When chemo kicks your ass, just a little bit

Image-1 (1)Not every date works out. Sometimes you know when the date will work out and sometimes you know after a date or three that this just isn’t the right partner for you. My first chemo date was just that kind of first date when you say hello, you are not sure, but maybe there is a good chance you will be able to become friends.

I was ready for my second date. I brought my support team with me: my mum, my husband and my younger brother who came over from Europe. My husband is with me on every date, I guess he is making sure I won’t fall in love with my new date partner. No worries there, that’s for sure. My brother was a complete newbie in the world of chemo and the world of cancer. He has been living it with me, that’s for sure, but it was over Skype and thus this chemo session was his introduction into a live setting. Pretty rough, if you ask me, to just jump into that kind of water. But I guess there is no gentle introduction into the world of cancer.

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The date was going according to a plan. My mum, with my brother, left twice to take a breather. The second time they went, I was just hooked into taxol, the rougher part of my chemo. Once they left I started to feel a reaction. The one you don’t want to feel. Heavy breathing, followed up by a wave of heat. According to a nurse and the machine that measured my blood pressure, it was a borderline infusion reaction. They stopped the taxol immediately and gave my body about a twenty minute break. After that I was able to finish my treatment. Scared but finished. That was my date number two.

My third date started perfectly. My brother was designated keeper of out little guy. For this job, he trained vigorously the whole week. One day before the chemo, we left him alone with our sweet little guy, whose poop was a critical part of my brother’s training. My brother actually puked. I mean puked just because of my baby’s teeny tiny poop that usually smells like a fresh spring meadow anyway. Even after my return from work you could overhear my brother mumbling something about “a smelly drunk shit of a person who ate rotten horse.”

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The cries of my brother were ringing in my ears as we left him with our little guy who had just sat on his potty…not to pee, that was clear. “Not even a minute, no way we have to be on our date in time!” I told him sternly and stepped over my brother’s kneeling body.

The third date was going according to plan. My sister-in-law came with her youngest one to cheer us up. My husband was keeping watch. My mum was there too. Once my sister-in-law left, and just as my mum went for her breather, it was time for the scary taxol. I had my husband there, and of course, there was a reaction this time. No doubt about it. Two minutes into the taxol dripping I got an abdominal cramp so strong that it reminded me of my birth contractions, followed up by very hard breathing. Suddenly I felt like a very heavy weight was on my chest and I could only breath by mouth, very shallowly. Again a cramp – followed by an enormous pressure built up from my belly coming up to my face and head. My husband told me it was all very fast. I also got very red in my face. This time there was definitively no doubt.

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They stopped my taxol, gave me double the amount of steroids and more benadryl. This time there was not an easy follow up. I was drugged out of my mind and it took me about twenty minutes to return to normal. It was scary, for me, for my husband who had to watch it and couldn’t help me and for my mum who just returned from her breather to find me so out of it. The emergency doctor contacted my oncologist and determined it was not safe to proceed and re-challenge the chemo. This date was going to have to end early.

There was one light moment on my third date. My brother didn’t puke – he was able to clean the little guy while breathing through his mouth. My brother is a smart guy and a quick learner.

We got in touch with my doctor who already had a plan prepared for us. No, I won’t have to go through the whole desensitization routine where your date gets up to seven or eight hours with you, where the taxol drips in your body with the crazy speed of one drop in forty minutes. There will be a new date for me called vinorelbine. A drug used mostly for metastatic cancer but also for breast cancer. A drug where you don’t have to use steroids or benadryl. A drug that drips in your body within ten minutes instead of an hour.  A drug I call the winner of a shitty lottery called my chemo treatment.

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I showed up to the fourth date full of anticipation, maybe even a little nervous. My husband was there with me as he has been the whole process, nervous, yes, scared, too. It went perfect this time.  Within an hour we were out. No crazy drugged out state after the benadryl, no sleeplessness after the steroid. A winner.

