig buying addiction was just beginning. I decided then, while I have no hair I am going to make the best of it. It will be Halloween until my hair grows back.