The Day I Met Red Devil Chemo

On January 12, 2009, the port was in place and we were ready to go. A portacath is a small medical appliance inserted near the left clavicle and had a tube that went directly to the superior vena cava. This positioning allowed the infused chemotherapy to be spread throughout the body quickly and efficiently and that’s what I needed.

Alone Time With God

Thursday, January 15th was my first chemo treatment.  I went to school that morning and stayed the majority of the day because I had a late afternoon appointment.  I left work early enough to come home and take a shower and get alone with God and listen to my praise and worship music. In fact, this would become my routine before each chemo. Each time I prayed, “Now God, if this is all a mistake and when I get there they are so apologetic, I won’t even be mad….but, if I need to go through this experience, I trust you and rely on you to give me strength.”  You see, I am only human.  Yes , I’m a Christian and I need to practice what I preach but….I am human, therefore, I rely on God for strength. Before I knew it, my mom was at my house to pick me up and we were on the way.

Visit With Dr. Wonderful (chemo doctor)

When I arrived at the doctors office, the nurse brought out a pill for me to take, Emend, so I would have it in my system before my treatment. It would help with the side effects of nausea and vomiting. It was my turn to see the doctor first.  I went back to the office and Dr. Wonderful asked me how I was doing.  I told her that I was scared.  There were so many negative stories about chemo and I was scared.  She assured me that everything was going to be alright. She reviewed my lab work to make sure my blood counts could sustain the first dose of A/C (red devil) chemo. She ordered more testing: Bone Scan, Breast MRI and BRCA testing. After all, I had two daughters at home and we needed to know if I carried the BRCA gene. She also gave me a prescription for an anti-nausea pill to take for 24-48 hours after chemo.

Dr. Wonderful reminded me that I should have minimal contact with the public:

  • no trips to the grocery store
  • no eating out
  • no drive throughs
  • no church (Well, I still went to church for a while but I avoided all of the handshaking/greetings.)

Chemo Lab

The chemo lab was ready for me.  I went to my designated chair and was greeted by Jerry, one of the best chemo nurses. As he was attempting to access my port, he said, “I’m going to need a long needle.”  I know that I went pale.  I looked at my mom with the same look you give your mom when you are getting your childhood immunizations.  She excused herself to go get a water or snack.  I just know she left.

By the time she got back, I was all hooked up to the ‘red devil’ chemo.  It was literally red.  Jerry brought me a warm blanket, I reclined my chair and zoned out to my praise and worship music.  I updated my notes, lab reports and chemo orders from my doctor’s visit in my notebook. Jerry checked on me frequently since this was my first time to receive A/C chemo. When I was almost done with my treatment, he said to go eat a good healthy meal with protein, non greasy, because it might be all I have to eat for a few days. I took his advice and had a very healthy meal.

When I got home, I visited with my girls and husband and around 10-10:30 PM, an indescribable feeling came over my body.  It was like the room was spinning and I felt like a 50 pound blanket was covering me.  Per Jerry’s advice, I went straight to bed. I didn’t want to vomit/get sick so I laid very still.  My mom came in with the anti-nausea medicine and I really didn’t want to move to take it because I didn’t want to get sick.  Every time I moved my head, I felt an overwhelming feeling of nausea that I could barely hold back.  So, I laid very still!

The next morning, my mom came to stay with me and brought me some pears to eat with the anti-nausea medication. Purple (light) Gatorade became my best friend.  It was the only thing that felt good on my stomach. When I would eat or drink, I would try not to lift my head any more than necessary.  When someone would come in the room to talk to me, I would not move my head to look at them.  They would have to move to my direct line of vision.

I slept the next day (Friday) until about 1:00 PM. I sat out in the living room for a couple of hours and tried to eat something and headed back to bed.  Saturday, I spent most of my time sitting up in my special chair in the living room. I still had a strong feeling of nausea. On Sunday, I went to church, avoiding all of the hand shaking. Later that afternoon, my dear friends Debbie and Moe brought an amazing meal of baked turkey, mashed potatoes and rolls. I was feeling good enough to eat a little more each day.

I returned to work on Monday trying to keep life as normal as possible.  The new normal would begin.  The neupogen shots had arrived at my house and Paige would start to give me that injection Monday night.  I am so blessed that she graduated from Nursing School on December 11, 2008. God knew that she would be essential to my recovery. God is so good!

Paige and I at her graduation from nursing school
Paige and I at her graduation from nursing school
Paige with mom and dad.
Paige with mom and dad.
Paige and her sister these girls
Paige and her sister these girls

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