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Fun with Chemo

Well, today was my first day of chemo, and I was amped from the minute I woke up, which was pretty darn early. It always happens to me this way: on a big day, -- say, when I've got to get to court for a hearing, or catch an early flight, or it's my birthday or Christmas -- the minute my body senses that it's an acceptable hour to wake up, I'm up. This morning, it was around 6am. I forced myself to go back to sleep, napping here and there for 20 minutes at a time, but I couldn't really control my energy. By the time I was up and dressed and chomping on my massive breakfast, I felt like I could literally beat cancer with my bare hands. Just pure adrenaline and excitement at the notion that I'd be actively killing cancer today.

Here's my game face/cancer-killin' face.

Got to USC Norris (I've gotta say it, FIGHT ON!) at about 8:30a, where I checked in at the Day Hospital and basically told them to start preparing my chemo cocktail (they don't start making it until you check in because if they do and you don't show up, they have to dump it and will have wasted $15,000). After that, I headed to the blood draw place where an awesome nurse painlessly took my blood and chatted about baseball with me (she's pulling for the Yankees, and given my intense dislike for the Phillies and hatred of the Giants, I had to agree). Then I headed over to see Taline (Dr. Lenz's nurse practitioner) and, of course, Dr. Lenz.  Dr. Lenz and I had a quick chat, a hug, and I was off to the Day Hospital again to officially get the party started.

The only potential for pain during the chemo-getting process (at least, in my mind) was the insertion of the needle into the port on my chest. The nurse mentioned that we couldn't numb the area and it was at its most tender given how recently I'd had it placed, so this first shot might hurt.

It didn't. :)

The rest of the process was time-intensive (I was at Norris for about 6 hours) but painless and fun. Played on the iPhone, emailed with friends, watched a little TV, hung out with my parents and Will, cracked jokes with the nurses, and generally had a good time. What really threw it over the top in terms of fun was my constant faking of side effect symptoms, and then taunting the poor souls (namely, my parents and Will) who fell for my gag time and again. 

Got out of there around 3ish, picked up meds (I'm on a new drug that helps with blood clots and also has anti-tumor (read: tumor shrinking) properties), grabbed my second lunch of the day, and bought some more shirts like the Rocky one I'm wearing above (Muhammad Ali, Clint Eastwood). I left the Day Hospital with a little parting gift -- a small water bottle-like contraption attached to me via portacath that has some additional meds in it. It rests in its own little fannypack-type deal, and I can either clip it around my waist (dorky, but whatever) or put it in a coat pocket. If I want to go to Disneyland and act like a tourist between now and Wednesday (when it'll get removed by the Day Hospital folks), I'll be all set. 

So now, the plan is to chill out, work out when I "feel up to it" (please, that's going to be every day), and wait for these side effects to hit me or not hit me at all. Side effects include some poop issues, nausea, fatigue, and that should be about it. I've got pills to counteract all of them. I should keep my hair (which is great but I was pretty ready to lose it and do the short Mia Farrow haircut from Rosemary's Baby when it grew back), and my immune system won't be taking a major hit so no surgical masks when I'm out in public (nice). All in all, a pretty sweet deal if you consider the fact that RIGHT NOW, the chemo could be doing some actual cancer-killin'.

Do your stuff, chemo. Shiver in your boots, cancer.


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