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I went to Texas Oncology for my “chemotherapy education” appointment. A very nice and honest nurse sat Jeremy and I down and told us everything we ever wanted to know about upcoming Chemo Fun Time. She was required to give me all sorts of information about what the actual day of infusion would entail. Basically I get to sit in a comfy chair while having dangerous chemicals, I mean healing infusions, delivered to my body intravenously. Right now, I am scheduled to have an IV, but if my veins don’t cooperate, I’ll get to have a minor surgery where they insert some kind of port right into my chest. I’ve heard tales of cancer survivors flashing their port scars at each other as a symbol of solidarity, but I’m not much of a flasher with any part of my body (just ask my husband), so I doubt I would ever be a scar flasher either.

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She handed us a nifty booklet courtesy of the National Cancer Institute. It is presented in mellow shades of green, with a photo of a very relaxing mountain view. When I saw the picture, I immediately thought, “I wish I was there, staring off into the distance, rather than sitting here learning about gross side effects.”

Oh the side effects. I am not guaranteed all of these, and I may not have any of them. But since I seems to suffer every medicinal side effect except death, I’m a little worried. Possible side effects include:

Anemia
Appetite changes
Bleeding
Constipation
Diarrhea
Fatigue (I don’t know how I could me tired than I am now)
Hair loss (thinking of temporary tattoos to put on my head)
Infection
Infertility (not a problem. We don’t even have the right parts for that anymore)
Mouth and throat sores
Nausea and vomiting
Pain
Sexual changes
Skin and nail changes
Urinary, kidney, and bladder changes
Other (this is terrifying. Other? WTH else could there be)

The guide also includes a list of possible foods to help ease the patient with nausea, mouth sores, and other side effects. These include clear broth, baby food, puréed cooked foods, cream of rice, and saltines. No wonder cancer people lose weight. It’s not the nausea, it’s the inability to eat cheeseburgers and other life-sustaining meals.

What is important here is to hold onto the fact that this is just a moment in time. The treatments that they are offering will spread through my body and attack any microscopic cancer cells that broke free from my original tumors. If there are any of these cells left, I imagine them hiding behind organs and bones, waiting for the right time to attach themselves. But it’s okay if they are lurking, because the medicines (chemicals) will destroy them. I will have 12 weeks of therapy, with 4 infusions of Taxotere/Cytoxan. These 12 weeks are short compared to never having to go through this ridiculousness again.

The Chemo Room:

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