A Dance with the "Red Devil"

Updated: Jun 9, 2019


I paid the copay and signed the permission slip. My oncologist suggested 4 exciting treatments over 8 weeks of Adriamycin and Cytoxan. Adriamycin comes in a very large plastic injector and is as you have probably have guessed red as the devil. To prepare for these treatments I was mailed an anti-nausea med Varubi which I would bring to my appointments. I would take this pill, receive an injection of Sustol in my stomach (fun), would receive Zofran through my IV, and I also had a prescription for Compazine to take home. All of these medications are to treat nausea. God bless the pioneers who had this treatment without these amazing medications as I was never nauseous during my chemotherapy. The chemo nurse would inject the Adriamycin into my IV which was connected to my handy dandy all access port. Oh yes, let me back up...I had a tiny surgery before chemo to place a port into my chest which would allow access to my veins, which is a good thing as if you have no port your veins can become extremely burnt by the chemo drugs. The infusion takes about an hour and a half and is super boring, so I always made sure to download some shows to bring with me on my Kindle. Another thing you should know about me is that I am a sleeper! I would be an Olympian if sleeping were a sport. Unfortunately, the combo of AC chemo caused me to not sleep. Honestly, I think I would have rather had intermittent vomiting:( When I say no sleep, I mean even with an Ambien prescription kind of not sleeping. * We are about to enter into an area of TMI and if you don't think you can handle a funny story about poop or lack of poop or pain while pooping you may want to stop reading now! This should be listed under things that any oncologist should mention to you at least 100 times before you begin treatment. Anti-nausea medications will CONSTIPATE you. You may remember that with each treatment I had taken 4 anti-nausea medications. Using your skills of cause and effect you can probably deduce that I found myself in a VERY bad situation. Following this bad situation, and once I corrected the problem with several embarrassing to buy over the counter remedies, I was unfortunately left with extreme pain every single time I had a BM. Now you may remember that I had been diagnosed very quickly with advanced breast cancer, moved my only child to school, had a port installed, left my teaching position, had chemo, never slept, became so constipated that every time I had a bowel movement I was left me feeling worse than that one time I gave birth. It is probably not surprising that at this time the panic attacks started. I am pretty proud of myself that it didn't happen sooner and it could have been the painful pooping that broke this camel's back. Thank God that I have the best husband in the entire world and yes, I will compare mine with yours and it will either be a tie or mine will win. The first attack that hit convinced me that I was dying and that we needed to call 911 immediately if not sooner. Matt AKA the best husband in the world (BHITW) walked me around the house calmly explaining that I was having a panic attack and that would not actually die. After about an hour of walking, breathing, and his bad jokes I indeed lived. These started happening several times daily and I can honestly say were completely debilitating. The good news here is that it fell to the BHITW to go out an procure the needed embarrassing products to deal with my literal pain in the butt. Trust me when I say I tried every product that could be purchased for my pain to no avail. It was after about a month of EXTREME pain that I had to do the worst thing possible and asked my primary care physician to take a look. UGH:( Don't worry it gets worse, as he then referred me to a colorectal surgeon. The good news was that he was also willing to look at my butt the same day! I drove straight there and sat in the parking lot suffering from a doozy of a panic attack while just knowing that I would be placed in some weird stirrup contraption and probed with several objects. After me causing myself complete and total trauma, the nice Dr. simply had me describe my symptoms and he diagnosed an anal fissure. Things I believe to be more fun than an anal fissure...some snake bites, root canal, and perhaps natural childbirth. My advice to you if you ever end up on this type of journey is to take Miralax early and often. Luckily and amazingly there is a simple compounded ointment to fix a fissure. The adorable pharmacist advised me that it was not covered by my insurance, and I informed her that I would mortgage my home to obtain said ointment. It was only $30 so she was being very dramatic but like most people back in my chemo days she looked at me like I was crazy. 4 jars of ointment and 3 months later I was back in business. I was already on a roll in the good luck department and soon the genetic counselor gave me a friendly call to let me know that despite the lack of any family history I was indeed BRCA1 positive. I cannot recall smashing several mirrors and dancing on their shards while doing shots of tequila but that must have happened. I am sure your mind takes you to Angelina Jolie's amazing rack when I bring up the BRCA genetic mutation. Yeah so that would be a complete non-example of my journey. Plus, Angie would look awesome without hair and has probably never been constipated. I think you have taken in about as much as you can handle for one day. We will continue this journey soon and maybe we will discuss something more upbeat next time such as how wonderful my support community has been during this journey. To be continued...


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