Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Chemo class was a real education

I can't tell you how glad I am that I attended chemo class today. I am in a much better frame of mind now.

The "class" began with blood work, then the lovely Jessica, my oncologist's assistant, told me what my particular treatment will entail. The nurse will insert an IV and give me anti-nausea medicine before two chemo drugs are administered. The first takes about 10 minutes and the second takes about an hour. The whole thing takes about two-and-a-half hours, rather than the much longer time I was expecting.

I will be able to make the half-hour drive to and from the treatments myself. Since they don't know how I'll respond to the drug, they want someone to be with me for the first visit in case they have to give me something that may make me drowsy.

Chemo can't distinguish between good cells and cancer cells and has a nasty habit of killing them both. White blood cells are particularly vulnerable, so I have to go back the following day for a shot that will boost my white cell count.

Jessica said I will definitely lose my hair (sob), my nails may become brittle and I may get mouth sores. Any nausea I may experience can be controlled with a prescription she has already sent to my pharmacy. She said I will be probably be a little more tired than usual for a day or two.

I am to call right away if I have a fever above 101.4, if nausea is worse than expected or if I get dehydrated. I must increase my water intake, and I am not a water drinker. I mean, I wasn't a water drinker.

After Jessica talked to me I got a B-12 shot and then met with Sara, who gave me the bad news about the cost. I'm amazed that I survived that part of the class! Each of my four treatments will cost about $10,000! Ten grand! My insurance will cover a big part of it, however, and Sara told me about some options to help with the rest so I could breathe again.

The class ended with a trip down the hall to the Chemo Room, where there is a row of recliners and their accompanying IV stands. It looked pretty boring, but hey, they have free wifi.

I'll begin treatment next Friday, Feb. 7, and have three more three weeks apart. I don't expect it to go quite as smoothly as I was told today, but it sounds like it will be much easier than the nightmare I was dreading so. I'll let you know how it goes.

Thanks to everyone who sent prayers and good wishes my way. They are much appreciated!


margaret said...

I have popped over after Bev asked for prayers for you and you are now on my list and very much in my thoughts. I pray the chemo goes well without too many side effects and you do not have to have too many treatments. Wow how expensive, here in the UK we have the NHS and when I lived in Australia although they had no NHS at the time I am sure treatment for cancer and one or 2 other illnesses were free. I wonder how the poor manage, did you have to pay for your op too.All the best for your recovery

Sybil said...

I have been through chemo. I am not a water drinker and the chemo changes the taste of things. I ate watermelon every day to stay hydrated. Any kind of melon will help with that. The immune shot you get the next day will make you feel like you have the flu but it does wear off. Sending prayers your way.

Dawn Frisch said...

I'm so sorry that you're having to endure all of this right now. I know it's hard. My Mom just went through chemo too. Just know that you have a lot of people out there supporting you. I live in Chandler by the way!
array-dawn at cox dot net