Chemo Nesting and Sailing Into the Fog

Going into chemo is like nesting before a baby is born. I keep picking up things around the house, knowing I won’t be able to do as much once I start the treatments. I keep trying to fit in cleaning the bathroom between naps, but I’m not having much luck with that this weekend.

Chemo begins this coming Thursday. To say I am nervous and worried would be an understatement. I woke up this morning with an image of myself sailing in a small boat into a wall of sky-high fog.

FogPhoto courtesy of: arz (own work (Canon PowerShot S60)) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Before chemo, though, as in tomorrow, I will have another port inserted in my upper chest and have the IVC filter (the clot catcher) removed.

Oh boy, I can hardly wait. The word dread comes to mind.

I’ve been doing a lot of yoga.

Somehow having this second port put in, and getting an official date for the chemo, makes it all seem suddenly very, very real. It’s not like I was in denial before, but it was easy to push it to the back of my mind as long as I was recovering from surgery.

I already have one port under my left breast, and it doesn’t hurt, but it’s odd having a hard, plastic thing under your skin. When I do yoga it doesn’t necessarily stretch with the rest of my body and is uncomfortable. At least it’s hidden away and isn’t visible, but you can feel the tube running all the way down into my abdominal cavity. (I know all you squeamish types are shivering and saying “eeeewwww” at this point.)

Yoga with dog

The second port will be on my upper right chest and will be very visible, especially since it’s summer forever here in Texas and I’ll be wearing shirts that don’t cover me up as much. The radiologist told me this port’s tube will go directly to my heart. You can imagine where my brain is going with that piece of information.

It’s my choice to have the port inserted so I can’t complain too much. It’s either that or an IV every single time I have chemo, so this is much easier–and much less painful, which is always a good thing in my book.

Having the IVC filter removed also shouldn’t be that big of a deal. I will be sedated for both procedures and shouldn’t feel anything. It’s just knowing that someone will be sending a wire down a vein in my neck and pulling out a little octopus-shaped thingy with pointy arms that creeps me out.

On Friday I had to go for a consult with the radiologist. Before I saw him they did an ultrasound of the arteries in both legs to see if there were any more clots (there were none, and they have never found any there, which further gives credence to Dr K’s thought that they came directly from the tumor itself).  When I saw the radiologist, Dr R, he came into the room and immediately said, “I remember you. There were about 15 people in your hospital room when I saw you. It was like a party!”

I see my family and friends left a lasting impression from my time in the hospital!

Because of my relatively young age and overall health, Dr K wants to treat the cancer aggressively, the same way she would treat a stage 3. If it’s too much for me, we will scale down to the once every three weeks schedule. I would rather be aggressive and get rid of it, if possible.

Because my chemo will be in three week cycles, the infusion days are Thursday and Friday of week one, then Thursday of week two. Friday of week two I have to go in for some kind of injection to help boost my red and white blood cells, and the third week I’m chemo-free. Because of the Thursday/Friday schedule, it looks like two out of three weekends will pretty much be shot until Halloween.

And the really funny thing is, my very last day of chemo is on Halloween. I’m thinking a costume might be in order that day. Wonder Woman, perhaps? My wonderful friend, Pat, already gave me a WW figurine and WW mug, so now all I need are the magic bracelets and the star tiara.

Some hair would be nice, too.

LyndaCarterWonderWoman-thumb-330x417-60601

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48 comments

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I couldn’t find the perfect photo to go along with the image. It would help if we had some way to transpose our mental images into digital form, wouldn’t it? It would make my blogging life so much easier!

  1. runningtoherdreams

    My mother in law did chemo on and off for 15 years, her cancer was far more aggressive though (lung). Sometimes she felt fine, others not so much. But I used to take her up to the cancer center for treatments. Its quite a “chatty place”, which was neat for me as I was able to gain a better understanding of cancer from many different perspectives.
    I know they prepare you for feeling horrible etc. but just know that it can be different for everyone and not everyone feels horrible from the treatments.
    As always you are in my thoughts and prayers, but you’ve got this! ❤

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Thank you. We’ll just take the days as they come and deal with them as best we can. The only thing I’m really worried about is extreme nausea, mainly because I’m already on the thin side and have lost about 10 lbs from before surgery. I need to eat some pizza and burgers this week to fatten up again!

  2. iRuniBreathe

    This post left me both amazed and squeaming. Those are some intense lines you’re getting put in (though I totally understand your reasoning — isn’t this why we heavily hydrate before a race to reduce the repetition of unnecessary tasks?) I read a quote from the Dalai Lama the other day that reminded me of you, “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

  3. Irish Katie

    I hit the ‘Like’ button today … not because I like what is happening… but to show you my support.

