My account of life both on and off of two wheels...... "At least I'm enjoying the ride"

Friday, July 30, 2010

A view inside the "Red Devil"......

This entry might be a little too strange, graphic or personal for some but to me, this is part of my journey. It is also the reality of many woman of all ages that get diagnosed with breast cancer every day. This disease, like so many others, does not discriminate. Cancer does not just prey on the week or the sick. It attacked me, so it can attack the healthiest, youngest of bodies which in my case age 36, an athlete, a competitor, strong both mentally and physically and lucky in love. It's not anything that I did, ate, drank and if it is, well that is neither here nor there and while I have my own theories, I will not waste energy trying to figure that out. The focus needs to be on my recovery and getting the cancer cells out of my body so I can resume some sense of normalcy in my life.

It has been almost two years ago to the date that I watched my sweet, strong amazing Aunt K go through this same process. Happy to report she is cancer free today! I went with her to her 2nd chemo treatment for breast cancer. I remember feeling so frighten for her as there was so much that I didn't know about and all I wanted to do was make her feel comfortable and know that I was there to be with her. I was there with her when she made the leap to buzz her hair that day. I watched as she was so brave and I held back my tears and just told her how beautiful she was. I was there to be strong for her or so I thought. I now get that it is hard for some to know the right things to say or do but sometimes tears are necessary, anger, laughter and sometimes just saying nothing is OK too. I have always been close with my Aunt K but we now have a bond between us that we will share forever. We are both survivors of this horrible disease to which there is no real cure only treatment. She is a huge support for me and I know that while she is not here in NY next to me, she will be there with me when I buzz my hair. Oh that will be today or started to fall out yesterday. Yikes!

Speaking of hair falling out, my oncologist yesterday and all my nurses loved my new haircut. I told them it started to fall out so no one was allowed to touch it, breathe on it or think about brushing it. I will not wash it ( good thing my hair does not get really greasy) and I will wait until tonight or tomorrow to go for the buzz cut. I don't really want hair all over my apartment. My doctor also reminded me to take another picture of my hair so when it grows back, I get it cut like this again. Good point so here is a 'selfy" taken in the doctors office. It looks different when I'm not in the salon. I don't blow dry or brush it much.

Barrett to try and stop me from fiddling with my hair too much. Don't want to stimulate those hair follicles....

So, as you all know I have cancer which sucks in so many ways but the only way to try to get it out of my system is to jam these drugs into my body. We tried the traditional I.V. method on round 1 and well, that did not work so well. We got them in me but it was quite a production. Wednesday I went in to have a small surgery to put the medi-port in. All went well and it was not too bad. It is a little sore but that is to be expected. I only have two steri strips on it and it's about the size of a quarter sticking out of my chest but under the skin, right under my collar bone. Because I don't have a lot of fat or tissue there, it's noticeable but who cares. When I go into my treatments, they access the port with a needle to attach the I.V. system. After that treatment, they pull it out and I go home with just the little bump sticking out. Piece of cake.

See, kind of dramatic with the equipment attached but so much easier.

One of the first drugs is what I like to call the "red devil". Remember, this is the one that looks like Kool-Aid. It is the first of the two drug combo that I get each time. for 4 treatments. I have two more to go of this particular 'cocktail' before I move onto another drug for 4 more treatments two weeks apart. This will put me through the end of October if all runs on schedule.

After my first round I had a lot of side effects. Some of which were of the allergic kind so after they checked my white blood cell count, which was perfect, they premedicated me with zantac and benadryl along with the regular steroids and anti nausea drugs. Then we start. Port or standard I.V. does not change the fact that the Red Devil gets pushed through slowly by my chemo nurse. While the port is really the safest way, they have to take all the same precautions.

So, away we go...

I have been thinking of these drugs as toxic, which of course they are extremely toxic but I read somewhere from another survivor her suggestion. Paraphrased a bit-"don't think of the drugs as toxic, it will make you feel toxic. Instead, embrace it as a medicine and imagine it like little Pacman eating up all the cancer cells in your body. I prefer Ms Pacman and so does my chemo nurse J. She got a kick out of that.

Get those cancer cells, go!

They hooked up the final drug and now they walk away. This one is not as bad so they can let it just drip like normal. It only drips for about 30 minutes than more saline for hydration. This drug can make you congested but mostly it leaves a metallic taste in your mouth while being administered so they recommend mints or gum. I personal love gum or lemon heads. Today, I chose gum and my mom ate the lemon heads. I now have the time to sit and look out the window and think. My mom sat by my side and we occasionally spoke about this and that. I decided to write in my journal a bit. Just some random notes of the days events.

Round two down, uneventful day and as my nurses all said "we love boring". I can't blame them. I do to! I started to have the same swallowing side effect but took another benydril and it seems to do the trick. Nausea is under control and G and I were able to take a short walk together last night and enjoy a little down time together. I feel tired and just trying to take each moment as it comes. Enjoy the good ones and when they are not so good, I will try to remember it does pass and I will have another good moment.

This weekend should be much cooler than the most recent ones so I am hoping to be well enough to get a nice ride in and if I am feeling strong enough go cheer on my friends, teammates and my guy who are racing this Sunday. This is the weekend of the Darkhorse 40. A 40 mile mountain bike race. I have done this race twice and it is a tough one but a lot of fun. Two years ago was my best showing as I took first place in my class. Last year I had a horrible race as it was unbelievable hot and I felt sick at the start. I finished the race with a respectable 3rd place but was hoping to come back stronger this year. Oh well, there is always next year. The weather looks great for Sunday so GOOD LUCK RACERS!

Me racing the Darkhorse 40 two years ago. Good times!


  1. yay!! so happy you were boring--we really do love boring. :)

  2. Me too DrB. Thought you might like to hear that. Much different experience. Must have been your pep talk the other day :-)

  3. thanks for sharing.