Essay Non-Fiction posted December 22, 2010


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The end of Phase One

My Continuing Fight with Cancer

by barbara.wilkey

Many of my fans have asked specific questions about my chemo treatments. I'll try to address those questions. As to the chemo drugs used and how often one receives treatment, it depends on the type of cancer and how your body relates to the treatment. I have survived Phase One; which, in my case was treatment every fourteen days, a total of four.

On chemo day, I enter the treatment center of my hospital. This area is set up into small rooms. I've been lucky enough to get a window each time. I think the nurses realize confining my little old ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) self to a room for three or four hours without a window would not be to their benefit.

The room has a recliner, for me, and a comfortable chair for my husband. After reviewing my lab work, taking my vitals, and accessing my port they begin pumping a flush and some Decadron, an anti-inflammatory drug and some Aloxi, an anti-nausea drug through my port. After these are completed, then the chemo drugs begin. First, Adriamycin, known by many as the 'Red Devil' because of the side effects, second Cytoxan, and finally, Bevacizumab are pumped through my port one at a time.

There is a TV, but I have yet to watch it. I usually grade papers or edit my next post. My blood pressure is taken often and the nurse reminds me to let her know if I feel any discomfort. I am often asked if I want something to drink or crackers to eat.

These drugs have many side effects. I'm sure your prayers and blessings have helped me withstand many of them. I'll only discuss the ones I had.

1) Baldness (I solved this problem by styling and profiling in hats and scarves.)

2) Extremely dry skin (I am still working with this one. My skin is naturally oily, but I am discovering the benefits of many lotions.)

3) Heat flashes with facial flushing. (I don't have a clue what to do about this one. I can't strip down to nothing during class and stand in front of the air conditioner. Suggestions are welcome.)

4) Fatigue. (Again, I'm failing here. I rest as often as I can, and often come home from work and nap.)

5) Sores in the mouth. (I gargle with salt water. It seems to help.)

6) Nausea. (Ginger ale and ginger snaps are becoming a necessity of life, plus very expensive pills. I have also learned that sucking on ice cubes help.)

7) Poor appetite. (I eat small meals, but try to ensure they include protein.)

8) Darkening fingernails and skin. (I am sure, like my hair, my fingernails and skin will grow back to normal someday.)

10) Low white blood count. (I take a Nuelasta shot on Friday afternoons to help counteract the low white blood count.)

11) Blood pressure rising. (Mine is still low enough they aren't treating it, but I may be soon adding more pills to my already too many daily pills.)

12) Hoarseness. (I drink a lot of water, especially during class.)

13) Bloody nose. (So far this has been minor, but it's being watched.)

14) Soreness on the palm of hands and feet. (The lump on my left hand had the doctors and nurses concerned, but it left after four days without causing any further incident.)

15) Loss of fertility. (I am almost 57 years old, this is a blessing.)

The fatigue, in my opinion, is the worst side effect. I'm used to being busy. Now I am forced to stop and not only rest, but nap, especially the second and third days after a treatment. My balding didn't affect me as much as I thought it would.

I took off Wednesday from work last week because I was so tired. I had hoped resting a day would help. It did not. Friday my body said enough; fatigue and vomiting hit with full force. The effects of chemo get worse with each chemo treatment, they are cumulative. I was told I had a choice to stay in bed or be hospitalized. I chose to remain in bed.

I am taking strong antibiotics, in case there was an infection. Everybody is sure my body was exhausted and words have been mentioned that they hope I learned my lesson about resting. My answer is a wimpy, "yes".

Thursday, December 23, I'm ready to embark on Phase Two, a chemo treatment every week for twelve weeks. The other two drugs stop and a new drug begins, Taxol. Bevacizumab will remain with me. Phase two is supposed to be gentler, because there are only two drugs, but many of the same side effects. One I haven't seen that I could see is pain in the joints and muscles. There will be an increase in blood tests. I am beginning to think this particular hospital supports a colony of vampires.

After Phase Two, I'll give an update on whether I go on to Phase Three of chemo or straight to radiation treatment. The decision hasn't been made yet.

I hope this answers some of your questions and it isn't too technical. I want to give thanks to our awesome Heavenly Father and to all my FS friends. Your support, prayers, and well wishes are amazing. I've learned to draw strength from God and my family and friends. I wish there was some way I could tell you how much each one of you mean to me. Without each and every one of you, I would not be able to do this. I think we all need a group hug.

I've added a free verse poem. Please remember I am not a poet. I write romance novels.

Again, Thank You!!!!!!!!!!


BIG "C"

Cancer has my attention
Life's goals are nonexistent
I can't hide, or even flee
This fight I can not shun
I have no choice, but to win
Five years I'll fight to survive
My goal: To be cancer free
I'll greet that day with open arms
Then, a survivor I'll be
I've been praised for my strength
I'm my son's Guiding Light
Accolades oft repeated
I smile and let them pass
My Faith in God from Day One
Plus, the acts of my supporters
Their prayers and good wishes
Will make my goal obtainable

"Thank you all for your support"


Recognized


Evil Eddie is playing with my bullets. We'll see how it comes out. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!
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