Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thursday, 9:00 p.m.

IBC approved the drug. I found this out when they took me back to prep for the treatment. We arrived at 8:25 and were brought back into the infusion area around 8:45. We were able to get a room along a window wall, with a sliding door and drapery. What a nice feature - allowing total privacy if you want it - and I was able to meditate while being infused.

I met with the oncologist prior to treatment. She immediately commented on what a great team we made. I am sure it helped that the doctor on the IBC panel knew of my doctor and had recently heard her speak during a panel discussion of triple negative breast cancers. She explained all of the drugs I will be taking which are: Bevacizumab (Avastin), Paclitaxel and Carboplatin, and the horrendous potential side effects. In addition, I will receive various drugs to lessen the side effects such as pepcid, dexamethasone which is a steroid and lessens nausea, another antinausea drug which is supposed to maintain its effectiveness for 5 days, and benadryl - which immediately knocked me out! The treatments will be delivered on a 3-week cycle with a 1-week break in between. Avastin will be administered during the lst and 3rd treatment.

The oncologist reviewed the list of supplements that the alt med doctor recommended. She removed several from the list and nixed the wheat grass! I was not saddened by that decision. Some of you may feel this is a mistake, but she was so strongly against certain supplements and herbals because of their potential to adversely impact the effectiveness of the chemo, and had some facts to back up her decisions. When we finished our meeting we shook hands and I felt a surge of energy and hope in that handshake. I think I made the right decision in going with this doctor.

The pre-chemo drugs were started around 11:00 am; the actual infusions didn't start until 1:00ish, we left at 7:30 p.m. Prior to receiving the chemo blood was drawn (through the port, thank god! It looks like someone took a bat to my arm). If certain levels are not maintained, the drugs will not be administered. Each drug has a maximum drip time. For example, a bag of Paclitaxel (which looked like a litre - but not sure) takes 3 hours to administer. The other two drugs were an hour each. Everything is done in sequence. At the end of the treatment they gave me magnesium and calcium - which are supposed to limit neuropathy, a side effect of two of the drugs.

Thierry stayed with me for a while. Lauren visited, we all had lunch then they left and I slept and meditated. The day actually wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. Everyone there is really nice. I had an interesting, funny and talky nurse - who as it happens, just came back to Philadelphia from Maine where he worked and lived for 6 months. He was telling us about his condo that had a view of Bar Harbor on one side, and Mount Desert on the other. Wow!

Other than feeling a bit light-headed and spacey, I feel pretty good. And the chicken soup that we had for dinner was a perfect meal.

As my sister said in her comment, she was also thinking about Thierry today. Having been a care-giver, I understand how hard it is on them. There is no reason he has to sit with me during the entire treatment. I do like to have him walk home with me (which I hope I can continue doing). I do worry about how he is dealing - but I believe he is good (and much better than I) at living day-to-day. I guess that is a trait of sailors - waiting for the right moment, the right weather window, to pick up anchor and sail to your next port. This lifestyle must make it a bit easier to live in the moment. Of course, this is my story - not Thierry's - maybe he'll comment?

I have been thinking about where I should go with this blog - as day-to-day updates on my life will probably not be real interesting for readers, albeit cathartic for me. I'll think about this over the next few days - perhaps post short notes, or make notes each day and publish every couple of days. My other thought is to pick a topic and just dwell on it for a while, like the things that go through your mind when really facing death (or I should say, figuring out how to live); how to make your life meaningful, etc. I'd welcome any thoughts you may have.

I was very fortunate to spend my first chemo day with two of the most important people in my life; laughing with them and the two wonderful, personable and funny nurses who tended me - and they were very attentive. Thank you for all of your thoughts, comments and suggestions, you make every day special - and today was a pretty good day!


Jean said...

I think your comment about focusing on living each day, figuring how to live, as you put it, is really what it is all about. Mindfulness in each moment of each day. See Phyllis to help alleviate the drug side effects. I should be home by your next treatment and will work on you also. Writing each day isn´t a bad idea as long as you feel that it is a release. This is for you, not for the rest of us, although it allows us a more intimate sharing in your process. Love you and miss you.

Mary B said...

I am trying to patiently wait out your return. I am also anxious to have both you and Phyllis work on me.

Love and miss you too!

annod2 said...

In his book, "Cancer on $5 A Day," Robert Schimmel writes, "You cannot fight cancer alone. This I know. To that end, I surround myself with people who are not afraid to talk about what they're going through. Otherwise, you give the disease power over you." Juan and I are happy you feel a connection to Dr. Mitchell. We had that feeling the instant we met her. I love you.

JudyS said...

Have tried (unsuccessfully) for several days to log in and thank you for your words of update and your inspiring intellect and strength (which is nothing new). If there is anything we can do,something that you need, just let me know. We stand quietly by your side, but with our arms around you all. Judy

jmcadams108 said...


At the Best of Main Line event last night (I had an extra drink for you Mary) we saw Elaine -- whose friend, Joanne, had nothing but good things to say about her sister's experience with Avastin (Joanne's a nurse). Thought you might like to hear more positive things about it.

Lauren looked radient as usual and said her honeymoon was awesome.

If you need suggestions on ways to focus on things other than those drips, I think combining her recent travels with your excellent storytelling capabilities would make a terrific coffee table book.

Let us know what we can do for Thierry. I could spend time with you if he wants to take the small boat out some sunny weekend day!
Don't want to intrude, just help if possible.

Thierry said...

Thierry is fine. Let's focus on Mary.

marydcc said...

We are all so happy that you were approved for your treatment, what a relief, I know in my heart that this is the beginning of all positive things to help you.

I love that you have decided to listing to all your Cd's I am sure there are all kinds of beautiful memories attached to all the songs you will be listing to, what a lovely way to spend a evening.