Today has been good, really good. I’m exhausted, but it’s been a relatively normal day. Made a quick trip to the doctor only to find out that a bump was nothing to worry about (whew!). The kids returned to school and both had good days. Mom arrived in time to go with me to pick them up and we’ve had an easy going afternoon. Have to say, I’ve gained a new appreciation for a “normal” day.
Tomorrow brings chemo, round 3. Like round 3 of a boxing match where the chemo is knocking out the cancer, but simultaneously punching me in the stomach. All week long I’ve been dreading it. Having to mentally distract myself, because just the thought of walking back into the oncology office put my stomach in knots, just knowing what the next few days will hold. But tonight that has settled or maybe I’m just too tired to be nervous.
Tomorrow looks a bit like this… Wake up and take anti-nausea medication (the first of several). I’m unable to drive to my appointment because of the heavy dose of anti-nausea meds. My appointment is at 10:20 am, where I’ll see the doctor and they’ll check my white cell count. As long as it’s within the range they need, then I’ll be sent back and a very nice nurse will get me settled. It really takes someone with a heart of gold to be an oncology nurse. We usually have a private or semi-private room, which is nice. I’m first hooked up (via my port or portacath) to an IV and get some fluids. Then followed by a heavy dose of anti-nausea medication via the IV.
The chemo treatment I’m on every other week, for the first 8 weeks is called “AC” and made up of two drugs: Adriamycin and Cytoxan. Adriamycin is also known as the Red Devil (helluva nickname, isn’t it?)! The Red Devil is administered very slowly first. As a drowsy side effect from the anti-nausea medicine, I usually fall asleep a little during this part. Once that is finished, then Cytoxan is administered – very slowly as I had a few side effects the first time.
Once done, we head home. Mild nausea usually kicks in that afternoon/evening. And I have to be careful not to eat anything heavy. Did I mention I ate a giant helping of chimichangas right after chemo last time? HUGE mistake and lesson learned! I am also wiped out tired from the chemo and the anti-nausea meds. Honestly, if the label says, “May cause drowsiness” – it might as well say, “May knock Shannon’s ass out cold!” I can look just at a bottle of Benedryll and get sleepy. So the next few days I sleep through a lot. And crave salad and ice cream.
On Wednesday, 24 hours after chemo ends, I head back (someone else driving, of course) to the oncology office and get a shot called Neulasta. It helps stimulate the growth of white blood cells. This also causes bone pain, but it’s been bearable. Oddly enough, Claritin helps with the pain and Tylenol.
Thursday, it’s all bad. The nausea, fatigue and bone pain are the worst. Don’t get me wrong, it’s bearable. But through a haze of anti-nausea medication. And Friday comes relief. But tired at a level that I’m unable to explain with words.
Mom is here with the kids and I couldn’t love her more for it. She keeps things steady for them and keeps me fed when I’m too tired to move. And sweet Jason is doing everything else. Taking care of all of us, keeping up with my medicine,the house and working. It takes a village and there are so many wonderful people helping us in so many ways. It’s overwhelming and appreciated so very much.
So here’s to round 3 kicking this cancer’s ass! See you in a few days when I’m out of the haze!