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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Bitton

The Chemo Chronicles : 1st Session

Tuesday March 3 2020

I woke up today and remembered that I had a dream about my late father last night. I lost him 10 years ago to kidney cancer and I dreamt of him shortly after his death and possibly on one other occasion after that. My dad was very similar to me in a lot of ways and I pictured him so vividly in my dream last night. Ah man! was it good to see him again! In his black jeans, button-down black shirt, black leather belt and leather shoes, my Dad had swag, there was no doubt about that and a whole lot of charisma. I dreamt there was a man trying to attack me and my dad just cruised on up and was like " Don't worry Dans, I've got this, I'll protect you." and he saved the day. It felt so wonderful to feel safe and protected by him again. I knew he was showing up for me in the spirit world. I woke up this morning not as afraid as yesterday, as I knew he was with me.

My mother and brother came with me to my first chemo session at Christian Barnard Memorial Hospital. We went to meet my oncologist, Dr Hart, who told me that my OncotypeDX score was 28 (in the middle) and even though it was less aggressive than he had expected, having chemo was a necessary precaution that I had to take to lower my risk of recurrence

I signed some papers and was escorted to the Chemo Room.

Honestly, it wasn't as bad as I thought.

I imagined a room full of rather sickly looking people barely hanging on for dear life.
This was quite the opposite, there was a kind energy in the room and everyone was really friendly.

Shelley and Belinda, the nurses, sat me next to a woman around my age, Taryn, who wore a pale blue baseball cap and big gold hoop earrings. I was like "Guuuuuurl! Damn you are rocking that bald head!" We started chatting and instantly connected, she was so friendly and vivacious but could also sense my fear and reassured me I would be ok. She told me about her long (like Rapunzel long!) beautiful hair that is sitting in a ziplock bag at home and how she has just learnt to embrace her new look. Taryn had already finished AC (The Red Devil) and was smooth sailing on Taxol now. I was delighted to meet my new chemo buddy and looked forward to seeing her in 2 weeks time.

So how does chemo go down?

Step 1: Vein Hunting

The first time it's easy to find a vein as your veins haven't been affected by AC yet, but once they do it can become increasingly more difficult to find a viable vein. After finding a fresh vein and inserting my IV, Shelley, suggested I would be better off getting a port.

Think of yourself as a lilo, the port is the blow-up hole.

Medically speaking, a chemo port is a small, implantable reservoir with a thin silicone tube that attaches to a vein. The main advantage of this vein-access device is that chemotherapy medications can be delivered directly into the port rather than a vein to make the whole process a little smoother.

I'll be going in to have a small surgery to insert the port on the 12th (Thursday) which will be inserted on the right side of my body, which is my warrior side!

Step 2: Cortisone & Anti Nausea Drugs

Saline is administered through the IV

and I was given my first of 3 anti-nausea pills to be taken religiously as soon as I woke up for the next 2 days. A high dosage of cortisone and other anti-nausea meds are administered through the IV.

Step 3: It's Moulin Rouge time! ( AC the Red Devil)

AC is a combination of two chemotherapy drugs used to treat breast cancer.

It takes its name from the initials of these drugs:

  • doxorubicin (also known as Adriamycin)

  • cyclophosphamide

I've never been a fan of the nickname "The Red Devil". It would be better known as "The Red Angel" because even though it might whip your ass like a devil, it is ultimately saving your life. Or what about "The Red Flamenco Dancer"? She could passionately dance all the cancerous cells right off the floor! Ole!!

I was told to drink at least 2 litres of coconut water the day before and drink as much water as possible while having chemo.

I could cruise around with my IV stand if I wanted, or need to go to the bathroom but not during "The Red Flamenco Dancers" debut performance.

Step 4: The Royal Flush

I was drinking fluids like I' de been stranded in the Saharan desert for 5 years when Shelley came over and told me the show was over and it was time to flush it all out with a bag of Saline. "So I can stop drinking?" I said, with I sigh of relief. "Yes Dani, there is no need to consume a lifetime of water in one chemo session," said Shelley.

The Flamenco Show (AC) went on for about an hour, and before that I think 2 hours of med prep and a 45 min flush. I walked in at 11 am and left at 3 pm and the time flew by.

I walked out of there thinking Yaaaaaas! I nailed it! It wasn't until 2 hours later when the Devil decided to show up and kick my ass!

The nausea started to kick in and the thought of food made me feel like throwing up. I had to force myself to eat something. I also had the worst migraine ever, it was so persistent not even a Betapyn could sort me out. Luckily I managed to fall asleep.

Stay tuned for day 2 .....

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