The second surgery – to remove the expander and clean the infection – worked. Dr. Powers told me 10 days or so and I would be healed enough to begin the next stage … chemotherapy. Eleven days later I was in the infusion room.
Surgery on the 9th, back to work on the 21st, with many doctor appointments in between. A new doctor – @ least to me, she’s been a doctor for awhile – radiation oncology Dr. Hatch is consulted. Although still somewhat of a grey area, multiple research efforts recommend radiation if there is more than 3 lymph nodes involved or significant lymphatic involvement in the breast tissue removed around the tumor. The pathology report showed significant lymphatic involvement – which essentially means the cancer was trying – not yet successfully! – but trying to find a way out. So, add to the calendar radiation treatments (6 weeks) after chemo (the six sessions) is complete. This further complicates reconstruction issues – but the goal is to be cured, not look good right? We’ll worry about reconstruction options later.
First day back @ work started good, although I was tired. I pushed too hard, stayed all day, was totally exhausted by 5pm. Got home and medicated – next day was doctor appointments, labs – another exhausting day, did not make it back into work. Wednesday I was back in the office, but left a trifle early, still very tired. Thursday was the big day.
When you’re facing chemotherapy, you really don’t know what to expect. We’ve all heard the horror stories, and everyone fears it. I know I did. My only real experience with chemo was with my mom 20 years ago and that was bad. I kept telling myself 20 years, 20 years … it has to be better, right?
We – as most often recently, the we includes my sister Terry by my side – arrived @ the infusion center … loaded down with blankets, socks, tasty snacks provided by my sister <3. The friendly infusion nurse greets us, we move to the chair and get settled in. Vitals are taken and then it’s time. The nurse explains that this time will probably be the longest – steroids, fluids, chemo #1 drug, chemo #2 drug, and then herceptin along with Benadryl and Tylenol – it’s going to be a long day. She asks if I want a numbing shot … get a shot so a shot won’t hurt??? No, I say, let’s just do this. So I pull my big girl panties up and it begins.
The needle did hurt going into my port – alot – but once in was painless. Next time I do have a lidocaine prescription to apply over the site about 45 mins before the infusion. During the meds, there was no pain, I even managed to sleep a little right toward the end. No side effects that day, just tired. Went home and slept. Scheduled for the next day was a shot to boost immunity in my white cell counts. Shot in the tummy, no pain … not until later that evening.
Pain … some of the most intense pain I’ve ever felt … deep bone deep pain. That went on for 4 days. Finally back @ work on Tuesday. Nausea starts … I go into the restroom at work and someone is just heaving away … great, that’s what I need. I can only stay until 10:30 … my bosses are great … I’m weak, I go home & take meds and sleep … seems like that’s all I do. This lasts for two days … nausea, vomiting, diarrhea. I’ve never felt so weak.
Tomorrow is the herceptin infusion. Another new experience – I can’t wait. Supposedly little/no side effects, maybe I’ll have time to recover before the next chemo trip in two weeks.
Some days are good (not for the last week), some days are okay (most), and some days are weepy days (Wednesday was one of those). I continue to ask for your prayers and support and with your support I will make it through this journey. Fortunately mine has an optimistic end point – not like some of the others making this journey. This is not a path I would wish on my worst enemy.
Blessings to all …
The herceptin infusion went fine; the lidocaine did its job amazingly well – no pain with needle insertion. Our only problem was navigating the monsoon which poured down for most of Thursday. No side effects – unless you count a 4 hour nap afterwards ;). Went to work Friday and stayed for most of the day – even had some (very) minor accomplishments – or maybe I should just say I actually got a few things done.
One step, one day, at a time … ❤