It's 11 pm the night before and I am reading everything I can get my hands on regarding, "How to prepare for Chemo.," (and for any of you that know me, you can picture it). Luckily my home girl put me on to another woman warrior named, Nalie Agustin, who wrote an entire e-book just on this subject, entitled, “Chemo Secrets." I highly recommend this read for those who have been just diagnosed and friends of those who have been just diagnosed. It is a quick read, it's upbeat and gives you a snapshot into what to expect and how to prepare. She is also fucking awesome! SO, I compiled my chemo care bag with the following, to combat the side effects I might endure the next day:
- Warm socks
- Ginger candies x 3 (for dry mouth)
- Hand cream
- Visine (For dry eyes)
- Lavender (for nausea)
- Natural hand sanitizer (which I really don't need until later, I mean I am in a hospital with a sanitizer dispenser on every corner)
- Toque (apparently, I am going to be cold as hell)
- Lip balm
- Greenhouse juices X 2
- Rice cakes (bland foods only for now, nothing too crazy keep the system calm)
Yes it was a tonne of shit, so you can picture Corey and I arriving with our bags and luggage like we were staying overnight. Turned out for visit 1, totally unnecessary!
I had also been fasting for over 24 hrs. (No, it was not fun!) But a lot of my own research and through the advice of my new naturopathic doctors, this can help manage the side effects, as well as keeping the cancer from returning in the long run.
So, as you can see I was chemo ready!
Fast forward it's the day of and I am getting messages of encouragement, even a video, (Thank-you Sheena!) that just lit me up. My family hugging me extra tight and reassuring me that, "You got this!" It was all very moving. I thought I would be more upset today. I cried a bit last night, but not out of fear, it was out of . . . come to think of it, it was probably fear, lol! I am not angry, or sad, just ready to get this done! Before I left the house, I created with my coach the possibility of being, strength, trust and vitality. I had a smile on my face and despite feeling nauseous on the way to the hospital, (probably that fear again), I was OK. I had my hubby beside me bumping the tunes, "Bad and Boogie," and I was ready, the sooner it starts, the sooner it would be over. I have 8 cycles total, (once every 2 weeks for 15 weeks), so let's get this over already!
Before I left the house I was thinking, maybe I should wear a hat, so I can get use to not having hair, (and really so the sicker people don't envy me, or think, enjoy that cool hair while it lasts!) Yes I know how that sounds. But that was dumb, no one was focused on anything but themselves and their loved ones, I really need to have more faith in people (W.I.P). Also, I remember what Nalie had written in her book, "don't go to your chemo looking sick, you want to feel great so do whatever makes you feel great, do your hair as long as you have it and put on some make-up, and wear something bright." So, I took her advice. I have the next 3 months to look sick if that is what happens, right now I feel fine so let's maximize on that as long as possible! So, I did my hair, did my face and paired my bright yellow scarf with my stylish track pants and T shirt. #IWOKEUPLIKETHIS
I could go over EVERY medication that was discussed, their names and side effects, but really, they give you the worst case scenarios and I rather deal with things one step at a time (and I am sure I will address in later posts). Let's talk about how I was all set to have an IV in my arm (as I have been getting use to this), and then the nurse tells me to hold out my hand. Whaaaat? All readers, do me a favour and look at the top of your hand, how many veins do you see? Now picture putting a needle in them for the next 2 hours. "Is this going to hurt?" I ask, "Yes" she says, "but only for a bit". The reason they do this is chemotherapy has the tendency to weaken and collapse the veins, so they do not want to take your big beautiful ones in your arms . . . not yet anyway. So, they hooked up an IV and start pumping in saline, to open my veins. Then she informs me they are mixing the chemo in a lab and will bring it over when it is ready (It was somehow comforting to know they didn't have batches of this shit premixed just laying around).
45 min later the same nurse that greeted us when we arrived, shows up in a fully covered smock and gloves carrying a plastic bin containing the medication. From what I read about what's in that bin, I don't blame her for wanting to protect herself, I wouldn't want any on me either . . . Oh I forgot, it's going IN ME! First, she pulls out 2 huge oversize syringes full of red liquid, a.k.a. DOXOrubicin, a.k.a. "The Red Devil" and she hooks it up to my IV which she will administer manually. She says, "Don't be alarmed if your urine is red for the rest of the day, it's normal." Eeek! Then I say to her, "So this is the 'Red Devil' I have heard so much about, that's what you guys call it right?" She pauses for a minute and says, "I don't call it that, and I try and educate everyone around here not to call it that. I call it, 'The Red Soldier' because it is here to fight for you." I just smiled, she was so fucking right! "You know your words have power," she goes on to say, "and sometimes people don't realize what they are saying. The devil is out to destroy everything and is meant to be evil, but this is your red solider, it is out to help you." I can see my hubby nodding in the background. I was so lucky to have Verona as my nurse. She was speaking my language. Sometimes I forget about the words that I use or even think. I am a firm believer that our language creates our world, and Verona was giving me a firm reminder of that. She finished the 2 syringes of my, "Red soldier" and hooked up the second drug to my IV, called cyclophosphamide. It doesn't have an a.k.a, so I am thinking it is the nicer of the 2 drugs.
Verona chatted with us while she pumped the, "Red Soldier" into my vein, (ever so carefully as not to cause it to burn). All the while she kept saying to think positive . . . And it got me to thinking . . . for me beating this cancer was not about thinking positive. Yes, I hope and pray for healing and for a positive outcome, and I know that crying curled up in a ball in a corner is not a beneficial, (although sometimes necessary), way of dealing with hard times. But this was not just being positive, this was about being POWERFUL in the face of no agreement. My body has cancer and for now, it is not going anywhere, I CANNOT GET UNCANCERED. I heard someone say this a few days ago. I was in a crowd full of 200 + people, and it hit me like a tonne of bricks, as if she was talking right to me! She was encouraging people to choose whatever life has thrown at them. She was making the point in saying, you cannot resist what life hands you, your wishing it to be different is a waste of time and energy AND essentially is a suffering of your own making. TRUER WORDS HAVE NEVER BEEN SPOKEN. I don't feel sick, and because of that, it has me in denial about what is really happening. I was still convinced up to the moment she was pumping the, "Red Soldier" into my veins that they had made a mistake, they got the wrong gal! Denying it is a waste of time, and more importantly, energy that I don't have. I know I will get through all of this, and yes it will SUCK ASS! But I thank God for the problems I do have, because it could always be worse, this I know.