One down, 15 to go. Here’s how today went:
8:30 Blood draw in my brand new port. I was so scared. It still felt so tender from the surgery. But it was absolutely fine. As childish as it sounds, the verse I clung to was,”Be strong and courageous.” I kept repeating it in my head. I reminded myself that I’d been prepared for this with those stupid staples I got in my head a week before I found the lump. Of course! These staples which seemed so stupidly pointless were actually grace. They have become a reference point. I could handle the staples. Therefore, I could be brave for the port (And with sedation! And lidocaine!). I can endure one poke in a tender new port (so that I can get a treatment that could save my life). It was fine. Seriously. And I’m publicly thanking God for the stupid staples.
9:00 Meeting with nurse that looks young enough to be my daughter. She was great though. This was to discuss the what to expect and when to expect the onset of chemo side effects. Everyone responds differently. We don’t know which ones I’ll struggle with. And as for when, it’s usually a few days after chemo. I’ll most likely have nausea, mouth sores, lose my hair (even my eyebrows and eye lashes), and fatigue. Since this was my first chemo, I hadn’t eaten because I was afraid that I would regret it and get especially sick. I asked the nurse how risky a cup of decaf would be. She hesitated and said, “Do whatever you feel like, but I just don’t want coffee ruined for you. Some people eat their favorite food and then get really sick and it ruins it for them.” Who needs a cup of decaf that badly? I passed.
10:00 Lag time between appointments. Walked with Brent along East River Parkway. We mainly talked about the amazing timing of this cancer. If it had to come, there are lots of reasons why now is really good. For instance, our trip to Florida landed at the exact best time possible between diagnosis and treatment. Also, the chemo I’m taking during the summer is not as hard hitting as the chemo I take just days after they start back to school. That’s just a few examples.
10:30 Chemo floor. Each patient has an area with a recliner and chair that is partitioned off by a curtain. There was a TV we didn’t use. There was a big window I never looked out of in the six and a half hours we were there. I was given three chemo drugs, one at a time. Because it was my first time, they administered them slowly and gave time for observation in between. I was given bigger doses-“loading doses”-than I will get in the future. This was a long chemo day. I wondered if I would be emotional when they started the first one. It turns out I was too busy cracking up with Brent about hospital food and how chemo was going to ruin it for us 😉
A highlight was seeing my sister’s best friend, Tanya, who I’ve known since I was 16. She’s a nurse practitioner in oncology who supervises a buttload of nurses all over the metro in the Fairview system (I think!). When she was explaining her job, I was in Benadryl lala land woozing out in my recliner. Even still, she was a comfort. How strange it must have been for her to see her bestie’s kid sister receiving chemo right there in her hospital.
The only glitch was that I had a wee bit of an allergic reaction to one of my chemo drugs. It was minor. A few tiny hives. Nurses do not mess around. I had to have more Benadryl. They called it a day and didn’t let me finish the Taxol. But I’d had most of it. Please pray that I do not have any more allergic reactions. This chemo is kind important 😉
5:30 We walked back to the car and went home. We went for a walk while waiting for our amazing friends to transport happy kids back home to us. We were blessed with good hospital care, amazing friend care, beautiful family care, and God’s big hands holding us up.
Oh and thanks to steroids they administered, I feel better than I did when I woke up on chemo day. The effects of them will wear off, but I’m so thankful to feel good. There’s a cruel little voice in the back of my head trying to remind me that it IS going to get ugly. But these days are rather easy and it is crucial to me to stay in the moment. Fear of tomorrow’s pain is not allowed to rob me of today’s good blessings.
And now for the educational portion! (Stop looking now if you get the heebie jeebies easily like me!)
This is what my port looks like:
Here’s what it looks like on X-ray (thanks, Google images).
Here’s mine all tucked away inside. Just below the bigger incision, is the port they use to draw blood and do the chemo infusions. It’s one of the cancer patient’s frenemies. Not fun going in, but it makes my life a lot easier.