Friday, December 29, was Anne-Marie's eighth and final chemotherapy treatment.
I brought her to the treatment this time.
The day started out early with one of my crazy ideas: a celebration breakfast at Mother's Bistro. We left the house at about 8:30 and headed to the downtown Portland comfort-food restaurant. The service was prompt and friendly. I had the Crunchy French Toast; Anne-Marie had the Biscuit Breakfast. Best breakfast I've ever eaten.
The service was so fast, in fact, that we were in and out of the restaurant in 40 minutes. I was quite disappointed that the parking lot attendant took his liberty in charging me for the entire day.
We arrived at Providence Portland Medical Center at 10 and realized we still had plenty of time until our 10:40 AM appointment. We ran to the hospital gift store to buy a magazine. We walked back to our car, grabbed our stuff, and headed through the skybridge and into the Providence Portland Professional Plaza (the PPPP).
The clinic was running late, but soon enough, Anne-Marie was brought in for her blood work. It came back with better results than ever. The tests had come back anemic for the last six tests, but Friday's counts were much improved.
We consulted with Dr. Smith about the treatment plan beyond chemo and what to expect in the next few years. He informed us that Herceptin treatment will continue until the fall. Anne-Marie will also begin Tamoxifen within a few weeks that will last for the next five years.
Dr. Smith gave Anne-Marie a hug for finishing her chemo and we walked back to the treatment room.
We were delighted to find the complimentary snack counter fully stocked and ready for service. I grabbed a cup of hot chocolate and windmill cookie. As I sat down, the nurse was getting Anne-Marie ready for the first stage of treatment.
As the IV was being set up, a robust, middle-aged gentleman sat down next to me to begin his treatment. (Treatment? This guy looked like he should be in a boxing ring.) His nurse came over and started getting him set up. In the middle of the small talk she grabbed my book--David McCullough's 1776--and said, "This looks like a 'school' book? Are you in school?" "No. Just a nerd." She and the man went on to emphasize the irony of youth. When they tried to teach us history in school, we didn't want to learn it; now that we're out, we spend leisure time trying to catch everything we missed!
Anne-Marie fell asleep for the next few hours. Time passed as I slowly made my way from Boston to New York City with the chemo drip-drip-dripping away. When the Taxol was finished, the nurse came to start the Herceptin. After it was set up, the drip speed was too slow (or so it looked to me). We would have been there for seven hours at that rate. Another nurse came along and saw the problem and set the drip to "solid stream mode." The fastest Herceptin treatment in the world took all of 25 minutes! After checking my wife over for obvious side effects, I had no problem with this. It was 4:15 and time to go home.
Pictures (top to bottom): Anne-Marie drinking cocoa at Mother's, 1776, the last of the chemo, Anne-Marie crossing the skybridge for the last time (totally posed)