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Chemo Round One

by Tom on July 22nd, 2009

Yesterday I walked on my own power from the 4th floor observation rooms to the 5th floor Oncology Infusion Services department.

When we got to the desk the friendly staff announced “you must be Tom Music!” My reputation (and my appointment) preceeded me.

They took me to my room, showed us where to find the snacks and then an oncology nurse came in and gave me a “chemo teach” — a summary of all of the drugs I was going to receive, and the possible side effects.

In the meantime Nurse Ruth Ann was plugging into my chest port, preparing all of the equipment needed to start my magical journey.

The waypoints for the day were Adriamycin, Cytoxan, Vincristine, then Rituxin. The Adriamycin came in three large red syringe canisters — like some sort of massive poison Jell-O shooters.

Before we began, I got more information on the UW’s analysis of my lymph node biopsy. A few things stood out in the report:

  • There were two separate colonies of cancer cells
  • It could be that one was a slow-moving, and spun off a more aggressive type
  • It could be that both are just different forms of a more aggressive type

Even though we didn’t have a definitive result yet, the likely presence of an aggressive cancer meant that R-CHOP was the way to go.

One more cc of Dilaudid helped to get me more comfortable, and then it was time to get started. In went the Adriamycin. She did that one by hand, since they need to be able to stop instantly if anything looks like it might be leaking. That stuff can burn!

Next the Cytoxan. Then lunch arrives! A tasty sandwich for me and my suite-mates. Grog all around!

The Vincristine starts up and goes without a hitch. Next up is the Rituxin. This is one that can cause allergic reactions, so they start really slow and crank up the pace every half hour.

We start at 50cc/hr. Little to no trouble. Bump it to 100cc/hr; starting to get a bit of a rash. Breath feels “heavier.”

My dad flew into town from a business trip so he could be around for support; he and my mom arrived just when the Rituximab was starting to get to me. Poor kids, they missed the easy part!

They crank the drip to 150cc/hr, and the rash gets a bit stronger. My head is itching. My stomach starts to feel bad. We go to 200cc/hr and there was pain in my belly and up my torso inside. Made use of a blue bag. It was time to stop cranking up the pace: we’d found my maximum.

It sounds like the pain I was experiencing could be some immediate tumor cell death. My spleen was a major cancer hog, and I had a ton of lymph nodes up and down my abdomen that were enlarged. That is indeed where most of the fighting would take place.

I’ve developed a fever during the Rituxin, so they Tylenol me up. As folks help swivel me off the bed into a wheelchair, I notice that flexing my abs doesn’t hurt my shoulder anymore. Hooray for progress!

From → Treatment Phase

  1. Lauren permalink

    Hooray indeed! Flex those abs!

  2. Heather McCall permalink

    Tom, you are a fighter! I am so proud to call you my friend. Much love from Heather, Arthur and India. Who has Tinkerbell on dvd if you need it.

  3. Those numbers make you sound like a high horsepower engine of cancer destruction.

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