Friday, December 17, 2010

Chemo #3

by Michael

First Chemo #1, then Chemo #2, and today was Chemo #3, the last of the FEC treatments. Kate has three more chemo treatments (next is January 7, 2011), but they are "D" or taxotere.

This week, we'd expected Kate to go to the hospital two days ago (Dec 15) for blood test and to meet the doctor in the clinic, but the doctor was out of town, so Kate had to do it all today. Blood test at 7:30, doctor at 9:00, chemo clinic at 10:00.

Once again (as per pre Chemo #2), Kate's bloodwork wasn't taken from her Port-a-cath; because it needs to be "flushed" first with blood thinner, a procedure that can only happen, apparently, in the ambulatory care area, which opens at 8:00 a.m., and Kate's appointment in the blood clinic was 7:30. So once again, the needle went into her arm. The news, however, was good. White blood cell count rebounded. All cleared to proceed with poison intake.

But first the doctor's inspection. Dr. Warr saw her today. He examined her and COULDN'T LOCATE any lumps in her arm pit. "Things are fading away," is what he said.

He also said he could "feel things in the outer breast, but it's not impressive. That's good."

He said the taxotere treatments wouldn't have the nausea side effect that the FEC treatment has, but the taxotere could be expected to have more pain and tiredness. He didn't mention this.

Kate asked about when they would do more tests. Like the next MRI. "Near the end of the treatments," was the answer. Following chemo, of course, will come surgery. The chemo is shrinking everything, to make things easier for the surgeon, and the surgery most effective.

Dr. Warr doesn't have half the bedside manner of Dr. Buckman, but he is a world-class doctor and we are glad to have him in our court.

Next came chemo daycare. Kate's brother, Andy, met us there, and soon I left them and proceeded to work.

The chemo proceeded as before. The nurse forgot to flush the port-a-cath, which led to some discomfort, but that was overcome. Kate came home mid-day and slept. My mother was around to assist with childcare. I came home. Kate was on the couch.

How was she? Better than after Chemo #1. Not as upright as after Chemo #2.

One is reminded of the seriousness of the enterprise, the efficacy of the medication. It is working, that we know. It is also awful. Kate had a powerful headache and nausea and felt overall "grey," she said. "Not black, just grey." Owen watched TV, his Friday routine. Naomi painted, had a bath, complained of being ill. Fell asleep as I read her stories. Later, Owen lay in bed beside Kate, but she wasn't getting up to help him through his routine. Eventually, he allowed me to hold him and ease him into PJs, teeth-brushing, stories, sleep. This is a breakthrough of sorts, and it is possible that the cancer has helped to enable it. And it is good, but it comes at a high price.

Bottom line? More good news today. The chemo is doing what it is supposed to do. The first cycle of chemo is now done. The second cycle begins January 7, 2011. There is more after that. But we're not thinking that far ahead.

It is 7 days to Christmas. The tree is up. We are so very, very ready.

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