Ladies and Gentleman! I’m coming to you LIVE from Allegheny General Hospital’s Cancer Center in Pittsburgh’s beautiful Northside neighborhood! You’re about to get an exclusive sneak peek into exactly what treatment is like. Exciting, I know. Please try to contain yourselves. This is chemo #3 of 8. You know what means…almost 1/2 way done. YAY! Everyone is always asking about chemo and treatment and what it’s like, so I thought I would take this opportunity to let you all in on the true life of a cancer patient. Think of this as an episode of MTV’s Real World, only without all the booze, illegitimate sexual relations and bad ass house on the beach (I got nothin but love for ya, East Deutschtown…yinz would rock the real world). Ok, so realistically this is nothing like the real world, but I hope to entertain you either way. And I just really want to say this…
You think you know, but you have no idea… Chemo day is always long. My appointment was at 11:30 and it’s currently 12:51 and I’m just starting to get my pre-meds and other drugs. There’s a lot of prep work that needs to be done before the nurses start to actually administer the chemo therapy…like exams, accessing my port, vitals, pre-meds, gossiping, etc. I typically see my oncologist (who is also my buddy and saving grace) before each treatment. She gives me an exam, making sure that the chemo is doing what it’s supposed to do and that there’s nothing peculiar going on. I have nothing but good things to say about all of my doctors and nurses. They’re just the smartest, most talented and genuine group of people a gal could ask for in a medical team. On a side note, AGH should probably hire me to do their communications and PR. I would be a superstar. After my exam with my oncologist, I head back to the treatment room which is basically a huge room with lots of big comfy chairs and all kinds of top notch, super cool medical equipment. It’s really quiet, aside from the constant beeping of the machines that administer all of the drugs, so I typically pop in my ear buds and rock out to the avetts while mi madre plays on her ipad. She’s fairly new to facebook so I assume she’s probably tagging and sharing and stalking like there’s no tomorrow.
Fast forward. Check-in and exam…done. Prep and pre-meds….go! All of the pre-med drugs they give me are used primarily to control and even prevent the nausea that comes along with getting the red devil chemo. Before every treatment, I am injected with aloxi, emend, decadron and ativan and they are all given through Spike, my port, and have to slowly drip into my system, so it can take a while. As I type, I am currently being injected with ativan, which is making me feel all loopy and warm inside…and kind of like I want to watch the discovery channel all day. Not gonna lie…it’s pretty awesome. I’ve never blogged on narcotics before…this might be good.
1:55pm Chemo time. The red devil chemo comes out in two huge syringes and has to be administered manually by one of the nurses, it usually takes about an hour for all of the chemo to be injected. The chemo is literally bright red…that’s where the idea for my next tattoo came from. I had always liked the meaning of the word sanguine (cheerfully optimistic) but it wasn’t until I saw the other definition of sanguine (red in color) and heard of the type of chemo I would be having that I decided I like it enough to get it tattooed on my body and have it live there for the rest of my life. I can’t wait to get it. Any artists out there want to work with me on designing it?? I also get another type of chemo after the red devil, cytoxan, which is set up on the drip just like the pre-meds. It also takes about an hour.
2:27pm. Ok. The drugs are kicking in. I’m starting to feel pretty tired (which is completely normal). When I had my last round of chemo I slept for like 72 hours straight no joke. I barely got up to pee. It was good though (not the peeing part, the sleep part)…I slept all the way through the bad parts of chemo… the nausea and being uncomfortable. It really worked out. I think I’ll leave you all for now before I start crazy talk…drug induced rants about how much I love candy or how the 5-day work weeks is the worst idea ever invented. Or even worse, who is getting my vote for mayor in the primaries. I choose to spare you all.
Before I sign off…I was left the loveliest of messages from one of my sisters friends that touched my heart and brought a smile to my face and I want to share it with you, friends. “…I am not gonna lie I was heartbroken to hear this T…. so undeserved. But as I read your blog I get it…I can see the “why?”. You are changing hearts minds and lives kiddo!” I wouldn’t touch the “why question” with a 10 foot stick before this. I just didn’t see the point in wracking my brain for an answer that I will likely never get. But Meg, you’ve opened my mind to a new perspective and I thank you. Now I know that understanding the scientific and medical reasoning behind my first AND second battle with cancer isn’t what’s important here. Understanding why I’m here, going through what I’m going through is the real question and I already know the answer to that:)
Until next time,
One Love -T