Chemo Begins on Thursday

Appointment with my oncologist today at Emory’s Winship Cancer Institute went pretty much as expected. All the results from the surgical biopsy still haven’t come in yet, but we’re starting treatment on Thursday anyway. If the biopsy results reveal some potential oddities or unexpectedness, we’ll add meds to the chemo cocktail. But the core treatment will remain the same, and consensus was that it was best to start treatment now (a bazillion yeses!) rather than wait any longer.

My treatment regime is currently slated to be six, 21-day cycles of the R-CHOP chemo cocktail (rituximab, cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone) followed by radiation. Four of those cycles will be delivered directly to my cerebral spinal fluid via lumbar puncture…sigh. I’m also getting a neulasta injection after each chemo infusion to try to bolster my immune system since it’s already pretty compromised starting off the bat.

My first treatment, this Thursday, is expected to take something like seven hours (o.O!), although subsequent ones should be faster–five-ish hours or so. Debating if I should bring my laptop, try to get some work done, or if my smartphone and a book will be sufficient to keep me from imploding out of boredom.

Aside from the side effects I expected–nausea, hair loss, other various GI distresses, etc.–my doctor also said that the chemo might trigger early menopause. I wasn’t prepared for that possibility. Children were never an option for us, so early menopause isn’t really a devastating prospect, but I was kinda blindsided by the idea of it–having to deal with all the changes that come with menopause in addition to everything else.

My oncologist also said I need to avoid crowds in order to decrease the chances of me picking up a random infection or bug, which we already knew, but we hadn’t quite made the logical repercussions step.

I take the train to my day job. Public transportation is pretty much the definition of crowds.

So, for now, the plan is for Matthew to drive me to the capitol during my treatment on those days I’m well enough to go in. Also, I might ask my work folks to see if I can get a temporary parking space for the next six to eight months. I relinquished my spot in the capitol’s deck several years back when they jacked the price up. Not really keen on having to get a space again, but not really keen on having poor Matthew chauffeur me every day, either.

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32 Responses to Chemo Begins on Thursday

  1. I’m glad they’re going ahead and starting now. And I’ll hope that the repurcussions aren’t too bad…

  2. Liam Fisher says:

    My sister just went through this year – take low effort stuff with you.

  3. Jon F. Merz says:

    Best of luck, Eugie! I have no doubt that you can kick the shit out of this thing and get back to kicking ass with your writing. Be well and know that we’re all pulling for you!

  4. Glad to hear it’s starting finally.

  5. Keeping you in our prayers!

  6. From experience, it’s a great relief to be moving forward, even if the moving forward has massive complications and life changes. Hopefully, this will help a lot with the pain. Being able to manag pain goes a long way towards being able to manage life. about getting to work- remember that the chemo is going to knock you on your butt. You may not be able to drive. One of the hardest things in a situation like this is to accept help (Matthew as chauffer) graciously. Learn early that the people who love you will do whatever you need with love and joy. You will get through this.

  7. So… On the plus side, now you have a doctor’s excuse for avoiding people… Is that something you can share?

  8. Nancy Knight says:

    No reason to wait. Let’s get this done and move forward. What can I do for you and Matt? Much love and hugs.

  9. Teresa Bigbee says:

    Glad to hear that treatment is starting. I’d recommend taking light/easy stuff with you for your treatment. From experience, I’d say boredom won’t be a problem. You may actually sleep through some of it (depending on what support drugs they give you). As far as work … be kind to yourself and take whatever time you need. I tried to push myself during chemo and finally realized that my real job was to get well. Everything else can wait. And yes it is hard to accept help, but know that the people who care about you want to help and that it will make them feel like they are contributing to your treatment (this is also from experience). Being able (allowed) to help a friend is a great gift.

  10. Scott Hancock says:

    (o.O!), Hang in there Eugie, the battles with boredom and nausea are worth it.. You have too many things to write yet…

  11. (o.O!), Hang in there Eugie, the battles with boredom and nausea are worth it.. You have too many things to write yet…

  12. Keeping you in my prayers. Sounds like the doctors have planned an aggressive attack. Here’s to overcoming adversity and being stronger on the other side.

