Wednesday, September 14, 2011

first round of treatment

--By the way, Chris is starting a blog where he can vent about his cancer experience... but I'll still write some things about it here on our family blog --

First round of Chemo was on Monday. We were told to allow 3-4 hours, although it took more like 5 and a half. Other than the time, things went really smoothly. After checking in we walked up to one end of the 4th floor. We were instructed on the basics of chemo therapy. Grab a warming bag, put it on your forearm, find your bed/station number and lay down or take a seat if your assigned to a chair. The middle of the room is a half circle with windows looking over Edmonton. Its actually a beautiful day and with the flat terrain we can see for miles, or (I should get used to saying) kilometers.

We see almost all of the beds or chairs already filled with patients, most of them bald, quietly sitting, reading or sleeping, attached to an IV with machines occasionally beeping. A nurse comes over and explains what drugs she's going to give Chris today. First an anti-nausea drug that will take about 20 minutes, then a saline flush for 10 minutes, then we'll start the first of the 4 drugs in Chris' ABVD protocol with saline flush in between each drug.

Because of Chris' intense back/leg pain he's been having for the past few days (a herniated disk from coughing so bad...we think... we still need to find a family physician...they are SO HARD to find one taking new patients here) we lay him down flat on the bed. They have these warm blankets they keep in a heater and the nurse puts one on Chris and I tuck him in.

The nurse has a hard time getting the vein and pokes around for a bit before letting another nurse have a try. Luckily, she gets it in first shot. Chris is a bit nervous, I can tell, but we actually keep a relaxed manner and talk, joke, read or sleep for the 5 hours. Chris can get up and go to the bathroom, which he does about 4 times (with all the fluids they're pushing in him, its a wonder it was ONLY 4 times).

Volunteers come to deliver water, juice, tea, coffee, and or cookies to everyone in the wing every 2 hours or so. I eventually go grab Chris some lunch and in my 10 minutes of being gone, I miss Chris' oncologist who has come to check on him to see if his back/leg pain is any better. After 2 days of Ibuprofen around the clock it does seem to be getting slightly better. Chris can't be standing or sitting for longer than 5 minutes before its too painful and he needs to lay down completely flat again. Usually, his doctor won't come up and we'll only see him on our Friday-before-treatment meetings.

The second drug they give him is inserted into his IV from a big needle the nurse holds and slowly pushes in over 15 min. Its red and will turn his pee the same color for the next while. The last drug is also really hard on the veins so its given with more saline over the course of 1-2 hours, depending on if the patient starts to feel sore/a little bit of pain and needs a break. Chris mostly sleeps (or appears to be sleeping) through this one and does it straight through...it still takes about 2 hours!

He's tired but otherwise normal seeming and we walk out to the car wondering with anticipation when he will start to feel completely awful.

Luckily, that hasn't really happened yet! almost 48 hours since the start of the treatment and he's feeling not-TOO-bad. Still tired, and nauseated enough to take the prescription drugs every now and then, but mostly Chris seems to be in a good mood. They say it gets worse over time and I bet his treatments won't all go this smoothly, but we'll take just about any good news right now. Including the news we got the previous Friday when the oncologist said that based on the CT scan showing the disease ONLY above the diaphragm, he thinks Chris is only at a stage 2! We were thinking 3 or 4 and it still could be 4 if its found in the bone marrow (the results still weren't in on the bone marrow biopsy...ugh!) but stage 2 is great news.

Ok, thats enough details and my flight is about to board so I'll try to upload this quick. I'm on my way to UT for my sister's wedding! Chris' mom has been with us, watching the kids during all this, and will now take care of my little family until I get back in 2 days. Its hard to leave, but with Chris doing so well, I'm not as worried as I might have been. I'm also pretty excited to see my family and get a little break. :) If only I didn't have to wake up at 3:15 AM to make my flight.

9 comments:

Lawlors :) said...

So excited to see you at the reception tomorrow night!! :)

Shelly Beth said...

Wow Brittney. Such a bunch of stuff to go though right now. I still think about you all often. Good luck with everything and have fun in UT! I am sure it will feel so nice to be with family and to really get a "break" from everything for a few days. Enjoy it!

MandaMommy said...

I hope you have/had a great relaxing trip! I'm reeeeally glad the first round went so smoothly.

Amy said...

Wow, Brittney. Thanks for the detailed update! We still talk of you and pray for you daily. I'm glad things are going smoothly so far.

Aaron, Cera, Jaylen and Gavin said...

Thinking about you often!! I hope the treatments continue to go well. Have fun at Sarah's wedding! SO fun!

Radene said...

Thanks for sharing all your info and thoughts Brittney. I am happy you get to see your family too! It will be a sweet time for all of you. I am also happy you get a little break. Sure love you!

merilee said...

I hope things are fun for you in Utah! Wow...Sarah is getting married. That is so awesome. We are thinking about you and your family alot these days. And as always, in our prayers. Love u!

lanaface said...

Yuck, that is a nasty hour to wake up and take a flight.
I'm super stoked that you get to see your family and rejuvinate!
Have you heard about the cancer treatment that is basically a laser focused on tumors? I have heard that it is effective (and safe because it only kills the cancer cells). It is only offered in Canada. Do you uncles know about it. I'm sure they have already talked to you about treatments; I was just thinking. I bet Chris is comforted to have his mother with him now. Enjoy your family!

tericksen said...

It was so great to have you in Utah. Thanks for the updates--I can visualize what you are going through. It hurts my heart that I can't be there closer to you...