Tag Archives: Gemzar

Live Blogging from the Chemo Chair: Cycle 1.2

I’m really happy to be able to say that the Anti-Constipation Plan seems to be working. At least, it worked very well this morning. We’ll see what happens the rest of the week.

My pal Shelley is my escort todaySo, here I am for my second chemo treatment. April is Cycle 1. I have 1 treatment per week for 3 weeks, then a vacation week. That makes one cycle.

Up until yesterday, I’ve been sharing this experience on a private group on Facebook. I announced Siggy on my Facebook timeline yesterday, and I am overwhelmed and humbled by the responses from my friends. I didn’t know I had so many people who cared about me. You guys all rock my world!

Shelley and I had a lovely lunch at Panera, then scooted over here to the chemo lounge for dessert.

Official chemo sox

I’m  relaxed in my chair, wearing my official chemo sox (thanks Pam!) and eating a snack of pop corn that was just brought around by the snack cart ladies. It’s all so festive, if a little quiet. Maybe I need to start planning some parties here. Hmm. This is something to consider.

Sitting next to my chair is the machine that’s pumping poison into my body. It’s important for me to remember that poisonous Gemma is my friend. Together we’re killing off the evil Siggy. But it’s a little freaky to think that I’m giving this nasty potion free access to my body. In quiet moments, there is a part of me that wants nothing to do with the chemo. I hate the idea that it’s in my body.  But I want to live as long as I can, and there’s studies that show the chemo can help with that.

Life is a series of compromises.

3:15 AM Reveals a New Side Effect

One of Gemma’s less common side effects is listed as “difficulty sleeping.” Guess who’s sitting on her bed typing instead of snoozing?

This could also be due to the storm moving through — Tyler does not like thunder so he won’t settle down. But I don’t think so. I’m wide awake. I did not take any naps today, and after running errands, cleaning house and vacuuming I should be tired.

The storm has moved through and Mr. Tyler is sleeping beside me. I’m trying to think of what I can clean that won’t wake up the rest of the household.

Sneaky side effect!

Sleeping Tyler


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!