Breast Cancer Chemotherapy – 2nd Round

Needles | The Silver Pen

Breast Cancer Chemotherapy – 2nd Round

Good Morning, Chemo.  Let’s go kick some FBC tush!  …and one small favor: could you avoid nearly destroying me this time?

This is my 2nd of 6 doses, meaning that I’m 1/3 of the way there.  About my highest capacity for math, but I’ll take it!

As you may remember from my first chemo post, dressing for chemo (and anything else, for that matter!) is important to me. It makes me feel good and confident and surprisingly comfortable.

So, the outfits that I wear to chemo have special meaning to me.

Today, I am wearing a super chic Lyn Devon coat/vest from her Fall 2010 collection (http://www.lyndevon.com). It was one of my favorite purchases of the season because  it is super comfortable and easy to wear.

Additionally I am wearing a very special white cotton J.Crew Haberdashery Stretch shirt (you’ll see what makes it special in a minute).  I do have a white shirt “problem”…and no, I won’t tell you how many I have!

I am also carrying a new and extraordinarily special and fabulous Alexandra Knight bag (http://www.alexandraknightonline.com/) called the “Allie”. It is my new favorite bag that I carry everywhere!  It’s chocolate alligator with an orange interior lining.  LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

I also decided to go with a scarf (cotton Hermes) today rather than my wig.  I have a wonderful, very lightweight wig; however, it is itchy (as wigs tend to be). So, if ever there were a place to wear a scarf, it’s to a cancer center. I’m getting a little used to wearing the scarves: a) because they are pretty and b) because they are very, very wearable.

I have on some super comfortable Prada navy cotton pants and very playful navy Roger Vivier shoes that always make me smile when I look at them.

My most special piece that I am wearing is my mother-in-law’s vintage gold bracelet.  In addition to it’s physical beauty, it has wonderful emotional sentimentality. She gave it to me just before she died because she knew how much I admired it.

So, feeling fashionably armed for the morning of chemo, in I went.

Outfit includes some old and some new.

Lalee’s Bracelet

Smile inducing (and comfortable!) Roger Vivier shoes

Hermes scarf (from the back) tied with a bow

A very thoughtful and quite hilarious friend gave me this J.Crew shirt monogrammed with FBC (in pink, my favorite color).  I absolutely love it!

FBC monogram on my white shirt

FBC meets chemotherapy. FBC, you don’t stand a chance!

The Husband of the Year (i.e., HOTY) reading his iPad and planning his FBC-free year

A beautiful handkerchief that my mother-in-law gave to me. It is wonderfully “handy” now because I am quite snorggley.

Prior to beginning this round, we had a talk with my Oncologist about how to aggressively treat chemo side effects prophylactically, in other words, BEFORE they descend again! He said that I have essentially had every side effect imaginable (and some unimaginable, like the TICK!). In other words, we know how (badly!) my body reacts to this chemotherapy, so our philosophy is forewarned is forearmed (Silver Lining!)

So, when I go in for my tomorrow for my $6000 shot, we are going to take some precautionary measures. You may recall that (in addition to the price tag, which I can’t get out of my head!) this is the shot that I have to take after every chemo infusion. It is a prescription medication called a white cell booster that helps your body produce more white blood cells to reduce your risk of infection.

In addition to the shot, my Oncologist is going to give me some IV fluids to (hopefully!) help prevent some of the outrageous nausea that I had.  Additionally, after the first infusion of chemo, mouth sores surfaced at day 8, so to hopefully prevent them, I’m going to start using the “Magic Swish” (that name still blow my mind) on day 7.

Our goal with this chemo infusion is to outsmart the chemo side effects.  To beat the side effects to the punch.

So, here we are in the chemo room.  It’s a nice, happy, calm and peaceful place (aside from the guy snoring!). I’m all hooked up to the IV.  Fortunately, I used my EMLA cream, so the Huber needle stick was easy breezy this morning (SL).

Here is the order of the drugs:

#1: Intravenous Fluids (100 ml of Normal Saline) to things going, open the intravenous lines going into my port-a-cath and to hydrate me.

#2: To these fluids my sweet nurse (all of the nurses are soooo nice!) added the anti-nausea medication Aloxi as well as my personal fave (NOT!), Decadron (a steroid that is an anti-inflammatory, prevents fluid retention, and gives short energy boosts-followed by fatigue. And it also happens to make me cuckoo!).

#3: Benadryl prevents an unsavory allergic reaction to chemo and also causes sleepiness and dry mouth.

#4: Intravenous Fluids (another 100 ml of Normal Saline) flushes the remaining Aloxi and Bendaryl through the IV line. This ensures that all of the medications to get through the tubing system before the chemo is administered.

