Finding out that the Princess had cancer put a whole new meaning to living one day at a time. Our family was always pretty much in that mode but we at least directed our one day and decided how we were going live it. Now all of a sudden others are making the calls, chemo this day, blood draws this day, doctors this day, radiation this day and a many other things that redirect your life. Yes you have to take it all with grain of salt and always look to the bright side but when breaks arise take advantage of them. Take road trips, get out of the house and out of the town. Take with you whats important and enjoy the change.
As a caregiver please keep this in mind and that is your own piece of mind and make sure you give yourself some “me time”. I know that you will not eat as you should and may not sleep as well as you did before you took on this task. But please have a relative, friend, neighbor, Hospice or someone you trust take the pleasure of careing for your Princess so you can take some time for yourself. Walk the dog, go hit some golfballs but please get a little time to clear you brain a bit. I know it’s much easier said then done but a good brisk walk or some time for a unrelated conversation will do you more good than you can imagine.
The Princess always had her chemo on Friday afternoon in order to keep work as blemish free as possible so when we got seated and before the pre meds happened it was time to get lunch decided upon so she could get some food in before the meds. Anything was okay at the clinic so sandwiches, burgers or salads were often the meal of the day. As I mentioned the in a earlier post early drugs provided comfort and at times it was a close finish before the eyes started shutting and the lunch was completed. The evenings after the procedure were quiet dinner and TV. She usually slept very good and the next day she was up and ready to go, cleaning, shopping but moving….all the fires were burning and she was a happy camper. She would hit the wall towards evening though and Sunday and part of Monday she was a tired camper.
When you go into chemo please don’t have in your mind that it will be like the movie “The Bucket List”. You will not react the same and the conditions are nothing like the movie. Our clinic provided comfortable recliners with TV’s, you are met by volunteers that will provide you with more comforts than home. They remember your wants and are very quick to make you feel as normal as possible. The staff that administer the medication are the best, they also quickly learn all your likes and seem to pass the info along. If a reaction accures the whole staff is there in a heartbeat, nurses, doctors, anything and everything to correct the problem. You are in better than the good hands.
After a month or so with the oral chemo the progress stopped and it was time for the clinic chemo to do it’s thing. The oral does work for some as we had a friend that made progress for about 3 years before stopping but not so lucky. So in we went with cell phone and lap top for just a new office atmosphere. The Princess got comfortable, plugged in her lap top got her phone close at hand and was just going to have the care givers work around her day. Ha Ha…..first meds and the eyes got heavy so she switched to games then shortly there after I slid the computer off her lap and she got real quiet and the phone didn’t ring, thank God. It was a very good experience and the nurses were to die for.
As soon as things seem to be going in a controlled sort of way a new iron comes into the fire and you have to figure out how it will fit into the family. Fluid built up in the left lung and would have to be drained. So I watched as the Doctor put a tube into the Princess’s side and drained about a pint of fluid out of her lung. Not real complicated and on completion he looked and me and said, ” any questions”, so home we went with all the gear and a CD to do the procedure at home every other day. Only had to do the draining for a couple of weeks and the fluid stopped appearing and we went back to our normal. So just remember with cancer be ready because change seems to be a real part of the game. But you can cope and you will just keep fighting.
Now was time for me to pick the brains of the dietitians at the clinic and find out the foods I should be cooking for the Princess. I found a cookbook that told of the things to help in different periods of treatment or to stop reactions to treatment but I wished for of course some perfect solution. The answer was feed her whats she likes keep calorie contend high and try and keep the consumption up. So out went low cal diets with lots of taste and in came good old butter, sauces, and more taste, good old stick to your ribs meals. She even went for a little beef which was real rare. I thing I was successful because through this whole journey she only lost around 15 pounds . So please talk with the dietitians as they will help and make life much easier.
The first stage of radiation is done and back to the doctor and chemo. Fear and the unknown are centerstage as we go and find out what is the next step. Ha, it’s going to be a oral chemo we are sent home with a bottle of pills. Not at all what we expected, just go home take one pill a day and keep life as close to normal as possible get a blood test in about two weeks and we will see where we stand. Some breakout on face and but no loss of hair or food eating problems. We are all happy.
One of the things that the Princess liked was smoothies and she often drank them before work and especially in the summer. Orange juice, yogurt, and frozen blueberries or strawberries thrown in the blender. This was great as the radiation went on because she loved them and they went down very easily. My challenge was to kick them up a notch in order to create a little more filling calorie rich drink that would last longer into the day and she still would enjoy drinking. Sooooo I added a few things that added pop. First I added ensure to the drink and she still liked them especially with the blueberries. While getting groceries on day I noticed powdered proteins to add to milk. A couple of tablespoons of this went into the smoothies no complaints and they lasted a little longer into the day. Very easy and nurtritious and the key was the Princess liked them.
Now the surgery is out of the way and the Princess’s world is getting more towards normal it’s time to conquer the cancer. Radiation would the first line of defense and it would start at the neck in the area that the surgery was done. After talking with the Radiologist and letting us know what would be happening off we went. First to get a mold made with the Princess stuck in the position they needed her to be in, in order to radiate the infected area. A couple of tatoos or alignment markes on her body to order for giant machine hit the spot. Radiation to soft tissue does cause some pain as it creates a sun burn. So listen the Doc and he will explain some things to consume before dinner that will make it much more comfortable to swallow. This will only be very bothersome the last 5 or 6 sessions. Tomorrow a magic smoothy!