Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Breathing a little easier.



Well the first Chemo treatment was uneventful. Which I was very happy about, because as much as I try not compare my sister treatment with what my mother dealt with it is next to impossible not to compare.

When my sister was first diagnose and she chose the hospital and doctors that would treat her she was given a binder in the binder were several tabbed pages which contain so much information and one page was a business card holder so every doctor she sees she has their card handy. They encouraged her to keep track of test results and all information she was given. This way she has a record of her treatment and they work as a team. For my mother I remember buying a 5 subject notebook and that was because she told me the information was overwhelming and there was no way she was going to remember it all. We wrote everything down and each time I was with her on a follow up appointment I had my notebook and the doctors were excited to see it and often would take it and read what I had written for the weeks before the appointment. It good to know I had a good idea with regards to her care.

My sisters chemo appointment included; information for a research study, return to waiting room, vitals check, return to waiting room, examination by the P.A., return to waiting room and finally time for the chemo.

When my mother had chemo privacy was not an issue it was just a big room with different station with the iv poles defining each station. With brie there was cubby rooms separated by walls with window in them so the nurse could see you regardless of whose cubby she was in.

The IV for my mother was in her arm with Brie it was in her hand the nurse explained that they start low that way if the vein blows then they can go up higher but if the start high and the vein blows then they have to go to a different site. The Saline solution was started and then she was given the medicine to prevent nausea. Mom never received that so I was not sure how effective it was going to be.
Adriamycin is one of the medicines given, I will never forget this medicine it is bright red and is given directly into the IV. The nurse has 2 larges syringes full of this medicine and she must slow shoot this into the IV. She is very careful because this medicine if comes into contact with the skin it will burn. This is when becomes very apparent my nervousness I remember soon as the nurse was finish the first syringe of this medicine my mother started vomiting. Once the nurse was finish with the second syringe I started looking for a container and there was none and my sister did not vomit she was very calm and I felt that I was making her nervous. So I went to the waiting room and got our sister and let her sit with her for the second medicine which was Cytoxan this was given in as an IV drip, this was to last 45 minutes and then she would be able to leave. Jo was there for 30 minutes and then she came out and my cousin Di went back with her. Di came in town to stay with Brie because she wanted to help and thought this would be best way to help. I really appreciate her coming in town she will stay at Brie apartment so someone will be with her 24 hrs for the first week after chemo.

The side effects for both medicines are very similar. Since the Adriamycin is red and pee is yellow her pee will be orange for a little bit. High dosages of this medicine can affect her heart which is the reason for a Muga scan days before. The Muga scan is a nuclear medicine test to evaluate the function of the heart ventricles. Her heart is good and strong and the dosage of this medicine is not high enough to cause a problem.

When we got back to Brie apartment we sat around waiting for something dramatic to happen but it never did. I was relieved and yet wondering if the medicine was really working. After a while we joined hands and said a prayer together and then stopped waiting for the shoe to drop.

Brie asked me to crochet her a blanket for her bed. So I am crocheting a blanket for her I will have pictures to show when I blog again.
I am breathing a little easier.

Monday, February 7, 2011

What's been going on.


I remember December and it was a day that I was happy to be home. My husband had just accepted a job with the same company that I worked for and I felt a load lift off of me. I t was the Christmas break and he felt weird giving a 2 week notice during the 2 weeks the school buses would be off because of the school observance of the holidays.

I was just thinking that we will be starting the year off right. Both of us full time employment with benefits. We were talking about the changes it would mean for us and the goals were just about to be put in place so that we do not lose sight of what we really need to accomplish.

Pay bills on time, on time is key! Save money, not for a rainy day but incase someone loses a job we will be able to live without sweat! Get in a position to buy a house.

My phone rings and it is my sister Brie, she was crying, she was just diagnose with breast Cancer. She was at home alone. I left home and went to her apartment. I held her in my arms while she cried and I kept saying all the things that I heard. The medicine is so much better now than 20 years ago, you can beat this! I told her about Wanda is a survivor and Brenda P is a survivor she will be a survivor as well. I truly believe those words! And in my heart I know she will survive this.

Triple negative refers to breast cancer that is estrogen receptor negative, progesterone receptor negative, and HER2/neu negative. In other words, triple negative breast cancer does not express receptors for estrogen or progesterone and does not overexpress HER2.

Most likely women with metabolic syndrome (which involves distorted hormonal interactions) are more likely to have triple negative breast cancer upon diagnosis than women without it. Generally speaking, drugs or foods that reduce the production of estrogen or block its effects in the body are not effective treatments for this type of breast cancer. Therefore, in addition to surgery and radiation treatment, chemotherapy represents the best opportunity to eradicate breast cancer cells and prevent metastasis.

Triple negative breast cancer is more often responsive to chemotherapy than hormone receptor positive breast cancer. Therefore, it is important for those with triple negative breast cancer to have surgery complete the chemotherapy that will be prescribed. The initial treatment period provides the best opportunity for a long or permanent remission.

My sister’s treatment plan is chemo treatment, surgery, then radiation therapy. The chemo treatment starts on Feb 3, 2011, 4 treatments 21 days apart. There has been a long list of pre testing for a baseline before chemo something that they can use to compare all testing after chemo.

When she first told me of the cancer I was scared because I did not want her to have the same experience that my mother had then after a while I came to realize that I was remember the end of my mother life as if it was the way she lived during her whole fight with breast cancer. There was lots of time when mom was doing quite well. She went to work everyday, took time with us and lived as if she had no problems at all. And By all appearances that was the case. I will not recount my mother journey at this time because this is about my sister and my ability to be there for here.

I thought about how I would feel if I was her. She is not married and the last boyfriend she had now lives in Chile and they have little or no contact and the boyfriend she had before that is now engaged to a girl who is 10 years younger that she is. Each of these friendships ended nicely enough but she has only family and friends to turn to and help her deal with this current fight. So it is very important to me that she knows she is not alone. I realize that I cannot completely get rid of this feeling but I am going to do my best to try.