what I learned in chemo

mwoodsSeptember 14, 2010

I was there for a full day yesterday and when you are sitting in that chair reading all sorts of things or talking to the incredibly capable and caring nurses,you have to be absorbing lots of info. So here is what I learned.

When I was reading my Eating Well magazine I read a letter to the editor asking if corn was considered a grain or a vegetable,and that the letter writer had always considered it a grain. I've always thought of it as a vegetable but this letter made a lot of sense to me. Anyway...the FDA stated years ago that it is a vegetable but when used as cornmeal,it is then called a grain.I wonder if it's a grain when it's used in grain alcohol? And what about feed corn. That has to be a grain they are stuffing into those poor cows. Interesting reading.

Another thing I learned was from a nurse who had a gazillion earrings in her ears. They were each really pretty and tasteful but there were so many of them I asked her if parts of her ear hurt more to get pierced than others and she said no,it was pretty much the same everywhere. She was so cute and opened to discussion she told me that it was definitely an addiction and that whenever she wanted to reward herself ( like I used to do with chocolate or a new pair of shoes or something) she adds an earring. Because of her job she can't pierce anything else although she would love to.Unfortunately there was little room left in her ears. I asked her about tattoos..if she could go there since she has a whole body of empty space. She said she was considering it. What I learned was that piercing can be an addiction and that was a new one on me. See...chemo isn't all bad,you learn things.

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I'm so glad you sound like you're in pretty good spirits.

Eating Well is the favorite magazine around here (the hospital). We beg each other for the recipes and articles. We're not required to read it, we're not cardiovascular patients or diabetics, just love the way the recipes turn out. Good stuff. I always thought corn was not a vegetable, but didn't know what to call it. I'll file the "grain" part away in my brain. Nice to get it put to bed. If corn is considered a grain when it is used in alcohol, what does that make a potato when it is distilled into an alcohol? That's another I don't consider a vegetable, but most do. It's a starch. Both taste good so it doesn't really matter what they're called in my book. One of about four foods I can eat no matter how it's cooked (not raw, though). Eggs, chicken, corn, and potatoes. Boiled, poached, fried, baked, you name it.

If one works in the clinics attached to our hospital, they're not allowed to show their tattoos or have things pierced. They're not allowed to have long painted nails or wear perfume. I'm glad I'm in the Research areas.

I always picture you in your purple chair in the midst of roses every time I think of you Marda. You make me smile.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 10:56AM
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gandle(4 NE)

I got quite a bit of napping done. They always dumped a bunch of Benadryl in the line into the port and warned me it might make me sleepy. Thats like telling you if you jump off the roof you may come in contact with the ground. The magazines and books got too heavy and I always went to sleep.

Never saw any nurse with multiple piercings or tatoos, maybe it isn't allowed in that hospital.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 11:55AM
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I get the Benedryl too and never get tired from it. The first time it happened they told me I was the first person they saw who never even yawned. This is a big cancer research center with about 75 chairs that are filled every day. But here's the weird thing George,the minute my head hits the pillow at night,I'm out like a light. Wish I could sleep through at least part of the chemo..it would go faster.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 12:31PM
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The best thing about chemo were the nurses. They still greet me by name when I have my 6 months, now 1 year, appointments or if I see one while shopping. They were and are incredibly supportive.
Recipes were about the last thing I wanted to read during chemo, since I completely lost my taste for about 8 month.
Good that you keep your spirits up, it makes a lot of difference. I was wondering how you were doing.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 12:31PM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

I never slept during mine either, but I don't remember if I had benedryl or not. The memory that really stands out though is from my first chemo. It was the OJ Simpson White Bronco chase. They were broadcasting the video during my whole chemo (or so it seemed!)

Are you taking steriods? I had to take them and it made me dream food dreams! I woke up one morning with a new recipe in my head. I had been dreaming about it all night.

My nurses were wonderful too. I think it takes a special nurse to do that job.


    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 12:50PM
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I'm on no meds at all and wasn't for the first round a year ago either. I've been very lucky with the way I feel with bad side effects for a couple of days and then back to normal. The day of chemo is fine..just boring,but the side effects will kick in tonight and I'll just take it easy for the rest of the week. I'm fixated on food for a particular reason. The last tumor tightened around my intestines and for two months I couldn't eat or drink a thing..I had all my nutrition through an IV ( a portable one) here at home.Last month the tumor started to shrink and I can now eat again. When I couldn't,everything looked so good to me and now reading recipes is just plain fun. I lost 40 pounds in the process and went down to 117 but am now up to 134 which is where I am staying. I'm sorry to go on about all this but I've had so many emails from you all and this is a good way to explain what happened. I just go from day to day and feel so lucky to be feeling so good and able to do pretty much everything I did before all this started in 09.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 1:43PM
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My sister celebrated the 20th anniversary of her mastectomy, yesterday. May you have many anniversaries to come in the years ahead.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 6:26PM
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mwoods, I must have missed reading a post because I don't know why you are having chemo. However, I do appreciate that you and others are writing about this subject.
DH went to the doctor yesterday to check out some suspect moles on his skin. They took a couple of scrapes for biopsies and froze a pre cancerous growth. The results of the biopsies will be known in about a week. If it's bad news, we may have to go the way of chemo. I appreciate you sharing your experiences.

