Friday, January 25, 2013

DOWN WITH THE SICKNESS

Carter Bay - Summer 2005
After the longest two days ever, we were finally able to see Dr. Oncologist.  We didn’t have to wait too long and as promised he fit us in at the end of the afternoon.  He too was a very nice man and we both felt comfortable with him.  Mike actually thought that under different circumstances he was the kind of guy you could just sit down with and have a beer and chat about pretty much anything.  Dr. Oncologist was in agreement with Dr. Surgeon that chemotherapy was the first step in this process.  After that there would be surgery and most likely that would be a mastectomy.  Radiation might follow if that was deemed necessary.

Me in BC - Summer 2006
Dr. Oncologist recommended that I have eight rounds of chemotherapy.  Once every three weeks.  I was doing the math in my head and that was going to bring us into next year.  He went on to explain that I would be receiving four rounds of one combination of chemotherapy drugs and then four more rounds with a different combination.  I didn’t know anything about chemotherapy except for the pictures I’d seen of bald, pale and sickly looking people and I knew that many people indeed got very, very sick while on chemotherapy.  The word “chemotherapy” was scary.  I had always thought it was something that was a last ditch effort to save people’s lives.  I thought it was something that in itself could nearly kill a person or at a minimum cause severe illness and horrible side effects.  I needed to learn more and find out exactly what chemotherapy was.

So I asked some questions and did some more reading.  I found out that chemotherapy is simply the treatment of cancer involving the use of various drugs.  The drugs, in my case, would be injected into a vein (intravenously) using an IV drip.  There are other ways to administer chemo drugs and some people can take them orally in a tablet form.  The chemo drugs are designed to kill fast-growing cells.  Cancer cells are fast-growing and they also reproduce rather quickly.  However, there are also good cells in the body that are fast growing and these ones can get damaged by the chemo and cause many side effects for the person undergoing the chemo treatment.
Mike & I - Spring 2005

Some of the normal good cell activities that can be affected include the cells that multiply in the hair follicles, the ones in your mouth, nose, nails and the ones in your bone marrow.  This is where the components of your blood are produced including red blood cells, white blood cells, and the platelets (blood cells needed for clotting).  Chemo would affect these cells and in addition to these possible side effects, there were a whole bunch of other things that could happen too.  Some of the more common side effects include vomiting, nausea, hair loss, bruising, anemia, low blood counts, susceptibility to infections, mouth sores, fatigue, and each of the two different drugs had its own list.  On top of that, there were medications to help combat things such as nausea but then these medications had side effects too.

This was crazy and just so much information to figure out.  Was my body going to be able to handle all of this? 

Down With The Sickness - Disturbed





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