Words from a first time Chemo recipient

Words from a first time Chemo recipient

I walked into the whole cancer world very ignorant….  I thought cancer was cancer and chemo was chemo.  Seriously, I could have never been more wrong…  that is like saying that a car is a car and we definitely know that isn’t true, no one on this earth would compare a Bentley to a Prius – no offense intended.

Well, just as there are many different models, manufactures and options on cars, there are just as many different types of cancers and subsequent treatments.

Like I told you in an earlier post, my cancer is HER2 positive, because of the aggressive nature, i will be taking chemo for a year, however, after the first 6 cycles i only need to take the drug that is specifically targetted at HER2.  Good news, Immune system won’t be compromised !!!!  Yeah!!!  Hair will start to grow back, Yippee!!!

Let’s talk about hair… I learned today that typically hair will grow back opposite of what it was, i.e. straight goes curly, curly goes straight! That is great news for me, huge timesaver in the hair straightening department and I also learned that it could come in dark… 🙂 no gray 🙂 i am totally good with that, now the bad news (again, ugh) everything typically goes back to the way it was originally in about a year after chemo 😦  Notice typically all over this paragraph, that is because there aren’t really any knowns.

My first experience with Chemo –

I was blessed that Alaina was home from school over the weekend and didn’t have any classes back at IA State until 1:00, she was able to take me to my first chemo, she even went down to the starbucks kiosk for me and brought back not only coffee, but treats 🙂 especially liked the hummus and pretzels.  Gerry was able to stop by between cases and spend the end of the day with me and Deb (who was intrumental in getting Gerry and I together in 2014), stopped by and brought some great reading materials.  Thanks to all of you for helping me through my first chemo 🙂

  • Arrived at 8:30 for blood work
    • Prior to surgery I had been told that regardless of how the surgery came out, I would need to have chemo for a year because of the HER2 positive.  I elected to have a chemo port put in during my mastectomy.  The Chemo port is on my right chest.  The dark over the incision is still the skin glue, it will look better when the glue is off.


    • When I was called in for blood work I was a little nervous, this would be the first time using my port…
    • First question, do you have the card that came with your port – me – deer in the headlights
    • Second question, do you know if you are saline or heparin flush – me – deer in the headlights
    • I made a quick call to the surgeon’s office and found out that it is saline flush, whew, who knew???
    • The nurse has a special needle that goes into the port –
      • Deep Breath
      • Punch – and yes, punch is the right word, as the needle punches into the port, it has a metal back, so you don’t need to worry about it punching through the port… lol


  • A syringe of saline is injected into the port
  • Two vials of blood are then pulled from the port
    • First is thrown away, as it will have too much saline
    • Second is used to evaluate the blood prior to chemo
  • 9:00 – visit dr.
    • vitals
    • review blood results
    • Q&A
  • 9:30 – chemo starts
    • Since I was going to be receiving chemo all day I elected to be in a private room (as you can see it became my office) vs. one of the chairs in the main roomIMG_20160201_164716547
  • The first time you receive chemo (or at least my first time), they have slow drips and observation periods, my next chemo sessions will be cut by 3 hours 🙂
  • 5:15 – chemo ends

So, what were the main ingrediants to my chemo and their possible side effects –

  • We started with Steroids and Benydril to help my body adjust to the Chemo and then sequentially went through each of the following
  • Perjeta
    • Common Side Effects
      • Hair Loss
      • Diarrhea
      • Decreased white blood cells
      • Numbness and tingling in hands and feet
      • Rash
      • Fatigue
      • Nausea
      • Decreased appetite
  • Herceptin
    • Common Side Effects
      • Fevers/Chills
      • Pain at site of disease
      • Nausea
      • Shortness of breath
      • Headache
      • Dizziness
  • Taxotere
    • Common Side Effects
      • Decreased red and white blood cells
      • Hair Loss
  • Carboplatin
    • Common Side Effects
      • Decreased white blood cell and platelet counts
      • Hair Loss
      • Fatigue
      • Nausea and Vomiting

22 – 24 hours after chemotherapy

  • Neulasta – this is a shot to promote white blood cell development
    • Common Side Effects
      • Bone Pain
      • Nausea
      • Fatigue
      • Weakness
      • Fever

I had several medical staff and fellow cancer pals tell me that no matter what, stay on top of the anti-nausea medication.  I have found that to be very true, a couple times I have run over on time and almost lost my cookies.  It is easy to forget, when you are feeling fine, it makes you think maybe you don’t need to take it after all… WRONG!!! listen to those who have already tread that trail…  they are speaking from experience.  I am now setting the alarm on my phone to remind me when it is time to take the next tablet, better safe than sorry.

Will be signing off for now, thank you all for your support, I know that God has brought you into my life and I will always be eternally grateful for each of you.  May God’s Love go with each of you throughout your days and stand by you through all your journeys.

Til next time!


10 thoughts on “Words from a first time Chemo recipient

  1. Love your optimistic attitude about the straight hair! (I have straight hair, no curl….it’s not all it’s cracked up to be lol) Love the blog, thanks for sharing your great spirit

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was an eye opening blog about a world I don’t know. Thank you for sharing. You are strong and this journey will be made for a reason… Even if you don’t know the reason just yet. You are an awesome example for all!!!!


  3. I love your blog Linda. You are so strong and I love your attitude. You truly are blessed and I believe everyone that is lucky enough to meet you is also blessed. Keep writing my friend as I am enjoying the education (not your cancer). Love you.


  4. Linda, you of all people got this my friend!!! I don’t know what you are going through or what you are thinking or feeling but I know that you are strong and will endure!! Speaking of straight hair, In school I always wanted straight hair but got curly. Enjoy it for at least a year!!!


  5. Linda, I know this world well, as a wife and an RN. I wish I could be there to help in any way. Please know I am there in spirit and pulling for you every single second. You are a wonderfully strong and beautiful woman. God is with you. Be strong.



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