Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Chemo #2: Die Cancer, Die!

Well today was eventful.   :-/

Today was Chemo #2 of 4 - halfway done, woo hoo!  I met with my oncologist first and got some unfortunate news.  My white blood cell counts have dropped significantly - so much that they almost wouldn't give me chemo today (but thankfully they did!).   But now I have to come in every day for awhile and get a shot of Neupogen - which is a drug to help boost my white blood cell count.  Unfortunately the Neupogen has its own unpleasant side effects - primarily bone pain.  They say it will feel like flu-like aches and pains.  The good news is that this drug should help with my white blood count and hopefully I won't have any delay in my next round of chemo.  Your white blood cells are what help fight off infection.  Too few white blood cells can make it much harder for me to fight off infection, which can be dangerous.  If I get a fever above 100.5 degrees, I'll have to go to the ER.  So I'll have to be extra cautious - no gardening (I was bad and did a little over the weekend), we have to keep the house as clean as possible, I shouldn't be around large groups of people or people who may be sick.  Ugh... so many rules!!

Well, like I said they let me get my chemo treatment today regardless of my blood work.  They didn't have any problem accessing my port initially, so I was hooked up pretty quickly.

Read my post about my last chemo treatment for more information on how they administer each of my medications.  First they give me anti-nausea medicine, then steroids to assist the anti-nausea medicine, then finally each of the 4 types of chemo, called ABVD (more on that in another post soon, I promise!).

The first type of chemo goes in via IV bag.  The last three are pushed in by a nurse through a large syringe into my port line.  Before they can push in these last three types of chemo, they have to make sure my port is still functioning properly.  They do this by pulling back on the syringe just a little bit to make sure a little bit of blood comes out - it's called blood return.  Unfortunately I didn't have any blood return in my port when they tried to push in the second chemo.  They tried pushing in some saline, no luck.  They tried flushing the port out with heparin, no luck.  They tried having me raise one arm over my head, then the other, then lay on my side, turn my head and cough... no luck.  Finally they gave me some kind of drug that is used to break up a blood clot.  Sometimes the port can get a little clogged as your blood naturally clots, so this drug is supposed to break up a clog if there is one... no luck (initially).  Then they had me walk up and down the stairs and through the halls for a few minutes, no luck but apparently they saw a tiny bit of pink, so they figured they were close.  More walking - this time we went outside and walked for awhile.  Finally I had blood return!  They were able to push in my last 3 chemo drugs, hooray!

I ate a popsicle during the chemo that can cause mouth pain and mouth sores.  Apparently the chemo doesn't like to go to places in the body that are cold.  So supposedly eating a popsicle or ice as the chemo goes in can keep it from going to my mouth and may lessen the mouth pain that I experienced last time.  More on that terrible mouth pain here.

I am starting to lose some hair :(  It's not coming out in huge clumps or anything, but I've definitely noticed a lot more hair on my shirt, on furniture, in the bathroom, etc.  My onc says I should notice a lot more in these next 7 days.  I blow dried my hair last night and noticed a lot more loss than normal.  I told Josh last night, that may have been the last time I blow dry my hair for awhile :(  I'll probably go in to get my hair cut shorter in a few days, which should help a little.  I'm still hoping I won't lose it all (or enough for me to have to shave my head), but I'm still prepared just in case.

That's about it for today.  I feel fine now, just sleepy and a little bit of a headache.  It was so nice to have my dad with me today as my chemo buddy!  He took great care of me!

We don't look at all alike, do we? ;)
I'll give you all another update soon.



  1. I've been reading your posts to Mom, and she would like me to tell you that when you were an infant and had no hair you had a beautiful bald head. She hopes you don't lose your hair, but that you'll be just as beautiful if you do.

    I have some info I will send to you soon! Hang tough cuzo! xoxo

  2. Christina Martin QuintelaSeptember 4, 2013 at 9:54 PM

    Glad it's half way over :) You are doing great!! xoxo

  3. Hi Melissa - glad to hear you made it through #2. I remember the tingly scalp and hair loss. I always noticed so much more on my pillow when I woke up in the morning. Mine got really thin but I never lost it completely, and I couldn't bring myself to shave it, so I just wore hats. (And it was curly for a while when it grew back in, so that was fun!) Sending good vibes your way, especially for the next few days.

  4. Dear Melissa,

    My name is Leeann (the L in the L&M team for the Light the Night walk). I have been reading all the things you have posted. With your amazing attitude I know in my heart you will win this battle. I went through 6 rounds of chemo. The doctors decided to use a strong chemo because of my age. My lymphoma is non-hodgkins, but an aggressive form. I am cancer free now as I know you will be soon!

    Good luck! I will check your page to see how you are doing. Please know I am praying for you and your family.


    1. Hi Leeann! Thanks for the note! Congrats on beating lymphoma, I'll be right behind you :)