February 10, 2012 § 1 Comment
Yesterday was my last chemotherapy treatment. Hurray! I have to say that this area of medicine has really progressed in the past 20 or so years. My husband Phil’s son died of cancer in his early 20’s. He stayed with us during his treatment, and I remember how hard the chemotherapy was–his weight loss, inability to eat or keep food down, and just feeling crappy. So it’s scary when you learn that you have to go through this treatment. My experience was completely different, thank goodness. The management of side effects seems so much improved.
I did have to take a lot of medicines to mitigate those side effects though. My protocol began with 2 doses of dexamethasone (a steroid) the night before, a Zyrtec allergy pill an hour before, pre-meds of Zofran anti-nausea, and Pepsid for stomach upset just before the chemo drugs, of which I got two: Taxol and Carboplatin, so commonly used together that they’re called CarboTaxol. The port infusion of just the chemo took 4 hours at best, so I caught up with quite a bit of reading over six treatments.
I usually feel pretty good day after chemo (all those drugs, especially the steroid probably), then there’s three or four days of feeling like a have a slight flu–ache-ness, tired, headache, but no nausea since I’m taking three types of anti-nausea medication four times a day. I also give myself five daily injections of Neupogen, which jumps starts the bone marrow into producing the white blood cells (neutrophils) needed to fight infections (sometime this drug made my bones ache a little). One of the main dangers of the chemotherapy is the suppression of your immune system which can lead to illness or infections if your skin is broken (scratches, cuts, bites, etc.). In fact, if your body temp goes higher than 100.5°F, you have to go to the doctor or emergency room. Luckily, I haven’t had to do that! During the second week after chemo, I take an antibiotic twice daily to provide protection while my immune system is at its lowest state. Finally, I start feeling “normal”, but still pretty fatigued the third week, and then we go in for another treatment. But not this time! I’m done, and that feels Great!
I baked a carrot cake to celebrate my last chemo with the wonderful nursing staff of Kaiser’s Infusion Clinic.
Thanks to the wonderful RN’s who administered the chemotherapy and provided warm supportive care to a lot of patients like me!!!