9/16/13 - 2nd Chemo Day

What a day. It started out well enough. We all got up and started getting ready. Unfortunately due to the steroid I took last night, I slept for about an hour. That should have been my first clue that it wasn't going to be one of my finer days. I had fiber one cereal with a miralax/crangrape chaser. Once all ready we decided to pick up some donuts for our chemo team. We got on the freeway about 8 am-ish. We left plenty of time to drive to the OC. It took us less than an hour last time and this time we were leaving ourselves an hour and a half - seemed reasonable. Until we reached the Corona Crawl. There we sat on the transition road to the dreaded 91 fwy. Not moving an inch. I knew it wasn't going to be a good commute. We turned on the traffic report and heard there was a motorcycle down on Lincoln Avenue. In fact, we heard there had been five motorcycles down on various freeways. Now if that were me, I'd be thinking about getting a different mode of transportation. Doesn't seem like you'd get too many chances on a motorcycle, driving on our California freeways. I could go on and on about the trip and give a detailed account of my horrible road rage, but I will save that for another time. We arrived to our 9:30 am appointment at 10:15 am. We called ahead of time to let them know we would be late and why - plus, we did bring them donuts!

When I saw the young nurse that was going to be taking care of me, I was a little nervous. She seemed like she was in training and I had a feeling it wasn't going to go well. Now let me just say, I've had a lot of IV's in my lifetime. Many blood tests, PICC lines, long drains - I could go on and on. But this was by far the worst IV placement I've had in my entire life. She got right in but the angle she had the needle in my vein was pulling it out from my skin in a different direction. I bled like crazy and the whole area was wet and wouldn't stick to the tape. Therefore, the needle kept slipping which in turn hurt like HE--double hockey sticks. She could not get any tape to stick. I was then asked the ridiculous question, "did you put lotion on today?" I did put lotion on last night, but I'm pretty sure the lotion I use isn't slick and watery. After putting the tape on, taking the tape off, cleaning up the blood splattering all over, the other nurse comes along and notices she didn't screw on the IV cap all the way. The water was coming from the IV mixing with my blood and causing a slippery mess. At this point I was in tears. I'm sure my one hour of sleep and 2-1/4 hour drive with road rage didn't help matters. I could feel my blood pressure rising and quite frankly I was ready to strangle the nurse which probably wouldn't have been a good thing. 

Feeling Loopy Now with Ativan
Once they got that fiasco taken care of it was on to Herceptin. I was told they would be doing a quicker infusion time than last, but I didn't expect 30 min. After about 10 minutes, my body started to get the shakes and I couldn't stay warm. I'm not sure if it was a reaction to the Herceptin or due to me being so upset. I thought it would be a good time to ask for an Ativan. They brought me Ativan, warm blankets and Robyn got me some hot chocolate. The chills eventually went away but I still had that uncomfortable needle pulling on my vein. I decided to just get through the infusion and not say anything. Besides, I didn't have confidence that she could make it better and she just may have made it worse. The next drug  was Taxotere. That took about an hour and I didn't have any side effects. Carboplatin took about an hour, and again, no side effects. They gave me my home treatment plan - continue with the steroids until tomorrow along with Zofran every 8 hours for nausea. They decided to change my shot from Neupogen for 10 days to Neulasta for one day. It sounds more appealing to have one shot rather than a possibility of 10, but I'm wondering what the catch is - I'm guessing more severe side effects. I give myself that shot on Wednesday and I also start the dreaded Cipro again. I've got the red face which comes from the taxotere I'm told - it looks like a sunburn. It actually makes my pale skin look more healthy! Hey, gotta take what you can get.

Morning of Chemo with Hair

Now to the most distressing part of the day - hard to believe it can get more distressing.  Well, I hadn't washed my hair in three days - I've been afraid to. Part of me felt like I would be the only person on Taxotere to not lose my hair. My hairy Italian genes have always been pretty strong and the morning I woke up with a big long nose hair growing out of my nose, I was almost convinced I would not lose my hair. I mean here I am being told I would lose my nose hair and I've got one the length of a half a pinky finger growing out of my nose reaching for God knows what. I can shave my legs the night before I go to bed and have stubble the next morning - even during chemo. If I had a banana and swung from trees, I could easily be mistaken for a monkey. Bionic hair genes right? WRONG. What I didn't realize is that yeah my hair is still on top of my head, but it really isn't attached. It's just kinda sitting there. As soon as I got under the water in the shower, it started coming out in chunks - and I mean big chucks - big bald chunks. I'm embarrassed to admit, I just started crying. It was not a very good end to an already challenging day. I'm really not one to cry, but twice in one day - shameful. My hair made it to day 21 and decided to abandon ship all at once. Good thing I'm not too vain, because in my effort to help anyone going down this breast cancer road, I thought it might be helpful to know what to possibly expect. I say possibly because I guess everyone is different - I can only share what has happened to me along the way. Therefore, I took some pictures to compare from this morning to tonight - it is a drastic change.

