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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Come to chemo with me!

A while ago I had asked you guys is you may be interested in a "come to chemo" post where you can see a little bit of what goes on during a chemo treatment.  Well after I asked that, my doctors took me off of chemo so I could have my liver surgery.  But I'm back on it now so I figured I could show you how it goes.

So the first thing to really prepare for chemo is to numb my port (also known as a portacath).  Now you may not be familiar with what a port is.  I know even after they put mine in I was still confused as to how it worked.  It's basically a small ball that they place under your skin in your chest that has a catheter tube that they connect to a vein where they can directly put the chemo medicine.  They access it by needle, it doesn't remain open or anything.  They placed mine quite low or I'd show it to you, I think they placed it so low because I'm young and they figured I'd want to hide it.  They give you a prescription for lidocaine numbing cream and you use that and some press-n-seal plastic wrap about an hour before your treatment to numb it so you don't feel them poke you.

Entrance at my cancer center
When you get to the cancer center (or wherever you're being treated) they'll register you and give you what I call "the beeper of doom."  Which is the beeper that goes off when it's your turn.  Just a little thought on cancer centers: I think it's awesome that people are so focused on curing cancer that that's all they do however, sometimes it makes me feel, when I walk into the cancer center, that I am not supposed to be with the other "healthy" people.  I know that's not the case but it has made me feel that way.

The first time the beeper goes off, you go back for "labs" where they'll probably poke your finger for blood and make you pee in a cup (they don't make everyone pee in a cup.  I'n on Avastin and sometimes that can make protein spill into my urine and they want to make sure that's not happening).  They want to make sure that your blood counts are where they should be and that you're healthy enough to continue with treatment.  They'll give you another tube for them to draw blood from your port.  And then they'll send you back out to wait for the beeper to go off again and then it's treatment time.

My beeper with another tube for blood attached to it, I have to bring this back to my nurse.
And here's the treatment area:


The first thing that hits you here is the smell.  It definitely smells medicine-y.  And this smell seems to get worse every time you go back, I think because of the negative connotation that goes along with it.  Now they sit you down in your little treatment area and access your port.  Then they'll draw that tube of blood (which they check for liver, kidney functions, and all sorts of different things with), and start your pre-meds (which are steroids and anti-nausea medicine).

Once that stuff all gets in, which takes a bit, they'll bring your chemotherapy medicine over from pharmacy (they mix it fresh for every person).  The nurse gets to wear an awesome suit that makes you feel like you're contaminated when she gives it to you but it's just to protect her, so she doesn't get any medicine on her skin.

And then they hook up the chemo and let it infuse for however long your treatment is.  My scheduled treatment time is 5 hours, which is one of the longer treatments, but here's what I look like all hooked up (I kinda look miserable haha)!
You can see the patch on my left shoulder, my port is under there in like the top of my boob
There's a tv and stuff, there's a seat for a guest so you don't have to be there all alone. And I personally like having a window seat, it lets me look out and see if there are squirrels or anything haha.  They'll bring you heated blankets if you're cold and food or drink if you're hungry or thirsty.  

So you sit there and entertain yourself until your treatment is over.  Then for me, I have to take a pump with medicine home and let it infuse over the next 46 hours so they gave me a fanny pack but I couldn't deal with that so I got this bag instead.  And this is how I walk around for the next two days (I sleep with the pump and everything, no showers because it can't get wet).

Two days later I go back and get unhooked from my port and hopefully my side effects from the medicine aren't too bad.  Usually I get sick at least once, I get VERY tired (I sleep about 16-20 hours a day, I'm basically useless), my skin breaks out like crazy, and by a certain day the steroids makes me incredibly antsy, I can't sit still, I can't get up and do something, I can't do anything without feeling anxious.  I'm not allowed to eat or drink anything cold for like a week so that stinks (it's because of the Oxaliplatin, by the end of treatment my own saliva is too cold for me to swallow and it hurts going down) but I don't usually feel much like eating anyways because when they tell you not to eat foods you like when you're on chemo, they mean it.  I ate pizza my first treatment, I didn't get sick or anything.  I cannot touch pizza now.  It makes me want to vomit.

That's a little peek into what it's like to go to chemo.  I hope it was helpful for some of you who were wondering.  If you wear pretty makeup, you'll get lots of compliments!  I wore a dark purple smokey eye and got so many compliments, I think they're so used to seeing people who feel sick so they don't feel like getting ready, which is totally understandable because most of the time I feel that way too but I rocked a smokey purple eye and everyone loved it!  Yes, I wear makeup to chemo!
I used BFTE "Big Ego" for this with some other colors I can't remember for blending and highlighting.

Again, I hope this helped shed some light on what goes on at a chemo treatment and that some of you found it helpful

40 comments:

  1. Girl you are awesome! Thank you for posting this and giving us an inside look at the treatment. I am a nursing student so I find this particularly interesting but I really do hope this treatment works well for you! Best wishes to you in your recovery :) PS way to rock the purple smokey eye!

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  2. Thanks for this post. It was really interesting to see the process. I think for a lot of people chemo sounds scary and this post sheds a lot of light on how it can be done and makes it less scary... it's not less serious at all, but the process definitely seems less frightening when you have an idea of how it works... your smokey eye was beautiful and it's nice to see you still take care of yourself and get ready even when you are going through this. Lots of love. <3

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  3. Hi! I'm from Germany so please ignore my bad English. This post is very interesting. You are so strong and honestly I'm extremely impressed how you handle this situation! Wow! I will continue to follow your way and I wish you all the best for your recover. By the way it is great that you do such an incredible Make Up for your treatments, this is the right way and it is really beautiful. Ok, I hope my English is not a complete nightmare and you unterstood a little bit. Nice greetings from Germany!

