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Week #12: The fourth chemotherapy treatment is good for Trish, hard on me.

Posted by on July 26, 2010
Trish getting the Chemotherapy.
It’s Tuesday, July 13th and we’re in a chemo week again, her fourth of six treatments.  And like the other cycles, the experience of chemo brings us back down to earth.  Yesterday’s Cancerpalooza seems so long ago.

I can’t help but get depressed again.  Watching her with needles in her arm makes this real in a way I can’t ignore.  I’ve been trying to shake depression for a few months, even before the cancer started.  Seeing this makes my head spin.

The killing station

They put the IV drip in for 4 hours of chemotherapy.
We arrive at the medical center again and we both know the routine.  I drop her off at the entrance, park the car, buy her some pound cake at one snack stand, a bananna from the other, take the elevtor to the 5th floor, say hi to the front desk nurse, pay the co-pay, assemble Trish’s headphones, get a blanket from the cupboard and push the chair back so she can sleep.

The nurse starts with saline and benadryl, which makes Trish drowsy.  20 minutes later, she is asleep, and the nurse comes back with a scary looking,  big syringe filled with a red liquid called Adriamycin.

The posion is slowly injected it into Trish’s arm via the medi-port.  It’s a lethal, vicious chemical, designed to sabotage little cells, confuse them and kill them as they try to reproduce.   And they don’t entirely discriminate.  They will kill everything in you eventually if you kept taking it.

They test Trish’s heart capacity and give me the results.  Hers numbers are dropping, but she is still in the safe zone.  Her heart has to hold out for three more treatments.

Our medical ‘bet’ is that 6 doses will be enough to kill the breast cancer cells (pictured on left).  More than 6 treatments would begin to be lethal to Trish.

Cancer treatment is depressing.

An old battle with depression

When I was 25, I spent a year on anti-depressants.  I was in bad shape, nearly suicidal.  My life consisted of a tiny studio on the lower east side of Manhattan with no windows.  (Well there was one window, but it had thick bars and faced a brick wall that got no light.  It was worse than having no windows.)

I would watch Tarkovsky movies all day and drink cheap beer.  It was very sad, and kind of pathetic.

I never really had much trouble with episodic depression after that.  It’s true, I never felt totally free of the occasional depression, and I continued my psychotherapy because it’s occasionally helpful.

Worst. Timing. Evar.

But I didn’t feel the need for medication again until late this winter when, inexplicably, the symptoms came suddenly back.  Over a period of a few months I grew to extreme levels of insecurity, hopelessness and rage – often directed at Trish.

It really took me by surprise.  I wasn’t expecting it to come back so hard after 15 years.  February was a rough month for both of us, but especially for Trish who had to endure my misplaced rage.  It was painful on me too.  I felt out of control at times, like my brain wasn’t my own.

And this is all right before the cancer.  Just as I began the meds, Trish was diagnosed.  The first few weeks after that were completely crazy as we grappled with the shock of the reappearance, and my brain tried to adapt to the new biochemistry.

The timing was very tight.  Instead of Cancerpalooza, Trish and I could have endured a new stage of hell if I hadn’t recognized my symptoms quickly and gotten the right help.  I certainly couldn’t be supporting her or the kids this way.

I mostly feel better now, but these chemo weeks hit me so hard.  I feel hopeless again, and that makes me angry and irritable, which requires all my energy to control.  It’s exhausting.

Surprise gifts from loved ones.

So, on this difficult week,  it couldn’t have come at a better time that a few of our friends and relatives sent care packages.

From our cousin, we got a bunch of beautiful smelling bath and body lotions and potions that were individually wrapped.  Lily had a blast tearing it all apart.   Our neighbor and friend brought us a box of mini-cheesecakes from the bakery/cafe down the street.  And an old friend and workmate, sent our girls a package of little gifts that they loved.

If you ever are trying to support a friend through long-term illness – wait until the middle of the treatment to send your care package or gift.   In the beginning, as the diagnosis is happening, we got a lot of very loving and supportive attention from people. But it’s really helpful to get that attention later on too.

The importance of hydration

It’s actually a pretty easy time for Trish this week, which is a relief and a blessing.  The last time, Trish had a terrible time with dizzyness and nausea.  We got some advice from the Doctor that it might be related to her low blood pressure, which she can alleviate by drinking more fluids.

It seems to have worked.  Trish is drinking more, (albeit very reluctantly) and she is feeling better.  We are able to cut back on the medications too.

Overall, Trish does better this week than any previous treatment.  She is even able to go to our daughters theater camp performance on Friday, something we didn’t expect she would be able to do.  Our girls were very, very happy that she was there.

101 surprises

  • 51)   Nichole Miller ruched dress: This beauty looks even better on her curves than this mannequin.  Drool.
  • 52)   Suede platform sandals from Mea Shadow: Hawt heels that are oh-so-comfortable.

53) Kennedy Center Dance Subscription: A six-show subscription to the 2010-11 contemporary dance program at the Kennedy Center.

54)   Costume jewelry: A whole slew of earrings and necklaces, mostly from Express like this 20′s inspired one that garnered a ton of attention from the jaded hostesses at Citronelle.

55)   Susan Farber Clutch/Purse: This new purse is more elegant than the Alexander Wang hobo I bought her a few months ago, and she likes that it’s not as heavy when we are standing around at dinner or a concert.

3 Responses to Week #12: The fourth chemotherapy treatment is good for Trish, hard on me.

  1. Aviva

    Stay strong. Love you both. So much.
    xxoooxoxoxo

  2. Matt Ackley

    Hey Trish,

    Saw Paula a couple weeks ago and it made me think of that Rogue River trip we all did many years ago. I always think of this image of you at this one camp on the Rogue where we saw a river otter devouring a salmon – not even sure now if that happened when I camped there with y’all – or if it was on a different trip. Regardless, the image I carry around in my head of you is from that beach. You look strong and are laughing. I look forward to taking a reunion trip with you and your family and those Begg girls sometime soon!

    Hang in there. Thinking of you… and now I have a craving for salmon.

    Lots of love,

    Matt

  3. Trisha

    OMG Matt, yes! Family Rogue trip would be sooooo fun with the littles. But, um, only cross-family units in the double kayaks. No duckie divorce for me!

    I remember me and my mom bickering about which way to paddle. “Mom, just paddle, I’m steering.” “But you’re driving us the wrong way!” “No, I’m not.” …..

    xo,
    Trish

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