Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"Catch Up" Before Chemo

Two-inch incision

Before I begin chemotherapy treatment tomorrow, I find myself playing "catch up" much to do and so little time!  I guess I'll be like The Sound of Music, and start at the very beginning...

Monday morning, I reported to Coliseum's Day Hospital for my insertion of my "Power Port".  Our time to report was at 5:45 a.m., but I don't think my surgery actually began until after 8 a.m. New and old Jones County friends helped to make my experience as comfortable as possible during outpatient surgery.  I say it was an answer to prayers.  After a while, it was quite humorous about all of the Jones County folks that were taking care of me in the hospital.  I saw it as just blessings from God. 

A new tag for my key ring
 A smiling friend greeted me as I checked into the Day Hospital, and was allowed to be my discharge nurse.  How nice it was to talk with her while I waited!  My anesthesiologist is a parent of a Clifton Ridge Middle student, so we chatted about a major project that his son had been working on.  The Nurse-Anesthetist is a JC resident, and even the next-door neighbor of my principal.  The sister-in-law of one of my dear co-workers was one of my recovery nurses.  Don't forget that my surgeon is a Jones County native!  It really helped me to be surrounded by such kind and caring people during this anxious time.

The actual surgery wasn't too bad.  I have an incision on my left chest area, approximately two inches wide.  The Power Port is placed under the skin, and then connected to a main vein.  There is still some swelling, but all in all, just a bit discomfort.  The incision is closed with surgical glue.  I now have a medical card to show security personnel if I beep, in addition to a key tag (guess I'll put that right between the Ingles and Kroger tags!).  There's also a rubber bracelet that I can wear, to let everyone know that I have a Power Port installed.  One of my co-workers has suggested that we "bling it up"!  (I'll let her keep working on how to do that!)

I found out Tuesday that after three tests, my HER2 test results are not-amplified.  Praise God!  That means my chemotherapy treatment will be over in 5-6 months, as opposed to 12 months of treatment.  You can only imagine how excited I am to know that chemo will be over in January.  God is good!

Thursday is the big day...the day I begin my next battle phase.  My oncologist has prescribed the chemotherapy combination of TAC, which is a combination of the drugs Taxotere, Adriamycin and Cytoxan.  The treatments will be administered every 21 days, for a total of six treatments.  24 hours after chemotherapy, I will be administered a Neulasta injection.  Neulasta is a white blood cell booster that will help reduce the risk of infection during treatment.  I began taking a required oral steroid today, that also doubles as nausea medication.  Two doses today, two doses tomorrow and one dose on Friday morning.  Lots of additional pre-treatment medications will be administered tomorrow, but I am not exactly sure what.  Extra fluids, anti-nausea meds, benadryl and more are given prior to the administration of medications.  Sometimes, up to two hours is allocated just for pre-meds.

My appointment at the Cancer Center is for lab work at 10:40...this is the first time that my port will be accessed.  I have numbing cream to place on the port prior to the visit.  The cream should be applied 30 minutes prior to the visit, and I cover it with plastic wrap after administering the medication.  (Think that might be a picture worth sharing!)

I will meet with a nurse practitioner after labs, and then will begin infusions.  The treatment should take approximately four hours for actual drips, but there will be additional time required for monitoring after treatment is administered.  I'm hoping that we will make it home by 6:30 p.m. tomorrow night.

The side effects for my chemo combination are quite frightening, but I'm trying hard not to read / research too much.  My provider has assured me that they will do everything possible to keep me comfortable, and manage my side effects, but it is imperative that I share them with the doctor.

Just like Scarlett O'Hara says...."Tomorrow is another day".  In my world, tomorrow is the beginning of another phase in my battle with breast cancer.  All of my life, I've been told not to play with poisons, but yet tomorrow, I will be willingly hooked up to poison...the things we do to save our lives!

The Jones County School system begins Fall Break tomorrow.  My children and co-workers won't report to work.  At my house, I'm jokingly referring to it as my "Chemo Break".    My Nook and laptop are charging.  Headphones are packed.  Silly romantic comedies have been rented from Redbox.  Snacks are packed, and my journal is ready.  At this point, only God knows how the day will unfold, but one this is for certain...I am a survivor!



Anonymous said...

Tomorrow you become a WARRIOR! Let the battle begin!

Missy Swim said...

You are going to great. The only part I did not like was the adrymiacin push - it is bright red! Otherwise it is a fairly boring experience -but you get pampered...think of it as a spa day minus the Mani/pedi :)

ImaLazyDazeBee said...

Hurrah for the Shelby's and Janell's of the WORLD! Who knows you may have to teach me and many others on the "To-Do's and Not To Do's!" one day! I love both you girls...just little girls that have passed through my life that left good vibes for me to remember and now you both are GROWN UP ladies...venturing into territory that is totally foreign to me..and doing it so bravely I might add! Good luck Shelby and what a sweet message for her Janell! May God continue to richly bless you both!
Again I love you both,
Barbara/Bee (A Jones from Jasper!)

Anonymous said...

As you face this "task" that lies before you, know that you are not alone. There are many prayers that are being lifted up for you today, and most importantly I believe that God is going to be right beside you through the whole experience. (Just keep that in mind when you are choosing which movies to watch - just kidding.) My love and prayers go out to you and your family. Rhonda

tracy said...

u can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. we love u and i am continuing to pray for you :)

Josh said...

You are a survivor!! You got that right! God be with you!

Debi said...

My prayers are continuing for you as you add another chapter to your book of life. I named you as a recipient of the Versatile Award for Bloggers. Don't worry about the rules..Just know that you are thought of and prayed for. <3 and Hugs!

p.s. I'll add you on the Prayer Request List on The Front Porch again. <3