Chemo Smackdown-O-Rama-Fest: Round 1

Morning of first chemo treatment.  Most people wear sweats.  I say, intimidate Stupid Cancer with fierce style.  It’s easier for me to stay upbeat and my usual charming self when I’m looking presentable.  Leopard print all the way.

We arrived at the treatment center and got hooked up via Mort the Port to an IV of pre-meds.  (Steroids and anti-nausea stuff.)  We then met with my doc, Dr. Mehta.  He gave us good news: my cancer has NOT spread.  They hadn’t assumed it had but its good to know concretely.  Also my blood work (white blood cells, etc. were all in normal ranges.)  **These are answers to prayer.**  When God answers our prayers so clearly – its worthy of a moment of our time and consideration.  We have to pause, acknowledge, give thanks.  He does not always answer with what we are looking for – sometimes the journey is longer than the one we planned for.  But sometimes we get a simple gift like this.  I am grateful.  I give thanks that this cancer hasn’t spiraled out of control.  There is an army in my body fighting it, and it’s doing an amazing job.  I’m thankful for my surgeon who did a difficult surgery well and removed what was visible.  Thank you, Lord for all of your provisions.  

So then we got hooked up to the real stuff.  Chemo.  Oxaliplatin is the big dog of chemo drugs that I’m taking.  So into Mort the Port it went.  It took about two hours.  It was uneventful.  During that time, I read funny texts from friends, watched videos on You Tube, ate some cheese and carrots and talked to Kevin.  They have a snack bar at the center.  It’s not very healthy which I think is weird.  A poor diet does not help in the cancer battle.  But I guess with chemo patients, whatever you can get down the hatch is good.  And sometimes that is Lance brand neon orange peanut butter crackers.  Blech. I tired to imagine how I could politely suggest some organic fruit or air popped non-GMO popcorn.  But…I want them to like me.  So I’ll bring my own snacks and Kevin can eat the cupcakes.
So they also gave me my oral pills.  I have to take five in the morning and five at night.  This drug is called Xeloda.  
Kevin meticulously filled my giant pill box for me.  He will almost certainly do this for me every week.  The fact is the man is significantly more responsible than I am in such matters.  That’s why he’s the precision baker and I’m the chef with full creative license.  Recipes, schmecipes.  So Kevin is the family pharmacist.
The infusion was complete and we left.  We were both hungry so we went to Mad Mex.  a friend’s response: did you really think Mexican was the best choice immediately following chemo?  Fair question.  First of all, I got black beans and rice and tofu in a dry tortilla so it wasn’t like I got the drippy, crazy meat-filled enchiladas.  I passed on the margaritas, too.  šŸ™‚  But I really haven’t felt super nauseous.  Just a little bit queasy.  So far, eating helps.  So bring on the tofu!
What I have had in terms of side effects in the past 24 hours have been with neuropathy/very high sensitivity to cold food/beverage and touching stuff that’s colder than room temp.  
The very bad thing that happened was when I took a huge swig of iced tea before I knew what would happen.  Awful. I felt like I drank Drano.  It scared me.  I had no idea what they meant when they said “cold sensitivity.”  It was pretty horrible.  Like trying to swallow a raisin that suddenly turned into a tiny porcupine.  All scratchy and spiky out of nowhere.  Also, strong tasting things like olives, vinegar and sharp cheeses do something weird to my mouth.  It feels like biting into a giant lemon.  That “sour” reflex is in overdrive somehow.
On the tactile front…touching something cold is like grabbing onto an electric fence.  It’s very strange to have your own body mess with you like that.  I’m so grateful to not be vomiting all day like some people do with chemo (fingers crossed on that one!)  But it’s weird and inconvenient to have to adjust what you eat, drink and touch.
Right now I’m feeling ok.  I’m a little bit apprehensive because I know that it gets worse before it gets better.  The last day has told me that I cannot predict what’s coming next and I don’t like that.  This may be the toughest one for me out of the 8 rounds, simply because its all a mystery.  Everything is fine and then my body betrays me.  I’ve spent 35 years in it.  It’s like if a good friend who has always been kind and dependable suddenly starts acting like a total bitch.  
So this is where we give ourselves a moment.  Acknowledge the difficulty.  Acknowledge the frustration.  Choose to accept it.  Then turn our thoughts and our hopes heaven-ward.  People say I’m strong.  I am.  It would be false humility to argue that.  I was raised to be strong.  I have experienced success that galvanizes my trust in my own abilities.  Whatever you’ve got, bring it.  I love a challenge and I plan to win.  It’s my job to get people to understand why they should give their hard earned dollars to help unemployed, homeless drug addicts.  I’m not selling sports cars to men in the midst of their mid-life crisis or pacifiers to desperate new moms.  Lets just say I’ve chosen a field where it’s not an easy sell.  A former supervisor once said about me “she could sell snow to the Eskimos.”  Well I’ve never tried.  But I would probably give it a shot.  
But I can’t do it all.  
I’ve gone as far as I can go on my own strength at the moment.  So “I lift my eyes up…up to the mountain.  Where does my help come from? My help comes from you – maker of heaven…creator of the earth.”  
So, I lean into God today.  Giving Him my anxieties and worries.  Believing He will provide whatever is needed at the most appropriate time.  Sometimes that comes in the form of a good test result, help from a loved one, a cheerful card, an unexpected moment of peace.  

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