Chemo Session One – Day One

Today marks my first experience with chemotherapy, and as you would expect, I head into it with optimistic apprehension. My nurse practitioner, Nicole, did a superb job of presenting all the facts about the process, the medications, and all possible side effects in preparation for this day.

If you haven’t read my previous article Preparing For Chemotherapy, you may want to have a look at it first, as it contains a lot of detail about the medications and side effects.

Prepping For Chemo Session 1

My first appointment was at 8:30 on Tuesday morning. In my typical fashion, I way overthought the whole situation, and prepared for every possible way to pass the time throughout the day. I was told to expect a treatment duration of 5 to 6 hours, and I was certainly not planning on being bored.

I brought my laptop, my MP3 player loaded with new podcasts, my Kindle, a notebook and pen, and my cell phone. I will mention that I knew ahead of time that the treatment center didn’t have wifi available, so I purchased a USB plug-in wireless internet access device offered by one of the major cell phone providers.

I arrived at the center about 8:15 am, and was soon lead to the treatment room. There are two chemotherapy treatment rooms in my center, both similar at about 20 x 20 ft in size, with three reclining style chairs in each.

There was a gal already in one of the chairs receiving her medication, and I took the chair next to her. We had some casual pleasant conversation, sharing stories about our situations while waiting for the start of my treatment.

After visiting with these folks, I feel remarkably fortunate to have a lesser battle on my hands. It’s now much easier to understand why cancer patients, and survivors are such a tight knit group of people.

After a brief time, a nice young lady walked into the room and introduced herself as Cheryl, my chemo nurse for the next few days. She asked if I had a port installed yet, and I acknowledged that I was scheduled, but hadn’t had the procedure yet. So, she prepared me for an IV in my arm.

Starting The Treatment

Cheryl started off inserting an IV in my left arm, and hooked me up to a bag of typical saline solution, which helps keep you hydrated during the treatment. Next up was 2 Tylenol tablets to help curb any general pain or discomfort.

Before starting the actual chemo medications, I was given three pre-med injections through my IV tube:

  1. Steroid – to help reduce side effects
  2. Benadryl – to curb any allergic reactions
  3. Ativan – to reduce nausea

Cheryl explained that the Benadryl typically makes you drowsy, and helps a lot of people to relax, or even go to sleep during the session. I felt a little groggy for a bit, but not to the point of feeling sleepy. Shortly after the pre-meds were administered, it was time to start the actual chemo medications.

Rituxan was the first bag of the good stuff to start slowly drip feeding into my system. This medication is only given on the first day of the three day treatment, and is started off at a very slow feed rate.

After about an hour, I started to notice some itching, and after a look in the the restroom mirror, I noticed my face was all red, with some bumps beginning to form. I advised the nurse, and she discontinued the Rituxan, and administered an additional dose of Benadryl.

After about 15 minutes, my condition cleared up, and the Rituxan was resumed at a slower feed rate. Things went smoothly after that, and the feed was incrementally increased to a rate that was normal with no adverse effects. The total duration of Rituxan treatment was about 3 1/2 hours.

The second dose of chemo medication was Cyclophosphamide, and was preceded with another injection of Ativan anti-nausea juice. This portion of the treatment lasted about 1 1/2 hours, and resulted in no ill effects whatsoever.

The third, and final dose for the day was Fludarabine. It took the least amount of time, lasting only 30 minutes, with no side effects at all.

Conclusion

By 2:30 pm, I was finally finished with my first chemotherapy treatment. It was a long day, but the time went by relatively fast. There were a variety of other cancer patients in for chemo, each sharing their stories of how they made it to where they are now.

After visiting with these folks, I feel remarkably fortunate to have a lesser battle on my hands. It’s now much easier to understand why cancer patients, and survivors are such a tight knit group of people.

Continuing through the rest of the day, I must admit that my first experience wasn’t that bad. Other than the reaction early in the treatment, I didn’t suffer any side effects at all. Join me next time to see what day two holds.

Please feel free to comment here, or send me an e-mail if you have any questions or want to share your story. I’d like to invite you to continue to follow along as I document the details of my journey.

Thanks for visiting, and be sure to share this with someone who may benefit from it.

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