Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Gearing Up for Chemo

On June 9th, we celebrated my mom's 60th birthday. It was a simple gathering at my home with close family (dogs included). We talked, laughed and truly had a wonderful time. It was also nice to have my dad in town who was visiting from NY.  As a gift to her, I scheduled a portrait shoot with a good friend of mine. Stay tuned for pictures in the near future.

The week of June 11th was a very very busy week. We had several appointments to gear up for mom's first round of chemo which was to begin on Thursday, June 14th. 

Mom first had to undergo a quick surgery called a port placement. It's a little device they insert into your chest so that it's easier to route medications, chemo, IVs etc. I learned that it was the much safer way to go with chemo because over time chemo through the veins can permanently destroy the veins in your arms. Mom was a bit hesitant at first but Dr. Amatruda assured her that she would just feel mild discomfort for the first couple days but in the long run, she would not regret it. Mom said yes.

In our meeting with Dr. A, we went over all the details of mom's chemo regime (drugs, process, side effects etc). I had my crazy uber thick binder and asked him questions along the way. Dr. A even complimented me on my organizational skills and how on top of things I was.

Dr. A's plan was to have mom do three chemo cycles (each cycle taking 21 days) and then do a CT scan to see if the chemo has made a difference. Day 1 of each cycle, she would do the chemo infusion via IV of two out of the three drugs (Epirubicin and Oxaliplatin) and then she'd take the third drug (Xeloda) in pill form for the 21 days.  The next day, we had to do an echo cardiogram to make sure her heart was in tip top shape for the chemo. Apparently it was a requirement of using one of the drugs because it is very powerful and can be a strain on the heart. We also had an appointment with the genetics counselor to talk about the family history of the cancer.

Looking back, I don't know how I mentally, physically and emotionally made it through that week. Each day was long and very trying. I went on very little sleep and apart from that, it was all sinking in. All this had just become quite real. The word "chemo" kept echoing through my head over and over. You hear that word and there's nothing but bad associations with it. I became engrossed at reading all the material I was given by the doctors and doing my own research on all the side effects and the best ways to counter them. I needed to prepare myself. I couldn't miss anything..even the smallest of details. I was fighting for my mom's life; I couldn't let her down.

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