RITUXAN #2: CHEMO #7
Rituxan #2 went without a hitch – only 5 hours this time and I felt like I had a lump in my throat the whole time but I think it was psychosomatic as I was fine later.
Chemo #7: As I sitting patiently waiting to see Dr. Schuster, before what I hope will be my second to last chemo, visitor popped into the office: Dr. Eli Glatstein, Radiation Oncologist extraordinaire. Check out this Glatstein love fest: http://theoncologist.alphamedpress.org/content/15/4/329.full
We had met when I was first diagnosed with NHL and remained friendly since then: dinner when he was in London, a few emails here and there, etc. He is definitely someone you want to see at dinner, not surprising you in the hospital waiting room. I immediately guessed this meant radiation was actually happening – with its own set of side effects and problems for the future to worry about.
At Penn, they have been treating HL with radiation successfully for years, but now…. Penn has a new toy: its Proton Therapy machine. It cost them a bundle and they want to use it.
The major long-term effects of radiation to the chest can be: breast cancer and heart problems. Will proton therapy make a difference? To make a long story short, proton therapy targets the spot directly without spatter and doesn’t go through the body. It stops at what it is supposed to target. Regular photon therapy – what’s used now – is less precise and goes through the body so more areas are adversely affected. It seems like a no brainer…but does it work? There’s the rub: they have only been using it for a few years treating HL. There is no long-term medical evidence that it works as well as the other. Do I want to be a guinea pig?
There are side effects to both: tiredness and difficulty swallowing. Since the radiation is going through your esophagus, it might get sunburned making it hard to swallow. So no meat and bread…at least I will lose the weight I have gained. Oh yeah, ice cream is allowed!
I do like Dr. Glatstein very much but he is super serious and so it all comes out sounding very grim. When Dr. Schuster entered the room, he encountered two very scared and teary eyed women. He changed the mood and eventually made us feel very upbeat and positive. We left a little brighter but with a head full of future decisions to be made.
After that, the chemo session itself was easy. Veins holding out so no PICC or Port has been necessary yet! It’s taking less time and at least I know what to expect.
I know I write about something positive and favorable almost every week and people have commented that I am strong, fearless and funny. This week I had a meltdown and felt tired, grumpy and fed up. Thank goodness for Once Upon A Time. Loving the first series – so creative.
This time, I decided to write a list of all the issues that made me tired, grumpy and fed up. What good is a list like this? Well, it may help you understand why people might lose the big picture of the chemo killing the cancer and moan about feeling awful. Be happy knowing all of this is transitory and soon soon soon, you or someone you know will get over these issues.
1. Nose issues: Runny nose all the time but also dry and scabby. Who knew it could do that! Thank goodness for soft Kleenexes!
2. Hair Issues: These are obvious. I have lost almost all my hair even thought the nurses told me that “we don’t have many people who lose hair on this floor.” NICE! Even the eyebrows are thin. I went to pluck one that was a bit out of control and it dropped off willingly! Thank goodness for Raffaelle Mollica whose wig made me feel normal–ish again and putting mascara on my remaining eyebrows which seems to have dyed them and made them look a bit bushier.
3. Pain & Suffering Issues: Bad headaches after the chemo, nausea, itch back thanks to the Rituxan. Thank goodness for aspirin, Compazine, Zofran and Aesop Petitgrain Skin Gel.
4. Discomfort Issues: The sides of my mouth are splitting, the inside of my mouth hurts like I ate way too many lemons, I wet myself when I sneeze/cough, have hardly slept a full night, the constipation is horrible even though I take Konsyl & Colace every day and the hemmoroid I developed has made me feel oh so sexy! Thank goodness these only happen the first week after chemo and then they go away.
5. Vanity Issues: I gained weight, am bald, and can’t fit into any of my clothes.
THANK GOODNESS MY SHOES FIT AND THEY MAKE ME FEEL HOT!
NOW, NO MORE COMPLAINING!
PS: Another issue – I cry all the time…every commercial, tv show, whatever..in tears.