An explanation...

Why Foob? I had a double mastectomy, and at the time, the plastic surgeon put "expanders" under the muscles in my chest. Every 2-3 weeks, they were filled with more saline, in preparation for my reconstructive surgery. They were very full and hard. Uncomfortable. One time, one of my sons gave me a hug and then said "Your foobs are hard!" Hee, hee, hee! My kids have this endearing habit of combining words. So, "Foobs" are fake boobs. Which I will still have, even after the reconstruction.

Foob Babe - that would be me!
"The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next." ~Mignon McLaughlin


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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Power Surges (Hot flashes)

Just a quick post about my chemo treatment today. The more chemo that piles up in my body, the more hot flashes I get (or as my husband, Rick, calls them - Power Surges). I seem to remember reading something about chemo putting you into menopause (if you aren't already). I wasn't - I'm 42. Although about 4 years ago, before I had a hysterectomy, I was told that I was in "early menopause". Who goes through menopause at 42??!! I didn't think I'd have to go through this until I was at least 50. Surprise!!!! Ok, when I say "hot flashes", I mean probably, minimum, at least 20 per day. I've started taking my fan that I got at Timpanogos Storytelling Festival (little plug there) with me everywhere. And Alex is getting good at knowing when to pick up a pillow to fan me with. Oh crap, I feel a Power Surge coming on - where is my fan?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Drip....Drip....Drip.... A Chemotherapy Treatment

For my cancer blog post this week, I thought it would be interesting to blog as I’m receiving my chemo treatment…

I’m here at the Huntsman Cancer Institute (the one in Provo) and I just went in to have my blood work done. I have a port in my chest. It’s a triangle thing that has a stint thing that goes into the big vein in my chest that goes straight into my heart. The port is under my skin, so the IV needle has to poke through the skin. That kind of hurts (a lot), so about an hour before I get the IV, I put this cream stuff on that is a mixture of Lidocaine and Prilocaine. It numbs the surface of the skin so that I can’t feel the needle going in. It’s my best friend during chemo treatments! Anyway, the chemo nurse (Annette this time) prepped the area first. Because it’s a huge vein that goes directly into my heart, it’s really important to make sure that the area is very clean – we don’t want infection going into that vein. So, the nurse swabs the area first with iodine – she does that 3 times. Then she swabs it with alcohol – three times. Then she says, “Take a deep breath”, and she sticks the needle in. Once that is in, she takes blood, and then flushes the IV with saline. Flushing is kind of unpleasant because I get this disgusting taste in the back of my mouth. The only way to describe it is that it tastes like a skunk smells. Yeah, it’s gross. But it only lasts a short time and then goes away. The nurses say that they’ll give me a piece of candy to mask the taste, and I even have candy in my purse for that purpose, but I forget to put it in my mouth EVERY time. I’m back in the waiting room for a minute, waiting to see my doctor, who will check me out, ask me about the side effects that happened with the last chemo treatment, and look at the results from the blood tests. He’ll use all that information to make sure everything is ok, and adjust the drugs if he needs to.

On the way to see the doctor, the nurse makes me stand on the scale. How annoying! I’m not going to tell you how much I weigh. I expected to lose some weight while on chemo, and it’s not happening. The ONE good thing that could come out of all of this isn’t happening. Sigh. *I found out that the reason I’m not losing weight is most likely because I’m on steroids – something I didn’t know. The drug is called Dexamethazone and I thought it was a chemo drug, but it’s actually a steroid that helps with the side effects of chemo (like the skin burning on my hands) and it also helps with nausea. Apparently it’s supposed to make me gain about 15 pounds. I haven’t gained or lost really, so the drug and the fact that I know longer eat dairy, or soda, or even much food, have cancelled each other out. Yay – I think.

My appointment was at 10:00 am and now it’s 12:15 pm. They are really busy today! So, now I’m starting the IV medication. The first thing they give to me is Aloxi, which is an anti-nausea medication (that lasts about 4-5 days) and Dexamethazone, which is a steroid that also helps with nausea. (That’s where is learned about the steroids). Drip….Drip….Drip….

12:40pm – Now the Taxotere has started to drip. Taxotere is one of the two chemo drugs they give me. Taxotere has some nasty side affects. Nausea, of course, but also diarrhea. And just this last treatment, it started to “burn” my fingers and the back of my hands, so my skin is tender and peeling. In fact, the skin on my fingertips has peeled so much that the fingerprint reader on my computer won’t recognize my fingerprint anymore. This med is also bothering my eyes – the skin around my eyes went really red and got sore this last treatment. Drip….Drip….Drip….

I asked if they were going to give me Emend today. That is a really good anti-nausea medication. The nurse went to check… 12:48pm: She just came back and injected the Emend into the IV. For some reason they didn’t have it ordered for me today. I’m glad I asked, because I would have been miserable without that med.

This is taking FOREVER……Aauuugggghhh! We’ve been here for almost 4 hours and I still have two more meds to go.

It’s now about 2:45 and my first med is over. Jeez! They just gave me the second chemo med – Carboplatin – and started the drip way faster than the last one. So, this shouldn’t take too long.

It’s 3:50 – the Carbonplatin is gone and they just started the Herceptin. This is the med that I have dripped every Wednesday. This should only take about 30-45 minutes and then we’ll be finished for the day.

My friends, LoriAnne and Steve Spear surprised me with a short visit. It was nice to see them. They visited during the Taxotere. I was feeling just fine. Mom and I had just had hamburgers and chocolate shakes (my “last meal” before I get sick again) and everything was just great. During the Carboplatin, I started feeling sick. For one thing, I was back in the corner (the room is shaped like a capital letter L). I was packed into the far corner with a ton of other people. For some reason, it’s really busy here today. The nurses are running all over, trying to keep up. I started to get severe hot flashes and my stomach hurts, just below my breast bone. Weird. I finally had to move to a less crowded part of the room – it’s not as hot here (although I just got hit with another hot flash – not sure if it’s because I’m getting chemo or because I’m old. Hmmm.)

The Herceptin just finished. Now they’ll just flush out the IV (more skunk taste/smell – mmmmm), and then they’ll say “Take a deep breath” and they’ll pull my needle out. Mom is out at the desk making my Herceptin appointments for the next two weeks. The last thing that will happen before we leave is that incredibly painful $4000 shot in the stomach. Yay!!!

…OUCH! Cancer sucks.

P.S. On the way home, we tried to get the nausea meds prescription filled – because it’s New Years Eve, all the pharmacies are either closed or out of the medication and we had a difficult time finding it. Kohlers pharmacy came to the rescue 2 minutes after they closed and got me the medication. Now I won’t be as sick for the next two days. The good cancer fairy must be working overtime! J