So, I totally just realized I never actually wrote a post on my first chemotherapy treatment! I wanted to give you guys specifics including my medications and things which I finally got together so without further ado 😉
Okay, so my very first chemo treatment as you all know didn’t go as planned and was aboarded like a mission space game as soon as my heart decided to go all cooky… Sooooo, I had to have surgery on my port and the next day was scheduled for another attempt of filling my body with poison in hopes to kill all those little mutated possessed cells of mine. (This is what I actually picture going on in my boob… I have a bunch of beautiful cells, moseying along living the life that cells do, then these possessed almost zombie like cells moved on in and decided to wreck the place and every normal cell they decided to bite into became mutated and now i have just a really scary horror movie going on in my titty!)
Anyways… So November 10th is the day… Almost a month from my formal diagnosis (October 12,2015) the time had come to kick cancers butt! Luckily, because I already had my bloodwork and tests done the week prior, no more needles for once… All we had to do was show up, pick a chair, and get the drugs a flowing! Literally thats all chemo entails..
I’m not sure if I already told you about the treatment room… But I’ll tell you again. So, I check in at the front desk of my lovely oncologists office (Dr. Raymond with Allegheny General Hospital for anyone who wants to know), and the amazingly friendly receptionists check me in then tells me a treatment room number (1 or 2). I’ve been getting sent back to treatment area 1 which works for me because I really enjoy consistency.
I walked in and they instructed me to pick any chair. Basically the treatment rooms have a long desk nursing station in the middle then on the outside of the room is lined with about 15 green and pink recliners, then along the outside of the nurse’s desk are visitor chairs that are moveable to the little recliner stations. The treatment room is rather open, so yes… If i wanted to talk to other patients I guess I could but, the past two times I’ve been scheduled it’s me and a bunch of grandmas and grandpas so i’m not really sure what we’d talk about.
I always try to get the recliner near the wall and the bathroom… Reason being, my hubby, family and I tend to get a little rowdy:) Okay, not too crazy but really, I’m getting meds for like 3-4 hours… We have to entertain ourselves someway! Also, Its’ much more convenient for me to be near the bathroom because with every medicine I practically get a bag of sodium chloride (basically fluid overload) and I literally have to pee a kazillion times! It’s basically like an aerobic workout in itself because I practically never sit still.
I did have a couple concerns when I first got to chemo. Over the weekend I had an episode with my dad and sisters when we went out to eat and to watch the Steelers game, I got really over heated and went to the bathroom. Once I sat down I literally almost passed out, I was so nauseous and just praying someone would walk into the bathroom to help. Somehow I was able to stand and wobble out to doorway when my sisters and dad saw me and helped me get outside for cool air. I was expecting some hot flashes and things due to 1. my fertility treatments and recent egg retrieval, and 2. at my last anticipated chemo treatment I had a shot (yes in my butt cheek that hurt hella bad!) call Lupron. This drug in laymen terms shuts down my ovaries and basically puts me in menopause during chemo in hopes to preserve their function so I can have natural babies when chemo is over and the time is right… we shall see!
Anyways back to the belly issues. My stomach all weekend was huge and so sore. The above picture of those of you that know me should be shocking! My stomach is bigger than my butt!!!! <<<< This is a problem! I told the nurse who went over and got my doctor. I had good bowel sounds so she recommended I called the fertility clinic. I got them on the phone and set up an appointment for right after my chemo treatment.
My nurse was Trudy and she was so pleasant, calm, and most importantly educated and was so kind to share all her knowledge with me for every single step of the chemo treatment process! What I am truthfully so impressed with throughout this entire process thus far is how thorough my team has been– its soooo encouraging that they are comfortable enough to tell me every single thing! Trudy has the most darling of accents, of course I started talking to her about her history and it turns out she’s from Germany! So interesting… But shes been a specialised oncology nurse for many years and just was able to set aside most of my anxiety from my prior session as she began my treatment.
The scariest thing for me was her accessing my port. Now let me mind you… The last time I hardly flinched but it was also 2 weeks after my port placement, so it had time to heal. This time, my port had me up all night with burning pain across my clavicle and sternum and I was sooooo scared for her to jab a freakin needle into a wound that basically was just chopped open the day prior. She talked me through it and although there is other options (ie: calling the PICC team and having them place a site in my forearm) there is a really high chance that my vein can seep and the chemicals from the chemo could chemically burn my tissue of my arm— thus my response: “um no thank you”. And in the next second, I was awaiting her jab into my chest.
So, like the last time they accessed my port, it was the same thing it’s a sterile procedure. My head had to remain turned the whole time away from my port. They clean the site for like a minute then wait until it dries.She then accesses the port by jabbing a needle into the site that is already in the vein of my heart:) they explain it to me as a codfee. Can lid with skin over too. Thus, its a bigger and stronger site and tends to work much better than the smaller veins in my arms.
