Chem-Oh No You Didn’t

First of all, I have been waiting to use this blog post title for over 2 months. Feeling super-awesome to know the time has come.

Here is how Chemo Day #1 went down. My husband, sister, mother and I headed to the Kellogg Cancer Center where we met my friend and photographer Katie Gierke of www.kathrynhastings.com.

I was probably at my most nervous walking through the doors. When I got to the check-in desk, I just started to sob uncontrollably. So much so that my mom had to give them my name and birthdate.

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Here we are checking in. I am crying so hard my mom is speaking for me.

Next, we waited outside and shot the shit for a few minutes waiting to be called in.

outside

Calm.

Called in- sobbing again.

Get vitals taken and am brought back to my lovely private room (not sarcasm, serious). We are greeted by our cool and competent nurse Anisha who ‘accesses my port.’ I was prepared for this by globbing on topical lidocaine 2 hours before the appointment and wrapping that part of my arm in Saran Wrap.

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Saran-wrapped, lidocained arm.

We were then visited by Dr. Wade, my oncologist, as Anisha got me started on the pre-drips of anti-nausea drugs and anti-anxiety drugs. Dr. Wade seemed to love my kooky new hairstyle and reassured me that this will be fine. She gives a great hug.

After about 2 hours of prep and pre-meds, it was time to start Taxotere, chemo drug #1. I was prepared for immediate possible reactions (of which I had none, thank goodness), then Anisha put on her hazmat dress and gloves and she hung the drip.

Many, many tears followed.

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With a push of a button, it begins.

I felt afraid, pissed, alone, yet terribly well-loved at the same time. Nothing physical changed during the hour. I just cried real tears as my mom rubbed my back and my support team comforted me.

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Here they come. TEARS ALERT!
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I can’t imagine how hard this is for my mother. She is such a rock. I love her so.

 

 

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When will this be over…?
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My friend Lesley swung by with some leftover Fourth of July cake. Yum.

I can’t stress enough that I had the right team. My mother was my doula. My sister, my unwavering support and killer administrative instincts. My husband, poor Joe, I think he needed his own support team.

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Please note that everyone is, again, wearing my breasts. Never not fun to torture these poor souls with these shirts.

After an hour on Taxotere, I was switched-hazmat style-to 30 minutes of Cytoxan. This is the drug for which they recommended chewing ice chips for the first five minutes, to avoid mouth sores. Awesome!

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5 hours, all in, and that was a wrap to Chemo Day #1. Overall, not that bad. I was kept comforted, entertained, supported, loved and safe. All I could ever ask for.

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I slept at my mom’s house in her magic bed and slept quite well, at that. Today (the day after), I feel pretty fine. My hands are shaky, my mouth is dry, my belly is a little crampy but nothing I can’t deal with.

Now I wait and see what each subsequent day brings. So far I’m feeling confident.

I head back in in a few hours for a Neulasta shot meant to bolster my white blood cells. Some say it’s uneventful, others say it causes extreme bone pain. Let’s go with the former, shall we?

Thank you all for your positive vibes, great wishes and prayers. So far they seem to be working.

Grancer loves you.


Again, a very special shout out to my homegirl Katie Gierke for so beautifully photographing my cancer odyssey. Check out her website. She takes the BEST family photos (or cancer photos– whatevs you’re into). www.kathrynhastings.com

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14 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah says:

    Hey Grace,
    You are looking mighty and strong, in your last pic especially. I forgot about chewing on ice chips ;)) Here’s wishing you a very easy go of it along with lots of water-drinking. That Neulasta shot was fantastic for me as my white blood count rebounded very well after it. Had no trouble with it at all. Go Girl 🙂 xoxo

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  2. Kate Cloud says:

    I love you Grace. And much love to dear Mary and Jennie and Joe and Katie and all your supporters. My heart is with you.

    Like

  3. Margarita says:

    So, I’ve been reading all your posts, sending you strength and love and sparkly unicorn vibes each time, but this time, in between the sparkly unicorn vibes, I’m a sobby mess. My dad has been battling cancer (bladder, then kidneys, now lungs, and it just won’t quit) since 2008. My sister in law had a bilateral mastectomy last year, and just had her spacers taken out and implants placed (I think) last week. I’ve never seen my dad or sister in law freshly post-surgery or freshly post chemo and in my family, talking about feelings is not something that is actually done. But these words of yours, these photos, it’s making everything seem way more real for me in terms of what my dad and sister in law have lived through and what my mom and brother (their cancer doulas) have lived through. And I am just…a sobby mess who is grateful for your perspective. You keep on kicking some cancer ass, Grace. You are winning this battle. Keep on going, lady. You are incredible.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Karen perry says:

    Grace…. Your aunt Betsy and I are co-workers here in Virginia… May I say I’m glued to your blog? When I read it I say a prayer… And also my cousin in Maryland is long time survivor post breast cancer.. She was just a year or so older than you when diagnosed…may I also say …. Fantastic support team you have… Karen perry your sweet aunts co-worker…

    Like

  5. Kristine Fischer says:

    I found your blog as I sat in my dad’s hospital room in early June. You don’t know me though I’m sure we have some mutual friends here on the north shore. You are crazy strong and handling this like a champ. My dad is living this nightmare starting in December 2015 and just had a stem cell transplant in June 2016. That neulasta shot made him feel his best and Cytoxin is truly the devil. You have a great attitude and I am here to tell you that goes a long long way in this awful senseless disease. Keep fighting…you got this!

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  6. JoAnn D Kirk says:

    You do not need the topical lidocaine and saran wrap. The nurses have a numbing spray that works even better.

    The tears come because you have realized what you are really facing. And no matter how much of a wonderful support team you have, you are totally alone.

    Like

  7. thank you for sharing this. about to help a friend go through this and its really helpful and inspiring.

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  8. malin says:

    Your strength impresses me. I’m sending loads of extra energy from the other side of the world.

    Malin (Berlin)

    Like

  9. Meghan says:

    Girl take your Ativan an hour before your appt. Helps calm the nerves. And Claritin if Neulasta gives your problems. One down!

    Like

  10. Liz says:

    Hope you’re doing ok today… Sending smiles.

    Like

  11. Katrina Corbett says:

    In your bandstand, my lady….xoxoxoxoxo

    Like

  12. Noreen Monroe Guzie says:

    Hello from your mother’s Kelowna friend.
    Thinking of you and sending good wishes across the mountains, rivers and prairies.

    Like

  13. cherylcarse says:

    You have such a wonderful support team. Hoping the chemo goes easy on you, with a minimum of side effects.

    Like

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