Yesterday was the relay for chemo

And I was the baton. My mom brings me for my treatments every 3 weeks and soon that will increase to every week.  The cancer center is 30 minutes from my house but only 15 from hers. My house is also 15 minutes from her’s, but in the opposite direction. Normally she picks me up making it a 45 minute trip for her. She’s happy to do it but I feel kind of bad, especially in bad weather.  Yesterday my dad collected me, dropped me at mom’s and she took me to the center. Later we went back to her place where my husband picked me up after work. I’m happy to report no one dropped the baton and we were even fed and got to visit with my sister and her significant other!  It was a nice day in spite of the reason for it.

Chemotherapy went well, blood work looked good and as usual the nurses were great.  I had a new one this round. She was very efficient but joked around and the time flew right by. Though this was my 3rd treatment it was the first time I was actually in a chemo bay. I had a nice corner unit that was warm and sunny, a comfortable recliner and television. I had my “chemo bag” with a few comforts from home and a novel. Oh I should mention, not everyone was comfortable. My mom kept sliding off the poorly designed couch and was finally given a straight chair to prop her legs on.  I was teasing her it’s because she’s so short, but that couch did look pretty uncomfortable. I offered her the recliner, but for some reason no one ever takes me up on that.    Though the bays have a little privacy in the way of curtains you can hear what’s going on around you. One lady started walking from bay to bay, wheeling her infusion pump along, asking people about their diagnoses and treatment plans and going into great detail about hers. Mercifully she ran out of steam before reaching me.  There was a bit of moaning and complaining going on and you didn’t have to look around to know it was coming from the men.  My nurse said that’s usually the case and we started chatting how men generally do not take illness and pain quite as..umm.. stoicly as women do, which prompted this little joke from her:

A husband and wife presented to the hospital in labor. Once settled in they were told about a new experimental option where a percentage of labor pain could be transferred to the father of the baby allowing him to share in the experience while making it a bit easier on the mother. They both agreed. With the next big contraction he got 25% of the pain and exclaimed “That was nothing”, so they upped it to 50% for the next one.  He still insisted it wasn’t bad at all and was starting to wonder what all the fuss was about. Finally it was upped to 75%.  The baby was born, mother was happy with the small amount of pain and her husband was still amazed at how easy it was.  Later when he returned home he found the mailman dead on the porch.  HA!

I did end up fessing up to only taking half the prescribed dosage of the steroid following my last infusion. It wasn’t deliberate and I’m still not sure how I managed to mess it up, but I didn’t have that big steroid crash that left me feeling so bad the first time around, nor did I have the terrible acne that was attributed to the steroid. My appetite didn’t rage out of control and I slept well. I was prepared for a lecture and a list of reasons I had to take the higher dose, but am happy to report I can remain on the smaller one.  Any time I can take less of any medication, I’m all over it, but especially this.  I like to call it Forrest Gumping when someone in the family does something kind of boneheaded but it works out to their advantage.  So this week I am proud to say I Forrest Gumped my way into less medication and less side effects. Chocolate anyone?

It’s not fair.

No, not the whole cancer thing. I mean, yeah, that pretty much sucks but I never went through the “Why me’s”.  With my family history and the fact that 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime, why not me?  What I’m finding completely unfair is that while I no longer have a hair on my head I still have to shave my legs. What’s up with that?  And another delightful side effect of all these poisons medications that I am on is forced menopause. Forced.. as in forget about easing into it.  One of the (unexpected) side effects of the steroids I am given with chemotherapy is acne. Seriously?    So, while puberty and menopause wage an unholy war in my body, I’m going to complain bitterly about how unfair life is. Don’t blame me.. it’s my inner teen.  Later my inner menopausal crone will tell me to suck it up and get over it. For now, the teen drama queen wins.

The ball dropped..

And so did my misguided sense that I would escape all the unpleasantness of chemo. New Year’s Eve was my first day off the steroids and by evening I was alternating between spending time in the bathroom and curled up in a ball with shaking chills and body aches.  Felt like the worse flu ever.  I spent a mostly sleepless night and then gave up and was in the recliner by 5 a.m. where I spent the better part of New Year’s Day feeling sorry for myself, missing a family party.  It was a beautiful, unseasonably warm day here and my husband tried to lure me outside with a bonfire. I did watch a little from the window.  By late afternoon I was feeling a lot better and attempted to make dinner. We bbq’d turkey burgers and I managed one bite before I decided to have sherbet for dinner, a repeat of lunch.  By the time I went to bed I felt really well, just extremely tired.  In my delirium the night before (only a slight exaggeration) I completely forgot about the Imodium I had been told to have on hand. When I remembered it at noon, one dose was all it took.  I won’t be forgetting that again!  Now that I have a sense of what to expect and when, I think I will be better prepared next round.

Today I get a do-over. This is my New Year and we are clearing out 2011, packing away Christmas to start. Tomorrow, it’s life as usual. I’ve spent enough time anticipating and dreading symptoms that may or may not come, only to be blindsided when they do.   If one miserable night is as bad as it gets, I’ve totally got this! Happy New Year.

Day three and the horrible terribleness remains at bay

So far so good as far as side effects. I took the anti-emetics religiously the day of chemo and all of day 2. This morning I woke up feeling pretty good and decided to only take as needed and so far one slight feeling of nausea was quelled with a hard peppermint candy. The steroid is making me a little hyper so I did a bit of housework. Enough to feel useful and to use later as a “poor me” if I need to pull one out.. win/win.  I am so hungry on the steroid and trying not to give in to that. If I have to have cancer I should at least get the benefit of weight loss. Dammit. Tomorrow is my last day for the steroid until next round so I think I can maintain some control. We shall see.   My biggest fret is my hair today.  I feel it tingling and itching and I know it will be jumping ship soon. I have wigs and hats, scarves, turbans, so I’m ready.  I’m debating helping it along to be done with it. Then I get thinking maybe it will just thin for a while and if I shave I will have horrible itchy stubble.  My family is no help with this decision.  I guess when the mister is busy snaking out the drain he may wish he had been willing to yield the razor!