What started as IDC (Infiltrating Ductal Carcinoma) in 2011, then turned into CHF (Congestive Heart Failure) in 2013, probably partially caused by chemotherapy along with a genetic pre-disposition. Here we are now in March 2016 and I am newly diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer in the left breast and liver (LMBC - liver metastasized breast cancer).

So the focus has shifted yet again, BUT... I continue to THANK YOU for your prayers, love & support. I receive them with open & loving arms. My wish is that I will gain strength from you, will provide helpful information and strength to others & will help to strip away the fears we each experience.

I am strong. I am loved. I am healthy. I WILL SURVIVE!

Have you or your loved one had their annual mammogram? PLEASE, don't put it off. Speaking from experience, I highly recommend monthly self exam as well. And if you are now cancer free of breast cancer, do everything you can to insist that your doctors follow up with an occasional PET Scan and labs for tumor markers.

Contents may be uplifting, sad, funny, scary, downright depressing ~ THAT IS CANCER .... at it's best, at its worst.

PLEASE ~ Feel free to share this blog with anyone who is interested to learn about my journey. While I welcome their support, I hope that by sharing this experience freely to the universe I may help to support others by breaking down some of the barriers and fear associated with breast cancer and the treatment.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

1st CHEMO: WINNER - Debbie

First Chemo Infusion ~ ROUND ONE: The Winner - Debbie... Loser - Cancer

I feel like  I'm going on a blind date.... I don't know him at all, is he cute, ugly, does he smell good or bad, will he burp in front of me? Is he taking me out for fast food or a nice dinner? Will we see a movie; a drama, or love story; or is he into gore and wars. I mean, I don't REALLY know a lot about this chemo date that I'm on. I've had all the instruction, but no one knows how I will react to these drugs. Everyone is different. 

Donna, a very pleasant medical assistant, calls me from the waiting room back to the infusion room. Is that even what they call it? She brings Mark and I back and gives us an orientation on the room. The bathrooms are over there, you can bring in food and there is a fridge to store it. They have crackers, water and fruit available, plus portable DVD players and a few movies. I see a basket of hats on the counter too.

I'm sitting in my cozy recliner chair in the infusion room waiting. My nurse, (she isn't wearing a name tag so I will ask her in a moment), is the same nurse who took my blood yesterday and was the first to access my port. She remembers that and asks if I used the lydocane yesterday. I did not, so we forgo that today too. It stings a bit when she "accesses" my port, which is basically placing the needle in. It is sort of odd as she has to push hard to get the needle into the port, which is made from some sort of material that immediately seals off after access and can be accessed to infinity. Sure hope I don't need it that long. Then she comes back a short while later with all the authorization and side affect forms for me to sign off on. I think there are an easy 5 pages. Mark snatches them so I can't read them during infusion. Probably a good idea.

Amy (I did ask her name) returns with my 3 bags of meds and has me verify that it is "me" on the bags. YEP! We got the right person (unfortunately). These three are the pre-meds, and designed to counter act the side effects, including the nausea.

The infusion room is a long room with a large nurses station in the center of the room. There are approximately 5 plush leather recliners on each side of the nurse station, plus a couple of side rooms for someone else, maybe radiation. Our chairs face a large bank of windows looking down from Fountaingrove over the Santa Rosa plain. There is a beautiful cherry tree in full pink blossom outside to the side. Go figure -- PINK! :-)
Its 3:05 PM and it's lift off; I am being infused.  The first hour will be with the anti-nausea drugs. Mark is reading and I am reclining and will get back to my knitting. I'm working on an entrelac hat. I wanted to have a baby project to start today, but that will be the next session, if not before. It needs to be the perfect project and yarn for the new grandbaby we will all welcome in August. And I wasn't quite prepared with it yet. I also have a beautiful alpaca blanket I will knit on soon, especially during the second series, which is a longer session each time.

It's now 3:30, and I've finished two of the bags for the "side effect" medications. One to go. AND I've just finished the first round of the head band and entrelac triangles on my hat, which is a dark heathery brown alpaca from my pacas. The next will be a fawn/white heather alpaca. So glad for my iPad. We don't have WiFi in the infusion room, but I can use my Notepad feature to get the Blog entry started so it is current when I finally get it posted. And although my phone volume needs to be off, I'm able to test and reassure Alura and Sarah that all is okay with their momma.