Trudy gave me a countdown and as I was nearly hyperventilating, anticipating severe pain, she jabbed me for one second, I let out a slight shriek (I really couldn’t help it.. it hurt!) but then the pain was gone! She pushed some saline through the line and it worked perfectly! No racing heart beat (aside from my anxious little self) and no bubbling in my chest! Thank the Lord!
As Trudy began hanging my pre-chemo treatments which consist of multiple anti nausea meds, a steroid and fluids… With John sitting across from me and my mom just entering because she was talking to my doctor in the hallway, I instantly began to cry. I think it was moreso just being overwhelmed but my port hurt, I was anxious and at that point I actuallly wanted to just give up! John to the rescue, he came over and held my hand, and my mom started crying which doesnt help the situation… But thats what moms do I guess!
The urge to pee started and I swear every like 15 minutes I was unplugging my IV to go pee. Trudy instructed me that after the chemo meds are pushed I have to flush the toilet twice every time I go to the bathroom to be sure not to get anyone else sick. Basically, I’m like a walking toxic individual smothering from the inside out I guess;) I was also told to not be alarmed but my pee may be pink for a while! I mean I guess it could be a worse color like green or blue… I can totally handle pink pee!
I got comfy under my fuzzy blanket and pulled out a stocking that Ive been making in preparation for hours of boredom. Actually, its not entirely boring, I get really caught up in talking to my family, the nurses, and people watching of course! That was when I laid eyes on a volunteer with a red vest on visiting with some of the other patients. I figured he might be some type of clergy or something because working in a hospital myself I’ve talked to a number of the volunteers and they are always just so friendly and helpful. There was something different about this guy though!
I was so intrigued by his look. He was sitting on a bench so to me he looked short, had a bald head, a dangling earing, and i instantly noticed his stone necklace and big rings on his hands. I didnt wanna be too nosey so I started my stocking and just kept talking to John and my mom as we planned what I should eat for dinner.
Back to my chemo talk… So something I’ve been told that really helps with nausea is staying hydrated. So yes, i am allowed to eat and drink during treatments, actually its encourgaed. They have a little kitchen set up with all sorts of snacks, teas, cofee and juices and the so kind nurses are always making runs and offering to grab me a snack! Around 11:30-12:00 ish they even bring around little boxed lunches for patients and family members! How sweet is that. I mean, I am a little pre-madonna and would rather make John go fetch me some soup from the cafe 😉 but hey… He chose to marry me:)
As I started eating some soup the man in the red vest made his way over to my little corner! He introduced himself as Bob. He then handed me a pamphlet describing his service… Reiki! How freakin cool that my hospital offers this! I was simply floored because I’m actually certified in level 1 reiki so I of course was instantly interested. Those of you that know my mom… She on the other hand was almost as excited as a kid on Christmas morning! This is like her thing… Poor Bob, now hes gonna have to deal with her;) kidding!
Bob explained that there are about 20 volunteers that do reiki in the hospital and of course my mom was then talking about his classes etc that he does outside the hospital… Looks like my mom found her Pittsburgh groupies ;). It’s so weird because in this last month every single person i’ve met from medical professionals to vendors through Jamies Dream Team have had some kind of weird connection to my life. So, we were talking with Bob about his family and life and he was going on and on about his granddaughter “Sasha’s” wedding and how she wouldn’t let him marry her but they allowed him to pray over the meal.
The conversation went on and on as he talked about his prayer and when he was presenting it he kept making up more to the prayer because he couldn’t remember her new last name. He decided to just end the prayer without a formal announcement of the bride and groom by last name… and everyone raved about how great the prayer was. Turns out someone later mentioned the new couples last name as “Hall”. — This is all super significant because I instantly put two and two together. “Sasha Hall!” I immediately stopped him from his rather entertaining story telling and said “wait is your grand daughter Sasha Danielle Hall”, his response was YES! Sasha is the photographer of my wedding!!!!!! Such a small world!
My chemo treatment went on and the nurse had to manually push my 1st chemo medication through so Bob finished up his chat and we swapped contact information and he went on with his day. When the nurse brought over this medication, she gowned up, had gloves sonned, and opened up a sealed bag with the medication contained inside. This made me a little nervous because this is it… I am officially a chemo patient.
Thankfully I didn’t feel much of anything as it was pushed through. It took maybe 15 minutes of the nurse slowly pushing the syringe then she flushed it and I had to be connected by another chemo medication hanging on the IV. All together I believe my season took around 3 hours including the pre chemo medications.
Other than me having to pee every 15 minutes and after the pushing of the red chemo med through my port, I did indeed have pink pee. I was a little more woozy in my head as I describe it but I didn’t have any instant nausea, aches, or fatigue. They hung the last bag of fluids, reaccessed my port and I was ready to go home!
