It is more important to know where you are going, than how long it takes to get there.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


When the foredeck person on a sailboat completes jibing the spinnaker pole - a somewhat tricky maneuver that requires a certain amount of finesse, she/he yells "made." Today I had my last chemotherapy cycle! Afterward I felt like shouting a loud "MADE!" (Translation: A foredeck person is responsible for the stuff that happens in front of the mast -the pole sticking out of the middle of the boat that holds the sails ; jibing means the boat is changing directions; the spinnaker pole is a long metal pole that connects to the mast at one end and the end of the spinnaker sail at the other end; the pole helps the spinnaker - the big colorful sail that sticks out over the front of the boat -stay full of air and helps the trimmer(person pulling a lot of ropes) pull the spinnaker sheet(rope) to keep it full of air; the foredeck person yells "made" so the trimmer knows when she can start pulling the ropes. During a race this all needs to be done quickly. When it is done well, the boat maintains it speed. Yes, I have done this a couple of times, but I often forgot to yell "made.") Now you know more than you ever needed or wanted to know about sailing stuff. Snore.

Over the past two days several people at Mass General Hospital congratulated me on my last chemotherapy treatment. Yesterday I met with my oncologist, Dr. Banana Split, for my pre-chemotherapy check-up. She appeared as thrilled as I am about my last chemotherapy treatment. I told her that I am constantly battling exhaustion. She said for some inexplicable reason, most people feel exhaustion after their third cycle, but not after their fourth. We'll see. She was also concerned about my asthma cough. She wanted to make sure I only had asthma and wasn't sick. Actually, she seemed a little freaked out about the tight sounding cough I was involuntarily demonstrating throughout my appointment. (The sound of my cough worries Chubba and the girls too.) I have lived with this type of cough my entire life, so it doesn't phase me at all. My mom states that I have coughed more in my lifetime than anyone she knows. I had only been taking my albuterol inhaler and not taking my steroid inhaler because I thought steroids were off limits during chemotherapy. I was wrong. Dr. Banana Split anxiously asked if I had the steroid inhaler in my purse, but it was at home. I took it when I got home, and I'm fine. I must admit that I was a little amused by Dr. Banana Splits reaction to my cough. I know, I am also a little warped.

Dr. Banana Split described how my hair will feel and look when it grows back. The hair will be fine and soft like baby hair, but it grows back thicker and curly. What?! Thicker? I will look like Harpo Marx! (I know, those with thick hair want a little less, and those with thin hair want a little more - "the grass is always greener..." or is it "the grass is always thicker...") I hope that I may color the gray hairs that dare to grow back. Hello 1980's short-hair perm that I sported so stylishly. I will be going retro!

I was given a private room again for my infusion. Molly was our ticket to the private room. I learned that when a patient brings an elementary school aged child with them to treatment, they are required to have a private room. Riley is too old to be a ticket. The private room makes chemotherapy much more palatable. I like that it is not totally isolated with a glass door and a large window. If someone wants total privacy, a curtain can be drawn.

Riley survived the chemotherapy experience. She only turned her head a couple of times, but never left the room. Before we walked into the infusion area, she asked if I can talk during chemotherapy. She thought that I wore an oxygen mask. She was a little uneasy when she saw the two very large and wide circumference syringes of the red Adrymiacin that were injected into my port. She said they looked like shots for an elephant. She thought the red color looked like blood. Actually, the red color is much brighter than blood red. After it was over, she said that chemotherapy wasn't so scary. Without the red poison, it reminded her of the i.v. she received when she was admitted into the hospital for dehydration.

Laverne and Shirley, the trial study nurses, stopped by to check on my progress. They manage 16 women with breast cancer who volunteered to be part of a study to compare the effectiveness of two different chemotherapy treatments. When I signed up, the study need 200 more volunteers, but now it is full. During the trial study orientation, I explained to Laverne and Shirley that I have a very tender stomach, and was concerned about vomiting. Both they and I are surprised at how well I have done over the past two months, without one single vomiting incident. I shouldn't get too cocky because it's not over yet. However, I do hear the fat lady warming up her voice.

I will now go through 2-4 nights of very little sleep. I get so keyed up internally for several days before my chemotherapy, that I think it takes a couple of days of me to rid myself of the nerves. I really do not know if it is the nerves, chemotherapy, or post-chemo medications that affects my sleep following infusion, but I am going with nerves. After I got home today following chemotherapy and a celebratory lunch, I slept for four hours. I will put this in my tank for reserves.

Helpful Hint: If you have seven prescription bottles on the bathroom counter, get a black Sharpee pen and write in big letters the name of the prescription on top of the lid and down the side of the bottle. The eliminates searching for glasses to read the name of the prescription written in microscoptic print.


Whacky thought for the day...
I love the saying, "It ain't over until the fat lady sings!"


  1. Yay Keval!!! We are all so happy for you!!

  2. WOOO HOOO! You 'made' it through with style & grace!

  3. Congratulations on riding the waves! Hope you have a safe harbor for a while!

  4. I certainly hope that the doc was right about less exhaustion for this round. I'm so happy you "made" it!