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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!