Wednesday, May 21, 2008

chemo starts — and stops — and starts again

They told me that about one in three people who start Doxil get an allergic reaction at the beginning — pain in the back, tightness in the throat, difficulty breathing. It happened to me. My blood pressure dropped, and I was dizzy and faint and nauseous. Kind of scary. They gave me some Benadryl in my PICC line to bring it down, which made me very groggy and woozy, but I was feeling better after about a half hour, which is usual.

They told me it's very rare for someone to get another reaction once the symptoms wear off and they restart the drip. So it was for me, at the beginning. I felt fine. I watched some Sex and the City Season Six with my friend Shannon, who was with me, started to eat some chips and hummus. Then it hit me again. Dizzy, woozy, faint, hard to breathe, a big drop in blood pressure. That was it for my short-lived relationship with Doxil.

They consulted with Dr. S, who came in to talk with me. He's putting me on Doxil's slightly older big sister, Doxorubicin. (Doxil is basically Doxorubicin encased in fat droplets.) I'm going to be on a drip for seven days, just like with the Ifosfamide. Two bags of drugs, two pumps to carry around for a week. They gave me 20 minutes of it at the clinic and then observed me for two hours to make sure I didn't have a bad reaction, and then they sent me home. I got there at 8 a.m. and was there until 4 p.m. Pretty soon, a home health nurse will come over to hook me up to my double drug concoction.

What makes this all the more astounding is that they can't administer Doxorubicin through a port. My double PICC line — which would have been my last choice — turned out to be exactly what I needed. If I'd come in with a port, they would have had to send me over to get a PICC line anyway. It feels like some higher kind of higher force or destiny was at work here.

All the hassle aside, I have to say I am in a much better mood than I have been all week. I'm not happy about what's going to happen to me on chemo, but I'm not in that dark place, either. Big plus.

23 comments:

Jen said...

Let the killing of all cancer cells begin! Best of luck with your treatment. You are in my daily prayers.

liz said...

Oh my... you have so much fortitude and grace, Em, that I am just in awe.

Hang in there!

Monkeymama said...

I've been thinking of you today and wondering if you'd post. Then you do and you sound so strong and ready to get this done.

You are awesome! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh Em. It sounds like today's chemo session was a lot like life itself - various unpredicable things, things that you thought were yucky turn out to be good (like the tube deal turning out to be what you needed after all).

I'd be interested in knowing, as soon as possible, whether you become nauxious within the next few days, or if you don't. I'm praying and crossing my fingers that you won't. That will make things much, much easier. You'll at least be able to have somewhat of a life that way.

- Susanne

Coach Megan Thomas said...

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear.

-- Mark Twain (1835 - 1910)

I'm glad that today is behind you!

-Megan

LutherLiz said...

I'm glad there is a little more light today. Thinking of you and hoping the week goes quickly and smoothly.

Anonymous said...

SO happy to hear that you are in a better place right now! :+)
Heather H

Anonymous said...

Good grief! We've got to let go and let God, eh? And to think we were so cross about that switcheroo.

Makes me rethink all the things that have been annoying me lately-- maybe they've been placed before me for a reason. Set-backs are, I guess, redirections.

On the side-- rock on David Cook! Michael Johns, it still shoulda been you.

--Laura S.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to hear that you are not in that dark place now. Your strength is so amazing.

mo*reezy said...

God is GOOD!

Piccinigirl said...

you are amazing and I too stand in Awe of your strenght. Go Get Them, Em. Go beat that horrible cancer.

*hugs*

Jamie said...

Well, it sound like things worked out as best they could with the port issue, and I'm glad for that!

Now let's kill the cancer cells!

Anonymous said...

Wow! That is really something. Who would have thought that the glitch with the port would have turned out to be so helpful?!

I am praying that those cancer cells are being zapped away as we speak.

Ellen said...

You're starting on a good foot it sounds like, albeit the pains of adjusting, and it will be better and less dreadful than imagined, for sure. You can do it!

kristine said...

You are something else, woman!

Anonymous said...

Em, I want to take this opportunity to say that I, and everybody, really appreciate this blog, and your updates on the cancer. All I have to do to is pull it up from my "favorites" file, and wala! Ever since the day of your diagnosis (which I'm sure you just love), I pull up this blog every hour or two (while at work), and really appreciate your thorough, informative updates.

- Susanne

Alex & Jill said...

You have LOTS of people praying, Emilie...you are so strong!

Heidi said...

Thank God for small favors! I'm praying that medicine does its work.

Jo on the go said...

Back off, cancer! The just-as-mean-as-you drugs are here!
How goes it with dragging a pole around your house? I wish I could be there to fetch things for you.

Elena said...

I'm glad to see you're feeling a bit more positive now. Stay strong!

Kristen D. said...

I hope you are feeling OK now that the chemo is really at work. Also, how is your hip? I hop and pray that the evil monster is losing its battle even now.

Kristen D. said...

Oops! I meant to say "hope", although I most certainly will "hop" for you if that helps as well. :o)

Mary said...

What an up-and-down day! I'm so glad you're okay. I don't know what dosage you're getting and if it would work for you, but you may want to ask your doctors about getting dexrazoxane (Zinecard®) with the doxorubicin. It can decrease the risk of heart damage that can go along with doxorubicin, so I thought I'd mention it. I hope the next few days come with no further bad surprises!