Friday, October 27, was Anne-Marie's fifth chemotherapy treatment.
I had the opportunity to take Anne-Marie this time. I hadn't been able to since the first treatment.
This was our first time for the new treatment; things worked a bit differently. First, there were no pre- or post-med anti-nausea prescriptions required. Also, because the treatment causes no dip in white blood count, no Neulasta injection was required following the treatment. Another thing that's different is that the treatment takes five hours instead of three.
We started with a blood check (which Anne-Marie passed) and a consultation with Dr. Smith. He let us know that Taxol, the new treatment, while not causing nausea like Adriamycin, causes muscle pain, starting about 72 hours after treatment. He informed us that Herceptin works like a "smart missile" that attacks cancer and deprives it of the hormones that it feeds on. Most importantly, he said this: "The worst is behind you." You gotta love that!
The treatment room was surprisingly empty at noon on Friday. We found the faux-leather recliners and were ready to spend the afternoon. I even got one (patients get preference).
Anne-Marie was soon being injected with all kinds of pre-meds including Benadryl, saline, and other meds. The Benadryl made her fall asleep within the next hour.
Over on the complimentary snack counter--I'm not kidding: coffee, hot chocolate, candy--some kind soul had placed a box of the seasonal, Spooky Cat Peeps. One lady asked the nurse if they were free erasers. What can I say? The jokes just write themselves.
About 1:30 I decided to go down to the cafeteria for lunch, since Anne-Marie was asleep. Pretty generous turkey and Swiss wrap there for a hospital. I decided to take my uneaten half and some Baked Lays back to the treatment room. Anne-Marie quickly ate it all.
The chemo room was beginning to fill up. All sorts of people walked in to be treated with all sorts of different pills and injections. What some of those people have been through is unthinkable. Many of them have been going through it for years and are still ready to fight. I have true admiration for them.
The hours passed slowly as Anne-Marie fell back asleep and I dove into my book. After a couple hours Anne-Marie woke up again and we talked for a while as the chemo finished. It was 5:15: rush hour in Portland.
We joined the group of cars just in time to get stuck in front of Campbell's Southern BBQ on SE Powell. We took it as a sign. The sliced pork was delicious.