My treatment was scheduled for 9 so my brother came for me at 8 (rush hour traffic and all) We were moved from the usual Thursday to Wednesday because the nurses at the chemo clinic are all attending a seminar or conference tomorrow.
I saw my oncologist right away, and again, I can't stress enough how much I love this guy, he's so very calming even with his frank, to the point bedside manner. He's also gentle and comforting without coddling. Anyhow, he said my blood levels were great. I read my sheet and some of my levels were in the category of being out of the norm (chemo fog will not allow me to remember the word for that category right now) but for instance the normal range for red blood count is 3.80-something and mine was 3.55. Low but not low enough to warrant missing a treatment or a neulasta shot (that's a bone marrow booster and I understand from some new friends also battling breast cancer that it's quite bitch, burning bone pain and such so I'm glad I don't need it.) It's insanely expensive and though my insurance would cover it I'd have to miss a treatment first.
Also, my stress echo results came back and I'm so happy (and relieved in light of the chest pains I've been having) that all my heart functions are completely normal and there are no concerns for a significant cardiac episode. That was my baseline test and I'll have to have it done about every three months for the next year while I'm having my herceptin treatments because it does have an affect on the heart.
So, because this was my first treatment with both herceptin and docetaxel (taxotere) I was given some extra drugs. I took 4 steroids yesterday, two this morning at home, my Emend (for nausea) and then at the hospital they gave me 5 more steroids, another anti nausea (can't spell the name of that one) and then 2 Tylenol 3's and a benedryl. And then tonight I take another 2 steroids. Yes folks, I am a walking pharmaceutical lab...a total of 14 pills today - and 9 of them are steroids. If I started going to the gym I could probably win a body builder competition by the end of the year...but can you say hello constipation. Yeah, great. I had McDonald's on my way home from the hospital, hopefully that will take care of that.
They gave me a larger dose of herceptin for my first round, it ran for 90 minutes. The Dr said it's generally well tolerated and I shouldn't have any side effects from it at all. Yay. The next years worth of doses will only run for 30 minutes so that's good.
Then the gave me the Taxotere. This one they started off slowly, 50/ml drip. This was the drug I was worried about as there is a roughly 10% chance of having an severe adverse reaction to it. And with my tendency to be a giant pain in the ass (you'll recall the breast cancer that can't actually be found in my breast) I figured I could very well fall into that 10%. But they gave me that plethora of pills to help prevent that. Anyhow my brother was instructed to watch my face for redness or swelling. Thankfully there was none so each 15 minutes or so they'd speed up the drip by 50/ml until I was up to 250 at a good speedy drip. But it still took 2 hours for the full bag to empty.
So this treatment, all tolled took about 4 hours. I felt terrible for my brother. He worked nights last night, stopped at home to change, picked me up and didn't get home until probably 3 pm and he's got to work tonight again. But it was good to have him there to keep me occupied (and I kept him out of working the Occupy Eviction....ha ha, see my play on words there.) Though when the benedryl kicked in, I can remember we were talking the whole time but I don't really remember about what....I was pretty loopy. They gave me ice mittens and slippers to wear - this it to constrict the blood cells in your nails to prevent neuropathy. And instead of ice chips I brought more ice cream, though it was hard to eat with the mittens.
So far, I'm feeling okay. My hands and cheeks are tingling a bit. My mouth is dry and my lips feel chapped. From the other ladies I've spoken to the side effects take a few days to kick in, though I heard that about the FEC too and mine always kicked in right away. But I've bushing after everytime I eat and rinsing with biotene to prevent mouth sores. I've got nail strengthener and dark nail polish on my toes and fingers, despite my pure hatred of nail polish on my fingers to protect my nails. I've got my prescriptions for pain killers at the ready (for the bone aches) and hopefully these treatments will go better for me. Fingers crossed.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US so to my American friends
Friday will have been my Dad's 65th birthday. I'm hoping to feel well enough to join my mom and family and friends in dinner to celebrate his day and mourn that he couldn't be with us here to celebrate it. But I know he's up there now, having a chat with the Big Guy and asking him to heal me and spare me the same fate he had. He's one of my many Guardian Angels and I couldn't think of a better person to have up there watching over me.