The same went for my next date and I hope for all of the other dates. And I heard people say that it is not smart to change your partners too often. Well, I think it is not bad to actually try more partners because you never know who will be the right one!

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14 thoughts on “When chemo kicks your ass, just a little bit

  1. Hi my name is Shelby. Your blog has given me some light on my situation. I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer last year, may 27th. The doctors told me if you were going to have any type of cancer, thyroid is the best. Easily treatable. Went through surgery. A week of radiation. Thought everything was clear and good to go. 6 months down the line and a routine ultrasound of my neck, a lymph node was found. Ct scan, blood work, a biopsy, another Ct scan and two other lymph nodes later and the cancer is back. I just had my second surgery in under a year last Wednesday. I’m 23 years old. A mother of one. I am trying my best to not break down. But reading your blog, your adventure, has given me some hope that I, too, can make this better. Thank you and I look forward to reading more and I hope your journey ends well. No one fights alone!

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    1. Hi Shelby, I am very happy to hear that my blog is helping you to get through this very aweful situation. It is actually partly why I started to write about it. The idea that there might be someone out there who would read it and know that she or he is not alone in this fight. As a follow mother I know how hard it is to keep it together but you know you don§t have to do it all the time. At the beggining I sometimes just went to bed and cried my eyes off and then it made me feel better and I could laugh and play with my little guy again. This road is so bumpy and insane I would have never in a milion years thought that I will become the person who has cancer..I am that person now and there is noway to go back to my sweet ignorance, you are the person too but you know we can make it, we can go though this and we will not only because of our little people but because of us. Fight, girl and cry if you need to but never give up! I wish you all the best and all the strenght that there is! You are right No one fights alone!

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  2. Hi Anne thanks for following my art blog and I truly hope you chemo forward goes well. My mom has taken an agent for pancreatic cancer and it weakens her but she has not described these terrible reactions so it sounds like it was a bad one for you. That’s how things can go..my son has epilepsy and it took a while to get the right medication. BTW my mom told me that your diet can really make a big difference in stopping nausea so I hope you see a nutritionist. 🙂

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    1. Thank you for your comment! I really like your blog! And I hope everything goes well for your mom!! I think e found a new drug for me and it works really well! Chemo is a tricky one but in the end it is a good one! I will look into the nutrition I try to eat healthy but wasn’t thinking about the nausea part…thank you for the tip!

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      1. You are welcome. I will ask my mom specifically what she is eating/taking. Nutritionists can be expensive… she does take a different agent but chemo is chemo… I don’t know the future. Technically speaking she has only a 6% chance to live, but she is hopeful.

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      2. I am so soryy to hear that your mom’s prognosis is so hard but do not listen to it and keep your head up my sister in law told me not to look at statistics she is a cancer doctor and says that statistics are so misleading! Tell your mum I am holding my fists for her and am thinking about her! And you all I know how much it all influence the whole family!!! You need to be storng too but I bet you are!

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      3. 🙂 Thank you. I am sure breast cancer is tough to go through even though prognosis is good. i had three relatives with it so I tested for BRCA but I was negative. Still, one could get it anyway. But it all looks less fearful
        compared to pancreatic cancer.

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  3. Hi, I started reading your blog because my mom had breast cancer years ago and I never really asked much about it and certainly not the details of chemo. I was 11 at the time. She passed away 10 years ago and I never asked more about it. The treatment she had might have been similar as she had chemo for many weeks then radiation. This gives me some insight as to what she might have thought at the time. Good luck. This is great that you have so much support.

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    1. I am sorry to hear about your mom. Yes, the treatment your mom went through was probably very similar to mine but also stronger as they used to give stronger chemo. My mother in law went through this treatment when my husband was 10. Now my husband is able to understand more what was happening around him as a child too. This experience is so scary for the whole family. Thank you for your note and I am happy that my blog might have helped you to understand all this a little better.

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