Today marks the 1st day of chemotherapy, or as sister, Jenny, dubbed it, “Banish the Bastard Day!” So, naturally I awaken at 3:00 am. It’s a good thing I was able to bank some z’s this past weekend at Eric and Natalie’s home. Two and half hours sleep and at least that many cups of strong coffee will have to sustain me until I drift off in an Infusion Therapy Suite hospital bed, attached by my newly implanted port to the slow, steady drip of cancer executioners. I guess I should have expected this, as I’m a little anxious about today’s treatment. As part of the clinical trial, I will “donate” blood at 6:15 am, followed by another core biopsy of the mass. MD Anderson researchers will look at both for possible changes as a result of last week’s single dose of Panitumumab (the clinical trial study antibody). The biopsy requires only 3 samples this time, as opposed to the initial 7, so I should be relieved. But, I’m not. Following the biopsy, I meet with a Nurse Practitioner, then on to my first dose of chemotherapy. Today’s infusion includes another round of the antibody, Panitumumab, along with chemo drugs, Carboplatin and Taxol. I’ll sleep better tonight, I think, knowing these tumor assassins are in position and taking aim. Despite the fact I’m developing the expected Panitumumab pimples, and am certain to lose my hair, I find myself EAGER to get started.
What a strange and incongruent place I find myself…Pining for Panitumumab…craving Carboplatin…and thirsting for Taxol.
As I write this, I have just completed the blood draw, which went very smoothly and did not include port access. Just good old fashioned venapuncture. I am awaiting the 6:45 am biopsy with devoted son, Ben, by my side. He has taken a short leave of absence from his summer research position at USC to stay a couple of weeks with me here in Houston. It’s a blessing having him here, as I’m staying more active than I probably would otherwise. Yesterday evening we took a short stroll around Rice University before preparing a healthy dinner, then turning in for the night…or, at least TRYING to in my case.
Soon we’ll make our way to the Infusion Therapy floor for needle insertion into the port. I am somewhat dreading this 2nd access. The first access occurred while I was still under port surgery anesthesia, so I had no awareness of how it felt. I’ve been soaking the site since 5:30 am with the prescribed Lidocaine cream, as per instructions.
And, I’ve taken 1/2 of a Tramadol for pain…But the surgical site is still fairly sore. The thought of a needle going into it while I’m unsedated is, well, a little unsettling. Oh well, gotta do it, so there’s no point fretting over it.
It’s now 8:10 am. Don’t know what’s taking so long, but I’m still awaiting the biopsy. It was scheduled for 6:45. Guess I’m not their only patient! 😉 Praying, breathing exercises and meditating help me pass the time, and keep the anxiety under wraps. Speaking of wraps…it’s flippin’ FREEZING in here. My once warm blanket is now room temperature…-20! 😨 My blood pressure and temperature are good, and an ultrasound of the mass has been completed. A Radiologist will reportedly be here soon to perform the procedure. Time is relative here, and appointment times are mere suggestions…Rather, it’s more about securing a spot.
So the Radiologist finally arrived, and performed a flawless and nearly painless biopsy. I have not had a single bad experience at MDA. Excellence appears to run rampant here. Next up, the nurse practitioner, then chemo at 1:30 pm. Ben and I have a few questions.
Questions answered, we’re ready for a bite to eat at the cafe. Decent food at a decent price. Lots of choices, many of which, unfortunately, are not that healthy Chicken soup and roasted cauliflower for me;chicken sandwich and chicken soup for Ben.
Now, we’re off to check out the nap room. It’s part of the Hospitality suite, where you can grab a coffee, snack and take care of any business needs-fax, computers, etc. Behind a glass wall is an array of recliners and sofas; an attendant provides a pillow and blanket, and asks what time you’d like to be awakened. Not planning to use it today, but will show it to Ben.
Afterwards, I’ll apply more numbing cream before heading to the 8th floor for port needle insertion 😬 and the first of many “Kick Cancer’s Ass” infusions. This one runs for 4 hours! IV anti-nausea drugs are onboard for pre-treatment, and I’m supplied with plenty of oral Zofran and Compazine for later. Nausea prevention is key, as is hydration. Tomorrow provides the first of many tests of how my body will handle chemotherapy treatment. Wishing myself luck!! 💪🏻
Final medical-related note: port needle insertion was a breeze! Chemo will soon course my veins as I kick back in my comfortable suite beneath a bevy of warm blankets. I TOLD you not to worry, Jill! That numbing cream is the bomb!
And on a more personal note…26 years ago, Neal and I wed here in Houston at Temple Emanu El. Can’t say why I deserve such a good man, but marrying him was definitely the smartest decision I’ve ever made. Or, as Neal jokingly says: “26 years with me…how lucky can you be?” 😜 Pretty damn lucky, I’d say. ❤️