Chemo Part 1 – The Red Hot Sexy
It’s the first day of chemo. I’ve been awake since 3am. At first I thought it was because I was stressed but I find out later that it is due to the steroids they gave me. I have to take them the day before, the day of, and the day after. I’m wide awake and have so much energy. I guess I can see why people get into trouble with these. It’s kind of fun.
As the morning passes, I get everything ready for the day. Although, my wonderful friend, Ashlie, has already thought of everthing. She has packed a bag for me with almost everything I will need for today including a pillow, blanket, games, socks, and other things. I appreciate her so much and I tell her that she is way more thoughtful and sweeter than I will ever be. In addition to my bag from Ashlie, I pack a cooler with ice packs and frozen water bottles. Chemotherapy causes peripheral neuropathy, meaning that your hands and feet lose blood circulation to the nerves and become numb. What?! Are you kidding? I insert tiny needles into people for a living. I can’t work with numb hands. The frozen water bottles are for me to hold during the treatment so that the tiny capillaries will constrict and my extremities will be protected from the chemo.
Stacy, Keith and I walk into the treatment area which is just a room with about 9 lounge chairs. The room is full of people already getting their treatments. Everyone is talking, laughing, and having fun. It looks more like a pic nic than chemo. Some of the women tell me that they look forward to chemo day because they get to see the others. It’s like a sorority. I never pledged, but I’m in. As I look around the room, I am struck by how young everyone is in the room. I later learn that most of the women are in their 40s. Is anyone else shocked by this? When did cancer become a young person’s disease? More on that in a later post.
We meet with the doctor who, for the first time, gives us good news. The tumor is large. It is 6cm but there is absolutely no evidence that it has spread anywhere except to a couple of lymph nodes and she expects the chemo to get that. What a relief. Now I can stop thinking that every cough is lung cancer and every ache is bone cancer. A 6cm tumor? OK. Let’s do this.
I pick my lounge chair and ask the nurse if I can have the bags before she starts administering them to me. Sabrina is very agreeable and friendly and brings them so that Stacy and I can pray over the bags. I thank God for my wonderful friend who is there to support me. Always. I thank Him for the medicine that will heal me. I pray for strong and swift healing with no side effects.
Yesterday I asked Stacy if she had a colored sharpie. Today she showed up with a rainbow of colored sharpies. That’s my girl. We begin to write messages on the bags of chemicals. Messages of love, hope, and healing. Some of the ladies are watching us so I begin to explain to them about The Hidden Messages in Water. It’s a beautiful and interesting book by Dr. Masaru Emoto in which he conducts several experiments with water and ice crystals. You should read the book but I will summarize it for you. In one of the experiments, Dr. Emoto filled glasses with regular tap water and wrote different messages on the glasses before he froze them. He wrote love, hate, joy, anger, and other different words. As the frozen water melted he looked at the ice crystals under a microscope. He found that where the positive words were written, the ice crystals were beautiful, complete, and perfect each time. But where the negative words were written, the ice crystals were distorted and incomplete. This is important when you consider that the chemo is liquid and the human body is Roughly 75% water.
My sweet husband had to go to work so Stacy and I settle in. This is going to take about 4 hours. We pass the time by talking, reading, and watching Netflix. It may not have been a good idea to start watching Breaking Bad at this time. Walter White and I are fighting cancer at the same time. It’s slightly depressing but I can’t turn it off. What’s that saying about train wrecks? I don’t really feel very much as I watch the bags empty into my body other than my mouth is becoming dry. Next time, I have to remember the ice chips. More on that in the next post.
The last drug they give me is called Adriamycin. It is in a syringe and they push it through rather than drip it. It looks like red cool aid. It is nicknamed “The Red Devil” or “The Red Death” because it is so toxic. What kind of sadistic person came up with that? Who wants that in their body? Not me. So I rename it “The Red Hot Sexy.” “Oh yeah. Gimme some of that Red Hot Sexy.” See? That sounds much better doesn’t it? Everybody wants some Red Hot Sexy. Despite the new moniker, this one gets me. My chest tightens and I start to feel a bit loopy. This is the first time I can actually feel the chemo. I can see what all the hype is about with this one but by the time we were leaving, the last lady left besides me was asking the nurse when she got to have her Red Hot Sexy. This just might catch on.
I’m still jacked up from the steroids when we leave and I’m hungry so Stacy takes me to eat at Luby’s. LuAnn platter anyone? As a kid in a small town, we didn’t have many restaurants so it was a big treat to go to Luby’s in the mall. Sometimes the strangest things bring us comfort in tough situations. All in all, chemo wan’t so bad this day. But, lest you think it is all just unicorns and rainbows, you should know that the next post is titled “Chemo Part 2 – The Pukey Painful Poison.” You’ve been warned.