Chemotherapy: A carefully concocted cocktail of drugs
Monday, March 12, 2012 – Toronto.
Woke up this morning with a sense of cautious optimism. Today is chemo day.
Spent the next few minutes in bed with Nagib offering prayers to the four blood donors that have kept me alive. Asked God to help us make it through today with courage and resilience and for the chemo to work.
Until last week, I naively thought chemo was all the same. In fact, each chemo treatment is a carefully concocted cocktail of drugs designed specifically for your type of cancer. I observed some patients come in for 30 minutes of chemo, some receive a pill, some injections. My chemo for lymphoma is called R-CHOP. It requires me to go to the hospital every 3 weeks for a full day. I am hooked on an IV machine for most of the day as one drug, then another, enters my body. Every 20 minutes, a nurse comes to check my temperature and blood pressure. I welcome the chemo and visualize it attacking the cancer in a battle inside me.
The start of the chemo experience is an interesting one. You check in to “Chemo Day Care” at the appointed time, and the receptionist gives you a buzzer. If you’ve been to The Keg Steakhouse during rush hour, you know what I mean. Then you wait (good thing I brought my iPad). When your “table” is ready, the buzzer vibrates and chimes and the receptionist sends you to one of the colourful pods and a designated seat (Purple Pod, Chair # 12 in my case). Volunteers come over to offer juices, lend a helping hand and stay to chat if you want.
In a surreal way, sitting for chemo is a relaxing affair. You sit in a comfortable leather chair, talk to family, have lunch. I shared a pastrami sandwich and large salad with Nagib. It was like a date!
Chemo affects each person differently. The common side effects are fatigue, mouth sores and nausea. I have tolerated chemo remarkably well so far. The only negative has been having a bitter metallic taste in my mouth so I am not enjoying most foods, except sweets. So I am consuming ice cream and fruits and French toast and milkshakes to keep the calories high and my weight up. Today, my taste buds have changed completely and I can’t handle any sweets. This will be an interesting time of trial and error with food.
As the chemo drugs lower my immune system’s ability to fight off infections, viruses and other bugs, I’ve been advised to stay away from large gatherings of people :-(. Next chemo April 2.
A SNAPSHOT OF CHEMO
Lunch from Druxy’s: $12
Price of parking for the day at PMH: $20
Cost of chemo drugs: $000’s (thank you OHIP)
Surrounded by family while undergoing chemo (even though they were somewhat distracted): PRICELESS !