The ABC Cancer Diaries

A young, American-Born-Chinese woman living with metastatic breast cancer

CHANGE! Next Club Chemo: 9/24/09 10:30 AM September 21, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — wenren @ 2:53 pm

Argh. My chemo got changed due to low white cells. It’s now on Thursday at 10:30 am.

See you there at 10:30 AM, or later if you prefer.

300 East 66h Street, 3rd Floor.

 

Welcome aboard the starship enterprise! September 20, 2009

Filed under: Treatment — wenren @ 12:08 pm
All aboard the chemo starship!

All aboard the chemo starship!

Wednesday was my first day of starting treatment at the new MSKCC (Memorial Sloan Kettering Sloan Cancer Center) outpatient building just for breast cancer. It is brand new, has multiple floors and is one stop shopping. You can see your doctor, get your chemo, buy a wig, go to yoga, get a MRI, or Ct scan, or get hot cocoa and snacks.

The wait was very reasonable, and I was actually ahead of schedule once I entered the spacious chemo waiting area. Once they called me back they already had my blood results since they had done that earlier. As soon as I walked into my spacious chemo suite (complete with sliding glass door for privacy) and enough room to fit four additional people easily, I see my former nurse from Cornell (where I was previously having treatment). J recognized my name and grabbed my chart. So already I knew I was in excellent hands.

My chemo chair was just like being Captain Kirk. It was all remote controlled. I could extend the footrest, or recline the back or with the push of a button. If I needed the nurse, I also had a call button. Then I had my tv remote to the nicely mounted flat screen TV. So I got hooked up rather quickly, and J gave me a thorough screening asking about any of my side effects. I felt very comforted, especially with my two regular Chemo Buddies, C and S.

Before I knew it I was drifting off to chemo la-la-land once the Benadryl kicked in. And by the time we ordered our usual lunch, I was done with chemo! We went down to the lobby and ate and went on our merry way. My next appointment is set for Wednesday, September 23, 3009 but I still need to confirm the time. See you there!

 

Stable Scans September 14, 2009

Filed under: Scans — wenren @ 2:12 pm

This is good news. I wanted the scans to show that everything was alot smaller, but I will take stable. Stable means everything that was already there is still there (Liver mets – check. Lung nodule – Check. Bone mets – Check. ), but nothing has gotten bigger. I guess everything staying the same is good, but I feel like I am in a holding pattern. It still makes me nervous to know that the cancer might break free at any point.

So, Club Chemo is on for this Wednesday, September 16th. Please note there will be a NEW location:

300 E 66th Street (At Second Avenue)

3rd Floor.

9:30 AM.

I will be there at 9:00 AM on the first floor. If you don’t fine me just call or text me. I will be meeting with the doctor this Thursday as well for her to go over my scans and the next steps going forward. Thanks for your support and for keeping me in your thoughts.

 

More on being strong, brave, etc.. September 10, 2009

Filed under: Articles of interest,Dealing with cancer emotions — wenren @ 5:04 pm

Thanks Danielle to pointing out the latest in when people comment how strong you are for fighting cancer, etc.., etc.. As you will see and as I have blogged on this topic before, it is often not appreciated by those dealing with cancer. We do the chemo, the scans, put up with the side effects because we have to. The other choice would be to curl up into a hole, and deny the whole thing. I feel and believe that anyone else in my shoes would do the same. But it doesn’t mean that I don’t get scared either. There are times (like between now and Monday) when I am at times terrified because I don’t know what the results of my scan will be, or what the next steps will be or when I will run out of options. Anyway, it’s good that this issue is getting out there.

Here’s the link to the article.

