Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Approaching Chemo with Support

  There is too much to learn about chemotherapy!  Simply explaining it to my kids becomes a science lesson, that I think I understand...but in all honesty, the realist in me thinks it's pretty much a crap-shoot!  Two long appointments with the oncologist helped us decide which path to take, and that journey begins this Friday morning!  The poison will drip into my IV and flow through my bloodstream in hopes of killing any stray cancer cells.  In the process it also kills a lot of healthy stuff too (collateral damage.)  The chemicals specifically target growing-oriented cells, like hair, skin, fingernails, and soft tissue.  Maybe my kids can follow me around with a vacuum cleaner?
   We got to see the chemo room and meet some of the people who will be guiding us through, which takes away some of the mystery, but we know there are more surprises along the way.  I wonder if anyone would mind Skrillex cranked on my Ipod?  (Okay- only a couple of the songs!)  And... will I be able to nap in those comfortable reclining chairs?  (Sleep deprived shift workers think of sleep first!)  All along, the waiting and not knowing what to expect has been the hard part, so it's almost over.
  Did you know you should get dental work done before having chemo?  Our doctor advised that, and while getting a crown re-glued last week, the dental assistants gave me a home fluoride kit, because chemo can damage your teeth!  Didn't know that until the visit to the dentist.  Now I will do fluoride treatments every day to prevent it.  Like wearing sunscreen on a long walk on the beach, right?
  That makes me realize how lucky I am to have a lot of new friends who've been down this path before.  Dozens of people on this unique team are willing to offer advice to this rookie!  One shared a trick to chew on ice chips while getting chemo to cut down on mouth blisters.  Another advised to take the anti-nausea medicine BEFORE I feel nauseous. My sister-in-law said walking every day is what helped her get through chemo.  Thank you all for those tips and many more!  I will try many of them, and be a little more prepared for some of the more startling symptoms. (Like "flame-throwing diarrhea" described by one survivor!)
  I still plan to be my normal, stubborn, smart-aleck, upbeat self through all of this (or at least in public.)  And I know my support team is immensely strong!  We leave straight from the hospital to head up to Heber for a few basketball games that evening.  I'll let you know how it goes!



  1. Will send many prayers your way.
    Good luck and don't forget the Zofran!

  2. I usually did great my first day of 2 -5 was usually the worst and then I would start to get better. Try and keep your meals light and keep up on the nausea medicine. I noticed that if I waited until I was sick to take it, sometimes it was hard to turn it around. When your body says rest (do it) you will feel much better in the long run. I loved walking it helped me to work through a lot of the aches and pains. All of us that have been on this journey wish you the best. If you have ever heard of Young Survival coalition, it is a support group for women you have or had breast cancer. You can find them on the web and it has been a huge support for me and my family. Lots of Prayers coming your way.

  3. Laughing out loud about your kids following you with a vacuum cleaner Mary!
    Laugh lots best medicine ever!!!!

  4. Prayers coming from here as well. Not sure you will feel like basketball games but maybe the anti-nausea meds are better nowadays than they were 12 years ago. Just know you have tons of support.

  5. I am SO glad you learned about the dentist. I didn't find that out till mid-way through chemo. My biggest mistake during the first chemo treatment was feeling normal that I ate a huge meal from a friend. Not a smart idea. That was the only time I got sick. I did learn to stay ahead of the anit-nausea drugs.

  6. I forgot one thing....I was triple negative, too, but stage 2A. I am happy to report that I am 6 years cancer free!!!! I had adriamycin/cytoxan/taxol cocktail. If you end up having adriamycin, just'll pee red. After having a sentinal biopsy and peeing blue and the chemo that made me pee red, I felt pretty patriotic!
    I had always been told that God knows every one of the 10,000 hairs on your head. I discovered that there had to be more than 10,000. LOL So, the vacuum cleaner will come in handy!!!

  7. Good luck Mary. Been thinking about your all week. Having been on the care taker side of a chemo receipient I also wish you family with strength to endure this with you.

  8. Your openness in this journey will help others who will follow in this path as well as those who journey with you. May God guide you through this process and bring you health and healing!!

  9. Hi
    While you are sitting in the "chair of doom" you probably won't sleep. There will be others in the room who are getting their treatment also. It was fun to talk to all those people and hear their stories. Made me grateful for my kind of cancer and my chemo treatment. There was one lady who knew it was fatal and wouldn't be long and she was still getting chemo! another little boy had to go three times a week for months for have his treaments. It can be a real "talk-fest" and you can meet new friends. Remember, there will be a lot of us praying for you and cheering you on!

  10. Prayers being sent your way. I have been an avid watcher of you on 'The Morning Show' and hope to see you do this with the same attitude you always have. I have always admired you and your strength but remember it's ok to need someone else to be strong once in a while. We are all here for you and send our love and prayers everyday all day long.

  11. Mary,
    I have watched you for years and you have been the calm voice of reason many times. You will be in my thoughts and in my prayers as you face this trial.

    I know I'm only a viewer, but because of what you have added to my life, I feel a friendship is there and I care.

