Chapter 14: How long is chemotherapy?

I came home and melted into loving on our twins. I could not get enough of them! I know I am biased, but they truly were the most adorable babies I had ever seen. I was going to do whatever I had to do to see them grow-up. I was scared as hell, but I now knew I could do it. I had to reach the very bottom to be able to see the light. It was there and I was going to start the fight of my life. We had about a week until I would start my first round of chemotherapy and the next week would be a series of doctor appointments and I would also have a port implanted into my chest. That procedure was not too bad and I was under “twilight” anesthesia, so I do not remember anything. It definitely was a strange feeling having this foreign object sticking out of my chest wall, but I knew in the long run it would make sense and be easier on my body.

The night before my first chemo, I had so many emotions and questions. How long was chemotherapy? How would I feel? Would I feel it going in? Would I get sick right away? I also could not sleep, as I was on a strong dose of steroid, which I took prior to every chemo infusion. The night before chemo became a funny routine of me running around the house with crazy steroid energy. I was also scared beyond belief, my anxiety was elevated, but I had a very odd calm about it too. The waiting had been the hardest part and knowing what I was facing. Now it was standing in front of me and I was ready to take all of it on. I spent the night rocking and holding our babies, singing to them and promising them we would all get through this. The next morning, I kissed them both and we drove into Chicago. Fight music up LOUD on the car radio and it was time to kick cancers a@%.

Walking into the waiting room is a feeling, I will never forget. It was as if everyone was looking at me and knew I was about to join them. We were all in this battle together. There were a few dozen women ranging from all different ages and most were were headscarves or beanies. I took a huge breath as I stepped through the doors and with tears streaming down my cheeks, I told the receptionist my name and that I was there for “my first chemo.” She had the kindest eyes and the sweetest voice and looked at me and said “we got you. you are going to be just fine.” I was lead back to the infusion area and we had our own room.

The infusion would take about 4 hours and friends had loaded us up with snacks, magazines, crossword puzzles, comfy socks, blankets, etc… The nurse came in to get me prepped and hooked up to the IV. This was the first time using my port and I remember the smell and the sound as clear as if it were today. The smell of alcohol swab and the click when they opened the package. It was about the size of a razor and they had to thoroughly clean the port opening, numb the skin and then the needle went into the port. I did not have much body fat on my chest and it was not intense pain, but it did not feel great. The nurse was AMAZING and she talked me through every single step. I had a specific chemo cocktail and the various medicines went in at different times. One of the medications had a small percentage of having an allergic reaction, so they started it slow and the nurse sat right next to me to watch my vitals. By now, you know. YOU KNOW…I would have a reaction. Right? It started with hives, then itching and then I was having trouble breathing. The nurse gave me the medication to counter it right away and now…instead of 4 hours, it would take 6. Sigh. The benefit was that the counter meds made me sleepy and I was in for a mega-nap.

We got home and I was able to eat some dinner, snuggle and love on the cutest twins in the world and sleep. I had THE strangest dreams and I dreamt of my Mother all night. I never dream about her, but she was there in my dreams that whole night. When I woke up the next day I felt really weird, but not sick or anything. The best way to describe it is that I felt like I was in a haze. Felt like I was kind of floating around and definitely a little weak. I took it easy and as the day progressed, I was getting weaker and exhausted. This was the calm before the storm. We would soon learn that my “day 2” was my worst day. 2 days post treatment for me was the day I would stay in bed and the nausea would start. Imagine the worst hangover you have ever had…that was nothing compared to this. I could not keep anything down and felt like I had jelly for legs walking to the bathroom. Everything itched and I just wanted to sleep. The reality of what was happening was syncing in and that was a tough day. I realized just how much help we were going to need.

I had this awful metallic taste in my mouth and everything tasted terrible. I had a headache like no other. But….I could see my babies smiling! I could hold them and remind myself of the promise I made to them. I got up from the bed to get to the couch and just hold them. This was my entire “why”

wrapped in my arms. There was nothing I was not going to do for these two and although it was going to be very hard to “eat a sandwich” that tasted like cardboard and metal….I would eat it.

I would have 3 weeks in between every chemo treatment and every day I would get a little stronger, however, the nausea never left me and I lost a lot of weight very fast. My hair was thinning, but it was not falling out. I really thought I may be in that small % that never lost their hair. It may not seem like a big deal, but it is! As a woman, your hair can be part of your identity and I was terrified this was going to make me “look” sick. We were so blessed to have friends and family helping us and my best friend literally moved in to help around the clock. We also realized we were going to need a full time nanny. We interviewed loads of applicants and had to explain that this was not just watching twin babies. We found our perfect Nanny and she started with us a couple of days before my next treatment.

Steroids kicked in and I was like a crazy woman with all this energy for 24 hours. It was like I was possessed. The second infusion was exactly like the first one and the doctor came by and told me that the side effects would most likely be worse and that I could expect to lose my hair within a couple days of the 2nd infusion. I told her I was going to keep it instead 🙂

Day two was a little worse that the month before and I had decided not to wash my hair and protect it from shampoo for a couple days. Day 3 came and as I was washing my hair, it was coming out in clumps. I sat down in the shower and cried. It was going to happen. I was going to lose my hair. I called my husband and he agreed with what we were going to do. He bought a nice bottle of red wine on his way home from work and he charged up his clippers. We were going to own this. We were not going to let cancer decide…we were going to shave it off.

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