  13. Chesya Burke says:

    Take care! Let me know if you need anything, dear!

  14. Dana says:

    If you like knitting or crochet, and have been meaning to take it up as a hobby but never found the time, now you have the time.

    Hang in there.

  15. Bonnie Iutzi says:

    Hi, So glad the treatments are starting for you. One thing I did during the long hours when I was awake was to get a chemo buddy. I know it sounds strange but talking to other patients getting chemo the same time as you can not only help you but can also help others. A lot of times you will see the same people there. Learn their stories and tell them yours. Also talk to a nutritionist, they will have an idea of thing to eat to keep you as healthy as posible during and after treatment. Imodium before you eat helps some of the digestive problems. Good luck with treatment.

  16. Janice Clark says:

    It sounds like a long, not-so-pleasant journey fraught with complications, but at least you’re moving forward. You have a good team to oversee your treatment, and a large crowd (keeping a safe and healthy distance) cheering you on. We’re all looking forward to the end of this particular story, with the “C” monster vanquished and the brave heroine (that’s you) restored to health.

  17. Jerry Maynor says:

    I think this would qualify you for a handicapped sticker. That might even be closer than the deck.

  18. Ruth Burroughs says:

    I’ve been taking fish oil and avoiding foods that cause me to have mood swings. That has helped with my pre-menopausal symptoms for years now. Other than those mood swings, losing my temper or crying at inappropriate times, it isn’t so bad. Not having the monthly two months in a row is awesome.

  19. Continued kick C’s arse, energy! <3

  20. E Krock says:

    Kill it Eugie! If you want to work and it helps you and you feel able, that’s your call to make. If not, for heaven’s sake file for disability and focus all your energy on getting well. This is exactly the kind of situation that disability coverage was created for, you deserve it, and you’ve been paying for the coverage out of your paycheck all this time, so use it if you need it! If you do work, I guarantee you qualify for a disabled parking sticker during treatment, so don’t hesitate to request that either. Good luck and God bless!!!

  21. Ditto what Marlies said. And I’ll add, after you get through your treatment and get well, we are gonna have one heckuva Eugie Celebration. *hugs*

  22. Liz Williams says:

    Very best wishes from us.

  23. Nivair says:

    Hugs. I’m hoping you can vanquish the boredom and that work makes this easier for you, not harder!

  24. Maggie Slater says:

    You got this, Eugie! Time to go a little Trixie Goddess of Smiting on this cancer thing. If cancer’s not worth smiting in a hellfire-ish blaze of just vengeance, I sure don’t know what is! 🙂

  25. Amy Herring says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of info to assimilate. I’m an old “one crisis at a time” adherent from way back. take that book and phone, get to chemo, and deal with first things first. And do be willing to accept help, especially from Matthew. when you get through the first session, you can worry about work, parking, other results. Glad you’re getting an immune boost!

  26. Sandra A Fay says:

    From my mother’s experience, you will have a positive mental boost on Friday just because things have gotten started. I know this will be hard, but you will need to trade in shoe shopping for hat shopping for the next few months. Also, there is a wig shop here in Bloomington that gives out free wigs to cancer patients, so I’m sure that is available in Atlanta. I’m sure you if you ask around someone will be able to help you.

  27. Kristi says:

    I agree with taking light stuff to do. My husband took his iPad and some magazines, stuff like that. One thing to consider is food. He had the same treatments as you (6 treatments, 3 weeks apart), and it never took less than 6-7 hours. I would call him to ask what he wanted, then take him food in mid-day.

    Also, it is possible that you will not have all the side effects (except the hair thing — I think everyone does the hair). It’s different for each person. My husband did not have any nausea or GI side effects at all. His main complaint was fatigue, which was cumulative and was worst during the last 2 cycles.

    Good luck!

  28. Holy crap, Eugie. Hang in there!

  29. I can’t believe chemo sessions can take so long. 🙁 I never thought about it. I guess I assumed they took 10-15 minutes, maybe half an hour… wow. This cure is awful, but the disease is awfuller. Here’s to progress!

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