Sunday, December 14, 2008

Starting Chemo

I realize that the first time I saw the oncologist was Monday, Dec 8th, then the port was almost immediately installed on Wednesday, Dec 10th but we are already on to my first chemo treatment on Thursday, Dec 11th. Due to the lung thing everyone agrees there is no time to waste, and Scott and I sit firmly in that camp as well. They have decided to start me on two drugs, but for this first time I will only get one. This is good news, since all the nurses seem a bit spooked by the second drug. It seems there have been some issues with it, but I won't worry about it until next Thursday (18th) when I get that one. For now walking into the cancer center gets me a bit freaked out at first, but with Scott's steady support I get it together and deal.

It's actually quite nice, with each person having a private "suite", a little room off the main floor with a sliding door, curtains, your own magazines, lounge chair, visitor's chair and TV. you can bring a laptop, talk on the cell phone, etc. without bugging everyone around you and the medication gets delivered right through the port, so it's fairly hands-free. The downside is the wait - first step is labs, to make sure all blood levels are okay, then they weigh you so that the drug is administered in the correct dose, presumably. At that point orders go down to the pharmacy for your exact cocktail, which takes about an hour. Delivery of the drug requires a quick flush with saline through the port, then the drugs (one at a time). My first drug is a fast one and I can get it dripped through in 30 minutes, but next week they go slow with the second drug, so I could be there 5-6 hours. This is followed by another quick saline flush, then we're ready to leave. I was planning on driving myself to these appointments, especially since its so close to home, but because they load me up with oral meds prior to the treatment (most notably Benadryl, an almost guaranteed nap for me) it looks like I will need a ride to and from each time.

They have me on a 3 week cycle. I get treatment on Day 1, treatment on Day 8, then a week off to rebuild before starting on Day 1 again. Each visit requires labs and I will start seeing the oncologist prior to each treatment as well on Jan 5th (when I switch to Mondays), so that adds time also. I am to get a CT scan approximately every two months to check progress (yummy - barium!). So this is the schedule I am adjusting to, but a few days this weekend without doctors has been bliss! (Now if only I could get in the shower...)

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