 

BRAT Diet, and New Location of Chemo Club! September 9, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — wenren @ 2:28 pm

Yesterday I had my usual Taxol/Avastin treatment and I sat in the chemo chair from 9 am to 4 pm!!!! So anyone who says cancer isn’t a full time job, take note! Yesterday had to be the slowest and potentially most aggravating. There has been alot of nursing turnover where I have been getting my treatment (All the nurses there now are new). Consequently I am making the switch to the mecca of cancer centers: Memorial Sloan Kettering aka MSKCC. Luckily MSKCC’s brand new fancy schmancy outpatient center will be opening just in time for my switch next week! It is located on 300 East 66th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue, and I am told that each chemo chair area has a windows plus a nice flat screen TV. Also MSKCC has free snacks!

Anyway, yesterday I was just resigned to the fact that I have to be on top of the nurses, and very controlling. My nurse took so long to get my blood, that it was very nerve racking. I had to hold this and that, and wait for him to fumble around. It is just not confidence inspiring to watch someone take each item piece by piece, and gingerly do each step! I almost wanted to just do it myself! But that is all in the past now. But I did eventually write a letter expressing my concerns!

Yesterday I had my usual tiredness, probably more so because I was sitting at chemo so long! And the chemo is making me have diarrhea. : (   (Just thought you wanted to know.) So I have commenced the BRAT diet — Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. It has happened in the past, and I usually don’t take anything. I am pretty sure it is because of chemo, and I just make sure I eat yogurt every day. I am also wondering if it is more severe now because I have been on chemo every week since July 13th, and normally people get a week off every three weeks, but we are not sure if everything is working yet, so my doctor decided to be pretty aggressive with the treatment.

So, the next steps are I have my CT scans tomorrow, and depending on the results I will have chemo next Wednesday, September 16th in a new location. So wish me luck tomorrow!

 

Club Chemo: Tuesday, September 8th 9 AM September 4, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — wenren @ 9:00 pm

425 E 61st Street, 8tth floor. 9 AM.

My next scans are coming up on Thursday, September 10th at 8 AM. Wish me luck!

 

Patient Patience September 2, 2009

Filed under: Side Effects,Treatment — wenren @ 3:42 pm

Yesterday I had my usual chemo treatment, and unlike the many other times they actually had some more nurses. I got back into the treatment area without much of a wait only to meet another new nurse. Basically since two of the more permanent nurses left, all the chemo nurses are new. There have been many nurse staffing issues where I am getting treated and therefore I am trying to switch where I get my treatment. The main reasons have to do with the adminstrators of the nurses, and low pay (often temporary slots with no benefits), and some personality conflicts. Suffice it to say, I have written my complaints. However, even though there were enough nurses yesterday, I am not convinced that it is the end of the patterns of turnover that I have seen since starting my treatment in 2006.

Anyway, my new nurse introduced herself yesterday, and then asked me “What size needle do you use?” I didn’t say it, but in my head I thought “Isn’t that your job?” I told her I had no idea. She did manage to insert my port, but with alot of fumbling and running around trying to figure out where things are. And then I had to tell her to please put a big plastic bandaid on the port needle so it did not come off. (Before that, she tried to put a little bandaid that we use for scraps and such.) All in all, it was frustrating and not very comforting when I feel like I have to be in charge of making sure my care isn’t screwed up. The blood draw took a long time because my blood wasn’t coming out fast enough. Again, I don’t know what the issue was but I told the nurse  that I have never had this problem before. When the blood counts came in, they were unusually low, so I pressed to have them retake the blood and check again. Sure enough the counts came back higher. If there is one thing cancer has made me  is pushy. I just always feel on guard to speak up quickly (and perhaps abruptly) because I thought I was the patient in need of care, but all too often it seems that we have to be our own advocates.

After the initial bumpy start, everything went well and my pals at Club Chemo kept me nice company. I got home around 1:30 pm, and was too wired from the steroids to really settle down. Now I am dealing with the usual symptoms following treatment: fatigue, and loss of taste. Fortunately my tastebuds do come back, but it is frustrating not to be able to taste anything! (Well, only sweet things!)

So, my next chemo is scheduled tentatively for Tuesday, September 8th at 9 AM, but it may change if I am able to switch over to another treatment place. I will keep you all posted!