Thursday, May 20, 2010

Day -1: Melphalan

This past Monday, it was early to rise with another morning appointment down at Smilow. The last day of BEAM chemo. It was only one drug – one of the high-dose drugs – but I was told that it would go smoothly albeit the fiery diarrhea that would set in days later.

Eerily similar to when I arrived for my 12th and last ABVD chemotherapy infusion, my port decided to act up. It would flush the saline they always send through it without a problem, but it would not give back any blood. One-way only. I had flashbacks to being back in the Avon Cancer Center with the nurse having me turn every which way to no avail until they finally had to stick me in the arm to get my blood and sated me by drawing a smiley face on the bandage.

I was very tired from all the chemo and this was really the last thing that I wanted to deal with, but it happens. Sometimes fibers get caught up in the port-a-cath and can cause a blockage of some sort that doesn’t allow for a clean blood return. So the charade began. My nurse laid me all the way back, half-way back, turned me on my side, put my right arm over my head, had me cough, put my left arm up. Still nothing but a few bloody dribbles until reinforcements were called in and Chona, my absolute favorite little Philipino nurse, was able to get the job done.

The blood work was sent and the chemo began … two hours of dripping. To my surprise, my blood work showed that my hematocrit had already dropped down to 23 and I would need an infusion of red blood cells. So much for a short clinic trip. We’ve certainly learned to expect the unexpected and always plan to be there for much longer than anticipated. That’s why my “activity bag” is always packed tight. The anemia setting in explained some of my tiredness, but I had just chalked it up to the chemo effects – I’m sure it’s a combination.

Blood transfusions always require prophylactic Tylenol and Benadryl, which I don’t do well with at all, so I was in and out of a loopy state while Craig tried to keep me entertained with funny online videos and by taking on the huge task of organizing our address book.

A visit by PCA Wade and another of his magic card tricks made me smile. And so did the caring of my nurse team – Ann Marie and Chona. They’d been working with me consistently since the first day of BEAM, and it was nice to have the continuity of care. They’re compassionate, attentive and efficient … and I like how Chona calls me ‘honey’ and makes a pouty face when she knows she has to do something to me that I’m not going to like. She’s feisty, energetic and positive. Something you really come to appreciate in a caregiver.

Eight hours later we were released. Chemo no more.


  1. No More Chemo For the Rest of Your Life

    What better way to start the next day, month, year!

    No More Chemo!!
    Heal on, recover on, NO MORE CANCER.

  2. :) :) :) Im all smiles to hear No more Chemo! Lynn

  3. No more cancer---that is for sure. You did it this time,precious girl. It has been quite a haul for you, but you are now on your way. Looking forward to hearing how you are progressing. God bless you and your wonderful family. Irene

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