Beating Breast Cancer – Weekly Update #8

Beating breast cancer as a thirty something - update 8

I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and have decided to blog about my journey.  If you need to catch up on my story, please check out this page for the chronological list of posts.

I survived my first round of chemo!  But even better than that is being able to say that I survived my first week post-chemo!

So after our whirlwind trip to the coast, I woke up and made final preparations for being sick.  It is a weird experience preparing for chemo, not knowing how my body is going to respond.  I could be completely down and out or I could be fairly functional, so I chose to prepare for the worst but hope for the best. About thirty minutes before heading to the cancer center, I put a little dollop of numbing cream onto my port area, covered it with saran wrap and then kept it in place with a band-aid.

Since I had my baseline blood testing, I did not have to do bloodwork on the day of chemo.  So I arrived thirty minutes prior to my chemo time in order to meet with the oncology nurse practitioner for one last check-up before starting.  During this quick appointment, she gave me the results of my PET scan.  She told me that my scan was beautiful and that there are no tumors anywhere else in my body.  What a RELIEF!!!!  After we discussed a few other things, she took me into the chemo room.  Since this was my first time, I was in a private chemo area.  The nurse came in, introduced herself, and got the needle inserted into the port.  I will say that the needle for accessing the port is a little intimidating.  Luckily, that numbing cream is no joke…I felt NOTHING!

Then the stream of medications started.  First, I had about thirty minutes worth of pre-meds via IV (through my port).  These are all different versions of anti-nausea medications to help keep the pukes away.  Then it was time for the big nasty chemo drug – Adriamycin.  This is a red medicine that actually turns my pee bright orange as it filters out later in the day.  This drug is so nasty, that they can’t even trust it in an IV bag; it has to be manually pushed into my port line by the nurse, and SLOWLY.  (Seriously, oncology nurses are some of the best there are, and I was grateful to have a fun nurse to chat with while getting my infusion. Because it takes a while!)

After the Adriamycin got pushed through my line, it was time for the other chemo drug – cyclophosphamide.  This one was administered by IV drip over about an hour.  I can’t say which drug it was that made me start feeling loopy, but about halfway through the cyclophosphamide I noticed that I was having some trouble focusing on my book.  I was starting to feel a little carsick.  By the time the infusion was done, my blood pressure was 99/60-something (which is not uncommon for me, so don’t freak out too much!) and I was definitely feeling ready for a nap.  After all was said and done, we were at the cancer center for just about four hours and I was TIRED.

One thing that I have found is that if the professionals give me a tip to help me be more comfortable, I’d better take that advice.  So one thing that my nurse navigator told me during my chemo teaching was that I should go for a walk after chemo to help me cycle the drugs through my body.  She said I should try to fight the urge to go lie down immediately afterwards.  So I did.

First, my mom and I went to Burgerville for a shake to celebrate my awesome PET scan results.  Then I went for a walk down the road when we got home.  And then the nausea fight began.

I really can’t say too much about the first four days post-chemo because I really don’t remember too much.  I remember getting out of bed the morning after chemo and deciding that I wanted to go to the gym.  So I did.  Later that day, I went up to the cancer center for a Neulasta shot (it spurs white blood cell production).  But other than that, the days just dragged on and on in a blur of trying not to throw up.

In the grand scheme of things, I am very lucky.  I am able to eat and drink (and keep it down…with a focused effort).  I am able to sleep on a regular schedule for the most part. I am functional.  But I’m not going to sugar coat things.  Chemo is the PITS!  I’m sick.  My nausea is very comparable to the all-day sickness I had during pregnancy, but it has a much heavier feel to it.

After about four days of day-in-and-day-out effort to keep food down, I truly felt like there was no end in sight.  I got a little weepy.  I couldn’t imagine doing this for two months when one day felt like a month all on its own.  But then, gradually, I started feeling better.  I have been able to wean off the nausea meds a little bit (which my bowels are grateful for!) and I have more energy.  I will feel good and healthy just in time for my next round of chemo.  🙂

It’s funny, but the one thing that I am most sad about at this point is that I can’t drink water.  My body wants nothing to do with it.  Apparently it’s not uncommon for water to take on a horrible taste after chemo, but that doesn’t bum me out any less. I can diffuse some fruit in the water and trick myself into about eight ounces.  But that’s IT.  I’ve tried all sorts of various options but I really just want a big old glass of ice WATER! If any of you awesome people have been in a similar situation, I would love some suggestions!

Keep Reading – – > Weekly Update #9 (March 11, 2017) {Toxicity Check, Facial, One Month Post-Mastectomy}

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