I found the lump in my right breast, had it checked, was sent to an imaging center that confirmed cancer with lymph node involvement leading to my double mastectomy. I was surprised at how quickly everything happened.
Complications developed requiring five days in the hospital where my treatment was so bad I changed oncologists. But the idea of chemo with different oncologists didn't appeal to me at all. What would be different with them? They'd try to "sell me" on chemo/radiation etc., too. Chemo is chemo, right? Doesn't matter where you get it, right? That's what I thought.
Before my first chemotherapy treatment with my new oncologists, I had a "chemo teaching" session. For almost two hours, my treatment was explained and discussed. Since my doctor is a woman, I did feel more comfortable talking and asking questions. I wanted to know exactly how my care, chemo and it's side effects would be different with them than the previous doctors. While I did have a little bit of the denial that seems to come with this diagnosis and consequences, my doctor convinced me to give chemo one more try.
The first difference I noticed was the chemo room set-up. There are only five 'units' but each unit has a large recliner, an individual television and an unusually wide restaurant-style menu for patients if we get hungry while receiving treatment. There is plenty of staff and even an occasional nursing student.
My current chemo-combo is Adriamycin and Cytoxan administered through the port in my upper right chest. Prior to receiving this, I get an anti-nausea medication then Decadron through the port. My Adriamycin looks blood red, comes in an enormous syringe, is given by a nurse a little at a time. To combat the sensations that are possible during this administration, I get a cup of ice chips. The ice cools and constricts blood vessels while keeping my mouth moist. It works. No problem.
Once the Cytoxan has infused, I'm sent home where my treatment plan is drink 2 to 3 quarts of water a day; Decadron 4mg and Zofran 8mg night of chemo then 3 times a day for 3 days. I also add my own home remedy to combat nausea: a B6 vitamin and a Benadryl 25mg. Been using that pair to relieve/prevent nausea since I had morning sickness while pregnant with my son. It works. No problem.
At home it is self-care and monitoring until my next treatment. I have noticed that for the first week after chemo, I get strange food cravings. I'll want BBQ with Thousand Island dressing, dill pickles, onion rings, ketchup, ice cream, etc. and now--eggnog! As days pass, symptoms pass and the remaining treatment total decreases. One day I'll take "my last one."
I'm just thankful that I stood up for myself, changed oncologists, reconsidered treatment and am taking it as it comes. Side effects are temporary and so are the treatments!!
Life is Great!!