Tuesday I completed my sixth round of chemo. Though I still get pretty rattled before every session, I am getting better. For sure, session six was way better than session five, which marked the midpoint of my chemo treatments. As with many breast cancer patients on similar regimens, at session five, they switched me from the colorful Adriamycin and Cytoxan cocktail to Taxol. I guess they think after four rounds, it’s time to jolt your poor body again. Just when a person begins to figure out one regimen, they totally mess with your system again.
As much as I despised watching the “red devil” (Adriamycin) being slowly injected into my system with its intrusively bright, cherry-red color, at least I had figured out how my body reacted to it after four treatments. Starting Taxol, once again I felt vulnerable, not knowing what to expect.
My chemo nurse for session five was Kathryn, a young, tall brunette. “I have to give you a test infusion first to be sure you are not allergic to the Taxol,” she explained. “Actually it’s not the Taxol that causes the allergic reaction, but the solution it’s mixed with,” she went on to clarify, as if it made any difference.
During the test infusion, Dear Hubby sat next to me looking worried. We both sat there wondering if I would be one of the unlucky ones to be allergic. After all, my luck hasn’t been that good lately. Unimaginable worst case scenarios streamed through my mind and probably through his too.
Would I break out in a horrible rash? (I have been experiencing pretty intense flushing, after all). Would I become nauseous or lightheaded? Would I be unable to breathe, have irregular heart palpitations or worse, heart failure?
I wasn’t allergic to the test, and the actual dosage to be administered over three hours began. I sat and read my new book about a family living with a history of ovarian cancer. Yeah, I know. Why do I want to read about cancer if I am living it, but for whatever reason I do.
I sat and wondered again how I got to this place, sitting in a chemo room. I couldn’t believe I was getting Taxol. Just like Mother. I tried not to think about that. I tried not to remember. I kept reading and thinking. Reading and thinking. Finally, the reading won out as the story pulled me in. Periodically, I glanced up and noticed other patients leaving, but still I sat. Taxol must be given at a slow pace. Finally, our time was up, I was unhooked and Dear Hubby and I walked out the door “on our own power” as he likes to jokingly (sort of) remind me, both of us breathing a sigh of relief again.
Session six was considerably less stressful, although just as lengthy. However, I couldn’t help myself from wondering if anyone ever had an allergic reaction during the second infusion. No one appeared too worried about that possibility, so I guess it doesn’t happen that often.
At least this week, I am more prepared for the achiness in my legs, the tingling in my fingers and toes, the sleepless nights, unexpected tears and moodiness that will surely come. Thinking about all of this also makes me realize how miraculously my body seems to adjust to the unknown as it unfolds.
I am resilient, and for this, I am grateful.
When has your body proven its resiliency? (cancer related or not)