My photo
Newcastle, NSW, Australia
The big ‘C’ – cancer: it was always something that happened to someone else or someone else’s family, not me. That was until the 4th November 2009; the day I was told I had breast cancer. I remember being told by my GP and feeling disbelief. I am a 35 year old photographer with a beautiful husband and four gorgeous children: I am happy, I am healthy and have no history of breast cancer in my family. How could this happen to me? Since that day I have been on a very strange journey filled with weird, worrisome but also wonderful moments. I know many of you must be thinking ‘Wonderful? How can you have wonderful moments when you are fighting cancer?’ My answer is we all have options and choices and if we look for the good in people and life, we will always find it. I have created this blog to share my experiences with others, especially women who may be on their own breast cancer journey. Along my particular path, some beautiful women, who have beaten cancer themselves, have been very generous in sharing their stories with me, which has appeased some of my fears and worries. Maybe I can help others by sharing my own unique story… Love Mel xx

Friday, January 22, 2010

Chemo Diary Entry

Monday 11th January 2010 – Day 1, day of my first session of chemotherapy
Craig and I arrived at the hospital for my first chemotherapy session at about 9am. I was feeling surprisingly calm; maybe because I have tried not to give this impending day much head space: don’t worry, be happy!

We made our way to the Oncology Unit at Lingard Private Hospital and were greeted by friendly staff who led Craig and me to my little chemo room. I say little because it is only about 2.5m wide by about 5m long with two ‘injection chairs’, a TV, a bathroom and some extra chairs for any guests (though we are only allowed one support person with us at any time).

Another lady was already in one of the injection chairs with her arm in a heating pad waiting for her dose of drugs. I introduced myself to her by asking her, ‘What are you in for?’ Ok, maybe a bit blunt but I thought it was kinda funny – haven’t we all been served some sort of sentence at this place? ‘Sarah’ (not her real name) looked at me blankly so I clarified with, ‘What cancer do you have?’

‘I had breast cancer’, Sarah said.
‘Me too,’ I replied! Another lady of my kind…

Sarah looked about 55 years young and had a full head of hair so I guessed she was either starting her chemo like me or was having some other treatment. When I questioned her again (yes, I can be a busy body at times), she told me that she had finished chemotherapy treatment some time ago but still comes into the hospital every three weeks indefinitely for Herceptin injections.

My lovely chemo nurse Amy came into my little chemo room, introduced herself and explained to Craig and me how my chemo session would run. To start with, I needed another blood test to check my blood count was okay prior to starting the chemotherapy drugs: it was fine. Amy then came in and placed a heating pad on my right hand and arm just to warm up my veins a bit so they are easier to jab with the needle.

When it came to jabbing time, I stated my personal stance on needles to Amy; I hate them immensely and they should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately, when you are receiving chemotherapy and have big juicy veins, as I do, it’s tough sh*t – you’re getting a needle. So, I asked very politely if she could use a little needle and not one of those big horse needles I was jabbed with when I had to have my pre-treatment heart-scan. That baby brought me to tears. So Miss Amy was very kind and offered to use a children’s needle, which I cordially agreed to (like I had a choice)!

Funnily, Amy offered me the option of having my finger nails and toes dipped in ice buckets while I received my first chemo drug ‘Taxotere’. Apparently, it can cause a side effect whereby your finger and toe nails can lift and get infections under them. I am all for minimising any future side effects and pain, so into the ice they went for about two hours while the Taxotere dripped into my veins. To distract myself from the coldness, I watched ‘The Love Guru’ on DVD; nothing like a comedy as a great distraction from the numbing cold. Mike Myers is a genius I tell you!

The Taxotere drug was administered to me slowly at first so the nursing staff could watch for any allergic reactions that I may have. I didn’t have any reaction so it was full steam ahead for administering this drug. My veins were then flushed out before starting the next chemo drug on the menu, Carboplatin. As this drug started to drip through slowly, I began to panic. It felt as thought my heart was pounding, my chest felt tight and I started to cough a bit. To be on the safe side, I was given Phenergan and Hydrocortisol intravenously, which made me drift off to sleep. So I spent the rest of the afternoon in a lovely slumber, waking only briefly when my IV’s were changed to flush out my veins and then to give me my third drug, Herceptin.

By the time my chemo session had ended and my veins were flushed out for the last time, it was about 5.15pm – a very long day at the hospital.

I feel really blessed that the nursing staff that looked after me – Amy, Ann and Bev – were so attentive, warm and informative. They took the time to explain how I needed to look after myself when I got home to minimise any side effects over the next few days and clarified how the anti-nausea drugs and steroids I need to take over the next few days may affect me, such as the steroids causing sleeplessness.

All-in-all, my first chemotherapy session was not as traumatic as I may have initially thought, again, I think, due to the wonderful staff and having Craig with me throughout the day for moral support (poor love was bored out of his brain though)!

1 comment:

  1. My compliment for your blog and long life blogger to you,I encourage you to photoblog


    Even week another photo album

    Greetings from Italy,