I had a total of six chemo treatments starting one month after having the double mastectomy. Each one was three weeks apart. My first one was in late January 2014. Ready or not it was time for the next part of ‘save Simone’. It took the longest because there is a ton of information to go over, mostly the home drug regimen, which is extremely, extremely confusing. I feel for the elderly who have to rely on others. Thank god I was able to master the systematic plan. I basically needed a calendar broken down hourly to ensure I didn’t miss a dosage. I won’t name all the drugs I took because that would be really boring, a complete snooze fest really…zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. I remember I had to start some of them a couple days prior to chemo, and continue for a few days after. Most of them are for preventing nausea and side effects like mouth sores…oh ya…here we go. The drugs were adjusted if need be as I did each treatment. It’s somewhat of a guessing game to see what is effective. As I’ve mentioned before, I let things happen as they come. I don’t cling to anything as I know things can change on a dime, this includes drug regimens, my body’s reaction etc. It can’t be emphasized enough that every person reacts differently, the doctors and nurses can only provide assumptions that are common and what they’ve witnessed or experienced with other patients. What happens to you is a guess, so why would I waste my energy worrying. I have enough to worry about…
Okay so this is what the nurse tells me on the first day:
Nice nurse: ‘some people get nauseous simply walking towards the cancer centre’
Me: ‘oh, I can see that, makes sense’
Nice nurse: ‘the anticipation of their chemotherapy is overwhelming and they feel sick before they enter the building’
Me: ‘hmmm….I hope that is not the case for me’
Nice nurse: ‘see the red drug we start off with? that’s the one that causes you to loose your hair’
Me: ‘boooooo, big thumbs down to that one!’
In a way I wish she hadn’t said the thing about people almost vomiting just pulling into the parking lot because I knew I would catalogue this information and remember it every chemo day. Urg. Oh well, I just shut out that thought as best I could. But I remember that conversation like it was yesterday… go figure.
I was really hungry. The chemo was scheduled on the same day that I went to the Civic Hospital to get my PICC line inserted. So the entire day was full, the morning PICC line appointment took over 2 hours, and this was exhausting both mentally and physically. I had to then rush to the Queensway Carleton Hospital in the early afternoon for the chemo. I hadn’t eaten much so I was hungry. Conveniently, Tim Horton’s has managed to strategically have many locations in the Ottawa’s hospitals. I asked my husband to get me some donuts. I don’t normally eat donuts, I’m more of a chips and French fry girl, but by the time the poison was soaring through my veins I was famished and gobbled down 2 donuts. It was ok until I got home and eat a big bowl of pasta, bad, bad, bad move. That night I had to take the backup nausea pill, and if that hadn’t worked I would have had to call the home nurse to come and give me the backup, backup shot in my rear end. Luckily, I was feeling better. Can you believe all the backups?!!…lord have mercy, and thank you for sparing me of that particular predicament.
A few tips for chemo day:
- Eat light, smoothies, crackers, plain food
- Avoid oil, cheese, creams, fried food, anything heavy
- Practice deep breathing and try staying calm
- Have low expectations
After a few days I felt good. On my medical oncologist suggestion to exercise between chemo treatments, I joined a gym and started my new app – Couch to 5K – walking/running on the treadmill. I did this about one week after the treatment and would continue about 4-5 times a week for two weeks until I went back in for the second round. It was surprisingly okay, minus the hair loss thing. That occupied most of my thoughts, adjusting to the new external me.