Sunday, December 18, 2011

First Day of Chemo- &^%$!

Chemo I
Like I said in my first post, my first chemo was on Black Friday. Mad super appropriate since I will prob. always remember it as a black, depressing day anyhow!

I just have to say that chemo really really sucks. I can't even put into words how much the whole process is just draining and time consuming and it completely sucks the life out of you. To me the whole process is really backwards. I know there is ongoing research and I am no professional Dr, or Scientist ( both things my asian parents still want me to be FYI)  and this is the way they have treated cancer for years- but think about it: they pump complete poison into your body to basically kill all your fast growing cells and since there is no way to target the cancerous ones ONLY- anything healthy within you dies. Then afterwards to add insult to injury they make you drag your nauseous ass to take a neulasta shot 24-72 hours afterwards to boost your white blood cells to counter react to your body feeling all fucked up. And then they send you home with a bunch of other meds to treat the new problems they have created- oh hello colace and senna for constipation, allergy pills for the coughing and flu like symptoms and ativan/zofran/etc. for anti-seizure and anti nausea pills that can tranquilize a horse. SIGH.
And you have to keep repeating this process until the tumor has sufficiently shrunk. 
SIGH. Rinse and Repeat until you can't take it no more. I want a new shampoo please.

Despite this, I must give props to all the Drs. that have made me a priority and have gotten me into treatment fairly quickly. My primary Dr. and every Dr. I've ever seen was at the Harvard Vanguard in the Kenmore/Fenway area. Everyone there has been great and really caring- from my Oncologist to all the nurses who knew me by name and the social worker who worked with me tirelessly to try to get me to maintain and keep getting my care there after my insurance expired (which has been a separate nightmare= CHEMO II had to be moved to Beth Israel due to this.)

My first chemo was really not tremendously horrendous. I think my body didn't really know what was going on yet so everything was still new and I could handle it. The whole process took about 3 hours and my mom came with me. I even ate and chatted and had some laughs throughout the whole ordeal. When I went in, they take your stats first then the oncologist meets with you first to go over the chemo process and then you ask any questions you may have- then you get moved into your own private little room with a chair/tv. I remember it was really sunny that day and there were 2 huge windows behind me with the blinds up. My mom made me get up and put them down since they were blinding her LOL....(Sorry Edward from twilight I didn't know you were so light sensitive :) )

My lovely nurse Anne Marie came in and first drew some blood from my port, then little by little she would connect my port with different IVs- first with saline to flush it out and then  later on she added the different bags of the meds. I had to have pumped into my system .  She also gave me pre-nausea meds to control it for later on.  The most disgusting one was the "Adriamycin" where she had to sit and "push" through my IV- This basically meant she had to manually inject the vials of it into my IV little by little. It made it even more gross that the med is bright red and it looked like kool aid was being forced into my body- and anyone who knows me well knows that I LOATHE any type of sugary or soda like drinks, so looking at this just made me nauseous and  I wanted to almost puke right there. I may have had less of a reaction if it was turquoise. At least turquoise is calming. Red is my least favorite color and I just associate it with anger and blood.

In the middle of all of this, I got a nice 'lil visit from Stephanie (long time friend from the MFA and ex boss at current job where I was laid off) who came by to see how I was doing so that was nice to have some good company to lighten the mood. I had recently purchased 2 special little Tibetan lotus blossom charms with my awesome friends who took me to Rockport the weekend prior ( I have a tattoo and love the symbolism of them) and one of them I already made into a necklace (see pic) but I handed her the other one to make me something I could wear and keep my strength at future chemo visits. Of course being the awesome and talented jewelry maker that she is, she made me a really cute necklace that I will post later. She also sells her jewelry on etsy so hollah if you want more info. (shameless plug)
After Steph left and my chemo was finished I didn't feel any different for about 10 minutes. But within half an hour I was extremely tired and my stomach started to hurt a little bit.  My mom drove me straight home and within the hour I was in bed. The nausea didn't really even hit me. My stomach would hurt a little bit but every time I would just lie down I was fine. I really thought that I would be vomiting- that was my biggest fear- I HATE the idea and loathe vomiting. That is why I have never even really drank a lot throughout my life. I had one bad incident with 151 and ever since that bad day I was petrified to even smell Bacardi so I was surprised that within 2-3 days I was already out of bed and up and about.
Since the chemo was on a Friday and the health center was not open on the weekends, I had a appt. to go back on the following Monday to get that neulasta shot I mentioned earlier.  My Oncologist also scheduled an MRI all the way in Quincy that same say so my brother Darren drove me down there to get it done. I have never gotten a MRI ever in my life and it was the weirdest process. They inject a dye into your blood which makes you feel like you are peeing yourself for about a min. At this point I was poked and prodded so many times, I didn't even feel the needle anymore. Sad, but true.
Darren then drove me back into Boston where I ran in to get that shot I mentioned earlier....2 things I have to say about it:

1.) That shit really hurt!!! They injected it in the back of my arm on my muscle and I actually winced when the needle went in. 
2.)Immediately afterwards the nurse warned me I would feel like  I was "getting hit by a truck" but that that feeling should only last 3-4 days...YEAH NO. I additionally caught someones cold so this flu like crap was extended to about 2 weeks of feeling like I had the influenza. I think i bought about every sugar free cough drop I could find and owned every Vick's vapor rub product. It was horrendous. I had a sore throat, stuffy nose, backed up sinuses, headache, chills, you name it and I could only take an allergy pill that didn't help.

So for my first chemo the plus side was that I wasn't too nauseous and I got through it, but I gained 2 weeks of a disgusting cold. Fair trade off I suppose.

The second chemo, was not so good. More to come on that as I catch up. <3


  1. Jen, I think you blog is great. I feel like we're just chatting in thw bookstore.....I know things are different now. I hope your cold goes away soon. I am here for you for anything, ( you know i have the time). You're in my Christmas wishes

  2. Jen, thanks for your honesty and this beautiful and genuine connection to your and our humanity all at once. Thinking about you...reeling a bit at this new information. Much love, Ukumbwa

  3. Wow I had no idea what its like to go through Chemo.. that does sound like it sucks ass girl :( You're so strong for it though. I think this blog will definitely help others that find themselves in your shoes. The cold /flu sucks too girl. I'm sorry you had a shitty 2 weeks after. That's no beuno! Lots of love to you pip! xox

  4. thanks guys i appreciate you guys even taking the time to read this :)
    KDHMA79- can i ask who you are? sorry I don't recognize your SN.

  5. I'm happy you'r writing and sharing. let me know if there's anything you need. you know i am here for you!!!

  6. Hi Jen, best of luck with everything, and be strong! You will get through this with flying colors. I mean, if you can get on trying to understand our Jr/Sr homeroom "teacher", you definitely will get through this!

    Hope for all the best!


  7. Jen, you are freaking amazing- both to go through what you're going through with such strength and also to be able to write about it and share your experiences in such a powerful way. You are my hero. xoxo -Christina