Monday, June 17, 2019. Adriamycin scares me. I’m not going to lie. So getting the first treatment left me feeling pretty anxious. It’s the potential long term side effects that scare me the most.
There is a government website called MedlinePlus.gov that has a section on drugs and supplements. All prescription and over-the-counter medicines are listed alphabetically and clicking on any one of them provides you with side effects, dosage, special precautions and more. So if you are curious why this treatment scares me, give this site a visit.
Adriamycin is pushed rather than infused. In other words, the chemo nurse takes a syringe full of the drug and pushes it into my access line. I get two syringes of this particular poison and it takes 10 minutes or so to complete each push. It takes longer for the premed infusions than the actual chemo drug itself. The good news is I spend a lot less time in the chair.
If the three treatments I have left don’t make me feel much worse than I did after the first one, then this will almost be a piece of cake. I slept/dozed most of Wednesday and Thursday. So fatigue is huge with Adriamycin, for me at least. And the Neulasta on-body injector is a bit uncomfortable. They didn’t put it on my arm, instead they put it on the left side of my stomach, mostly so I could easily see its flashing green light. The light indicates that the injector is engaged and ready to go. If the light flashes red at any point, then something is wrong and they instruct you to call immediately and then who knows what. Honestly, I hope I never find out. So, you wear this on-body injector and 27 hours after your Adriamycin push, it infuses you with the Neulasta medication for about 45 minutes. You know that it’s infusing because you hear a beep-beep-beep indicating it has started. When you hear one long beep and the flashing green light goes solid, you know that it’s done. Then you can take the thing off and dispose of it. Oh, one more thing. One of the common side effects of Neulasta is bone, joint or muscle pain. To counter that, they have you take Claritin once a day for five days. Freaky, right? My life just feels like one long freak show.
Something else that has changed is I’m now getting my blood draws done at the local hospital the day before my chemo treatment. That way if my blood is too compromised for treatment, Steve and I don’t make a 6-hour round trip for nothing.
So here’s what I have left, on May 25 I’m getting another echocardiogram (11a), then I see Dr. Rugo (130p), then treatment and the Neulasta is attached (230p). In July, I’m getting treatments on Mondays—July 8 and July 22. Then all that will be left is removing my port, which I’m hoping will happen on July 23.
That’s the plan, anyway. There are days, and this is one of them, when I just can’t see doing anymore chemo. I really want it to be over. I despise it that much, almost as much as the cancer itself. Hell, I despise any life-threatening illness that forces you to get treatments that can cause other life-threatening illnesses. It’s all about playing the odds and deciding which option gives you the chance to survive the longest. Not survive so much as live. Have quality of life. Wake up in the morning knowing that the day ahead will be whatever you want it to be. No appointments. No pokes. No medications. Just you and wherever the day may lead you. That’s what I long for.
Put your ear down close to your soul and listen hard. —Anne Sexton