| 1st Chemotherapy infusion |

I’m the type of person that plans and preps for everything. I constantly have a “to do” list and nothing brings me more joy then to cross off a “task”. 

Well I’m afraid on 1.29.18 my “to do” list of procedures were compete, which led me up to one major “task” on my cancer journey......chemotherapy. 

✔️ mastectomy

✔️ chest port placed

✔️ blood work drawn

✔️ cleared by my surgeon

❌ Chemotherapy 

The day was here, I was ready physically but mentally how in the world was I going to conquer this enormous step? Pray? Meditate? Breathe (yes Jess... please remember to breathe)? Stay positive? Call in support? Help... what was I missing? How do I get through this??? 

The night before (1.29.18) I ate a great dinner with my family and then Darren and I put the kids to bed. Bath, teeth brushed, water cups, books, hugs, cuddles, more water, potty break, hugs, cuddles, more cuddles (those with toddlers get it).... bedtime routine is a PROCESS. But this time I laid next to Scarlett and rubbed her back. She turned to look at me and said, “mommy, are you going to loose all of your hair from your medicine?” 

I lost it. Tears came down quicker than I could wipe them. 

Here we go.... the ‘ol hair conversation. Darren had prepped her but I was there to make her feel comfortable in knowing mommy might lose all of her hair, but I am still me, & I still will be there to tuck her in and love her everyday! 

We talked a little more, I said goodnight and I love you and then she fell fast asleep. My little bug, watching out for mommy. She has such a caring + delicate soul. Love her. 

Now it was my turn to get ready for bed: treatment bag packed, snacks bought, magazines, audiable book downloaded, cards, letters (from all of YOU), slippers, headphones.... ok ready to roll *i think*. 

To my surprise, I actually slept pretty well that night. I kept telling myself that while chemotherapy is terrifying it’s also GOOD because it’s giving me life and all I want to do is live!! Then I prayed for a while and fell into a deep sleep. I slept into about 2:00am and then was wide awake for about an hour. I finally went back to sleep until around 6:30am. By this time the kids were up and morning routine had started. 

Miles was having a rough time as he was diagnosed with the full on flu just 2 days before my treatment was starting. As if I wasn’t stressed enough about chemotherapy and now my baby was sick! Sick!! So, Miles got to spend the day with my dad. 

My parents came over early in the morning to help with the kids. Dad took Miles and Darren, mom, & I dropped off Scarlett on our way to the hospital. 

There are two things that the doctors say to do before your infusion: eat before coming in and drink a TON of water. Done and done. 

Ok.... I think I am ready. Holy shit. We pulled into the parking garage. I thought I was going to vomit as my legs immediately became numb. 

It’s not often that your oncologist tells you that be prepared as this chemotherapy will wipe you out! Oh geez.... {again.... is this really about to happen??} 

I checked in and told the receptionist that I needed numbing cream for my port as it was still extremely tender so they wanted to numb it before my infusion. At least I knew I had 30 more minutes in me before chemotherapy started! Winning!! 

 *half smile.*

Then this sweet nurse named Susan came out and called my name. O-M-G. Here we go....

Yes... I barely could speak. 

She came around and introduced herself and asked if I knew her. You see, you can request infusion nurses and one of Darren’s coworkers swore by Susan so a tiny bit of anxiety was relieved when I learned that my request was granted. 

I heard Sue was a pro: from Southern Cali, worked for some high end doctors in Long Beach and moved to OR to be near her daughter and only grandchildren. Plus she was all into nutrition and had lost 50 lbs once she became vegan, so this intrigued me a little and I knew I was in good hands.

So, Sue knew her stuff baby! She was gentle, very professional, & very much into sterilizing EVERYTHING! 

She walked Darren, Mom, & me back to a private room (& don’t even ask how I got to be lucky but I’ll take it!), showed us where all the snacks, drinks, & bathrooms were. She then sat me down and checked my port and started me on a saline drip to build me up with fluids. 

One very important thing about me is I have an EXTREMELY sensitive stomach and the slightest thing makes me nauseous and sick and this was written all over my chart. 

Sue said my port looked good (even though it was all bruised, red, & swollen to me) and then explained that she was going to give me some anti-nausea medicine to help with any side effects. 

Medicines down the hatch! Now it was time to poke the port...... breathe Jess breathe......

I remember looked out the window (away from Sue) taking a deep breath and her saying, “Let’s go”. And just like that the IV was in and I was good. I sat for about another 30 minutes with the saline drip and then she came in with my chemotherapy medication.

It was sealed in a bag as TWO pharmacists have to sign off on my personal amount (which is determined by my weight and white blood cell count). After Sue scanned the medicine in, ANOTHER doctor came over to review and make sure it was correct. “All good”, she said. 

The medicine I will be getting for my chemotherapy is ACT. 

A= DOXOrubicin ( generic for Adriamycin)

C= cyclophosphamide

T= PACLitaxel

Then Sue started with 3 RED vials (DOXOrubicin) and that my friends is the chemotherapy. Slowly she pushed them into my IV and then she started me on the larger bag of chemo that was clear (cyclophosphamide). At this time, the medicine was making me tired and I fell asleep. I was having anxiety around chemotherapy tasting a certain way or getting really bad cotton mouth, but so far so good. 

I remember waking up briefly and looked at Darren as he had tears in his eyes. I’m assuming the whole process was pretty emotional to watch. I grabbed his hand and then drifted back to sleep. 

My oncology navigator, Beth, came in to check on my and she explained my shots. I will be taking shots on days 3-9 after chemotherapy. The shot medication is called Zarxio and these help with white blood cell growth. There is one major side effect as white blood cells grow from bone marrow so I was preparing for some pretty sore bones, growing pains almost. 

We were there for the whole process until around 1:00 and I was actually feeling pretty good. Darren, Mom, & I stopped off to get lunch and then I went home to rest. I slept most of the remaining day..... 

The first few days after chemotherapy were a blur. I slept A LOT. If I was up for 2 hours, I’d sleep for 2-3 hours. My body needed to rest in order to start the process of rebuilding my blood cells. I continued to walk daily (slowly) and eat as much as I can.

My shots started on the 3rd day (2.1.18) and they aren’t too bad. I have to take a Zyrtec an hour before I go in for my shots as this helps subside the pain. I have been getting the shots in my arms (alternating) but I can also opt for my tummy. 

I’ve been having some bone pain. For all the moms out there, you can relate as it’s like hip pain when I was pregnant or growing pains. I usual warm up blankets in the dryer and wrap them around my legs and this helps tremendously. 

But friends.... I’m doing it! One day at a time, I’m beating this! 

I’m still terrified as the rounds of chemotherapy start to compound together, things could get worse, I will get weaker, & possibly lose my hair. But I’m fighting this fight and I’m not even close to giving up!! 

I’m going to try my hardest to work, my hardest to stay connected to you all, & my hardest to compete as many daily “tasks” as I can, but when it all comes down to it, I have to rest. I have to rebuild all these healthy cells while chemotherapy destroys the bad ones. I have to conquer this and with that takes rest and relaxation.

Here’s a beautiful picture that Darren captured when I was sleeping during my first infusion.

xx,

Jessie 








Comments

  1. Jess-I cannot even begin to imagine how terrifying this experience is for you and Darren. And the only thing I can say, is that you are both doing it with such positivity and grace it's mind blowing. I think of you both every single day and wish you strength and healing. xoxo

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