    Now, have I exposed you yet to nerd Katie? List making Katie? No? Well … then that MUST be corrected … and yells out, “LIST TIME !!!”

    1) First – yahhhhh on the no blot clots. That is SUPER good news. Will there come a time when they make the decision that it was the tumor and you can stop the blood thinner and have the port removed for good and not have the octopus thingy?

    2a) In one of the comments nausea was mentioned … have you spoken to the onc yet? They will explain what will happen. I think everyone is different perhaps … but in general, first…blood work. Then they will do pre-meds. They likely will infuse anti-nausea meds in your IV. Then for me came the actual chemo infusion. You get sent home (or rather, your husband will likely go pick up the meds at the pharmacy) with meds for pain, nausea, stool softener (sorry…TMI), and likely lots of others. For me, they have me doing anti-anxiety meds too. (Yes, I am anxious as heck … but that is not really the reason for it. Apparently it helps make the anti-nausea meds work better or something like that.) And it seems the meds work fairly well. Again, as everyone knows…everyone is different. But it is not like how we heard about it when we were young.

    Oh, at the infusion center here on the first treatment they let you stay in a small private room. (It was SMALL!) … I think to help make it calmer for you? But there is also an area outside where others are getting their infusions. People talk, some read or sleep nod nods. But it looks out of windows too *smiles* … I will definitely ask the next time to be outside nod nods.

    And … *points to the list number. 2a? Nods … because the next number is …

    2b) Why still the #2? Errr, because this results from the same comment. Eating. I am sure your day of instructions tell you to eat normally. Nods. You should. Well…actually, check with your doctor…again, I have no idea what part varies. But I was told to eat. Even if I was not hungry. And perhaps bring small snacks too. And ice chips. NODS on ice chips.

    3) Agrees with you and Ricky on the hot pants. Not just because we are too old. Hot pants at any age is…. no. I have a daughter. NO FECKIN HOT PANTS.

    4) But … Lynda Carter has been well … errr … blessed. She should give us some. Damn-it.

    5) That photo of you and the pupper. OH. MY. GOD. I am in love with that photo. That is beyond cute. That and you are holding hands *smiles*

    6) My treatment is on a 3 week cycle. On Thursdays. So I think if I have this right, my next infusion (July 18th) is the same day as your 2nd week treatment. I was going to email you this week to ask when you were starting….and now I know. You will be okay Angela. *hugs*. The first one is scary because you just are not sure what will happen. It will be okay. *gentle smile* … but it is also okay to worry.

    7) I am actually done with my book-length, list comment. Ack! But, I figured I finish with a #7 because 7 is a lucky number *S*.

    *and sends one more hug*

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Thanks for all the tips, Katie. My mom and my daughter are both list makers, so I can appreciate this. I make lists, too, but I’m more scattered. The octopus thingy is coming out tomorrow. I have been on a blood thinner since surgery, which means a daily injection given by–who else?–yours truly. My husband said NO WAY was he giving it to me and my son’s girlfriend said she would if she had to. Giving myself an injection every morning is my least favorite part of the day. I have to stay on the blood thinner the entire duration of chemo, so four more months of injections.

      I already have two anti-nausea meds to take before my first chemo, and have also been told to eat even when I’m not hungry. This will be difficult for me. I’ve been told protein drinks and smoothies are good.

      I love that dog but she is a real pill when I do yoga. She will do anything for attention, so I had to hold her paw to get her to calm down. It worked.

      I will get my own private room for infusion, with TV, DVR, and a recliner. My Friday room will also have a bed because I will need to “roll back and forth” every ten minutes or so to move the chemicals around in my peritoneal cavity. We can bring food in, too, and I can have visitors, of course.

      I will email you if I have any questions. Thanks again, dear friend!

  4. When in New Places

    I just love that photo with you and your dog, I absolutely love it!
    I’m sending you all sorts of positive energy during this very uncertain time in your life. I’ll be sending you some extra come Thursday.
    I think the WW costume on the last day is a fantastic idea!! 🙂
    Much peace
    ~ ❤ Andrea

  5. Frank

    As already said, sailing into the fog is a great metaphor – and an anxious captain adds another layer of complexity. Be strong and stay positive …. and I’m glad to see the dog doing yoga!

  6. westerner54

    Oh, I’m late getting to this…but I was sending you lots of good thoughts yesterday as I sat on a beautiful prairie hilltop, and I’ll continue them today. I’ll also be glad to do some empathetic pizza and burger eating for you – already started, in fact!

  7. JustDeb

    Prayer out to you. Everything has been said above. I also like WW. My son sent me a frig magnet. I will think of when I see it.

