Why Do I Need Chemotherapy?
When I was told I had breast cancer, it wasn’t just in one spot. I had several microscopic tumors in three of four quadrants of my breast, and they found my lymph nodes to be affected by the cancer as well by 0.1 mm. Although clinically, I am cancer free, I am only 34 years old and I agree with oncologist to knock this out now and reduce the risk of there being cells that can reproduce in my body.
What Type of Chemotherapy Am I Getting?
I am getting a cocktail of three different drugs.
The combination of the above three is known as one of the stronger chemo-therapies nicknamed the “Red Devil” because one of the drips is red. It’s the devil due to people’s reactions the coming days after treatment. So to put my mind in a more zen place, I will be calling this the “Strawberry Shortcake” (I mean doesn’t that so much better than a Devil??)
When the nurse came in and mentioned the cocktail combination, I initially started to cry because I have always heard how harsh that could be on me. I am human and needed a good cry. On top of the treatments, I will also be getting a shot the following day, and then I will most likely be on an oral chemotherapy following.
It’s My Chemo Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To!
Not knowing what to expect was normal. I talked with my Breast Friend support group and they all expressed the same thing. Being nervous and anxious was common throughout the whole group.
Tip: There is a numbing cream called Lidocaine-Prilocaine that you apply over the port an hour before the chemo appointment.
This numbing cream helps with any discomfort when they attach the IV. I walked into the room that was filled with people and good energy, almost like there was a party! A chemo party! It would have been a nice afternoon party, but not the kind of party I wanted to be at right now. The nurses are the ones keeping this energy up, all day long and should get all the credit, like walking angels.
I was in the waiting room for about 20 minutes when I heard my name. The nurse escorted me to the room and my party was about to begin. The nurse accessed my port, with no feeling (thanks to the numbing cream!), and I started my first chemotherapy treatment!
What To Expect During Your First Chemotherapy Visit
A LOT of information! I packed my bags and food, and during the whole visit I only got to listen to one of my songs from my playlist. The staff discussed everything from side effects to my Neulesta shot, symptoms, my diet, and nutrition tips.
Cancer is non-stop learning.
There is something very important to know while going through chemotherapy, the 2-2 rule. If anything from the Oncologist list happens twice in the same day, call them! My chemotherapy drip was three hours, so by the time all of this was explained, my appointment was over. It’s mentally the hardest appointment, but after a double mastectomy and having tissue expanders filled six times in a month, sitting in a heated massage chair for three hours wasn’t that bad.
Can’t Stop the After-Effect Chemo Feeling
I start by saying this, every single person is different, this was my reaction to chemo and my experience.
Here’s what my first night was like:
I arrived at my 1:15 pm appointment even though my chemotherapy drip actually started at 2:00 pm and I was done at 4:00. I left feeling thrilled that I can say one day down. Check that off my list! I was skeptical of eating too much because I wasn’t sure how my stomach would react with all the poison that was in my body. Energy level…eh. But…I had enough energy to create a Boomerang Instagram story of me celebrating my first chemotherapy visit by throwing confetti in the air.
Before my first visit, I wanted to create a tradition. Something positive to help show my girls and myself that attitude is everything while you are fighting cancer. No matter how bad I feel or how much pain I’m in, this tradition will help me through it will give me the strength I need to keep going. So, I did the confetti party and as a second-part I wanted to include my family in it too.
To include them I said after every chemotherapy we will have a dance party and that is what we did. We danced around to Justin Timberlake “Cant Stop the Feeling.”
After all the fun I got ready for bed. By 8 pm I started to look very pale and the nausea set in pretty quickly from there. I decided by 9 pm to take an anti – nausea pill that the doctor prescribed. It was a nausea that I have never experienced before. I can only compare it to the pregnancy where nausea played a HUGE part for the 10 months. I also felt like my head was about to explode from the worst headache ever.
I spend half of the night hurled over hoping to throw up, and the other hurled over by trying not to throw up. In the middle of the night I decided to drink some bone broth. By 4 am I was still nauseous, so I took a few tablets of a homeopathic pilled called Tabacum.
All-in-all by 8 am I finally had some relief of the nausea and my headache really went away. By 8 pm the next night, my Nuelasta shot released in my right arm. It is a prescription medicine used to help reduce the chance of infection due to low white blood count. A few years ago you would have to go back to office for a shot, but not now. It releases 27 hours after you leave your chemotherapy appointment.
8 Ways I Got Through the Pain of My First Night of Chemotherapy
- Photos of my kids
- Washed my hands, A LOT!
- Rinsed hourly with warm water and baking soda
- Drank bone broth, Angela Dugan made these for me and they are awesome! Find her info here.
- Took some anti-nausea holistic medicine, Tabacum
- Took prescription medicine for anti-nausea called Emend
- Drank peppermint hot tea for nausea relief.
- Meditation mantra, I slept with my Mala beads wrapped so tightly around my hands. I was praying that this would be the worst of the weekend. “I am pain-free.”
I really want you to know that from my personal experience and talking with six girls from my local support group, that not one cancer patient will have the exact same symptoms or stories.
This is my journey of breast cancer and if I can help you with getting tested, a plan, or what to expect, I am here for each and every one of you. You NEVER have to go through this alone. The support is all around you, just ask!