Writings of a teachermom, choosing to stay home with her kids, while loathing all domestic responsibilities! In late Aug. 2008, I was diagnosed with Triple Negative breast cancer. After surgery, chemo and radiation, I was given theall clear. However, in the late summer of 2008, I was diagnosed with a brain tumor, which metasticized to other areas.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Oncology Report

Yesterday I finally had my appointment with my Oncologist, so we can get on with the next phase of fighting this cancer.

When I walked into the waiting room, I thought I had accidentally ambled into the local Senior Citizen’s Center instead. I am not exaggerating when I say that I don’t think I saw anyone under 60…possibly not even under 70. I certainly stuck out…but I guess that’s a good thing.

My husband was able to arrange his schedule to come to this consultation, and that is always a relief for me, as he can translate any mumbo jumbo that I may mix up. My Oncologist, Dr. Murphy, is from Ireland, so she has an incredibly cool accent. Not one where you struggle to understand, but one that had just enough exoticness to it that you can’t help but enjoy the sounds coming out of her mouth, no matter what the negative information may be.

Like our other visits with the surgeon, she went through the protocol for the treatment, and then she and my husband had their little doctor chat while I twiddled my thumbs. Some people might get annoyed that they’re being left out of the conversation, but not me. I’m more than happy to let someone else process the details. For me, I’ve just been on information overload. I’m sorta like, just tell me where I need to be, when I need to be there, and I’ll show up to do whatever you need to do to me so that I can be healthy again. I know some people cringe at this, for I really should take control of my care and make informed decisions, but honestly, no decision I make will be as informed as a well-recommended doctor’s. So I have no qualms about giving up the reigns and just going along for the ride. I left her office with a handful of prescriptions and a spinning head.

I then had blood drawn from my porta cath….first time that was used….and it still hurt when I was poked with the needle. But I was given a prescription for a cream to apply before I come to chemo to numb the area. And that’s a very good thing.

Later that day I had to take a Chemo Class at the same facility. There were only three of us in the class, and surprisingly there was a girl who seemed to be my age. But no one looked like they wanted to talk, so I managed to keep to myself…although it took all my strength not to crack jokes during the video they showed about what to expect with chemo. Like when the lady who had gone through chemo said that some days just making the bed will take every ounce of strength you have. No problem there I thought..I never make the bed. Or when the instructor in the video said that an occasional glass of wine or alcohol is okay…just use your better judgment. Does one even have better judgment when consuming alcohol?

After the video and me asking a few questions, while the other two chemo class students remained silent, we took a tour of the facility. Basically we go into a big, cold, sterile looking room with a long row of hospital-looking lounging chairs. You get all hooked up to your IV and you sit. There are a few TVs to watch if you’d like, or you can stare out the window into the back parking lot, or watch all the techs in vibrant colored scrubs hurry about. It’s not very homey.

At the end of the tour they asked if we had any questions…and of course I did. Probably the most important question of all: Do you have wireless internet in here? With so many elderly people being serviced who probably have never even touched a computer, let alone gone online, it didn't surprise me that the answer was No. But I had to at least ask.

While there, I experienced what I do during most of these drawn-out appointments or tests…just this feeling of complete disbelief. I seem to flip flop between feelings of “I can’t believe this is happening” and those of, “Okay, let’s just get this all over with.” It’s as if I’m physically there, surrounded by all this obscure “stuff”, but I’m not really emotionally there at all. Because although I know this is all real (I’m not in denial of this happening), what I’m experiencing is so far out of my regular schema, that I don’t even know what to think or feel sometimes. So I just try to remain upbeat and get through it. Until I can be home, with my children and husband, where everything feels real, and right, again.

Anyhow, this is the deal:
Chemo begins on Monday, Oct. 8th. It will last for about 2 ½ hours. I return the next day for some injection.
This will go on every two weeks for approximately the next 4 months.
The first half of my chemo will be harder and more intense…worse side effects than the 2nd half. (I’ll list the actual drugs in a different post—when I can find the papers they gave me in the mess of stuff accumulating in my bag).

Apparently I’ll feel really tired and nauseous the first couple days, then things will perk up, with some diarrhea and/or mouth sores popping up in there at some point. Then by the last couple days of the 2nd week, I’ll be feeling quite well again, just in time to start all over.

I’ll begin losing my hair before I even start my second dose of chemo.

Can't wait to start....only because I just want it to be all done!

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At 6:06 AM, Blogger Fantastic Four said...

Cari- We are always thinking of you and praying for you! Like I said last night, please ask for help. We are here and would love to help you out! I just try to put myself in your shoes (with one additional kid) and I would want all the help in the world! However, I am a lot like you and do not like asking for help. So, please do ask me! Traci

At 7:29 AM, Anonymous Jaye said...

Cari - don't be afraid to crack jokes to lighten the mood. I have a very good friend who, when he was on the gurney being wheeled to the emergency room after a heart attack, was cracking jokes left and right (he normally is a jokester). Someone (I think it was the doctor) chided him for joking about it, but his response was, "I'm NOT going to die - why should I lay here like I am? God is taking care of me!" This was about 5 years ago, and he's still going strong and still cracking jokes! Attitude counts for a LOT in these cases - "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones" You have a wonderfully strong and refreshing spirit, and you may help others going through what you're going through (or worse). Yes, there are times when you have to refrain, but more often than not, lightening the mood is what is needed!

Praying for you and yours continually! Love and hugs!

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Kimberly said...

Such sage advice from the person above me. A very down-to-earth sense of humor is one of your most fabulous gifts, Cari! :) Thanks for the update...we're believing in the healing that has already begun and will continue. Love ya!

At 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know exactly what you mean about being the youngest person in the oncologist's. I felt (and still do feel) the same way whenever I go. Keep your humor - it definitely helps!

At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Kate said...

I know God will be prompting me to pray for you again on the 8th, just like He did during your surgery. I love seeing the genuine-ness of your attitude; the clarity vs. the fogginess, the real vs. the unreal, the laughter mixed in with the fear. It all makes for such a real sense of what you are going through. You are in my prayers daily.

At 9:17 AM, Anonymous dana said...


Thanks for the being the sister that you are...you are inspiring me.


At 10:12 AM, Blogger Caro said...

I think the way that you are doing things is perfect. Your husband understands the details, and you know he will take the best care of you. I wouldn't want to know all the technical jargon myself.

There was an article in the paper here about a lady who went through chemo who was an interior designer. When she was done, she redecorated the drab room.

At 10:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To everything there is a season...A time to weep and a time to laugh... Ecclesiastes 3:1a, 4a

Then were our mouths filled with laughter, and our tongues with singing. Then they said among the nations, the Lord has done great things for (me). Psalm 126:2

At 11:51 AM, Blogger Ann said...

NOt too much to add - I think a few (or several) jokes would be wonderful. I bet your other two-attendees were so nervous it was hard to even think straight.

I would be inclined to be somewhat similiar to you - let my husband take over in his area of expertise. (You are somewhat lucky, not sure that is exactly true - at least your husband is no where near as lost as you in all these discussions - my husband would be lovely but useless).

Do you expect only one round of chemo? Will you then be done by xmas?

Take care

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