Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Cycle 3 Chemotherapy Liveblog

Everyone ready for Cycle 3? 

Today's chemo companion is my co-worker (and happy hour connoisseur) N, who was kind enough to be a last minute substitution. The XS, who was going to join me, called last night to let me know she was sick and so in no condition to be spending the morning with a bunch of germ-sensitive cancer patients with depressed white blood cell counts. So thanks to N for stepping up on just a few hours notice. 

The key feature to today's cycle is, of course, the addition of Avastin (bevacizumab) to my infusion cocktail. Avastin is designed to prevent the blood vessels that feed the tumors from growing, which seems quite useful, but it comes with the scariest menu of side effects, most notably, incomplete wound healing, "holes in your intestine" (say what?!), kidney damage, blood clots, heart attack, and stroke. 

I'll admit it: the drug sheet on the Avastin is freaking me out. 

But enough background. On with the liveblog...

As has now become traditional, the morning started at the Volunteer Park Cafe, which has the significant advantage over everything else in the neighborhood of opening early enough to accommodate a quick meal before I have to be at the clinic. 

8:42 am
We're here, lines are in, blood's been drawn, labs are presumably proceeding, and I'm just waiting for the consult with the oncologist. 

9:18 am
I've seen the oncologist and been cleared to proceed. Happily (I think, but maybe it's not such a good thing), I've lost the six pounds I gained between Cycle 1 and Cycle 2. I'm back to 218. And like all doctors, this oncologist made it clear that it would be in my best interest to exercise more. When is that not the case? Guess I should give up the bus and go back to walking home from work.

Anyway, we're situated in the infusion room and now we just wait for the drugs to be delivered.

9:46 am
Still waiting. (Now aren't you glad I made this update?)

10:00 am
Oh joy. The nurse just informed me that the pharmacy is telling her that my order "went in after all these other people's" so we may be looking at a very long wait this time. 

10:27 am
Yup, still waiting. This seems to be shaping up into a very long day. I wish I'd remembered to search my wonder room -- Sib2's term for the spare bedroom that becomes an overgrown storage closet which prompts the question, "I wonder what's in this room?" -- for my cribbage board and cards. 

10:45 am
And we're off. The drugs have arrived and the Avastin is infusing. And while my head is now pounding, I'm pretty sure that it's psychosomatic as it started up before the nurse actually attached the drug to my line. 

11:32 am
The Avastin infusion is now done and we've moved on to the normal infusion. This will run two and a half hours, so, yup, going to be a long day. I was hoping to make a 3:00 meeting at work today, but I'm starting to think that's not going to happen. 

And aside from what's becoming the standard chemotherapy day headache (which is looking to be caused more from stress than any drug reaction), I've yet to see any immediate reaction to the Avastin (well, I suppose I could have some holes in my intestine, but at least I didn't have a stroke). 

And, yes, I probably should reread The Elements of Style for some inspiration on how to eliminate some of these parenthetical comments from my writing, but at least my parentheticals don't have parentheticals -- at least not yet. 

12:03 am pm
N tells me I look like I'm flagging. And I am. An hour ago I was ready to be done and go do something. Now I'm ready to go home and go back to bed. Plus, all the mouth weirdness has started back up. Good times. 

An hour and twenty-seven minutes to go by the clock on the infusion pump.

12:35 pm
I am currently being reminded of the movie, Broadway show, and soundtrack for Once, the primary song from all three of which is "Falling Slowly." The subject matter of the song has nothing to do with anything I'm going through, but the title is pretty much spot on with how I'm feeling. 

Fifty-four minutes remaining according to the pump.

And if anyone's wondering, Once in all its forms is great. If you opt for the stage show, be sure to arrive early.

1:13 pm
Feeling a little better, but still ready for a nap. And at risk of sharing too much information, I gotta pee. But dragging an IV pole with four bags of fluid and three infusion pumps and yards of plastic tubing down the hall to the bathroom seems way more trouble than it's worth. Twenty-one minutes remaining.

1:27 pm
The primary infusion is done. Now we're just waiting for the home infusion pump to be delivered so that they can hook me up and send me on my way. (GHC seems to be having some trouble planning ahead today.) 

1:29 pm
The pump has arrived. 

1:35 pm
All hooked up and ready to roll as soon as they give me the box and materials needed to be able to pull the line from my port on Friday when the machine beeps. 

And with that the Cycle 3 liveblog is over. Time to find some lunch. 


  1. Avastin... sounds like a pirate drug! Of course that sounds better than bevacizumab, which, (if I could pronounce it... or dared to pronounce it,) sounds like some demon from a bad horror movie. Did they draw a circle around you before they started? Incense? Candles?

    1. Funny. N and I were talking earlier about how to pronounce Avastin and decided it should be pronounced in the most pirate-y way possible. Great minds think alike.