Saturday, June 1, 2013

what doesn't kill me gives me cancer

that's a joke!

is there a honeymoon period for everything in life?  cause i think i'm in the honeymoon phase of chemo.

here is the (hopefully) quick and dirty...

greg and i rode our bikes to the hospital yesterday.  after waiting just a few minutes the nurse, who ended up being the super great english-speaking nurse, kathrine (pronounced katrina), came out and took me to the room she's in each day, with three spots for patients getting chemo.  that seems to be how they do it here... smaller rooms with a few chairs and a nurse's desk instead of the one big room i pictured from 'breaking bad.'  the nurse told us there'd be another patient coming in at 10, but he or she never did, so i had the room to myself and greg got to sit in one of the comfy chairs.

anyway, she explained things, we asked her questions, and she went and got the meds.  i get two chemo meds for the first four rounds and a different med plus an extra kick of steroids for the last four rounds.  apparently these meds are the standard treatment for breast cancer right now, so even if i were in the u.s. i'd be getting this cocktail.

the meds came in through an iv drip (i don't actually know all the terminology yet, but you get the idea, right?) to a vein in my left arm.  the first med is red and if you forget this, you'll remember it the first few times you pee.  the second med gives your nasal passage around the top of your nose and behind your right eye, a strange feeling.  each med only took about 20 minutes to go in.  i didn't even get to finish my magazine article!  i signed up for some trial test run of an online system they're considering, where i log in and give my symptoms over the internet (as it goes now, a nurse will call me the day before treatment and see how i'm doing... i'll also travel over to the hospital to give them my blood that day before treatment to make sure my immune system's up for another dose or if i need to wait a week.  fortunately, all the cancer patients get to show this little orange card and jump to the front of the line at the lab.  it does not, however, work at the super best.)

what else?  well, i guess that was it!  i was hungry, so greg and i biked into town and had a lovely lunch that i now completely and totally regret having.  never mention goat cheese salad to me for the foreseeable future.  it's the one thing that truly makes me nauseous (which i still have trouble spelling... that and 'mastectomy' and 'metastases' i've learned).  anyway, it was a nice lunch and i was not instantly nauseous over it.  that came later in the day perhaps... i can't remember now.  it feels like i've detested goat cheese salad for my entire life at this point... anyway, then we did a little shopping, for a binder for will, so he could make his first book, for a new hair dryer-- cause you know, i'm so in need of a new hair dryer right now (but the other one's conking out (okay, just spelled conking with a 'k'-- the danish is taking hold) and well, there will be mothers coming who will need one), etc.

the nurse said patients report feeling, not quite intoxicated, but that they can feel that something's in them.  i think what they really mean is that they feel intoxicated.  because that's how i felt.  but in the fun 'let's go camping!' kind of way.  greg was afraid i might walk out into traffic, but i knew what i was doing.  why doesn't anyone ever tell you about this fun side-effect of chemo?  probably because it only happens the first time and then you feel like crap ever after.  but i enjoyed it while it lasted... which seemed to be at least a few hours.

we biked home with no problem.  a little slower than usual, but not much.  maybe a half hour after getting home i got a large wave of exhaustion and laid down while greg and his dad (who's in town now, did you know?!) went to pick the guys up from school.  i think it would have been pushing it to go with them at that point, so i didn't push it.  i'm not going to push it folks, except in emergencies, so don't worry about that.  i only needed to lay down for 10-20 minutes before the intense feeling of tiredness passed and i was up to greet the guys when they home from school.  dinner was good.  two burritos, admittedly a little smaller than pre-chemo regan would have taken, and no cheese on them... that didn't sound appealing... but still, i ate.  by around 8 i was ready to go to bed.  i snuggled with william and we read the new book that he'd put together with his grandpa, of all his battle drawings.  i probably fell asleep around 9.  i had no problems sleeping.  was up by about ten till 7, feeling a little nauseous, which was fairly easily taken care of with some cereal and tea.  (and then at 8 o'clock, my scheduled anti-nausea meds, which i take on a scheduled basis until tomorrow and then on an as-needed basis after that.)

