Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Nancy's chemo begins

Today was day 1 of Nancy's chemo for her recurrence of ovarian cancer. What the surgery in July did not kill, the chemo should...with the goal of getting Nancy back into complete remission. I picked her up at 10:30 and the chemo was started at 11:00. Some of the same nurses were there and greeted Nancy with smiles of recognition and remarks like, "Hey, Good to see you...well not really good to see you here again." The chemo is given at the IV therapy center of MMC in Scarborough. If you have to undergo chemo, it's a pretty nice place to get it, I guess. There are friendly nurses and doctors (they have to be angels, really), flowers, snacks, magazines, TVs with earphones, comfy chairs for patients and visitors alike, pillows and blankets, and even a Healing Garden outside. But, underneath it all is the quiet understanding of why everyone is here. As you look around, both fear and hope are palpable on the quiet faces of those in the big blue chairs and the family members sitting with them. Nancy brought her big teal LL Bean "chemo bag" which is signed with messages of hope and love from everyone who attended her "hat party" back in 2005 when she was about to start her first round of chemo. Inside she had packed some chemo necessities...her yellow scrunchy pillow, a book, Tab, Dove chocolates, white chocolate/raspberry cookies (from Rob, Tomo, Taka and Toshi), strawberry licorice bites, gummy bears, and Ritz Bits! After the pre-chemo infusions of a relaxant drug and an anti-nausea drug, the attack on those nasty remaining cancer cells finally began with separate infusions of both Carboplatin and Gemzar. The whole session lasted about three hours and we were done by 2:00 p.m. Nancy felt fine after the chemo - well enough to go to Hannaford and the Christmas Tree Shop with me on the way home. Usually "chemo day" is a good day and any side effects, especially the fatigue, appear on the days following. Since this is Nancy's first experience with Gemzar, the side effects this time will be "wait and see". Hopefully they will be mild. Then, next Tuesday, August 26th ("day 8"), Nancy will go back for an infusion of Gemzar alone. This will be the protocol for each of her six three-week chemo sessions.
Note: I just called Nancy to see how she is doing this morning...so far, no side effects thanks to Ativan and Zofran which are prescribed to minimize side effects. I'll try to keep everyone informed about how she is doing via this blog. Nancy will now be adding entries to the blog as well as she feels up to it. So check back frequently for "Nancy updates".

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