Chemo Session #2

    Today’s session was a piece of cake.  We’re old hands at it now.

    Jan’s pre-chemo bloodwork was good — white count down as expected from the effects of last week’s infusion and other measures within acceptable limits.

    Jan received only Herceptin today and she “consumed” her portion in half an hour.  Herceptin has no ill side effects, so we’re looking forward to a good week.

    Tomorrow we have an appointment to visit with the Women’s Center at Northside Hospital and learn more about hats, scarves, and wigs.

    We’re hoping the weather will cooperate so we can enjoy a few short walks by the river.  Come join us if you have free time!!

    Reality

    Reality set in Friday and Saturday.  The steroids wore off, and Jan’s energy levels dropped significantly.  She coped with it reasonably well, but I was happy that Julie was scheduled to sit with Jan Saturday while I was off helping Atlanta Motorcycle Club run motorcycle races in Washington, Georgia.

    It sounds like Jan,  Julie, and Indie had a great time.  Thanks Julie for helping and letting me get some fresh air on such a beautiful day.

    Sunday and Monday Jan felt a lot better.  She spent the better part of both days napping and resting in front of the den TV.  I cannot read with a TV going in the same room, so we are sorting out a way to reduce TV sound levels so I can sit with her rather than work in my basement office.  We’ve tried ham radio headsets, but they are too heavy / confining for her.  Next try will be some lighter headphones.

    btw, the racing on Saturday was excellent.  Click here to see a quick followup story on the home page of the Atlanta Motorcycle Club website, one of the sites I manage.

    Mystery Solved

    Steroide?  What steroids?  Jan has been a whirling dervish for the past three days, doing minor cleanup around the house and marveling at how good she felt.  We were wondering how this could be given the stories we’d heard from others undergoing chemotherapy.  When we returned to the Oncologist’s office for a follow-up shot Wednesday, we learned they’d given her a large steroid dose prior to chemotherapy #1.  I’ve been teasing her about looking rather “Arnold-like”.  Fortunately I can still run faster.

    Chemo #1

    We are at our first chemo session, finished with Herceptin and half way through Taxotere.  Carboplatin will be last (this seems to be the drug that plays with your taste senses.)  Jan is handling the chemo well; she is experiencing minor lightheadedness, but no nausea.  Her spirits are good, as she is plugged into Fox News in addition to her IV unit.

    The center where the drugs are being administered is like a big party room; I can count 21 patients in various stages of receiving their chemotherapy potions.  Most of the patient lounges are occupied, and quite a few other patients have dropped by to chat with her.  Patients are able to walk around while the drugs are being administered, dragging their stand / infusion device / IV bags behind them (the devices which administer the drugs can be battery powered.)   It’s a bit spooky, and reminds me of space movies (Avatar?).  For the most part the patients are a cheerful, friendly lot.  Thus far, she has stayed in her lounge given the lightheadedness.

    —————

    Update:

    Toward the end of the session, Jan felt good enough that she walked around the room chatting with a few other patients.

    Overall, I’ll rate the day a success!  It was a long day (almost 7 hours) and we don’t know what reactions she will have over the next few days, but for now are happy with how things went.

    Initial Meeting with Oncologist

    Jan & I met with Dr Colleen Austin and her staff on February 2, starting the process that will lead to her chemotherapy treatments.  We both liked Dr Austin a lot, and feel very comfortable with her managing the chemotherapy stage of Jan’s treatment.

    Chemotherapy will begin as soon as a barrage of tests is completed, including a PET CT scan, an MRI, an Echo-cardiogram, and a nuclear stress test.  These are done to establish base lines against which later tests can be measured.  She will also have a port for administering the chemotherapy drugs installed.  All but the PET CT scan are scheduled to be completed Thursday and Friday of this week; the PET CT is still unscheduled but will happen as soon as possible so we can get the treatment under way.

    We will attend a Chemotherapy 101 orientation given by Dr Austin’s staff Friday afternoon; Julie will attend it with us so she will be prepared to stand in to support Jan during treatments & recovery if necessary.

    Jan will receive eighteen weeks of weekly treatments using a combination of Taxotere, Carboplatin, and Herceptin (TCH).  At the first session, she will receive all three drugs.  In the second and third sessions, she will only receive Herceptin.  The three week cycle will be repeated 6 times.  After the eighteen week course of treatment, Herceptin will be administered for the next eight months to make sure the disease is in remission.  Dr Austin indicated that the sessions in which all three drugs are administered will be the difficult sessions.

    Our meeting with Dr Austin was stressful, as it brought Jan face to face with what she will face over the next four months.  She received all of this quite well.  I was proud of how she handled it, and look forward to getting her treatment under way.

    Jan’s Breast Cancer

    Jan was diagnosed with breast cancer in mid-December, 2009, and underwent surgery to remove the tumor from her breast and a few affected lymph nodes on January 25th, 2010.  She will receive chemotherapy, followed by additional treatment to be determined based on the results of chemotherapy.  We are thankful that the cancer was found in its early stages, and are fortunate to have found marvelous medical resources for her.  We are confident that her outcome will be the best possible.

    We are thankful for your support.

    Bill
    John
    James
    Julie

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