#5: Cytoxan works on cancer cells by damaging their RNA or DNA when they are in their resting phase (not dividing). Because Cytoxan causes breaks in the DNA of cancer cells, they can’t keep dividing, and they die (http://breastcancer.about.com). SL!

#6: Taxotere interferes with the ability of cancer cells to divide and therefore, they die. Taxotere uses solvents to dissolve paclitaxel, the main ingredient, so the medicine can enter the bloodstream. These solvents may make Taxotere difficult to tolerate while being given. People usually take pre-medications (e.g., Decadron and Aloxi) to minimize reactions to the solvents (http://breastcancer.org). This is the big doozie of chemo’s…the one most likely to cause a narley reaction. The common side effects are (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov):

  • nausea – HAD IT.
  • vomiting – HAD IT.
  • diarrhea – HAD IT.
  • constipation – HAD IT.
  • changes in taste – HAD IT.
  • extreme tiredness  – HAD IT.
  • muscle, joint, or bone pain – HAD IT.
  • hair loss – BALD. BALD. BALD.
  • nail changes  – HAD IT.
  • increased eye tearing – HAD IT.
  • sores in the mouth and throat  – HAD IT.

#7: Adromycin is the final chemo drug that is hand-pushed through a syringe (rather than a drip) very slowly into the intravenous line.  It is the one most likely to cause a narley reaction (comparable to the ones above that I’ve ALREADY HAD!). In fact, it has a nickname: “The Red Devil.”  Ewwwwwww….

So, I’m doing well this moring (SL) and am so hopeful that we are turning a positive corner.  As always, I hope for the best, but prepare for the worst.  The good (well, sort of good) thing, according to my Oncologist, is that I’ve seen the worst of the worst side effects, so at this point, we know what we are dealing with (SL).  So, if or when side effect present themselves, I will be much more prepared and ready to handle them.  This is a real SL!

All human wisdom is summed up in two words – wait and hope.

-Alexandre Dumas Pere

Let’s just say that I’m going to be really, really, really wise after FBC!  Wishing you all SL’d wisdom, though NOT through FBC.

* Photo credit: Elizabeth Messina


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Comments

  1. Debbie brown says

    So sorry and so understanding. I go for round 2 this week of 16. No hair loss yet but experienced all the other side effects. Keep pushing on and fighting the good fight. A positive attitude goes a long way!
    Deb in WV

  2. says

    I do not even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I don't know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!

  3. Deb says

    Hello-

    I have been touched by your wisdom, insight and humour as I have been on my own "FBC" journey over the last few months. I just completed round 2 out of 6 this week of chemo and can soooo relate to both the emotional and physical effects. Even though you wrote this particular post more than a year ago, it remains (along with your other posts) an inspiration and a great help as I navigate similar terrain and also a source of insight for my family and friends.

    Thank you and warm regards,

    Deb

    • says

      Thank you so much for your note, Deb. I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. I'm sending my very very best wishes to you as you continue to navigate the long, windy, pothole filled road. Please stay in touch and take good care!
      Hollye

  4. says

    Hi,
    I'm new to your blog but I want to write today and wish you the best of luck. You have the spirit, style and the smile that encourages people. I am praying for you. It doesn't matter that we don't know each other. We each have a blog, we each care about people and life's good lessons. We learn from the bad lessons and take from it what we can. It took me many years in life to do this but I try to learn every possible lesson I can. It doesn't always work, but I keep trying. I write about many things in my blog, chronic pain, food, family, my teenagers, my dog and all sorts of different topics. They are varied but they all come straight from the heart.
    Blessings to you, my new friend.
    Laurie aka hibernationnow.wordpress.com

    • says

      Thanks so much for your kind note, Laurie. I couldn't agree more about learning every possible lesson. It's the only option for me! Thank you for sharing your blog. I look forward to reading it. Take good care and please stay in touch!

  5. Debbie Chinen says

    I hope you are doing well. I had 8 chemo's . I guess I was one of the lucky one's I never got sick not even once , I did get tired because I work all through my chemo treatments. I think working helped me through it I work for the school of med. UCI Ca..I knew if something went wrong I would just be taken to the Hospital so I felt safe.. It has been two years when I started my journey with breast cancer its hard to think it has been that long it goes by fast so I hope it will for you too To all women with breast cancer I look at them and myself as sisters WE CAN BEAT THIS.

    Debbie Chinen

    • says

      Thanks for your note, Debbie! I'm so glad to hear that you never got sick. That's awesome. My best friend who also had breast cancer never got sick either. What a relief. The drugs that exist now are certainly so much better than they used to be. Thanks again for commenting. Please take good care and stay in touch!

  6. Stacey Fergusson says

    My friend, through your brave and transluscent sharing of your FBC experience, we are ALL the wiser. Thank you for showing us.
    Big love and light to You, HOTY, Soon to be 5 and Love Buzz.xxoo