Aunt Leva, living past 100, gardening, knitting, crocheting, sewing, reading her Bible, going to church, canning, cooking, family ring, rolling pin, sewing machine, iron skillets, old housecoat, campfire, chemotherapy, du-rags, football, fun, neulasta shot, shaving hair, sports
I was supposed to begin my first chemo on on Thursday, August 30th, but I asked my oncologist if I could push it back one day. At that time, my future son-in-law, Hunter Cantwell, was the backup quarterback at the University of Louisville. It was rumored that he would be put in to play, and I really wanted to see him on the field. I was not disappointed. I love UL football, and being at the game took my mind off the chemo ahead.
My first treatment lasted about four and one-half hours. Bryan was with me. The bad news was that my veins were not good, so I would have to have a port put in before the second chemo – another surgery, even if it was outpatient. I was already tired of surgery.
I was also told that my hair would fall out in ten to fourteen days, so I scheduled an appointment with my hair stylist on the ninth day to shave my head.
When I arrived at the salon, I had a big surprise. My mom and my three sisters, Becky, MaryAnn and Jennifer, were waiting at the door wearing du-rags to support me during this “haircut”.
My stylist, Terri Metzler, said she could not shave my head completely, so she left it about one inch all over.
I had brought my wig, so I put it on and we went out to lunch. It was so nice to have my family with me during something as drastic as losing my hair.
When I washed my stubby hair the next day, it all fell out. I was totally bald! I really didn’t mind not having hair during chemo, because I was too tired to fix it. My family began to call me GI Jan (which is my first name, Jan, not GI!). I even wore camouflage and a matching hat on Halloween based on my new nickname, GI Jan.
I was never nauseous after treatments, but extremely fatigued. I stayed on the couch most of the time. The day after chemo I had to get a shot of Neulasta, which would keep my white count up. The shot causes bone pain and chills and fever. It goes away in a couple of days. The other difficult part for me was drinking three liters of water the day before, the day of, and the day after a treatment to flush the medicines out of my body.
My pattern was to sleep in the recliner for about four days, and then I could stay awake. I still spent most of my time on the couch with extreme fatigue.
My diet consisted of scrambled eggs, toast, popsicles, sherbet, and ice cream, washed down with lots of Gingerale. We had so many friends send gift cards to restaurants so that I could pick something that sounded good to me and Bryan could bring it home. During later treatments, my tastebuds could only tolerate instant mashed potatoes and sour lemonade. I remember one night Bryan came home and he was so tired. He mixed up a big batch of the potatoes, put in some butter, and we both just ate out of the bowl together.
My oncologist told me that I needed to do something fun after each chemo and she would ask me what I had done when I came for the next treatment. My fun this time was celebrating Katie’s birthday at a wonderful restaurant, and continuing the celebration the next day at my mom’s and dad’s place. We had a field party, complete with a bonfire, grilled burgers, and a beautiful day.
I was ready for round two!