Saturday, April 28, 2012

My Very First Chemotherapy HAWMC 28

The First Time ...Write  a  post  about  the  first  time  you  did  something.  What  is  it?   What  was  it  like?  What  did  you  learn  from  it? 

Before Chemo Became Routine

On July 29,2005 I had a  hysterectomy, oopherectomy and debulking surgery. And I was diagnosed with stage IIIB ovarian cancer. In the days that followed I dealt with pain from the abdominal surgery, I rested, I tried to learn as much as I could about the disease so I could make the decision of whether or not to do a clinical trial and I prayed. One short week after surgery I was back in the hospital in interventional radiology having my chest port-a-cath inserted. 

After gathering all the information I could about the clinical trial and the use of  selenium with carboplatin and taxol I decided to participate.  So two weeks after surgery I walked through the doors at my cancer center to have the first of many treatments. Needless to say, I was not very calm going in to the treatment area. I was moving slowly and carrying my little red pillow with me to cushion my belly when I stood or coughed.  I knew what my schedule was going forward Gail, the trial nurse, had explained that to me . On Monday I would receive IV  selenium and on Wednesday I would receive the carboplatin and taxol. I would do this every three weeks for 6 cycles ( which ended up turning into 9) Being in a clinical trial meant blood would be drawn every hour and continue until a few hours after the infusion was complete.  Interesting that I used to be able to rattle off the intervals but now almost 7 years later the details are a bit fuzzy.

I had not had time to visit the treatment area prior to beginning chemo so I didn't really know what to expect. Carla  was my nurse for the selenium infusion that first Monday. She was very good at calming my nerves and getting me prepared for what was to come. I learned how to use the rest room while dragging my IV pole after me. I learned when lunch was served, where I could get water, what stations were on what channels on the TV, how they would prepare me before inserting the needles into my port and to be prepared to give my name and date of birth frequently during my stay. The first day was long but I made it through. No side effect !

Did that make Wednesdays carbo and taxol infusion any easier? Well maybe just a bit. My problem on Wednesday was the jitters from taking the steroids the night before and the fact that I was so scared of being nauseous or vomiting from the carbo and taxol. I had told my gyn-onc about my fear of getting sick and she assured me that she would give me what I needed so I would not get sick. And once again my nurse, Sue, helped me through the day. She explained about the anti-nausea drug I was given and how it worked. And she explained how to make sure I had a little something to eat before coming to chemo. And she or one of the other nurses was always in close range of me during the time I was actually getting those drugs. She even explained that I should be sure to  take the anti-nausea pills on time when I got home so that I wouldn't be sick.  And the day, ending at 9pm because of the extra blood draws went smoothly. And you know what ? For 9 cycles  I never once vomited. That was a awesome thing in my book. 

So from this first of many chemos , I learned that if I ask questions and voice my concern about my treatments my doctors would do what they could to insure that my needs were met. 

Dee Sparacio

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