On the first try in which I felt hardly any pain, Barbara inserted the needle that would infuse me with the cancer-killing medications that had been chosen for me, which were two; Taxotere and Cytoxan. Before they were started, though, a bag of saline solution was hung which I believe ran alone for about half an hour. One of those little white fluted cups was presented to me containing two large potassium pills, and if I recall correctly, a couple of pills to prevent nausea.
“We’re starting it now,” Barbara said at one point.
During recent weeks I had thought frequently of that moment and the concept it represented, for surely a dichotomy of sorts is represented here. I am a recipient of these drugs because they are known killers of cancer cells, known killers of the breast cancer cells that were discovered in my right breast; ductal carcinoma. Yet I know these drugs have the very real capacity to cause my death. How can that be? A drug that may cure me, yet may kill me? A dichotomy. For these powerful drugs have demonstrated that not only do they kill cancer cells, which are fast-growing cells, they may kill other fast-growing cells in my body. The medicines are not yet engineered to attack only the abnormal places in my body, but they may go after my hair, my stomach, my bladder, my mouth and various other parts of my body. They will significantly lower my immune system, and I will become very tired, and subject to infection. Much of our time with Lia before this session was a discussion of this reality, and the things I should do to protect myself.
In the beginning, I felt no different as the fluid from the hanging bottle began its infusion, but after awhile I noted a slight nauseous sensation, which did not develop into a significant problem. I talked with my family and Holly, the nurse checked me frequently, and I was given a laptop computer and encouraged to watch a short film which repeated much of what Lia had said (in quite a boring way, I am sad to add. Confession: I found a way to speed up the film until it ended rather quickly! Sorry Kaiser.)
The medications do not run simultaneously, and I don’t believe I noted which ran first. After the first one was completed, a bottle of Benadryl was hung. Almost immediately I felt flushed, woozy, and sleepy, although I did not sleep. Probably could have then, but I was eager to note everything going on about me, and I continued talking with my family. Patients moved about the room, pushing their bottles with them. Rebecca walked over to the area just across from us, introduced herself, and struck up a little friendship with a lady named Carol, who a bit later came over to meet me. So sweet, she told me of her experience and gave me lots of practical advice.
“You’re finished,” Barbara said, and I noted the time to be around 3:30. She removed the needle, we gathered our things, said good-bye to those we had met, and headed down the hall. Lia had insisted that it was very important I drink lots of water, so that the chemo would be flushed from my body . . .so I took a bottle of water with me in the car. We stopped at the pharmacy where we bought the Benadryl product. Outside, Holly said good-bye. I hugged her and thanked her for her exceptional kind, loving friendship.
It was 6:30 by the time we took Rebecca home, picked up Winston, and drove up to our home in Crestline. I was thoroughly exhausted, changed my clothes and collapsed on the couch. After I had gained some strength, I took a dose of the Benadryl, submerged myself in a warm bath, and headed for the bed. I slept well, awaking more than once, (all that water helped), but going back to sleep easily.