Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Treatment: Week 4

Tomorrow is Week 4 of The Boy's cancer treatment.

Let me just say that it still burns me up to have to say that my 11-month-old baby boy, the most beautiful little creature in the world to me, has cancer, no matter how "good" this particular type of cancer is. It's just a really hard group of words to say, about a sweetie baby.

My mom had cancer, and her treatment took place during my pregnancy with The Boy. She absolutely sailed through the process, driving herself to chemotherapy for all-day treatment. She'd go for a week and then be off for two weeks. And wouldn't you know it--she would bring in treats and themed stuff each time she was there. I think that the first time she just wanted to check things out, but after that, one week she brought Valentine's candy; the next week she brought St. Patty's Day stuff a little early; after that it was Easter/Passover; then it was Memorial Day, and I think that she finished it off with Flag Day or something like that. Chemotherapy is cumulative, and each week was a little bit more difficult. And, rather than getting time off for good behavior, they gave her the 6th week of treatment because they felt that she could tolerate it. She had a few episodes of neutropenia (and was in the hospital, where they put up a sign that said "No fruits or vegetables!" which is funny if you know my mother) during the process and required a few blood transfusions during the course of her treatment. Of course, she lost all of her hair. Her hairdresser cried at the wig store (she's had the same hairdresser for 21 years). My mother, on the other hand, was excited because she didn't have to shave her legs for months and weren't they just silky smooth! She had to have radiation which wore her out a bit and right at the end of her radiation, when she was exhausted, she came here to await (and wait and wait) the arrival of The Boy.

I am telling you this because even though my mother's ordeal sounds just like that--an ordeal--it feels somewhat less awful to say "My mother has cancer" than to say "My baby has cancer."

Okay, pity party over.

As I was saying...week 4 treatment is tomorrow. This is a pretty simple session, as are many of the sessions. He'll go to the center and we'll get a nametag to put on his ankle. Everyone there will faint from him as usual...he's cute (I might be biased) and he's a fun little guy. As soon as we get there, they call up to the pharmacy to prepare the various chemotherapy drugs. The Boy has his temperature and blood pressure taken and is weighed. While we wait for the chemotherapy drugs to come down, we play. There is SO much playing to be done at the center that he doesn't seem to mind that we're not at home. Often, we have snacks. The kitchenette has fresh fruit, fruit juices, occasional sandwiches, and donuts (we usually have a donut on our way out the door). Musical Daddy also has coffee.

Then comes the actual treatment. First, the oncologist gives him a check-up and talks with us about how he's doing. The nurse then accesses his medi-port, which means that they stick the needle in there. She flushes the line with saline and then draws blood for testing. I should mention that prior to our arrival we have already placed a generous amount of numbing cream over the port site, so this does not hurt the boy save for a possible pinch. Following this, she injects any "IV Push" medications into the line (which means that they're just a quick shot instead of a slow drip). The one that he receives the most is called Vincristine (or Oncovin). He also may receive Actinomycin-D as an IV Push. The last drug is called Adriamycin or Doxorubicin. Anyone who knows present or former cancer patients knows that this is the one that turns your pee red. Why? Because the drug itself is bright red. Adriamycin is a small IV drip that is preceded by an IV drip of Zofran, which is an anti-nausea medicine. In order for them to administer Adriamycin, the patient's blood counts have to be high enough. Last week was a "red" week, so we had to spend a longer time at the center. We also used gDiapers for a few changes immediately following that treatment.

After all of the treatments are done, the nurse flushes the line again and takes out the needle, and then The Boy gets a cool little bandage.

For those of you who may be unfamiliar with our particular schedule change that is associated with chemotherapy, I'll go ahead and review it. We have to change The Boy's diapers every 2 hours for roughly 36 hours (the doctor said 24-48, and then she said just 24, so we decided to go with the treatment day and all of the following day until bedtime). Changing diapers every 2 hours is close to normal for us...except at night. As in, we have to wake him, and ourselves, every 2 hours, so that he can get a new diaper. Also, ordinarily he may go a little longer if he happens to be in the middle of a nap. Nope--we have to interrupt. Sometimes we can change him without waking him or at least we can get him back to sleep pretty quickly--other times we're not so lucky.

Last week, as well as after week 0 treatment, my parents were here and my mother helped with diaper duty. After week 2 treatment, my sister came in to visit and helped take care of The Boy so that Musical Daddy could get stuff done. She also babysat so that we could go see Dark Knight (excellent flick). Week 1, and this week, we're alone at home, so we're probably going to be a little more tired. And we're going to have to do our best not to bite each other's heads off.

I have to say--our relationship is really pretty good. We can communicate well and if one of us gets annoyed or says something that isn't the nicest, we forgive each other easily. Especially now, while our lives are turned a bit on their ears.


Life's rich tapestry said...


Saw your link from the Facebook group (breastfeeding is not obscene)

Wishing The Boy well - hope the treatment does it's job so that you never have to experience anything like this again.

Peace and Blessings to you all


Kamagrian said...

This is Gill from the Facebook "Breastfeeding is Not Obscene" group. :)

Just really wanted to check in and say I've enjoyed reading your blog.

It's understandable that you'd feel the way you do about the difference between your mother and your baby having cancer. Although these things are always unjust, unfair and frightening, they seem even moreso when they happen to tiny people who can't really comprehend the gravity of what's happening. It's great that you're finding such solace in the compassion of family and friends, and wonderful that the little one seems to be handling his treatment so well with your love and support.

Best wishes for his continued and complete recovery, and for peace and joy for your family.

Gill x