Chemo #1 (Sept 13-26)
Chemo #1. It all began Thursday, September 13th. Two days before National Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Awareness Day. For those of you that don’t know, HL is a blood cancer that involves the lymphatic system. Symptoms can be swollen lymph nodes, itching, night sweats, fever, fatigue, loss of appetite to name a few.
Let’s talk “chemo” for a minute. Everyone has their own version of what will happen on their first chemo day. I was confident I was going to turn green, start convulsing, start puking and need to be wheeled out after it was over because I couldn’t walk. Ok, maybe I’m a bit dramatic, but nothing I pictured was good. No one ever says “man, I loved chemo”. There is a reason for this.
When most people think “chemo” they think everyone is getting the same drugs for all sorts of cancers, but that’s not the case. There are over 100 chemo drugs out there. Each cancer and individual has his/her own “chemo cocktail”. I also receive an anti nausea and steroid prior to the 4 chemo drugs going in. It’s a science of how fast/slow the drugs can go into my body. Some have to be hand administered and it only takes 10 minutes and others take a hour on a drip precisely calculated as well.
I was all comfy in my recliner (who am I kidding, the recliner wasn’t comfy) and had already waited the 30 minutes for the premeds to kick in and it was TIME! NO. YES. NO. It was time for the first chemo drug to go into my body. Should I make a run for it? Tempting, but this chemo gig was my decision and I will follow through with it.
First up: The red one. The red devil it has been nicknamed for it’s bright red color. I like to call it my red soldier fighting a fight towards my remission. This drug will make you pee red/pink a few times.
Super cool, eh? At that exact moment of it being administered I found a sense of peace. God was with me. He’s always with me. My husband was with me and I can only imagine his thoughts as he watched the nurse push the red chemo into my body through a large syringe.
I think the most nerve wracking was when the bleomycin (#2) was administered. This is the one that can cause lung issues. I pray I only have 3 more doses of this drug. The nurse got my drug all ready to go and then says something like “let us know if you have shortness of breath or tightening of the chest, chest pain, etc”. SAY WHAT? I am supposed to sit in my recliner for a hour while this drug goes into my system and fear my chest will start to tighten? Let the good times begin.
Welcome to your new normal, Angie! You can do this! Goodness. That was fun. I won’t bore you with anymore drug information, but I will say it all went well for my first chemo. UNEVENTFUL. This is the word you want to hear on chemo day. This is the word I want to hear and say for the next 6 months.
To my surprise I drank a green juice, water, chomped on loads of pellet ice and ate healthy snacks all through the chemo and felt pretty good. Tired, but good. That zofran makes me so sleepy. I watched all the news coverage of the hurricane coming our way. I talked to my husband. I read. I never turned green. I never convulsed. I never puked.
Success. Chemo was from about 9:20am-2pm that day. Blood work was done the day before but since this was my first time I had to do the sit and wait for a bad reaction game.
The days after chemo weren’t bad. The steroid made me so hungry. That lasted a few days after. I remained on anti nausea for 4 days after chemo. I never felt sick or fatigued. Just maybe a little tired come evening time.
Around about day 5 my tongue and mouth were on fire. I couldn’t eat anything cold or hot. I couldn’t eat anything with flavor or it caused a painful experience. It sucked! I thought this was how it would be for the rest of the cycles. Imagine your foot falls asleep and you try to move it, that is how my tongue felt. Pins and needles. Every time I tried to sip water through a straw it was extremely painful. I quickly ditched the straw those days. I did a quick google search and found a cancer patient that had success with oil pulling. I used organic coconut oil and Young Living clove oil and pulled for 20 min. Spitting it out in the trash and then rinsing very well with warm salt water. I did this 3 days in a row and the pain went away. I was grateful.
My hardest part so far is keeping my weight up. Although I am finally close to my goal weight I set out for January of this year (thanks cancer diagnosis freak out for that) I want to stay the weight I am or gain during chemo. I’m learning a new way to eat and it’s often! Eating when you aren’t hungry isn’t fun, but I do it like it’s my job. If I can’t tolerate chewing, then I’m drinking high protein drinks I make at home. Heck I drink them daily now and I am not a huge creamy smoothie fan.
My appetite came back after the pain in my mouth let up. YAY! I”ll touch more on my day to day activities in a later post. Keep in mind every person’s cancer journey is so different. I am have met a few ladies that have HL and battling and they are on the same protocol as I am and they have different side effects. Since I am done having children that gives me an advance as I don’t have to take certain medications to help with that after chemo.
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
My parents were in town and we had a nice visit. Dad helped install my anti-bac machine in the kitchen. He’s a doer and loves projects. I get that from him.
Never once did I say, “why God, why me?” when I got this diagnosis. More like “why not?” No one is immune from cancer, not even me. I have spent my past 8 years of my life dedicated to doing the best for my body and here I sit with a blood cancer. Do I think all those years were a waste of time if I still sit here with cancer? heck, NO. Perhaps God put me on this journey way back when to be exactly where I am now to be strong and faithful in my journey. To start my cancer journey healthy and prepared. I do think all my education is coming in handy for sure. I was a huge jump ahead in prep for this battle.
I believe this cancer journey is one that will lead me to an even greater love of my Lord and Savoir. A greater appreciate for the power of prayer. I believe it will test me. I believe it guide me. I believe it will better me. This cancer will not destroy me. It will not define me, but it will for sure challenge me. Everyone knows I love a good challenge. HA!
Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13
From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your prayers nd kind words.
Thank you to my friends and family for your prayers, near and far. Thank you to the strangers that are praying for me from all over the world. Your prayers are being felt. I am grateful to have lived through the first two weeks of chemo with very few issues.
Much love, Angie
Many have asked for my address so I am going to include it here:
26 Old Fox Trail
Lake Wylie, SC 29710