Next stop was to the fertility clinic. My fertility clinic is in Penn Hills so we were hoping to make this quick as to not hit soo much traffic on the way home, but it is what it is… I had to be seen because my stomach was too uncomfortable. John went home quick and grabbed all my left over refrigerator fertility medications to donate back to the clinic, and we were on our way for my appointment.
The fertility office is always so kind. All the workers from the secretary in the front is always so friendly and asks me about the wedding and to see pictures… they’re just so amazing. I got there in about 20 minutes and they got me straight back for the ultrasound. I got so lucky because after taking blood work, my ultrasound was performed externally! Thank GOD because it would have been soooooo uncomfortable just because I was so tender, having the ultrasound shoced up my whooha would have hurt soooo bad!
Turns out the Lupron shot that my oncologist provided basically made me “trigger” again so my ovaries were hyper stimulated for like the 2nd time in 2 weeks and my abdomen actually filled with fluid because the follicles were bursting! OUCHY… so what to do. Basically I was placed on “near bedrest” because my ovaries were so big that if I jump around too much they can actually flip and cut off their blood supply! Oh and “no intercourse”—poor John this married life is NOT what we had expected… but as soon as I’m better I’m sure our love life with flourish:) Technically they can’t really do anything else aside from just letting my body get rid of all the extra estrogen.
With that being said, I figured hey, I just finished chemo i’ll probably be tired for the next couple of days anyway… so I’ll “try” to follow the doctors orders… which is very hard for me because I can’t really sit still! I had to be very strict with my intake of liquids and output of urine and I was also instructed to weigh myself and measure my abdomen everyday then report in to the clinic daily. Looks like the next stop is Wal Mart because I don’t even own a scale!
Turns out we finished up the appointment at rush hour. We were all starving at this point and if my sister Samii didn’t get food soon, she may just take back all her kind feelings toward John and turn into Godzilla and kill him 🙂 kidding kidding… but she was about to turn really bitchy! John was driving and it just started drizzling. I actually remember him saying”i’m going to slow down” then he switched into the right lane when I heard my mom shriek and John slam on his brakes. I look around the front seat and saw a huge tractor trailer jack knife and a mini van crashed into and was stuck under the truck!
We were literally three cars back. John stops the car and it was so unreal nobody moved for a couple seconds. Instantly my first response was to check if the person in the van was alright. John, my sister and I jump out of the car. Me, the girl who just finished chemo and was placed on “near bed rest” runs over to the van to check on the driver. I open the door to find a dazed and sore older man. It was kind of funny because when we opened the door Samii little miss pre Madonna was standing next to me and all these DVDs fell out of the mans car… she looks at the titles and they were PORNOS! Hhahahha it added a little bit of awkward humor to the whole event… she ever so quietly just placed them back in the door of the van:) The airbags didn’t go off and he was very sore so I didn’t want to move him but at the very least I was there to check his vitals and keep him concisous.
We called 911 and the emergency team was there in minutes. It was absolutely surreal that this happened literally right in front of us. Samii ran back to my car to grab a water bottle for the man in the van and this craZy,psychotic, road raged man comes running at her screaming to move the car because… get this, he wanted to drive around the accident and over the medium to get through traffic!
How freakin discusting is the human race! There is a man hurt and van literally under a jack knifed freaking MAC truck and youuuuuu think you can just go around it… Freaking discusting.
Anyways, the guy starts screaming at my sister and calling her names. She in return exchanged her choice of words telling the guy he was a “poor excuse of a man” #girlpower… and out of nowhere John comes running at the guy and screaming to protect Samii of course. Like really, it was like a TV show. Don’t worry they didn’t actually get into a fist fight or anything but when a 6’4″ guy comes at you… typically smaller guys will back up just like the crazy man did and that was the end of that (you go babe!).
The medics arrived and we helped to sorta play Jenga with cars to get the ambulance through. About 20 minutes later traffic was moving and we were actually the first people through the tunnel so we hit NO traffic. It is soon weird how things end up! Best wishes for all involved in the accident… hopefully the man in the van wasn’t hurt too badly.
I truly believe everything happens for a reason. I wasn’t just given breast cancer… there is a reason at the age of 26, when I am young and have this amazing relationship with an incredible guy, we have a beautiful house and crazy puppy:)… theres a reason this all happened now. A part of me is so grateful it did because right now I do have the energy to kick cancers A$$ and I know in my heart that everything is going to be just fine*
So, as a quick wrap up for tonights post— Love life! Love life for all the lemons and limes it throws in your way because everything is for a reason. Cherish the good times and the bad because no matter what, there is a lesson to be learned, or in my case… amazing people brought into my life and I will forever be thankful for that!