I started my newest chemo on Tuesday and didn’t even realize until I was in my usual chair that I hadn’t even bothered to don my sea bands or bring my usual anti-nausea drugs or tried and true snacks to overwhelm the gross taste of saline and some of the chemo drugs. Clearly I had been doing this for far too long and treated starting a new chemo regimen like any other day. I just showed up and took my seat in preparation for it – bloodwork, blood ballet, appointment with Z, and treatment. I was thrilled to see Julie and Susan and know that I wouldn’t have to be an inpatient in the hospital for chemo round 3. They were both excited to se me as well and hid their disappointment, with my stubborn resistant cancer, behind hugs. Stacey popped over to check in and I’m sure Tammy would have too had she been there. It’s funny how a place, with such a negative connotation, can sort of feel like home.
It definitely started off like any other day. My port refused to draw for Julie as usual. A few podebures, a ballet move from my earlier years as a dancer, did the trick. I might as well be on stage because I usually draw some attention with my moves and laughter. J., whom I have met on multiple occasions, also has a difficult port and he was contemplating some dance lessons to see if they may work for him. His daughter thought it was a fabulous idea. In the end, he declined. Once my blood was flowing, down to Z I went for some harassment (our usual sarcastic banter) and the highlights of my latest plan. So after some girl talk with Kira, Z showed up and explained what round 3 entailed. Brentuximab has limited side effects for most and is definitely well tolerated by the majority. The hope is two rounds, one infusion every three weeks followed by a PET to check progress. There is some minimal concern that I may need a blood transfusion, because my reds are still low from ICE. I asked if it was necessary and Z decided if he said so, then it was; and he joked about knowing how to deal with me and sadly he is right. I need to be told, otherwise I will try to argue the exact opposite. I hope Z never meets the boyfriend to pass on his secrets of how to “handle” me. Z also explained that my cancerous status was still at Stage 2, so while it continued to be resistant it was not progressing. Good news in my book. After our brief chat, back upstairs to start my new chemo.
Rather than steroids, Brentuximab required a Benadryl infusion to ward off any potential allergic reactions. Julie warned me of the intoxicating effects or drowsiness of the premeds, none of which occurred. She always double checks because she wants me to have some effect, that way she feels better about its potential to work. Sadly, I rarely comply. I clearly have a high tolerance for things, and always have. My high school and college self tested the limits of alcohol and discovered the same thing. So I suppose we just have to go on faith that the third time is a charm. And in this particular instance we added another pharmaceutical for good measure – Coke a cola (created by a pharmacist in the the late 1800s). I was showing Julie some pictures of my weekend when she got excited over the “cuteness” of my beau and dumped a bottle of Coke all over me. It was in fact hilarious! We all laughed, and Susan and Marie harassed Julie for being pretty, witty, and clumsy (not the first time I have watched her drop things). Like I said, this place is like home to me.
After our series of laughs my afternoon infusion concluded and I had to return yesterday for the dreaded Neulasta shot. Which I have to admit is much more tolerable with this round of chemo than it had been with its predecessors. This appointment albeit short and quick was also filled with laughs, only this time I was not the only patient participating. One of my mom’s best friends recently discovered she had breast cancer and was terrified with the diagnosis, the impending hair loss, and the array of emotions. She didn’t see herself as strong, I disagree. Well needless to say she was in her chair yesterday afternoon and she and my mom laughed it up and I think for the first time she saw the bright side in all of this. It really gives you an opportunity to make the most of it, whether you are enjoying some blood ballet, girl talk with your new friends (nurses), a battle of wits with Z,or laughing about wearing a bottle of Coke. After all everyday can be a good day as long as you make it that way!