"...every day that I challenge this cancer and survive is a victory for me." --Ingrid Bergman
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
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!!!
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
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Why I Started This Blog...
I started blogging about my cancer journey right after I had my head shaved. That wasn't the start of my cancer journey - it was 4 months into the journey. I'm hoping to be able to go back and write about what happened before that. This is my cancer journal - I hope it helps someone. If you have questions or concerns, and you think I can help, please contact me.
Cancer is an ugly monster. The things we have to do to save ourselves from cancer are ugly as well. Don't expect my thoughts and feelings about what I've gone through to be calm and nice.
Cancer sucks. Welcome to my thoughts.
Scroll down the sidebar to see my cancer journey - the first year - in DATES. 83 appointments! What a year!!
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nafari01 (at) yahoo (dot) com
July 2008 to July 2009 - one year of CANCER
July 22, 2008 - Routine mammogram August 6, 2008 - Follow up mammogram - talk to the radiologist, he suggests a biopsy. August 12, 2008 - Consult with surgeon, Dr. Robinson August 15, 2008- First biospy (needle-guided) August 20, 2008 - I HAVE CANCER August 25, 2008 - 2nd biospy and lymph node biospy (not sure on this date) (they find another lump - more cancer that didn't show up in the mammograms!) August 27, 2008 - Consult with Dr. Lamoreaux about removing cervix - I have endometriosis on my cervix causing pain August 28, 2008 - Chest MRI August 29, 2008 - MRI results: Looks like a snowstorm in both sides - possible cancer through both breasts. September 3, 2008 - Cancer board meets to discuss my case September 4, 2008 - Get genetic testing - for the Bracha gene (on advice from Cancer board) September 5, 2008 - Several random Core biopsies in both sides.Went to visit with Rick's friend, Glenn, a radiologist. He confirmed that the MRI looked bad. September 2nd week: Results from biopsies come back - no more cancer in the tissue remove (?!) Also find out the genetic testing is negative. September - 2nd or 3rd week: Meet with Dr. Bott, the oncologist. He tells me that because I'm HER2 positive, the cancer is kind of like a super-cancer. It grows really fast. He says that because of HER2, the MRI is all white, the mammograms didn't show the lumps, etc. A bilateral mastectomy would give me the highest survival rate (7% chance of cancer coming back vs. 30% chance if I don't do it). He wants me to start chemo asap. September 25, 2008 - Consult with Dr. Robinson about the mastectomy. He isn't convinced I need it. Neither is the Cancer board - they vote 50/50. I ask him if he can guarantee that there are no more hidden lumps. He says no. I say yes to the mastectomy. October 6, 2008 - Pre-Op with Dr. Robinson October 6, 2008 - meet with the plastic surgeon, Dr. Bishop. He hears the odds - and says to do what I think will help me survive the best. He'll fix what they destroy. October 14, 2008 - Bi-lateral Mastectomy. Dr. Robinson does the mastectomy, Dr. Bishop comes in to insert expanders and close. Dr. Lamoreaux also removes my cervix. October 21, 2008 - Post op with Dr. Bishop October 27, 2008 - Post op with Dr. Robinson - he takes the pain pump out. October 28, 2008 - Pre-chemo class October 29, 2008 - First chemo treatment November 5, 2008 - Herceptin treatment November 12, 2008 - Herceptin treatment November 16, 2008 - Bought wig and shaved head November 17, 2008 - First "fill" in expanders at Dr. Bishop's office November 19, 2008 - Second chemo treatment November 26, 2008 - Herceptin treatment December 3, 2008 - Herceptin treatment December 3, 2008 - Expanders filled - Dr. Bishop December 10, 2008 - Third chemo treatment December 17, 2008 - My anniversary and Herceptin treatment December 24, 2008 - Christmas Eve and Herceptin treatment December 31, 2008 - New Years Eve and Fourth chemo treatment January 7, 2009 - Herceptin treatment January 13, 2009 - Expanders filled - Dr. Bishop January 14, 2009 - missed Herceptin treatment - sick January 21, 2009 - Fifth chemo treatment and double Herceptin treatment January 28, 2009 - Herceptin treatment January 28, 2009 - Consult with Drs. Williams and Martulo about high calcium level in my blood February 4, 2009 - My birthday and Herceptin treatment February 9, 2009 - Expanders filled - Dr. Bishop February 11, 2009 - LAST chemo treatment February 23, 2009 - Expanders filled - Dr. Bishop February 24, 2009 - Echo-cardiogram (test on my heart to see if the Herceptin has hurt it) March 3, 2009 - Bone Density Scan March 3, 2009 - Parathyroid Scan March 4, 2009 - Herceptin treatment and have blood taken for Maturlo's office March 5, 2009 - Consult with Dr. Maturlo - I need to have my parathyroid (one of 4) taken out. March 10, 2009 - Consult about bone density scan March 11, 2009 - Expanders filled - Dr. Bishop March 13, 2009 - Consult with Dr. Parsons about parathyroid March 19, 2009 - Another consult about parathyroid - decide to do the surgery March 24, 2009 - Expanders filled - Dr. Bishop March 25, 2009 - Herceptin treatment & blood draw for thyroid doctor March 25, 2009 - Ultrasound on my neck - pre-surgery March 30, 2009 - LAST fill for expanders April 2, 2009 - Yet another pre-op with Dr. Parsons April 6, 2009 - Access port for surgery April 7, 2009 - Parathyroid surgery April 13, 2009 - Post-op with Dr. Parsons April 15, 2009 - Herceptin treatment and see Dr. Bott April 28, 2009 - Pre-op apt with Dr. Bishop for reconstructive surgery April 30, 2009 - Access port for surgery May 1, 2009 - FOOB surgery (reconstructive fake boobs) May 4, 2009 - Post-op with Dr. Bishop May 11, 2009 - Another post-op with Dr. Bishop May 13, 2009 - Herceptin treatment May 13, 2009 - Mugga scan of my heart June 1, 2009 - Appointment with Dr. Bishop June 3, 2009 - Herceptin treatment June 9, 2009 - Apt with family doctor - Sundwall - to discuss joint and muscle pain June 10, 2009 - Bloodwork to diagnose joint pain. June 15, 2009 - Consult with Dr. Sundwall - I have Epstein Barr Syndrome. June 22, 2009 - Herceptin treatment and see Dr. Bott June 30, 2009 - Apt with Dr. Bishop July 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 2009 - physical Therapy to help with range of motion and stiffness in chest with Dr. Frogley July 15, 2009 - Mugga scan on my heart July 15, 2009 - Follow up apt with endocrinologist, Dr. Williams. Wants to do more blood work to test calcium levels July 15, 2009 - Herceptin appt& blood draw July 20, 2009 - 2nd reconstructive surgery (nipple reconstruction and z-plasty on scar) July - 3rd week - find out I'm Vitamin D deficient July 28, 2009 - Post-op with Dr. Bishop - get stitches out July 31/August 1, 2009 - Cancer Walk- team name is "The Beauty Remains"
"When you're going through hell; keep going."
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