Monday, October 24, 2011

My First Day of Poisoning

Throughout my life, many people have stressed the importance of not having contact with poison:  parents, grandparents, teachers, store clerks,  policemen, etc.  Caution is to always be used with household cleaning supplies, pesticides, and herbicides.  I remember even being told not to polish my nails with white-out, for fear of how the chemicals might sink into my bloodstream.  Have you ever heard these precautions before?  The big  skull and cross bone appears...Do Not play with poison.  Last week, I willingly took save my life.

Utilizing my Power Port for treatment
Thursday, October 6 was Treatment 1 in my new regime to battle this breast cancer demon.  As I reflect back on my first chemo treatment,  I have experienced some of the hardest days in my life, with the ones that followed.  Throughout it all, I know that I have had the prayers of many surrounding me with peace and comfort, but it is still something that is indescribable.  There are days that I remember with clarity, and days that are fuzzy, but I'll try to share my experiences in "keeping it real".

Day 1 - I arrived at the cancer center at 10:30 a.m. on Friday morning.  I utilized my numbing cream, so it was a breeze when my port was accessed.  The easiest way I could describe my port access is that it was a sterile "plug in".  All of the sterilized equipment, gloves, masks and needles were there, and then she just plugged the needle in to my power port.  Testing was done for blood return, blood collected for testing and flushed with saline...and then it was good to go.  Next step: poison time!

The chemotherapy recliner that was mine for six hours!
I met with Dr. Jones, and we went over my final chemotherapy regime, and answered any other questions I had.  She detailed that my HER2 status was negative, or not-amplified, so Herceptin will not be added to my chemotherapy treatment.  My actual drug combination is TAC.  This involves Taotere, Adriamycin and Cytoxan.  My regime will also include a Neulasta injection the day following chemotherapy.  Early clinical trials of my chemo combination showed that there were fatalities during the first five days of treatment, due to infection, so I will be prescribed an antibiotic to take each cycle for days 5-11.   (Isn't that what you always want to hear your doctor saying?)  It was rather traumatic hearing my oncologist state that fact, but it is what it is...and I will gladly take the antibiotic!  (Can I tell you how much I hate medicine, though!)

One drug is actually manually pushed in for safety!
My first chemotherapy administration began at approximately 11:30 a.m.  Via my power port, I received the following drugs:  Aloxi, Cytonxin, Decadron, Doxiruben (Adriamycin), Emend and Taxotere, in addition to regular fluids, Tylenol, and Benadryl. I can't even tell you how surreal it was to sit there in the chemotherapy recliner, and know that I willingly agreed to have poison injected into my body.  How did I get so far...worried about polishing my nails with white-out and the poison factor, to actually having it injected into my veins to save my life?

As I sat in the chemotherapy room until almost 5:00 p.m., I saw people come and go.  My family members could come in and check on me, bring me a drink, etc... but they are forbidden by FDA and EPA regulations to remain in the chemotherapy room.  The room itself actually has over thirty treatment chairs in it, and some of the hardest working nurses I have ever met in my life.  The first few moments of administering any drug were closely monitored, in case I had a reaction.  My nurse's name was Angie, and as long as she was on duty, I was her responsibility.  (I'll have to write another post just about the chemo room in the future.)

I returned home with several new prescriptions, including one antiemetic.  An antiemetic is a drug that controls or may even prevent nausea.  I began taking them immediately upon returning home, but about 6 p.m. the nausea hit, and there wasn't any point of return, or so it seemed.  Finally, about 10 p.m. we called the on-call physician at the cancer center.  Jeff ( my mid-level practioner) immediately called me back.  I was instructed to come back into the office for additional fluids the next day, and was allowed to take a Phenergan tablet to see if it would assist with the nausea.  My whole life, phenergan has been our "vomiting go-to drug", but apparently it is very disliked in the oncology world!  The Phenergan helped, and I was finally able to rest after midnight.

This is just a summary of Day only took me over two weeks to finally finish writing it!  I apologize for lapsing with my blog for a few weeks.  As you can imagine, so much has gone on since my first chemo fact, it will take me several blog posts to catch you up on it.  Maybe I'll catch up just in time to have my chemotherapy number 2 session, which is scheduled for this Thursday!



Anonymous said...

Shelby, each day I check the computer to learn how you are feeling. I am so sorry that the"poison" makes you so sick while it is curing the cancer. Just know that each day, you and your family are lifted up in prayer. I love you all.
Aunt Marilyn

Scarlett said...

Girl, you are so strong and I am amazed everyday at the strength and grace you carry everyday. Stay courageous, and know I support you and you are always in my prayers.

tracy said...

I am so glad you feel well enough to blog. i check your facebook page when i dont see a updated post on here. i am so sorry that you were so sick! you are continually in my prayers and i hope the treatments get easier.