Thursday, January 7, 2010

First Chemo Cocktail Party

So the day started out heavy and emotional. I no longer feared the chemo or the unknown so much. The reality of being a cancer patient, however, was showing it's weight again. As my cancer manifesto states...other people get cancer. Not me. But I have it.... And now I get to be sick from it.

Jared drove me to the appointment. We sat in the waiting room together...waiting. It was plenty of time to lay my head on his shoulder...then he wrapped his arm around my shoulder...then I cried on his shoulder. The receptionist came over to ask a question, and caught us. She caught my tears. She was very sensitive and understood how heavy this next step can be. Then she promised they would take good care of me, and that they did.

Finally they called my name and back we went for vitals, clean and tap into my port, and take some blood. They have a cream to help numb the port sight for the needle poke, but it takes 45 minutes to work. I have it now for upcoming visits. For today I got the numbing freeze spray like is used for having a wart removed. Though it had it's own sting, I am grateful for it. It took all but the last bit of the poke away, and that was enough to know I don't want to do it natural.

I then was moved in for the cocktail party. We went to a round room lined with recliners and IV poles. I chose a comfy brown chair and settled in with Jared by my side. Julie, my nurse, started me out with Benedryl and Steroid shots in the IV...and then came the first bag...Adriamycin...Kool Aid as it is called by some nurses...and Red Devil as it is called by the patients who have felt it's fury. Among causing the hair loss, it is also responsible for low blood counts, mouth sores, and discolored nails and urine. (I never knew cancer was so the hospital I peed turquoise and now I have peed red).

As I was all settled, Jared headed back to work for a meeting. For the duration of the time, I sat in the room with about 6 other patients. They all were older than I except for one Downs Syndrome young man named Gary. He was wrapped pretty tightly in a blanket with his mother right by his side the whole time. He seemed pretty low. I never heard one noise from him. Knowing my cousin Scotty, Downs kids love to talk and pull others to them. Turns out, this was his last chemo treatment. It was quite the party with his parents, sister, and the nurses. Everyone was celebrating, but Gary. I think he just wanted have this yuck, that he didn't understand, to go away and never come back.

The other patients didn't seem to have the energy or desire to say much as well. It was interesting being in a room as the youngest patient (at least after Gary got to go home). It just reminded me of the uniqueness of the timing of my cancer. Please, all my family and friends, do your self exams. Husbands of these great women...check them yourselves if you have to! The government and their panel of "experts" aren't interested anymore...don't let that stop you! And don't let the fear of finding a lump stop you!

After the Red Devil came a clear chemo drug IV, Cytoxan. It too causes hair loss, but not so bad on the other side effects. What I did notice toward the end of the bag was a numbing of the tip of my tongue and the very center of my top and bottom lip. Since then I have had this cold feeling inside my body, even when plenty warm on the outside. I also have had achy elbows. The nausea did hit after my nap, but not enough to cause eruptions of any kind. When dinner was brought in by our dear Relief Society Presidency, I realized my tummy was empty and just might do better if it had a bit of food. The gamble paid off. Dinner was wonderful and I have been feeling great! So much so, I am full of energy but need to go to bed!

After the chemo treatments were done, Jared came and got me. He had a plate of melon and strawberries for me, which tasted wonderful. We then went and picked up my prescriptions to start my own pharmacy here at home. I have always had a little pride that I have not had much beyond vitamins to take in my life. I am humble yet again.

We survived the day. I plan to go to work tomorrow and stick with my plans until something I can't get over, under, or around stops me. Life is good and I don't intend to miss it!


  1. Way to go Jen. your truth is inspiring, comforting and humbling. See you tomorrow.

    Love Karina

  2. you are amazing. i was worried and fearful just reading about what you went through. you are an inspiration to us all. i am thinking of you.

  3. Freak! I just wiped tears from my eyes the whole time while reading your post (and not because I have hormonal issues! :). You are amazing to me! Love you!

  4. You looked wonderful today. I am so suprised that you came to work (not really I knew that this would not stop you for any reason). I love you and remember I am always a phone call away.

  5. I can't believe you went to work either, but that is great, and I hope it means that you feel okay! Many loves and hugs and please let us know how we can help!

  6. Hugs from your mom, who loves you very much and admires your courage. You're an inspiration to me. I love you! Mom...... Janet Monroy

  7. Jen-
    You continue to inspire me! I know you are an example to so many people. I want you to know that you have given me an example of how to humbly and faithfully work through my own struggles. How I love you for this!

  8. Way to go Jen! Mrs. Fairbourn gave me your blog address. You are amazing. I'm glad to know you and have you at school with my kids! Keep the'll be in my prayers.
    Love, Eleny
    (Grace's mom)

  9. The thought of seeing my head bald scares me. I guess it just scares me because I think it would probably look awful. Aren't I vain? Like some girls look cute with short hair, but I don't think I ever would.
    There's a lady in our ward undergoing treatments and some days she wears nothing but a scarf on her head, or a hat, and other days she has a wig. I like the scarf. It's long in the back like having long hair, but doesn't try to hide the condition. In fact it looks kind of neat. (I have no idea how to feel what you must be going through which is why I ramble on about dumb things :) Hey, that's what friends are for!

  10. What a unique perspective you are opening up for me. Thank you for sharing your thought and emotions with us. You have amazing strength and your family will continue to be in my prayers.

  11. I read your inspiring story. I cried the entire time. I felt your pain, your hope, your beautiful testimony of the Savior and feel it a priviledge to know you via your blog. You make all other trials in life seem so trivial. Thank you for sharing in such a personal way. You truly have impacted my life in a profound way without even knowing you. I am Justin's aunt (I must have met you at Justin & Mandy's wedding). I am 46 and keep putting off having a mammogram. My sister also had breast cancer and had her breast removed. I will call and make an appointment tomorrow. Thank you so much for sharing your story.


Blog comments tip: I realized there was a setting to make it easier to leave a comment. If you have had problems, give it a new try. Select "anonymous" from the drop down menu after your comment (and REMEMBER TO LEAVE YOUR NAME!) Your comments help keep me going!