The Chemo Plan

Shelley and Bev

Yes, I wore the hat.

I saw my oncologist today (thank you Shelley, my Queen of Chemo, for coming with me). Chemo treatments start next week.

First I’ll need a port installed in my upper chest so I’m scheduled for out-patient surgery next Monday. The port is the gateway to one of my big veins allowing easy delivery of my chemo cocktail.

I’ll have one treatment per week for three weeks, with the fourth week as a holiday. This will go for four months. If I seem to be tolerating the treatment, we’ll stretch it to six months.

The chemo drug of choice for me is Gemcitabine, AKA Gemzar®. Side effects include but are not limited to: muscle pain, fever, headache, chills, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, skin rash, mouth sores, difficulty sleeping, and the chemo trade mark–hair loss (though I understand the hair loss may only be hair thinning on Gemzar®). I’ve been assured the Gemzar® is very well tolerated.

I feel a need to give my chemo cocktail a name — to make it feel more friendly. In spite of the side effects it’s about to subject me to, it really is my friend and alley in the war I’m fighting and not the enemy. I thought of calling it Gemmy, but that now seems a little wimpy. Then it occurred to me that there’s a very fierce “Gemma” out there. The matriarch from “Sons of Anarchy,” a TV show that’s on the FX network. Katey Sagal plays Gemma — I’ve been her fan since “Married… with Children,” so she’s like an old pal. And she’s such a gorgeous woman! How could you not want this fierce warrior for your alley?

Gemma, courtesy of Wikipedia

Gemma, courtesy of Wikipedia

But getting back to what’s about to become my chemo experience, I think the thing that bothers me most is that I’m going to have to limit my exposure to crowds because my immune system is going to be AWOL. So all those girlfriend lunches I’ve been planning, trips to the gym, visits to farmers markets, and various other field trips will have to be delayed or modified somehow to lower my risk. And you cannot come to see me if you have even a hint of a cold or other sickness. Even just a tickle

So, next step is the Chemo Class — yes, there’s a class — which is scheduled for Wednesday morning. Stay tuned!