i would say this morning was mostly a regular morning, through lunch.  i showered, hung up laundry outside, walked to our friend/old landlord's house to let her cat out.  (we're cat sitting until tuesday.)  played with the guys, ate almonds and pears, ate two more burritos at lunch.  but i was starting to get tired soon after lunch.  william has a birthday party to attend tomorrow, so greg and his dad took the guys to town and i was able to just be a blob and relax (and watch 30 rock).  i didn't fall asleep-- i don't know that i would have been able to, but it was nice to just lay around.  i got up when they got home, but then laid down again for a little bit (and watched 30 rock).  greg and his dad cooked dinner. the smell wasn't too appealing to me, so henry and i walked to the old house to let the cat out... she's very danish in that she's mostly an outdoor cat and just a little bit an indoor cat.  it was a really nice way to get a bit of exercise and fresh air.  we ran into old neighbors there and now i've even got a lunch date on wednesday with a hair cut thrown in (i figure i might as well get some of it out of the way now).  if you'd seen us going home you would have seen me sprinting down the hilly slope of the bike path and our road after henry, who is becoming quite adept and confident (was he ever not confident?) on the scoot bike.  that, i will say, was an even better way to get a bit of exercise.

by the time we got home, greg and his dad had cleaned up most of the dinner pots and pans, which was a nice treat, because the smells were gone, and the dinner-- a mild white fish with lots of lemon, some soba noodles and peas, and a salad (sans goat cheese) was really delicious.

henry, who didn't nap, went to bed early, and now william and greg are watching 'star wars'... a rite of passage for the little guy.

well, so that's how it is for me right now.  however i will feel tomorrow, or after treatment two, or especially how i'll feel after treatment eight...  whatever foods i stop tasting or smelling or throw up...  however tired i become...  whenever i stop having the energy to chase henry down the street...  well... none of that's now.  now, i enjoy it all while it lasts.  (and when i lose it, i'll know i get it all back... sans cancer, sans chemo, and probably for awhile, sans goat cheese.)

and then a kiss...


nina said...

I suppose the advice then would be to eat right after chemo the food you want to get out of your diet forevermore!
I'm happy you're doing well.
(I laughed at the hairdryer! I haven't used one for...many many years!)

kat said...

thank you for the details. i really like hearing these banal daily bits. i'm so glad #1 went ok, if you've gotta do it, then at least it went ok. love to you and your crew (and glad g-pa woof is there!)

Phyllis Noble said...

Thanks, Regan. Thanks. Now we can breathe again.

Let's hear it for strong men who cook good food, for the beautiful man who keeps you company while red goes into your arm, and most of all for the incredible woman you are to ride your bike to and from chemo!

Wonderful photo of Henry & the cat!

George H. said...

I assure you, you will be subbing "k" for "c" for a long time! Still keeping up with your danske nyheter! Sending the usual weird Madison karma.

Derek Tow said...

Hey Reg!

Thanks for the updates. We are all fighting this with you. Together we are stronger.

We will stay positive as I'm sure you will.

John Nkolas said...

A series of misdiagnosis have allowed the spread of Charles's colon Cancer which has now spread to his liver and kidneys, We abruptly found out about his cancer on may 26th 2013, it is spreading as we speak we are looking to try something called cannabis oil possibly chemo therapy.
This is a extremely hard and sad time for us, My father is the sole provider for his wife and 4 kids, twins 12 years, son 16years and daughter 13 years, he is now no longer able to work and is not only stressing about surviving but also how he will support his family and pay for alternative life saving treatments.
This traumatic finding of cancer is extremely sad and stressful on our family; we are trying anything we can to get Charles healthy
We have started the Phoenix Tears/cannabis oil Treatment partnered with Chemo Therapy and a major change in diet. The Phoenix tears is crucial to saving charles's life these treatments are 80$ per day over 2400$ per month.
Any support you can contribute to help Charles & family make it through these tough time would be so appreciated.
Thank you for your love and support