My First Chemotherapy Session
The gray morning was appropriate for what we were about to begin. We arrived at the doctor’s office at 9:00 a.m. First there was a brief visit with the person who handles health insurance. Now that’s some scary stuff.
Next, I was called to the lab for blood work, something that is done prior to each treatment. If the situation warrants, treatment is delayed until the patient is stronger.
Then it was on to the chemo room. There’s no way to explain the feeling of walking into that room full of people trying to beat cancer. The nurses, knowing it was our first time, pointed out the bathrooms and a refreshment area to which we can help ourselves to tea, coffee, and juice. We patients had cozy recliners and blankets, and our visitors have chairs next to us. The recliners are set up in groups of four with several nurses stations.
As they went through the process of explaining the drugs and potential side effects again, I went into information overload, until it became nothing more than a blur. The nurse didn’t make the vein on the first try (ouch), but the second went well, and off we went. I was officially on chemo.
With each change of IV bag, another explanation of the drugs and side effects was given. One was an anti-nausea medication which makes chemo a much better experience than it was a decade ago. Because of the mastectomy being on the right side, all blood work and IV drugs would have to be given through my left arm. In the long-term, that would be tough on my skinny little arm. Eventually, we would opt for a chemo port.
What is a Chemo Port?
From the ACS: A port of plastic, stainless steel, or titanium with a silicone septum. This drum-shaped device is surgically placed under the skin of the chest or upper arm. The attached catheter extends into a large or central vein. The port is accessed through the skin with a non-coring needle. It is intended for long-term use. No routine care is needed when not in use, although it may need to be flushed if not used for more than a month at a time.
Near as I could tell, most of the patients were middle-aged or older, some had hair, some did not. I was grateful not to see any children present. Some folks looked exhausted, but the mood in the room was surprisingly upbeat. It was amazing to be among these people undergoing such powerful treatment … hopeful and, for the most part, smiling.
I wondered about the lives of my fellow patients. Did they have someone to help them through this ordeal? Were they all alone?
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