Before I started my prescribed ABVD treatment, Dr. Z informed me that I would have to attend a chemo information session with one of the oncology nurses. I immediately dubbed it chemo school, he now refers to it as such as well. No one wants to attend school alone, after all don’t most students think of school as 80% social and 20% academic (it might even be 90% : 10%), so I dragged Steph along (my unfortunate BFF). Off we went to chemo school, I came prepared with my shiny new turquoise Martha Stewart inspired ‘cancer’ binder and pink Breast Cancer Survivor pen that I bought purely out of solidarity not need.
I should inform you that my binder is now legendary. I started it the day after my diagnosis. As a teacher I am obsessed with binders and thanks to my mom I have learned OCD which made organizing and accessorizing my binder all the more necessary. I knew I had to go to the Shangri-La of office supplies – Staples. I purchased a Martha Stewart binder, section dividers, a fancy clear zipper envelope, and page protectors. This may all sound ridiculous and frivolous but let me tell you how useful it really is. My binder houses all of my paper work – pathology reports, blood work records, consent forms, information packets, medication lists, contacts, bills, receipts, etc. It has saved me from having to reproduce papers and has made it much easier to answer any and all questions about my specific case. Plus everyone comments on it.
It most definitely includes the extensive paperwork given to me at Chemo School. Steph and I sat attentively listening to the oncology nurse explain the different drugs I would be given (Adriamycin AKA the Red Devil (according to my Julie – my personal oncology nurse and now friend), Bleomycin, Vinblastine, and Decacarbazine) and their wide range of side effects. The side effects sounded like ‘a walk in the park’ if that park existed in Hell. They included but were not limited to nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, mouth sores, neuropathy (numbness and tingling), fatigue, bone pain, skin issues, lung function impairment, possible heart problems, weight loss or weight gain, loss of appetite, so forth and so on. Based on my endless possibilities of side effects I could hardly wait for my first chemo treatment.