Now, it seems, just three more weeks later, I'll be starting two rounds of chemotherapy followed by radiation that will end with the end of summer 2016. The MST at Spectrum do NOT mess around (which is, ultimately, a fabulous thing - it's just a bit .... at a loss for a word here ... overwhelming).
Dr. Vander Woude is my Oncologist just as Dr. App is/was my surgeon. Dr. V plans for my chemotherapy to begin next week Friday, February 19th. So by next week Friday, I'll be sporting a Charlize Theron buzz-cut a la Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), and hopefully an attitude to match.
I say this having not actually watched the movie yet (I KNOW!) but anticipating that her character is a bad-ass. I SWEAR I'll see this before next Friday. It's on HBO on demand after all.
I'm opting for the buzz before the first session even though the timeline for losing my hair is two weeks after that; this is why: If I'm likely to feel remotely like shit after that first session - and possibly nauseous for the first couple days - why deal with hair on top of that?
Now, I've had multiple people suggest that I look into the recently FDA approved cool caps from Dignitana AB called "DigniCap" that is meant to reduce hair loss due to chemotherapy. I have looked into them and I also spoke with Dr. Vander Woude about them. I will not be donning them during chemotherapy. My doctor would absolutely be supportive of me if I wanted to try them; however, the cost would end up being between $1,500 to $3,000, and it is not guaranteed to work. I don't have that kind of money to spend on the chance that my hair won't fall out or on the chance that only part of my hair will fall out. I also question the naming of this product; I think its crap to imply that I'll somehow lose my dignity when I lose my hair. But to each their own. This is my personal decision on the matter and others might absolutely feel that the cost is well worth the possibility that they will not lose their hair. I get it. Chemotherapy is traumatic enough and to be able to look as healthy as possible can certainly help you feel healthier as well. Every person is different and everyone's choice on this topic is valid for them.
My chemo schedule (barring changes) should look something like this: I'll be getting two specific drugs - Doxorubicin and Cyclophosphamide - on February 19, March 4, March 18, and April 1. The day after each of those infusions, I'll stop back into the office to get an injection of medication meant to ramp up my white blood cell count and minimize any lowered immunity. Then, on April 15, I'll begin receiving Paclitaxel each Friday for 12 weeks. I've opted to receive my infusions on Fridays in the hope that this will lessen my time from work since it will be on the first couple of days after treatment that I feel the worst.
No, it is not lost on me that I'll end one set of drugs on April's Fool Day and begin the other drug on Tax Day. Actually, I think it's completely appropriate.
This all means that I should finish chemotherapy on July 1, 2016.
Oh, but wait, there's more. Roughly two weeks later, I'll begin up to six weeks of Monday-Friday, daily radiation treatment, which should then end no later than August 26, 2016.
Dr. Vander Woude encourages patients like me to continue to work during chemotherapy, which is a relief to my bank account and vacation time. She's had great success in people having little complications during this course of treatment, and I'll be monitored carefully throughout the process.
During the next two weeks, I'll be getting an echocardiogram to check my heart and make sure it is healthy and ready for the chemotherapy. I'll also be attending an hour long class on what to expect during chemotherapy. And ... I'll also be getting a port installed on the upper right side of my chest. The port will allow easy access to a larger vein for infusions rather than having a nurse attempt to locate one of my evasive veins each time plus, given the rather dangerous-to-skin type of drugs I'll be taking, it ends up being a safer way of giving me the chemotherapy overall.
Right. So I was going to put an image of a port here to show you all what it will look like but ... yeah .... that started to freak me out so let's just wait and perhaps I'll put one up of my actual port. Maybe.
Excuse me while I tap that bubbling emotion back down.
Anyway. YAY! for a plan and YAY! for an end date to put on treatment, right!?
Let's do this.