    Bookmark   September 14, 2010 at 7:58PM
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My little 3 year old grand niece is having chemo for a brain tumor.
Our family is devastated.
She has 4 weeks of chemo then 2 weeks off she will do this
for 54 weeks.
It is bad enough when it happens to adults but man when you
have to watch a little child go through it.

On a lighter side, Neil's younger brother had a heart
transplant last week and may be going home today.
He is doing great!

Marda, I join everyone here in wishing you a complete
recovery and a wonderful long life.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 8:30AM
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What I love about you, Marda, is that you never whine no matter what is going on in your life. Here you are getting this difficult treatment and you're quite concerned with pierced ears and corn. Sanity is thy middle name.

As for corn, I'd call it a veggie but think of it like I think of potatoes, the starch that takes up one-third of my dinner menu.

As for pierced ears, I have only one in each ear, but a couple of my granddaughters have 2 to 4 in each ear. The eldest, at 25, sticks with her original two. You know, I never thought of this an addiction, but I guess it's no different than treating oneself to new shoes or some chocolate.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 1:31PM
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Marda, I was not aware you have need for chemo.I'm glad you have such a good attitude, I know that is important.I'm thinking positive thoughts for you!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 5:22PM
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I never had Benadryl or any other medication besides the chemo, the no taste was the only side effect. Was known as the walker since I went with my infusion tree all over the hospital and the 3 days with chemo in a fanny pack at home, went with me on my morning walks. The advantage of the 'no taste' - I always had an excuse if my cooking did not come out right! Too bad I can't use that anymore!

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 7:58PM
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DH go an all clear today. Whew.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 8:19PM
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I learned that I don't look good skinny! LOL 35#'s off and then 28#'s back on after one year! Radiation was interesting - large machine that rotated around and clunked and clunked. The techs were wonderful and every Friday I would bring treats: choc chip cookies, coffee cake, lemon bars or other goodies. Everyone in the clinic would show up and smile and give me lots and lots of hugs.

I learned to visualize walking through my garden, moving plants, trimming here and there and before I knew it - treatment was over. My garden kept me company and gave me strength. My husband and son being there also made me strong. Two years - post surgery - doing just fine - and so is my garden. But....... I now want to fill every hour of health with projects, reading and helping others.

To celebrate life and the end of treatment I had an art show of my new photographs at the University of Washington, Seattle. My old website has been re-designed - even with chemo brain - and will have two shows in Florida of my photos of plants mentioned in the Bible. I was accepted as a speaker at Seattle Garden and Flower Show in Feb. on my favorite subject - 'Biblical Plants for Northwest Gardens'

Not depressed, just impatient that it sometimes takes me longer to do things but it can take several years to totally recover from all the poisons. Follow ups are scary - but a lot of things are scary and you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and find another project to focus on.

Be well Marda and all the others fighting the big C,


Here is a link that might be useful: Biblical Gardens Web Site

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 2:28AM
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andie_rathbone(Tyler, TX - 7B)

Interesting thread & I can talk about it from the caregiver perspective. DH is usually put in what's known as the "party room" - about 6 chairs. Mostly it's him & the ladies & now that we've gotten to know them we dish the dirt a lot, watch stuff on my netbook & catch up on magazines. Eric usually sleeps about 1/2 the time & I play on the computer and/or catch up on magazines. I have to admit I'll pounce on a People just to see who is regarded as a "celebrity" these days. I've been saving our magazines after we're done with them & take them in just to give people something new to read.

Eric is dealing with a new cocktail these days so we're dealing with new side-effects. Had them all figured out with the old one, but every day is a new adventure.

I've been reading Christopher Hitchens' articles about his cancer treatments in Vanity Fair & they are really good. He manages to articulate the experience very well.

Cancerland (what we've come to call it) is a very strange place. Still, I've come to have great respect & admiration for modern medicine in the past year.

    Bookmark   November 4, 2010 at 5:47PM
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Marda, I don't check in here as much as I once did for various mundane reasons, and when I didn't see you posting much, it didn't occur to me that your absence was for any reason beyond the mundane. And wow, two months without food. Glad to know they have such thought-provoking reading material for you. I did a small and totally minor stint with some oncologists some years back, and I think my least favorite mag was a niche publication for doctors that highlighted expensive golf resorts and the like. Hope you're treating yourself to all kinds of tasty things now. I think my dad ate practically nothing but pancakes the whole time he was on chemo.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 9:33AM
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Now THAT's a bundle of sunflowers!

Look at how many survivors tap in here!


    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 11:48AM
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My bother just began treatment for prostate cancer - he opted for radiation over robotic surgery. Apparently getting prepped over some weeks for the eventual radiation involves shrinking the tumor by hormone treatments. He told me that among other things he will get hot flashes and perhaps night sweats. He said he wife laughed a lot when she heard that.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 7:55PM
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