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  4. You're so amazing! I loved the smoky eye! And purple nonetheless! I love purple! I think it's wonderful that you take the time to look good and sassy before treatment! I've heard a positive attitude can help with treatment more than anything! Thank you so much for this post and your strength! (just realized I ended every sentence with an exclamation point...hah!)

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  5. Hi - I'm sending some more greetings from Germany.
    Wow- this post is so brave and intereseting at the same time! I never really could imagine how a chemo treatment would be, but you let us took a view inside all this - I'm really really impressed.
    I'm wishing you all the best for your recover and that you can deal with all the side effects of the chemo.

    You're really great

    Lot's of love from Germany

    Cessa

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  6. this post literally made my heart hurt for you. you're so brave. you still manage to look lovely even when you're sick. i don't comment much and i know you don't know me from Adam, but...*e-hugs*. be well.

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  7. You are a very strong woman! Very inspiring! Sending hugs your way :)

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  8. Ugh, you always make me cry! I always think back to having to drive my.mom back & forth from treatments in high school. I think it's so amazing that you have been so open about your journey. It's important for people like me who live with the ones going through the treatment to really understand so they can be more understanding & helpful. You've got an amazing spirit & an amazing attitude & you sure made your treatment look good with that Smokey eye! Stay positive & I'll keep you & your family in my thoughts. :)

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  9. If you don't mind, what are you writing (in the picture of you hooked up to the chemo treatment)? I used to make lists (groceries, things to do) and I would read a lot during my grandmother's chemo because she often fell asleep.

    Thank you for sharing your pictures and your journey. It really means a lot to me and it looks like a lot of people share my feelings. I'm always captivated by your posts.

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  10. Love you Sonja, you inspire many God Bless You!!!

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  11. Thank you for sharing this with us and de-mystifying what chemo is all about. Your purple smokey eye is quite pretty!

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  12. Thanks for sharing this with us. You're so brave. And that smoky purple eye is gorgeous!

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  13. Thanks for sharing that. It kinda helps a lot for me to know what some people I know are dealing with.
    Also, I LOVE the the purple smokey eye. The purple really makes your eyes POP

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  14. i really appreciate this post... i hope this treatment works well for u.... purple smokes is beautiful on u.... u rock girly

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  15. Thanks for sharing such a personal aspect of your life. It's so much easier to have empathy for people the more you understand about them and what they're going through.

    You must be the most glamorous patient there, you gorgeous gal, you :)

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  16. Wow, thank you for allowing us to be apart of your treatment. You are looking gorgeous and strong.. Just keep your head up and remember that you are strong and you have people that care very much for you.

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  17. juste un mot force et courage vous ĂȘtes magnifique <3

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  18. Your amazing Sonja! I thought this post was really interesting, it's cool to see the process and know how you are doing and everything. I hope you're doing well!

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  19. Thank you so much for this post, which has totally demystified chemo for me. You are so brave and so strong. I'm sending you well wishes and hugs from England. xoxox

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  20. You are amazing and so brave! Not everyone is so brave to speak of a disease so openly. I admire you.

    I have seen chemo wards a few times, a relative was under treatment and I accompanied her a couple of times. She didn't have a catheter, but complained about a metal taste in her mouth. She found out that lemon icecreams could help, so I bought some for her. Suddendly half of the patients were having theirs... Funny image!!!! Every patient licking an icecream to the surprise of the staff!!!

    I hope there wil be few chemo sessions left and you can eat... PIZZA!!

    Love and best wishes from Spain!!

    XXX

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  21. This was such an amazing post, it had me tearing up a little. I have lost family members to cancer, and I have one that survived it. I had no idea how much time it treatment consumes, and what all was involved. It was very humbling to see and read your post. God bless you! You are such an inspiration to me and so many others!

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  22. What an amazing post. I have been very curious about this process and glad to see you share it with us. You are so strong and such an inspiration! Loving that purple eye look too. As always, it is beautiful!

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  23. First of all you look beautiful as always, plus the purple eye is one that I will be trying out for myself! Thanks for sharing, it will be good for you too when this is all over you can look back on it and remember how you kicked it's a** ! All my ♥♥ to you !

    Heather

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  24. Thank you for this post, really you are and stay a beautiful girl finding in every day beauty, charm and plus, you find a moment to explain us whith such an optimism your treatment !
    So I whish you the best in your life, thank you for all your beautifuls make-up they really inspire us . Best regards.

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  25. Sonja, you are just amazing. Thanks for sharing this post, your nurse looks so friendly. I hope you don't have to go through it for much longer and you are back to full health soon. Your makeup looks lovely too xx

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  26. Thank you for letting us take a walk into chemo with you. I went with my dad before and it was so overwelming. You are a fighter girl. Keep it up. Keep rocking the smokey eye, it is great. Love the purple on you.

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  27. Doctors can be annoying with there it cant be anything serious you are too young. I have had a bleeding problem when going to the toilet. It took two doctor visits before i was refered to a consultant. They he refered me to have a sigmoidoscophy. Probably spelt that wrong. Now im waiting to discuss the results with my consultant. Good luck i hope you get through this soon.

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  28. Thank you so much for this. My mother had cancer a few years ago and didn't feel comfortable talking to me about any of it. Being able to read this and know a little of the process...I have no words. Thank you. I hope you're doing well.

    p.s. I love the looks you create with makeup!

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  29. My son is a cancer survivor he had AML and had a miracle. Thanks for telling about your life. I also follow you on facebook!

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