I went for my chemo consultation yesterday. It's basically where the nurse walks you through the next 18 weeks of your life. Most of it I was prepared for, just having talked to others who've gone through chemo (or are going through it) but I'm reminded that this time it's not other people...it's me.
Much like any medication there is a whole host of warnings about possible reactions which of course scare me. At the end of it all I said to the nurse, "just so that you are aware, I am prone to anxiety attacks when faced with new things and because you've told me there's a possibility of having an acute reaction (aka anaphylactic shock) to the docetaxel (the drug I'll be given for the last 3 chemo treatments) I will most certainly think I'm having one, whether I actually am or not." She kind of laughed and said, well, it's okay, if you do have one (a reaction, not an anxiety attack) we've all seen one and we all know what to do for it, that's why we do it here and not somewhere else in the hospital. That was reassuring.
I know that (unfortunately) thousands of people go through chemo all the time and I know of many personally and they come out the other side (cancer free, many of them!) and I'll handle it all well too. I know I have to get sicker to get better but I'm not looking forward to this.
I'm most worried about getting sick. Obviously the drop in white blood cells combined with flu season, my husband working in the dirtiest, germiest place on earth (the subway) and three, young, school aged children there is a likelihood that someone will bring some kind of germs home. We were pretty good at washing our hands before all this but I'm going to be even militant about it now. And there will be a sanitizer pump at the front door for guests. And if someone dares to come in my house while ill there will be hell to pay. (yeah, I'm thinking I might not be very nice through this chemo thing) Frankly, I don't want something like a flu to kill me when I'm trying to beat something tough like cancer.
So, because of that, I've also decided to do the head shave before chemo. See, the nurse told me that the drop in white blood cells will happen roughly 7-11 days after treatment. This would be right around when I'm feeling a bit better and planning for a the party. But do I want a houseful of germs when I'm at my weakest? No, not really. So I'm going to shave my head before.
I go see my surgeon today, I'm hoping she'll take the drainage tube out and give me the go ahead to start chemo. If she does it would likely be another week or two to let the area that the drainage tube goes in to heal. So, if all goes well, I should be able to decide today when the party will be and send the invites out.
I continue to try to stay positive, despite what gets thrown at me. In my package that I got at the clinic they gave me a book about breast cancer and one of the things I read was that the prognosis for those who are diagnosed before age 35 is not as good and there is an better likelihood of recurrence. I realize I'm over 35 but not by much so of course, that plays on my mind. Do I want to fight this again.....and again. Not really. So after I read that I closed the book and moved on.
I bought my outfit for the photo shoot. A light pink skort and blouse and a hot pink bra. I will look hot! I'm going to decorate the bra tonight and hopefully plan a party. That will lift my spirits.
One day at a time. It's a long road ahead but I can do it. I'm strong and I can beat this. I have to. I have too much to live for.