Entering the Unknown: My First Chemo Injection

Entering the Unknown: My First Chemo Injection

It’s official:  I am now in the hands of science.  And, in the hands of the somewhat unknown.  I am the first and only woman at the Red Rocks Cancer Center, and possibly in the state of Colorado,  to shoot up Halaven before any other kind of chemo. My oncologist and nurse are hopeful it will work as well or better than they’ve seen it work on women who have already had several other treatments, and they hope the side effects will be much less than the standard treatment.  But, they only know how it affects women who have already had many other types of chemo, so they can’t truly predict how it will affect me.

This will be a freakin’ walk in a beautiful flowery park, right?!

I had my first injection of Halaven on Thursday, and I was surprised by how easy it was.  I was only there for about 40 minutes.  My next injections will take even less time because the nurse will not need to explain as much to me, and I probably won’t have as many questions.  After consulting with my nurse, I began with a finger poke to check my blood, and then I had a 20-minute IV infusion of anti-nausea medication.  After that, the Halaven took less than a minute to push into my system.  My surgeon did a good job of placing my port near the surface of my skin, so the nurse didn’t have to hunt for it; you can easily see the tree little nubs that indicate where to put the IV without even touching it.  She froze the skin over the port with some sort of crazy freezing spray, and then she stabbed me.  The port has a thick plastic back, so the needle can’t go through it.  It didn’t hurt at all, but it was certainly weird.  I didn’t look at it.

The day of and the day after I felt a little foggy in the head like I’d had a few too many glasses of wine the night before.  I also had a slightly weird taste in my mouth.  I was a little nauseous last night, but it was nothing a glass of ginger ale couldn’t remedy.  Today is supposed to be the worst day, and I feel fine other than a bit tired. I imagine side effects will build as I get more injections.  I have another this Thursday, and then I take a week off.  I will do three more cycles after that of two weeks on and one week off.  I also go in one extra day at the beginning of each cycle to check my vitals and blood.

After Halaven for 12 weeks, I will move on to the hardcore stuff: AC.  From what I’ve heard and read, that’s going to be one scary chemical cocktail.  Not only for me, but also for my cancer, which is seriously going down.

(It’s crazy and probably completely psychological, but I swear I feel sporadically sharp pangs coming from my tumor.  I plan to ask my doctor about this the next time I see him.  How cool would that be if I can actually feel it suffering?!)

Knock on wood, but I’m not as nervous about going back to work as I thought I would be.  I think my next injection on Thursday will be a little bit more difficult to tolerate as the chemo builds in my system, but I am hopeful it won’t be as bad as I thought.  Keep them crossed, pray, do interpretive Mother Earth dances, meditate, send smoke signals to the stars, or do whatever else it is you do to give me good energy as I move through this.  My goal is to make it to the end of the school year without too many hang-ups.  After that, it can knock me on my butt, and I’ll have all summer to cope.

Cheers to science, ginger ale, and tumor pangs!



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