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Monday, March 17, 2014

3-2-1... Blastoff!

Counting down... 1 more day til chemo...

Yesterday, I had the time of my life! My family came over and we had so much fun dancing and partying! Friends came and went all morning exchanging mishloach manot (gift baskets). The costumes this year were better than ever... so many of our friends dressed up the whole family with themes. I sure have some creative friends!

This morning, I received an e mail letter from Meuhedet (healthcare provider), letting me know that the drug, Gemcitabine, has been ordered and approved. "We are happy to let you know that your doctor ordered bla bla bla... and it's been approved bla bla bla... best wishes and blessings for a full recovery and good long life.... Blessings, Meuhedet". Is that only in Israel? I thought the wording of the letter was cool.

I'm restarting chemo tomorrow with a slightly different schedule... using the same platinum based, Carboplatin, along with Gemcitabine (Gemzar is the known brand name). The schedule is Carbo every 3 weeks and the Gemcitabine 2 weeks on 1 week off.

Gemcitabine is supposed to have less harsh side effects than Taxol... here's the list:
  • Flu-like symptoms such as muscle pain, fever, headache, chills, and fatigue
  • Fever (within 6–12 hours of first dose)
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea (mild)
  • Vomiting
  • Poor appetite
  • Skin rash
  • Allergic reaction
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Shortness of breath
When I did chemo last year it was different mainly because I mostly believed that it was a "mop up job". I wasn't one of the sad cancer stories. I was the exception - cancer free, no evidence of disease... just doing chemo as a precaution. It feels different and even disjointed now because we're deviating  from our plan. I felt optimistic about the high tech plan with growing my tumors in mice and then testing out the chemo on them first. Now we're testing out the chemo on me and I hope my skepticism doesn't hold any power over this course of treatment.

Last time, I knew the timeline. 6 courses (which became weekly dose-dense mid-treatment). Five months and then we're done! THIS time it's open-ended. We're doing a certain number of chemo treatments and then a PET CT to check if it's working to shrink the tumors.

Last week, I had a "procedure" to have a port "installed". So now I have a button to go along with my zipper (that's what I call the ovarian cancer surgical scar that extends from sternum all the way down). The port will make drawing blood and receiving chemo much easier. Getting the port-a-cath was not so easy. My intention isn't to whine and complain however if anyone reading this can be helped... that is my intention. I don't know if I'm just a big baby or if I overly attached myself to what many tried to convince me was "nothing". "It's such an easy procedure you don't even need sedation." "It's nothing." "Piece of cake." Well, only second to having 4 syringes of fluid removed from my pelvis WITHOUT any pain medication... it was the most traumatic experience of my life. Just one day before, I had a sigmoidoscopy and biopsies taken - no problem - no trauma whatsoever. The key... sedation. Even though I was awake and I remember everything said and done, I was relaxed, not scared and fully functional. Lying on a surgical table in a freezing cold operating room with sterile sheets draped over my body and face, strapped down, my body began to shake violently. I felt the repetitive jabs of the local anaesthesia needle going into my chest and I realized I was going to freak out!  I let everyone present know that... and was told that the sedation drugs aren't recommended because they're "poisonous" to my body. Really? As opposed to the herbal chemotherapy I'm about to receive??? I see no reason for any person in the Western World to have to go through that.  I hereby SWEAR (with all of you as my witnesses) that no syringe or knife wielding person will EVER touch my body EVER again without my permission unless they've offered me sedation. I eventually convinced them, after the first incision, that they weren't going to complete the procedure without calming me down first but not before a meltdown complete with sobbing and tears. Sedation might make you sleepy, forgetful, whatever... that works for me. It's so much better than traumatic memories which NEVER go away. ...and that's my message for today. MY body. MY decision.

See you tomorrow.... at chemo.


  1. Beautiful and BeHazlacha!!!

    Great to reconnect...

    Eyal :)

  2. Good luck today (tomorrow? not sure with the time difference :) )
    Sending you lots of love!

  3. Thanks for your update, A.E.

    I am so sorry you had such a traumatic experience.

    Herbal chemo? That's good!

    I pray this one does the trick. Wishing you the best of luck.

    Your Inspire friend in Jerusalem, PA

  4. I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I don't get it either. You're right, your body, your choice.

    We'll be with you all the way.
    See ya after chemo.
    G_d Bless.

  5. Thank you fir describing your ordeal to help others and to give us a glimpse into how nerve-wracking this entire thing is for you (an your family). My wishes for your chemo treatment. May it go smoothly and briefly and bring a complete refuah bekarov. My tefilot are with you. B'htazlacha.

  6. Had my 4th c-section with next to no sedation. They put it in too low so the legs were numb- stomach, not so much. Probably already told you the gory details but the bottom line is that anyone who suggests or attempts to perform surgical procedures w/out sedation needs to be taken care of. The old fashioned way. Leave that to me. In the meantime, breathe deeply. Use the love and prayers and warm wishes from everyone who knows you to protect and distract you from the horribleness of the chemo. May Hashem hear our prayers. Love u.

  7. Wishing you hugs and refuah shlema. I totally am with you on the sedation thing! Good for you!!!! Be Badass!! Always be BADASS!!!! Davening for you on this side of the Atlantic!!!

  8. yes, yes & yes and refua shlaima.

    If NO ONE else is listening to our body screaming, then yeah, we have to take the steps and responsibility. Good on you. מחזיקה לך אצבעות ומתפללת!!