Onto the Oncologist

Later that day…January 25th had been noted on my calendar ever since my initial appointment with Dr. Biggs on January 3rd.  At that time, it seemed so far off and those 3 weeks seemed to drag on.  I was wishing, hoping, and praying each day that I would have a low Oncotype score so I could easily bypass chemotherapy.  I had also asked my mom to come to this follow-up appointment with Bri and I.  Not only was she our 3rd set of ears, but sometimes a girl just needs her mom!

10:20 AM – After my appointment with the nutritionist, we had a little bit of time to kill.  My mom and I sat in the cafe at the Cancer Center and Bri joined us shortly after 9:30 AM.  We ate breakfast and just chatted to nervously pass the time.  At 10:15 AM, we walked up to the 3rd floor and checked in.  Once again, I was the youngest person in the waiting room.  I did see a woman walk in later who looked like she could be around my age – she had clearly lost all her hair and had a head wrap on , so it was hard to tell.  Shortly before 11:00 AM, we were called back.  A nurse took my blood pressure and temperature.  I tend to have low pressure so I’m always curious about what it will be each day.  Today it was 99/75 – a little higher than normal and my resting heart rate was 53 (again low).  Usually my BP is about 100/60.  And then we waited.  And waited.  I was so frustrated.  Our appointment was for 10:20 AM and finally at 11:30 AM, I poked my head out the door to figure out what was going on.  The nurse apologized and reassured me that Dr. Biggs was on his way.

He did indeed arrive shortly after – and apologized for running late.  I saw the young woman with the head wrap walk into meet with him before me, so I felt guilty for my frustration.  She obviously had a longer than anticipated appointment and I understand the importance of taking the time to have all your questions answered.

We introduced Dr. Biggs to my mom and then wasted no time discussing my results.  He opened up the folder and started to recap our discussions from the last visit.  I glanced over at his report and saw the number 27 highlighted in yellow.  I immediately knew what that meant – chemo was definitely in my future.  Although, my score was below 30, it was still in the high-end of the spectrum.  The tears started, but luckily I did not space out during this appointment.  I clearly heard everything that was said.  Dr. Biggs proceeded to discuss the graphical analysis-es and how there will be an added benefit for me to do chemo.  Yes, I understand that and I want to live a long healthy life while doing everything in my power to decrease my likelihood of recurrence – but I was just hoping it would not involve chemo!

We left the exam room and walked across the hall to his office.  My mom was literally writing down every word he said.  Too bad she has horrible hand writing.  And since she’s a nurse, I saw that she was writing some stuff using medical short hand.  Dr. Biggs laid out my chemo regimen:  12 weeks with 4 treatments (once every 3 weeks).  Well, that’s not too bad.  I was expecting the 6 month plan.  I will be getting 2 drugs – Taxotere and Cytoxan – this is commonly referred to as TC.   Side effects?  Fatigue, nausea, numbness in my fingertips and toes, allergic reaction to the TC, possible low white blood cell counts and hair loss probably about 3 weeks into treatment.  From what I read, the Cytoxan most definitely causes hair loss.  There are drugs I can take to work on preventing nausea.  I will have to take a steroid 3 days prior to each chemo round to prevent an allergic reaction.  Most likely, the treatments will be scheduled for a Friday.  If I have low white blood cell counts, then we’ll do a Thursday treatment.  I am given the option to have a porto cath inserted in my arm or chest or just receive treatments through an IV in my arm each time.  To me, the porto cath just seems like it is used for convenience factors.  Dr. Biggs also explained that is used for patients who do not have good veins.  He looked at my veins and did not seem too impressed, but if I hydrate myself before treatments I should be okay.  Also, the placement of the porto cath will involve 2 additional procedures.  I think I am leaning towards just having an IV inserted for each treatment (should be fun with my extreme fear of needles).

The plan now is to continue working through my treatments.  I plan on just taking days off on the Thursday/Friday of my treatment schedule and returning to the office by Monday.

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