Sunday, 12 June 2011

The Chemo Lounge: Round 1 of 4

I waited anxiously in the breast clinic that was full of women much older than me. There was a young woman, surely in her early twenties, who waited with her mother. Again, I was reminded of how fortunate I was to be having this now, rather then earlier.

Before any action was taken towards getting the cancer out, I was offered to be able to have some eggs frozen. For us, the answer was an easy, no thanks. We were very content with our two children. We got what we wanted. And, we are so appreciative for that!

Once my blood results were received I met with the doctor. It was all systems go! I returned to the waiting room to be called into, "Day Care".

My empty chair sat quietly. Actually, that chair has been waiting for me for a very long time. I never knew it was though. How strange. Both good and bad things await our arrival. That chair. It would hold me for a few hours. I snuggled in and immediately a steady flow of tears came. This was it. I have cancer! The nurse assigned to me was so sweet. She reassured me and got ready to insert the cannula. She wasn't so lucky the first time though and neither was I.

Up and until this point I had had a number of dizzy spells. But, what seemed to be something so silly became very real for me at that moment. Perhaps, lying dormant all these years was, Alicia with anxiety issues. I felt faint. My hands tensed up and so did my toes. I couldn't move! I was literally frozen. When I saw my hands and toes I could feel myself sinking further inwards. Pins and needles ran through my chest and belly constricting me. I tried desperately to hold onto the reassurances of those beside me but it was no use. A friend, siting opposite me, had a nurse pass her iPod to me, it was playing relaxation music. Meanwhile, I nurse rushed for a portable DVD player. Eventually my body began to undo its tangled mess. My episode passed.

I've thought a great deal about that moment. I would never have though that I would suffer from an anxiety attack. I really can't explain it. Had I not dealt with the diagnosis appropriately? Could it be that I have faked a confidence and masked anxiety all of these years? Was it just a one-off flip-out? I don't know. Of course, that wasn't the end of this chemo virgin's drama.

Once my veins were flushed with saline water the chemo drug, taxotere was sent in. Within five minutes, I began to experience a hot flush and a shortness of breath. Don't worry, it's just a reaction to the drugs. The taxotere was swapped for saline and then I was given taxotere at a lesser dose. After fifteen minutes, it was decided that I could be given the dose as required. An hour later, taxotere was replaced with cyclophosphamide. That was my unique combination of drugs.

The rest of the sitting went smoothly. I watched other patients (including one man) receiving their chemo and was amazed to see so many smiling faces. A box of chocolates were passed around and a real sense of camaraderie enclosed us all.

I made a friend (she was the one who leant me her iPod) at a Chemo Awareness Session, held at the hospital. As it turns out, we will share our chemo time together. And what's more she lives in my suburb! Are you totally getting the feeling, just like me, that the right people are just turning up at the right time? We have been keeping in touch, sharing our progress and encouraging each other. It has been great!

The husband and I walked out of the hospital excited that one session was done and dusted. We were keen to see our children, hungry and nervous to know what lay ahead in the 48 hours proceeding treatment.

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