It is my first morning post-chemotherapy. I feel good.
The receiving of chemotherapy is much different than what I envisioned. My visions were built on episodes of ER and House - designed to be over-dramatized. Additionally, they most often show cancer in hospitals rather than stand alone oncology centers. Hospitals are always frenzied. I am lucky to have a nice center and can hopefully avoid the hospital altogether.
Yesterday morning was busy at the oncology center. The waiting room was filled with patients along with family and friends. Surprisingly, it was cheerful. There were people laughing, a plethora of holiday apparel, knitting, reading, and overachievers typing away on phones and devices. I am a people watcher, and in each little group I would try to figure out who the patient was. My television education told me that they would be pale and sullen and sad. I was so wrong. I see more often hope filled faces. They also seem to be able to just let the little things roll. Cancer patients are calm. I had a paradigm shift yesterday. Our local communities are filled with subcultures of people. We all belong to something - whether a church or a club/group with similar interests. And I came into this dreading that I would now be part of the cancer community. I didn't want membership! But selfish me didn't bother to think that nobody wanted membership. And these people are not frail and hopeless. They are strong and determined. These are my kindred spirits! And that is exactly what club I want to be in. I felt guilty that I was quick to judge.
Anyways, I arrived a little after 10 am yesterday and it was after 5 pm when we left. Some people are in and out in less than an hour. The course of chemotherapy varies greatly for each person.
My day started with a blood pressure check and a blood draw. They mix your drugs to order based on you blood counts. I was then set up in a room. They also have shared spaces but those are for the folks that are in and out more quickly. An IV was put in and I first put on an anti-allergy medication. They had me take steroids and a pill to help process dead cancer cells at home before I came as well. They also gave me a tylenol.
Next came my biological therapy - Rituxan. Receiving this was a majority of my day. This drug is like a miracle for folks who have the specific type of lymphoma I have. It literally targets the fast growing B-cells. This one drug is the reason they will use the word curable around me. This is not actually chemotherapy - it is used in tandem.
I did have one extremely minor reaction. The top of my head started itching like crazy! They gave me some IV benadryl and that stopped it almost immediately. It also put me in a benadryl haze for about two hours. It was all puppy dogs and butterflies during that time.
After the Rituxan, we got down to the business of real chemotherapy. But not before giving me multiple types of IV anti-nausea medication. The most infamous of my chemotherapy drugs is nicknamed red devil. It will make my urine red for two days. It is also the one most likely to have side effects.
We finished up a little after 5 pm and I felt great. I was starving (damn steroids!) and we headed to a nearby deli for soup and sandwiches. I am still being cautious and eating only bland foods and none of my favorites. We got home a bit after 7 and settled in to watch a movie. Except by the time we got the dogs fed and out and all the little things done, I literally fell asleep on the opening screen. One of the anti-nausea medications she gave me also causes drowsiness and anti-anxiety.
I slept well. I did have a little of that flu-like sleep where you get a little sweat on the back of your neck. My throat was a bit dry all night as well, but I kept water nearby so not a big deal. Rumor is that day three is when the fun will begin.
Thanks for all the E-mails, texts, and posts yesterday. I am blushing from all the attention!
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