More Has Come Out Since This Picture

And now for the things that made my day and week great. Budly, as always. Here I am just out of the shower with my newly partial bald head with tears streaming down my face and what does he say? "You're beautiful - it's just hair and doesn't make you, you." I'm not sure how I would get through all of this without him. He is such an amazing source of strength. He certainly is a keeper.

Robyn who came with me to chemo, driving with the road rage mamma and then came home and went shopping and made a wonderful dinner. Also so encouraging regarding my hair loss, giving me ideas on how I can wear my wig and hats, and giving me makeup tips. It's so nice having her home.

Bud started working on our backyard and got the news of my diagnosis while we were tearing out the old grass. Needless to say, that project stopped abruptly. Yesterday we had a knock on our door from our neighbors wanting to help finish our backyard. We have such great neighbors. Bud reassured them we have it under control but was so thankful for their offer.

My longtime friend, Jenny. We met each other when we were 12-years-old. I moved out to California to live with my sister for a year. I had a difficult time with the transition at first. I got made fun of a lot because of my New York accent. Along came Jenny - when she was young she was very pretty (still is) and extremely tough, and everyone was afraid of her. I remember her taking me under her wing and sticking up for me. We became fast friends and soon we were inseparable. Unfortunately after the year was up, I had to move back to New York. I always felt like I abandoned her even though I had no control about moving back. When I came back to California two years later, she was off with another crowd and I found new friends, but she was never far from my heart. We kept in touch occasionally and life went on. When we did talk, we would always say, "we have to get together." When we did get together, for me, it was always like we were 12-years-old again. I never felt awkward around her and it felt like we were friends forever and would just pick up where we left off. After having the day I had today, I got home and found a package in the mail - it was from Jenny. In it was a beautiful blanket she had made along with two beanie hats. She couldn't have timed that more perfectly if she tried. The day my hair starts coming out in chunks, she sends two hats. The day I was freezing in the infusion room, she sends a blanket. What a thoughtful thing to do. She has no idea how that lifted my spirits. I'm so lucky to have such an awesome friend.

Got a nice text from Jeanne wishing me well for my chemo (cocktail) today. Also got another delivery of her wonderful split pea soup, via Jason, which I ate today for lunch.

I so appreciate all the encouraging comments on this blog. It's nice to log on and know you are all keeping up on my progress. It makes sharing the good with the bad that much easier. Thank you Aunt Jayne for your encouraging words. I wish you lived closer, it would be so great to see you more.

I received wonderful cards from my sisters, Ann and Carole. Thank you for taking the time to think of me. It was so nice to hear from you both.
Special thanks to my brother George for showing up to my first infusion. It was comforting having you there. I appreciate you taking the day off from work to be there by my side. You're a great brother.

Thank you to my sister Peg for offering me words of encouragement and always asking if there is anything she can do to help. You've always been an amazing big sister/mother figure.
So yeah, there may be a bad day or two in the mix. But the good in life, far outweighs the bad. When you have such wonderful people in your life, how can you dwell on the PITA times. People can really be amazing in times of crisis. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by so many wonderful people. Sometimes it's good to let out those negative emotions and move on. I had a day of mourning for my hair - but I promise, tomorrow I will move on and embrace my wig. It's really not so different from my old hair.

I'll post chemo side effects in the next couple of days. So far, I'm feeling pretty good. Keep your fingers crossed!!

Partially balded with wild growing nose hairs (life sure is comical),

Beppy :)



  1. I'm so sorry you had a bad time this time...I admire the way you move on to more pleasant things in life. You are an inspiration to me! I love you sis and will always be here for you. I just wish I could do more....I pray for you daily!
    Love, Peg

  2. I keep asking myself - WHY YOU - but I know the answer - You are the one in the family with all the humor - brains - fortitude - and beauty - I am with you every minute - Love Aunt Jayne

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