It is funny how special dates have meaning – and how we know what dates are good dates and which are not. I wanted to strongly avoid starting chemo on July 1st, as I did not want every Canada Day to be a reminder.
Instead, the date aligns with a date that already has meaning for me. July 7 is my father’s birthday. On July 7, 2008 Scott and I left our house and hopped on our bikes to begin our 16-month trip around the world (http://goingeast.ca/blog/2008/07/07/we-left-home-finally/).
On July 7, 2014 I start chemo. I shall also start writing the going east book (I had done a little writing for NaNoWriMo the year before I started my PhD, but haven’t picked it up since). When I thought I might have cancer, the only real regret I had in life was that I had not yet written the Going East book. So, I shall use my chemo start date as the opportunity to start writing the book. I’ll bring my laptop with me to treatment, and see if I can use at least some of that time for writing.
We went to the chemo class today. The information provided was mostly confirmatory – it confirmed a lot of what we already knew. We were able to reduce our worries about some of the excessive precautions listed the “Understanding Chemotherapy: A guide for patients and families” by the American Cancer Society. It provided some horribly scary recommendations – saying things like for the first 48-hours we need to be careful not to exchange bodily fluids, and we shouldn’t use the same toilet, and that whoever cleans should wear two pairs of rubber gloves. Scott is looking up the sources in the academic literature to see if there is any merit in it. When I mentioned this to one of the many nurses I talk to, she thought I was crazy. She recommended the website http://chemocare.com/ for information on chemo care.
Tomorrow I have my port put in. They use what is called twilight sedation. It is the same type of sedation that they use for cataract surgery. It means I will be awake but not completely present or aware of everything. In theory it will heal within a couple of days. Hope that I can hop in the pool within a week, as I suspect that swimming may be one of my better post-chemo options (easier on the joints).
I’ve also asked a friend (or two or three) to be my exercise accountability buddies throughout the chemo process (I could use one or two more volunteers). In the PhD process some people use writing accountability buddies to help them stay motivated to get through writing their proposal or dissertation. It occurred to me while biking today that I could use an exercise accountability buddy – someone to hassle me to get off the couch on those days when I just don’t feel like it (that is an email or a Facebook note asking what exercise I’ve done each day). I don’t need to do a lot of exercise (I don’t want to overdo), but they recommend trying to keep to the same level of exercise throughout chemo (but with more rest time). Since I mostly bike 1.5-3 hours per day (4-5 times per week), that might be a bit too much to maintain all the time, but it would be nice it I could at least make sure I’m doing something every day that isn’t a chemo or procedure day.
I experienced anger for the first time today. When I was biking, I found myself angry that the treatment for breast cancer is to cut it off. How archaic is it that the treatment for disease is amputation. I’m expecting that either tomorrow with the installation of the port, or July 7th with the first chemo treatment, the whole ‘I have cancer’ thing will sink in and I’ll start to realize what this all means. Right now, I’m just taking things one procedure at a time. Trying to make sure we have everything organized and in place for the time ‘when I get sick’, cause I don’t feel sick now.
July 7 – AC
July 21 – AC
Aug 4 – AC
Aug 18 – AC
Sep 1 through Nov 17 – weekly T