Chemotherapy (often abbreviated to chemo) is the treatment of cancer with one or more cytotoxic anti-neoplastic drugs (“chemotherapeutic agents”) as part of a standardized regimen. Chemotherapy may be given with a curative intent or it may aim to prolong life or to palliate symptoms. It is often used in conjunction with other cancer treatments, such as radiation therapy or surgery. Certain chemotherapeutic agents also have a role in the treatment of other conditions, including ankylosing spondylitis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, and scleroderma.
A lot of really fancy words that add up to a great weekend at your local hospital huh? Over the last few days I’ve had numerous people ask me several question about chemotherapy and its effect. More specifically its effects on Jacy.
Heres what I have learned in the past 240 hours.
Chemotherapy is extremely hard on your system as it not only kills the “bad” cell or cells targeted for annihilation, but it also kills all the “good” cells in your system. Hence the reason for a prolonged hospital stay.
While in the hospital you will experience several really interesting phenomenons.
- Night sweats-not just your average sweat either. Picture running the Boston marathon. On a 100 degree day. With 100% humidity. While wearing a garbage bag. Over your wool suit. You getting the picture yet? It is not uncommon to fall asleep and wake up in a virtual pool of sweat.
- Hot flashes- these aint no menopause, room is spinning type hot flashes either! These suckers come on like a mid summer Texas heat wave! There isn’t enough water in Lake Tahoe to cool these bad boys down.
- Shivering- Whilst you are sweltering amidst your hot flashes, praying for something, anything to cool yourself down. Dont fret because not long after your hot flashes arrive the arctic bound shivers and shakes take over. Yep cold as ice, goosebumps so big there should be a hunting season and never ever enough blankets to bring you back to room temperature.
- Diarrhea- That’s right boys and girls no treatment for any life altering cancer would be complete without this little gem. Not your average diarrhea either. It glows! Hee hee, that’s right, it’s a bright yellow/greenish almost snap-light looking glow. It’s that special poo that makes a spectacle of itself.
- Mass urination need to go pee? Do it! Then in 10 minutes get up and do it again! Remember you have 1000’s of cc’s running through your system and thanks to chemotherapy killing you appetite, that stuff just filters right on through you.
- Loss of appetite- yep, best weight loss program on the planet. P90X, the biggest loser and Jenny Craig got nothing on this little regiment of fun! Simple really, just inject your body with near death chemicals then lay around for a week fighting the urge to vomit. Now throw some hospital food your way (uh yuck!) and there is no way you are gaining a single pound sister! Oh snap!
- Multiple needle sticks and blood draws- ever wonder what a pin cushion feels like? Well no more, because my dear you are now the human version. Got the runs? You get something to harden that up through an injection. Got constipation, you get something for that in an I.V., need blood, antibiotics, pain reliever, or anything else to counter react what ever you were given an hour ago! In it goes, through a needle stick or straight through an I.V.
- Uncontrollable sleep patterns- One minute you are having a nice conversation and BAM! You are ass out for the next four hours! Wake up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, ten minutes later and BAM! Back asleep for 6 more. Heck you may even fall asleep in the middle of talking with your doctor! Dont worry that information wasnt important! It’s going to be this way for a while so get a really good pillow Rumplestiltskin.
- Radioactive urine: Now this depends on the type of treatment you are getting, but once you start chemotherapy no one is allowed to use that bathroom but you! Wouldnt want your coin purse to glow in the dark you know.
- Chemo sores in unexpected places. Yep that’s right boys and girls if you pump the system with chemicals and they exit through you urinary tract/bowels guess what? Your skin doesn’t like it very much and reacts with fervor? I’ll just let that picture soak in for a while as you process and visualize your own personal nightmarish looking sores.
- Last but definitely not least Hair loss. Complete hair loss. You killed all those “good” cells with chemotherapy which means you killed the cells that deliver nutrients to your hair follicles. So suck it up Telly Savalis. Sinead O Connor has nothing on you. But when you get your triple XXX tattoo please make sure it’s centered correctly upon your neck. I would hate for you to look strange.
Over the last week Jacy has experienced all of these with the exception of sores and hair loss. So far we are attributing this to very careful hygiene and a solid barrier of protection delivered through a specified creme. Diligence has been the utmost of priorities. As far as the hair loss I am still hedging on stubborn Cuban genes, but the doctor has assured us both the hair will go and when it does, she will just wake up one morning to clumps of hair all over her pillow.
Tonight we sat across from each other and played words with friends. I know it sounds silly or even boring but for me it was awesome! She is in great spirits after her first day off chemotherapy. The bathroom is still never far from her reach and the nausea is still there, but her beautiful smile is larger than ever and that kick ass attitude carries the same resilience.
Our doctor continues to remind us we have a long road to travel. The shivers come on uncontrollably and usually arrive about the time she is really starting to feel better. No matter what happens she will need a bone marrow transplant and it will be a long week waiting for the ability to draw her own bone marrow for testing to see where we stand in regards to killing all of the ‘bad” cells.
As many of you know I took the end of the month off because this was the week we were supposed to go away and be together just her and I. A break from children, the ranch and life in general; the type of break every marriage needs from time to time to reconnect. She had been asking for me to make this happen for quite sometime. Apparently she unknowingly decided how it was going to go, and short of not being able to sleep together in the same bed. No bar or drink service allowed, no swimming pool or spa for us to lounge about during the day. It hasn’t been all that bad. We have gotten a ton of alone time, meals (well just hers) delivered to our room, turn down service, cable t.v. and some serious privacy. We have also spent quite a bit of time gazing into each others eyes, holding hands and softly saying “I love you” while the sun sets over the eastern wall of Kaiser.
I couldn’t have asked for a better partner to go on vacation with, even if it’s in a hospital, with a life altering event hovering over our heads. I love you Jacy, you are my best friend, one hell of a partner, hands down the most beautiful person I know both inside and out! As I said the day we married, I cant wait to spend the rest of my life with you.
So lets keep kicking cancers ass!!
2 thoughts on “The Face of Leukemia (Saturday Nov 30 2013)”
Thank You “Betty” for your candor. Jacy is truly inspirational.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Thank you Brent! 🙂