My final infusion was last Thursday at the Avon cancer center. This was different from my normal Wednesday rotation and that means a different cast and crew. However, I've been there so much for bloodwork and shots now – on every day of the week – that I know all of the nurses and secretaries and they all know me. The oncologists are a different story though and I had to see someone else as Dr. Dailey was on vacation. My white blood cell and platelet counts were still pretty low from my previous treatment. He was hesitant to treat me with a WBC of only 2.4. But after I explained to him the timeline we are on, the aggressiveness of the cancer, and the next hurdles I'm up against, he conceded. He agreed to treat me with the understanding that I'd have to get a dose of Neulasta the next day – the long lasting super-dose form of Neupogen to help me bounce back. I told him I could handle it.
Luckily, my childhood friend and one of the most hilarious people that I know, Jess, came with me for the day o' fun. We've known each other since elementary school days, from games of "Red Rover" at Camp Maria Pratt Girl Scout camp to sneaking to high school parties together. Having her at chemo made the five hours go by so much faster.
Like Kristen, Leanne and Thea previously did, Jess also brought sacks full of snacks. The doc joked that she was part of a moving crew. So we munched on Poppycock and talked as she learned firsthand about the chemo process and what it's all about. We lucked out and once again got a private room, which was good as we were probably obnoxiously loud. We kept the door shut though. I'd pass the "community" chemo room on the way to the bathroom each time and would shudder at the eerie silence of patients in there sleeping in their chairs or reading in silence. You could hear a pin drop except for the deep whir and occasional beeps of the IV pump machines. For me that is torture. I much prefer my chemo sessions set to laughter and music.
Jessica knows this and made the most hilarious game for us to play. It involved guessing the status updates of our Facebook friends. She'd read an update and I'd have to guess who posted it ... some were new posts, some from a few months back, but all hilarious. I couldn't believe how many I remembered and realized, sadly, how much time I spend on the site. Even with major chemo drug brain I believe I got about 93%.
We went through the whole pre-med and three drug scenario one last time, complete with the ice packs tied to my feet and hands during the Doxil drip. Everything went as smoothly as it could though afterward I was pretty shot.
That night things really started to set in and I felt very woozy, swollen and tight throughout my whole body. It seemed that the cumulative effects of all the chemo really set in. It felt like all the negative aspects of being very drunk. Not a good buzz, but instead a room-spinning one. All I could do was lay like a blob on the couch and watch trashy television a la Jersey Shore.
To be honest, things really haven't improved much since Thursday. I am very, very, very fatigued. The most menial of tasks require a lot of effort and get my heart pumping. Once I do lay down I can hear and feel my blood coursing violently through my veins as my heart works in overdrive. I mostly hear it in my ears, a thunderous pulse. I wear the fatigue in my throat and chest which each feel swollen and ravaged. At times it is hard to talk at a normal volume because it strains too much. My hip and hamstring muscles are constantly knotted and immediately shrivel back tight against my bones even after the longest of stretches.
But I am here and I am done with this current protocol – now the fifth chemotherapy regimen under my belt. For that I am grateful and hopeful that it did its job. I'll be back in NYC Sept. 2 to find out the answer from a PET Scan.