I found out around 4:30pm today, Tuesday, March 1, 2022, that I will start chemo on Thursday, March 3 at 8am.
The chemo I will be getting is 4 cycles of Adriamycin & Cytoxan 2 weeks apart and then 12 weeks of weekly Taxol. Thats 20 weeks y’all. And that is if everything goes off without a hitch.
The worst part for most people is the Adriamycin, otherwise known as the ‘Red Devil’. The drug itself is blood red and has to be administered tiny push, by tiny push by a nurse in full hazmat gear over the course of 6-10 minutes. This will be ensconced within hours of pre and post meds and the other chemo drug Cytoxan.
My chemo will go into my brand new port which was surgically installed into my body last week. I had a port for cancer number one (subsequently to be referred to as “Uno”) and was lucky that the doctor could place it via the same scar in my arm. It is rare to get a port placed in the upper arm, it is usually in the chest, but my hospital system has one surgeon who can do it in the arm so I opted for that as it doesn’t give me the scarlet letter of wound and port on my chest.
When a surgery to place a port in your body that attaches to an internal catheter that delivers drugs directly into a major vein headed to your heart isn’t the top billing of your blog post, you know your life is a hot, steamy mess.
The surgery went fine, pain, bruising, blah blah blah, it’s fine. Moving on.
Cancer Numero Uno was supported by a full court of stately advisors and caretakers. I had someone with me, feeding me, assessing my wellness and catering to my every need at all times. Greg on the other hand, is significantly less exciting as he is a second timer and no one in my life can take the amount of time off necessary to care for me the way Uno was cared for.
I’m rather concerned about how my kids are going to get to their unfortunately spread apart lessons after school each day. And who will get their meals together, even if ordered out? Who will do the dishes? The laundry? Running a house of 5 is a small business. And even if every single one of you offered to help, the management of piecing that together sounds stunningly stressful. I’m going to assume it will come together. Right???
I called my husband to tell him that chemo was scheduled for 8am and his response was something to the tune of, ‘great, I will be able to go to work afterwards’. He meant no malice. No one has unlimited vacation or sicks days, he has to keep the family financially afloat.
The problem is, Greg’s treatment is more dangerous than Uno’s. In a space/time vacuum, I should have more help for Greg, but that is simply not in the cards. Much has changed since Uno. Too much to outline here. I have a million and one people willing to help me, but none of them are sitting at home with nothing to do but drive my ass back and forth to a hospital in Covid times and watch me nap. Nor do I want that level of cancersitting.
Plus, I am a professional cancerographer. I know how this show runs. I know the players, the set design and for the most part, the plot. What I don’t know is how my body will react.
I had a baseline echocardiogram and a follow-up with a Cardio-Oncologist. She said my heart is sturdy enough for this regimen, but she will watch me closely. Now on top of going to the hospital for chemo on Thursday, hydration therapy and some meds on Friday and Monday, I will also have to go in on Saturday to have blood drawn to see how my heart is handling the Red Devil. It’s a whole fucking lot.
People seem befuddled by my laissez fare attitude about it all, but mull this over for a second- What are my choices? I have none. I have to do this. My baseline stress level is ‘red flag at the beach’ at all times, I’ve just learned to veil it over the 4 decades I’ve been alive. When you see me appearing chill, I am likely nursing a stress headache and faking it all the way until I make it. I don’t have space on the pie chart to get more panicked.
I gotta do this. I will show up somehow at all of these appointments. Like I said at the end of GRACE Documentary. “What can you do? Just put one foot in front of the other.”
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Grace, you are amazing. Sending strength, love, and energy. You sure don’t need the strength though because you are an ass-kicker. Go get it!
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Hi — One thing that might help is a care coordination website like Lotsa Helping Hands. You or a loved one can put in what is needed and when (e.g., rides, meals), and people can sign up to help out. I used this to help some close friends a few years ago, and it seemed to work well. Sending you lots of strength as you face this next challenge!!! PS Love the mug.
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I’m going to look into this, thank you!
Hi Grace, I went through this regimen five years ago at age 32. I had a two month old when I started. You are going to be fine. I had somebody take me to my AC treatments, but the weekly taxols were a breeze and I always drove myself. I would even stop at the gym afterwards sometimes. The fear of the unknown is always worse than the reality, but having already been through so much, you already know this. You will be fine, you will still be able to participate in and manage the daily life of your family. Best of luck!
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Stopped at the gym?! Gosh I pray I can do that-
Thinking of you today. Die, Greg, die.