  8. Our Life In 3D

    Fair well WW! I think I woul dhave went with the IV. That port thingy sounds lik eit is filled with too much gross feelings and thoughts. You are braver than I ! My thoughts continue to be with you! Thank you for sharing.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I HATE getting an IV put in, so 18 IVs in the next four months sounds horrid to me. It wasn’t so bad getting it inserted and they did it at the same time as the removed the IVC filter. It’s over, and I’m resting at home again!

      • Our Life In 3D

        I had an IV put in when I was getting my CAt scans and bone scans as I needed multiple infusions. After my first trip through the CAT machine I roll out, the nurse gives me the new shot then pulls the IV out, apologizing almost immediately as she knew I had another shot or two to go. She had to put it back in, in the same arm.I don’t mind the needles so much but when it comes to looking inside me, as with a filter or port I am beyond a weenie! Rest well!

      • Mind Margins/Run Nature

        I would have freaked out if they took an IV out then had to immediately put it back in. I made sure when I had surgery that they put any new IVs in after they had knocked me out!

  9. MikeW

    Ports. A port is a place you sail to and from, as well as what you are using to deliver chemical force against any cancer cells that may be left. I think your decision on a port is a good one, even though chemo nurses tend to be great at what they do. My prayer is that all cancer cells are vanquished for good. I also hope you are sent and find many unexpected internal and external comforts and reliefs throughout this internal marathon.

    Look ahead to your recovery, and fix your will on what you want the treatment to do. I hope your medicine, or its combinations, is advanced in ways that spare you the side effects of older medicines.

    All of the same sentiments and prayers as before, continue!

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      I have heard the chemo drugs are getting better and better, and the side effects are not as dire as they used to be. Thank goodness for that! Thanks, as always, Mike for your incredible support. It helps so much to know people are pulling for me.

  10. getgoing-getrunning

    Angela,
    Another great piece. I admit I was squeamish in some parts, but it’s what you are having to do day-in-day-out at the moment so don’t stop writing about it. Honestly, I can’t even truly grasp what you are having to go through so the fact you can still be so candid about it and still write great posts is amazing. Top shelf!

    All the best for your journey into the fog, and remember that your family and friends (and especially your yoga dog) are your compass and will help you through to the other side.

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      Honestly, I can’t believe I’m having to go through all this either! This morning I woke up, in pain, and looked at my new port and neck bandages and remembered the three hours I spent in the surgical room having the procedures done yesterday. It was so unpleasant, but it’s just something you know you have to do. And there’s always an end in sight, so that makes it easier as well. Thanks for your nice words, Bernie!

      • Beverly

        OMG I so agree with you! Getting the port was very unpleasant but ultimately is very worth it. It is worse trying to tap a vein. Once you get those first treatments under your belt, you know what to expect and how to manage the side effects. Chemo does suck but having chemo is paying it forward or stacking the odds in your favor. Sending you positive thoughts over the next few days. I do have to say that I am very impressed that you are blogging while going through all of this. It was a challenge for me just to reply to emails. You got this!!

      • Mind Margins/Run Nature

        Thank you, Beverly. Writing has been the best way I’ve found to sort my thoughts and work through everything. Staying on top of others’ blogs, however, has been a challenge and I never seem to get caught up.

  11. melissabluefineart

    I’m confused~please forgive me asking, but if the tumor is removed, and all of the lymph nodes came up clean (thank God) where is the cancer???
    Also, a friend of mine once told me that fog stands for something. First let me say, she heard it from a pastor, so what are you gonna do?: a FOG is a F****ing Opportunity for Growth. So, there you go. I’ll keep you in my thoughts as you sail off into the fog…

    • Mind Margins/Run Nature

      There may still be microscopic cancer cells that can’t be detected in the abdomen. There is one questionable spot where they think the tumor ruptured and dumped dead cancer cells, but they can’t be 100% sure they are dead cells. Chemo following surgery, even with clean lymph nodes, is pretty standard. Cancer cells can be hiding anywhere in the body, undetected, and chemo will (hopefully) kill them off. Love the true meaning of the word FOG, Melissa!

  12. Richard

    Hello Angela, through your writings of your own experiences of your battle with cancer, encourages / inspires us readers in so many ways of our lives. Your strength and beliefs along with your family will carry you through chemo. A favorite quote from a Yoga goes something like “Meet everyone and every circumstance on the battlefield of life , with the courage of a hero and the smile of a conqueror”

  13. kruzmeister

    You are absolutely Wonder Woman Angela! I’ll be looking out for a photo of you in your costume on Halloween! 🙂

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