At 4:15 the chemo drugs start to flow throughout my body, but I don't feel any different at the moment. The first is a red drug called Adriamycin (aka Doxorubicin, or Rubex) and is done in a push/ pull method manually by the nurse. It can irritate the veins, so this method is used. This takes about 15 minutes and I'm told that my urine may be red for a day or so. Oops. Just took a potty break, and they got that one right! :-) Amy is a traveling nurse and very sweet. Id say she is in her mid-30s, much like my girls. She seems to love her job and is very enthusiastic.

Then a large clear bag is hung with the Cyclophosphamide (aka Cytoxan®, or Neosar®)  which is set on an automatic slow drip. We have another hour with this "date". And it gives me a foggy headed feeling, like sinus pressure and a slight ache to the nose. Almost done now!!!

I feel the cancer retreating already. WE are in control now, so you best shrink down to nothing you measly little cancer. There is no hope for you now!!!!! I can hear the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz saying, "I'm melting....."

So we leave RRMG at 5:30pm. This session lasted an extra hour, although I'm sure this was because of the orientation and some questions I had. Plus the three-four nurses had up to 10 chairs full for most of that time. We stop at Olivers specifically to pick up an allergy med (brain is mush now and I've already forgotten. They say short-term memory loss is expected. I got it already). It is to help tomorrow with the bone aches that come with the first Neulasta shot. Neulasta will help to correct the dip in my blood count that happens after chemo. Are we having fun yet? I will take this pill tonight and tomorrow to help with that. We also pick up some yummy bread to pair with the pumpkin soup I made the other night, and more veggies for our morning juicing. I was kinda loopy during our short shopping, as the head is getting more foggy as time goes on.

By the time we pull into our driveway, I'm pretty quiet and feeling kind of yucky. So Mark unloads the car and gets me all cozy in the recliner with my alpaca blanket, Basooka Bear, and some Ginger ale. I quickly fall asleep for about an hour while he does chores. Then it's soup, followed by some yummy sorbet Tricia brought us with her scrumptious dinner last night.

So now its 10'ish and I'm in my cozy flannel jammies, still feeling kinda yucky, but the head seems to be clearing just a bit. I have a whole regime of pills to take over the next 2-7 days, depending how I feel. Then I start all over again. And Mr. Phil is here to help me remember what to watch for...
What can happen when Phil is low? (NeutroPhil)

The main thing is that I'm home right now, and managing okay. This I will take and embrace for the moment. Sweet Dreams!

Results of this match:
Round 1 of chemo down: Debbie wins, cancer loses. 
Feeling groggy, stuffy headed and achy face, almost like a bad hangover but without the bad headache. Metallic taste in the mouth, a bit of a queasy tummy, saliva flowing, like when you think you might get sick. Vision kind of blurry. But all manageable -- so far, anyway! :-) 

Hugs, Debbie... aka the cancer warrior; soon to be survivor 



  1. Your are AMAZING my Sweet friend! LiveSTRONG.....

  2. Thoughts and prayers are with you, Mark, and your family.

  3. Congratulations Debbie on finishing your first chemo appt!! You are kicking this cancer in the butt! All of our thoughts and hopes are with you!! xx!

  4. p.s. I think it is really awesome that Mark took the forms and read them over. I am so glad that you have him :)

  5. Hi Debbie, I just found out about your diagnosis and I wanted to send your my digital love and support. You have such an awe inspiring attitude and I'm wishing you strength, peace & speedy recovery.

    Big Old Giant Cancer-Butt-Kicking Hugz!!!


  6. Debbie, isn't it good to have your first chemo treatment behind you. This is just the beginning of shrinking that cancer right out of your body.

    Love, support and many, many prayers coming your way!

  7. We love you Debbie! Keep kicking it's butt Warrior Princess!

  8. Hugs to you all. Thanks for such wonderful support. I love you!!!


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