I just got back from the cancer center at Bergan Mercy. It was a half a day today. They drew labs, had be talk to a resident (always my favorite – insert sarcasm here – so he can ask me to relay my entire story to him….which he then regurgitates to my chemo doctor in front of me as he gives a report to him…then he gets questioned by my doctor), see the doctor and then head up to the infusion room for chemo treatment. I know that this is a teaching hospital, but to have to go through my entire story every single time gets old…and kind of irritating. All staff were wearing masks today. I contacted a good friend from our Okinawa days who is now in Colorado. I saw online that she was making masks. You can’t find them anywhere and I don’t have any. She said she would send me one. Thank you so much Roxanne!
They took their time giving me Doxil today. I first get two medications through my port. One is just in a large syringe pushed by the nurse. It is an anti-emetic (takes away the nausea). The other one is a bag of meds infused over 15 minutes or so and is a steroid to help you feel a bit better for today and tomorrow. Evidently I will be taking oral steroids for the next three days – while I was in the infusion chair, I got a text saying my meds at Walgreens were ready. I didn’t even know that they had put in an order for meds. One for the steroids for the first three days after chemo, and two others to help with nausea and vomiting to be used as needed. Guess we know what the main side effect may be….Although I got those prescribed for the other chemo combo and didn’t have an issue. Time will tell. My oncologist here said I would lose my hair. So we’ll see if this dark peach fuzz with actually end up growing out or not. Usually week 3 is when is starts to come out, I have heard. We shall see. I noticed my eyelashes and eyebrows are really thinning this last week, which is weird because I have been off chemo for 6-8 weeks now. Goes to show you how long this poison lasts in your system. Or maybe it is the stress of helping a 15 year old high school girl do extended learning from home. (actually she is doing really really well! – although I did just have to relay the message that she won’t be going back to school until the fall.) So back to the chemo. Doxil is also called the Red Devil. It is actually red in color. It looked like red Kool aide. I am not fond of kool aide, just for the record. So far I am feeling okay. It is the whole first week that I will be recording side effects and they should be worse during this time. I keep a daily journal of what is going on with me…if I have fevers….any exercise I do….how much water I drink…if I am feeling nauseous….whatever. It helps me know what is my new norm with chemo and also helps me see trends which I may need to share with the doctor.
I was kinda sad going today. Not because I was started yet another chemo agent (but I am sure that was some of it)…and not because I knew I was going to not feel good for an undetermined amount of time again (this was a big chunk of it, if I am being honest with you all), but because for the first time, Rich couldn’t come with me. Only patients are allowed in the hospital and clinics now at Bergan Mercy, unless you are giving birth. So I was feeling a little down. That pesky nurse brain whispered in my ear that this was a new toxin being pumped into my body. I am not allergic to anything but if I happened to be allergic to this and it is being pumped into the large vein just adjacent to my heart, the results could be catastrophic. So I showed Rich where I had put my notes for my desires for my funeral service. There’s a real kick in the gut at 0800 in the morning. Just in case, I told him….so he knows where it is. I should probably at some point type it up and put it on my computer but that made it too real. I had it handwritten in the back of a spiral notebook squirreled away in a drawer. I was having a bit of a pity party in my head this morning. I wanted Rich to able to be at my side. That quickly left when two new chemo patients came into the infusion center alone today and sat near me. Near is relative…they were probably 12-15 feet away. I made sure to talk to both of them for a little while. Being there for your first chemo treatment is really overwhelming and scary. To have to be alone compounds the issue. I hope I will see them both again. They were both really nice. Pity party squashed.
So I have decided that I have so many thoughtful people in my life that need to be recognized for their wonderfulness. Mr. and Mrs. Doyle send me a card about every week. I knew them from 8th-10th grade when I lived in Alexandria, VA. They lived a couple doors down and their house was where the backyard football games were held. They have two son whom I adore. They followed in their dad’s footsteps and are very successful officers in the Army. Mr. and Mrs. Doyle were always so nice to me, a tomboy, who played QB in their yard with the guys. (I can throw a football, if you don’t mind me bragging for a sec). The fact that they still remember me and care enough to send me a card every week humbles me. Thank you. And then there is Mei-Ling Marshall. We met ONE TIME. Only once. She and I were bridesmaids in a wedding at the Naval Academy at Annapolis….in 1992. Yes, 28 years ago. Funny thing…when you get married at the Naval Academy, you have to have the bridesmaids go from tallest to shortest. I am all of 5’3″, so you know where I fell. Mei-Ling stood next to me. She was a midshipman and I was getting ready to get commissioned into the Air Force. We bonded over knowing the couple and being two women headed into military service at the same time. We hit it off right away. For 28 years we have stayed in touch. We each have three beautiful kids, yet with her career in the Navy and our life in the Air Force, our paths never again crossed. I have only met her that one time. When she found out that I was sick, she demanded the names and contact information of the “boots on the ground” in my area caring for me. She has sent care packages, gift cards for restaurants, and countless emails and texts of support. She is the BOMB DIGGITY (I am allowed to use this vernacular because I am almost 50 and have cancer…don’t judge!) 😉 This morning I sat down to have chemo and I had so many messages of support on Facebook and through texts from friends, near and far. I was thrilled to finally connect with a couple of people on the phone. To hear a voice when in isolation…..it is amazing. Dan Buck – I love you, Brother! So great to catch up! And Aashu Montiego…..it was amazing to talk with you! (We met in Norway. She is Tim’s Confirmation sponsor, and I am her son, Keegan’s, Confirmation sponsor. Keegan and Tim were good friends. They are originally from India and now live in Canada. – yes, I have a lot of global friends like that.) Deacon Steve and Angie Luna are bringing my family dinner tonight….as so many others have done over the last few months – for which I am so grateful! I am surrounded by love and I am so very thankful for it all. Thank you everyone. I am truly blessed to have you all in my life. So many people do good things and never get recognized for it….and I want you to know how much I appreciate you and let others know the good in you. It helps you be a disciple to others…and you aren’t boasting about it….I am bragging on about you! So please accept my humble thanks!