I was able to select the start date for my chemo. Each subsequent treatment would be exactly 3 weeks apart. I was scheduled for 4 treatments and we were approaching the holiday season. After looking at the calendar closely, I chose a start date of October 25th. In doing so, my remaining treatments would be on Nov 15th, Dec 6th and Dec 27th. I didn't know if I'd get sick from the chemo treatments but with this schedule, I figured that I would be feeling well (or well enough) for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
When you get chemo, you have to track and log each day, how you're feeling, when you take the anti-nausea pills, etc. Chemo day is day 0. I went in on the 25th and an IV was inserted (since I was only going to get 4 doses of chemo, a port was not used, just an IV every time). They gave me a Benadryl, to relax me and make me sleepy, I guess. I was also given anti-nausea meds through the drip. Then the chemo began. My treatment involved to chemo drugs, Taxotere and Cytoxin, Taxotere first then the Cytoxin.
I think I was expecting something, not sure what, while I received the treatment. But I didn't feel anything. A little sleepy from the Benadryl but otherwise, nothing. Jose was with me the entire time, left the area at one point to get drinks and food for us. Total time I was there from check in to departure, about 6 hours.
I felt fine with this first dose during the 3 week period. No nausea, no vomiting, I didn't lose my appetite, I still exercised (I was running at this point). I had a few nights of general achiness, and I developed a few sores on the tip of my tongue and the back of my mouth. I gargled with baking soda and salt. I also called the triage nurse and she told me not to eat acidic things, sharp foods, or cold foods. And she also suggested using Biotene gel in my mouth to keep it moist. All of that seemed to work.
I was told during the chemo class (before chemo treatments began) that my hair would start falling out after the first dose. I never had moments of clumps of hair coming out. In fact, I only noticed a few strands at a time. But I wanted to shave my head before my hair really started to come out. My stepson, who had long hair at the time, wanted to shave his head when I shaved mine and donate his hair to Locks of Love. I never asked, and didn't expect, anyone to shave their head but it was such a sweet gesture. Jose II is an incredible man and I can't tell you how much I appreciated that.
I painted my nails black, put rings on all fingers, and wore black lipstick to the salon, and before the complete buzz cut I asked the stylist make a mohawk (for fun). What the heck, right!?! A buzz cut was so easy to maintain...I loved it!
The only other physical problem I had during the 4 doses was a UTI one night. Unfortunately, it occurred at around 11:30pm (why do UTIs happen at night or during a weekend!?!) and on a night that we had our 4 year old granddaughter over for a sleepover. Jose stayed with Cami while I went to the hospital.
When you're undergoing chemotherapy, you automatically get moved to the head of the ER line. I knew it was a UTI, because I've had them before, but they still had to run some tests to make sure there were no kidney problems or any other issues. A new nurse was slated to start the IV. I'm all about teaching hospitals and letting newbies learn but after the 3rd try, I asked for someone else. They released me from the hospital around 6:30am, with UTI meds (surprise, surprise). I arrived home in time to eat breakfast with Cami and Jose, the perfect way to end a very long night.
I rang the end-of-chemo bell after my last dose, 2 days after Christmas, 2012, and never looked back. I started taking Tamoxifen (a daily pill) about 3 weeks after my last chemo dose. Tamoxifen is the oldest and most-prescribed selective estrogen receptor modulator (SERM). Basically, it blocked estrogen in my body. My cancer fed off estrogen, thus the need for Tamoxifen. The biggest side effect for me was hot flashes. I took Tamoxifen for 5 years.
Next up: My Cancer Journey - Final Thoughts and Stories