    I write poetry. I have a web page too. The poetry, I hope, may offer you some comfort. It is Here is one that may apply right now:

    Exquisite Pain
    The mortal body hurts
    When bruised and bumped along.
    We plead for some relief
    As we sing our own prayer song.
    Sometimes we take a pill
    To block the pain we feel
    Good for normal struggles
    But not touching pains of steel.
    Something comes to mind
    When exquisite is the word....
    "Wonderful . . . Magnificent
    Of the finest" can be heard...
    Yet . . . it may serve to ponder
    Another meaning here
    Could "exquisite pain" describe
    Suffering born to bring us near?
    For, if all is well in life
    We scarcely ever grow
    But through "exquisite pain"
    We'll strive . . . we'll see . . . we'll know...
    -Shanna C. Hugie

  12. Just remember that at the end of the day, no matter what they prepare you for and no matter what side effects each person you talk to has, each person reacts to chemo differently. Ice chips in the mouth really do help - but after my first treatment I got terribly sick and therefore turned off of ice completely. I had to switch to ice cream during treatments. Not too bad a trade off if you ask me. ;)
    Stay strong! You can do it!

  13. Body pains and mouth sores have been what I have heard about the most. I have been told that there is a mouth rinse from the dentist called Triple rinse (mallox, Benedryl and lidocaine) that knocks those sores out of the park. If need be although no one loves to be on pain pills, it might ease things while you are struggling to get through. You are so very strong. You are going to get though this, and kick its @$$. love you my dear friend.

  14. Mary, As I read your blogs; I read that you do not want your Husband to have to take care of you, or your kids. You are a Beautiful strong woman. If you have a hard day don't be afraid to call on your family, you are tough and I love the willingness to fight....If need be your not a loser or a failure if you need to use their assistance. You have always been my HERO!! You will come out being a "HERO" Keep your chin up and Remember to take of you 1ST, and then the family 2ND just for a short time to get through this. Our family loves you. Take one day @ a time.

  15. Mary, my thoughts and prayers are with you through your journey. I beat uterine cancer when I was 27 and I know you will too. I have watched you for years now while getting ready for work and you are strong. You will kick cancers butt.

  16. Good luck Mary! I was diagnosed almost 2 years ago (stage 2 triple negative and BRCA postive) at the age of 33. I just gave birth to my thrid child, when i got the news. You are going to be amazing and are an example to many people. You have a postivie attitude and that is going to help 100%. I wasn't going to let cancer get me down or change the person that I was, it has only made me stronger.

  17. Prayers for success, peace and healing. Godspeed, jack n Cheryl

  18. Mary... I have been watching you in the morning for many years and have always admired you! I know in my heart that you are going to beat this! You will be in my thoughts and prayers each and everyday. GOD BLESS YOU & YOUR FAMILY!

  19. Mary, God Bless you and your family. This is a very trying period for you, and I will keep you in my prayers that all goes well for you. My sister has been thru 3 rounds of chemo, twice for NH Lymphoma, and once for Breast Cancer. She was 13 yrs cancer free before the breast cancer, and now is working on her 4th year cancer free. I know this will make you stronger! I am so happy you are going to let your public tv viewers come along for the ride with you. God Bless.

  20. Mary,
    With that great upbeat attitude, you'll kick this thing! I think of you daily and am so glad you are so brave and have so many people to support you. Know you are in my thoughts and prayers always. You go girl! Thanks for keeping a blog about this. Nice to see what you are learning and how you are doing. Love, Marshelle

  21. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It gives me courage to face the minor struggles in my life with a more positive attitude and outlook. Sending you lots of prayers and positive vibes as you take these next steps in the journey ahead. You are awesome and so strong! Good luck and go get 'em girl!!

  22. I'll be a cheering section for you. Hope everything goes great!

  23. Good luck Mary! You will be in my thoughts and prayers. God speed on this crazy journey!

  24. One more thing to remember is everyone is different and every one reacts differently. Also it is all about your attitude so stay positive and keep moving! It is a journey! Good luck to you! And may God Bless You and your family, every step of the way! is my blog and journey thru this trial!

  25. Mary, Not even 15 " of 'snow-pocalypse' can keep us from sending you hugs and prayers. Mom says she sends her love from Colorado too. We will be following your progress and keeping in touch. Love, Kathy and Randy

  26. Mary- I have been down the same road you are going down. My cancer was a triple neg. but was stage 2A and they took 14 lymphnodes of which 2 were positive. I chose to do a double mastectomy because lets face it, who doesn't want "New" Boobies!! ;-) While it is fun to talk with other patients, you body and mind at some point will scream "I can not sit here one more minute!!" For those moments there are beds and all you have to do is ask!! I am now a 6 yr survivor!! Everyone is right, keep up on the anti-nausea meds!! I always took them an hour before the chemo treatment no matter what and I had very little nausea!! Hugs and prayers coming your way!! I am sure you have a lot of support but if you have any questions or just need to vent here is my e-mail address!!
    With all my love, Mindy