Back to school: Chemo Class

In the last couple of years I have become a serious regular to all of the below hospitals. Specifically, out of the last 2years of my life I have spent 20months being pregnant which resulted in multiple visits to Mount Sinai & the Hydro Building for regular OBGYN appointments, then weekly appointments for ultrasounds when I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes (both pregnancies) two hospital births, multiple colposcopy clinic visits, and many late night runs to Sick Kids Emergency unit for both Charlotte and Sofie.  Your a parent it comes with the territory – these are all things that you come to expect.  So much so that at our 6 week follow up with our OBGYN we felt a bit saddened by the fact that we wouldn’t be visiting the area anymore.  I had been visiting weekly for such a long period of time and had grown to really love all of the hospital relationships with the nurses and doctors there was a sense of loss knowing that we wouldn’t be returning anytime soon.

But then… as if in some divine distorted way of me wanting attention from the corner of local Hospitals at University & College I was invited back to join the ‘Hospital Party’.  Getting diagnosed with Cervical Cancer will do that.

It becomes a job with your everyday appointments and waiting and you get good at becoming a patient and understanding the ‘hurry up and wait’ game.  Some part of me feels like pregnancy really prepared me for my cancer because I have a new found relationship with hospital visits, doctors, waiting rooms, students ‘taking a peek at my vagina and other bits’, nausea and sleep deprivation.  I’m mean seriously… thank you universe for teaching me some of the basic ‘tips’ for managing my future side effects of cancer.

Today, I felt like a student again.  Wow – it’s been a long time since I’ve had a binder, pen and paper & in Chemo class today then even supplied us with highlighters.  Vic and I decided that any chance we could take to walk to the hospitals we would as A) it’s good to get out for some fresh air and exercise and B) hospital parking is fucking expensive. (we have spent a lot of money in parking in the last 2yrs – we weren’t sad about missing the parking lady attendant)

So off we went.

CHEMOTHERAPY CLASS: For women with gynecologic cancer and their families

Friday, August 21st – Session 1: 11:00am-12:30pm

When you get to Toronto General Hospital:

  1. Use the elevators straight ahead to go down to level B (Basement).
  2. Leave the elevator lobby and turn right. ELLICSR is ahead on the right, next to Cells For Life. Look for the wooden door and orange wall.

GYNE CHEMO CLASS

So… what did we learn?

What is cisplatin chemotherapy?  Chemotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses medicine to kill cancer cells. You will be receiving a chemotheraphy medicine called cisplatin (pronounced sis-pla-tin)  You will also be receiving radiation treatment with this type of chemotherapy. Radiation treatment will be daily Mon-Fri for 5 weeks.

How long will my chemotherapy last?  You will receive cisplatin once a week for 5 weeks.  You will need 5 cycles.

How will I receive the chemotherapy?  You will receive your chemotheraphy through an intervenous (IV) needle. The nurse will insert a needle into a vein on the back of your hand or lower arm.  The needle is attached to a plastic tube and a bag that contains medicine.

How often will I see my doctor during chemotheraphy?  You will see your doctor once during each cycle.  You will also see your radiation oncologist once a week during your treatment.

What are some possible side effects of cisplatin?  

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Low white blood cells in your blood
  • Low platelets in your blood
  • Low red blood cells in your blood
  • Fatigue
  • Hair thinning
  • Decreased hearing and ringing in the ears
  • Peripheral neuropathy

*Not everyone gets all the above side effects during treatment 

I won’t go into long detail about all the other drug schedules I have to strictly follow to ensure that my body is ready for chemo… but trust me when I say that I am a full time cancer patient now.  It is officially what I am doing for the next 3months.  It’s extremely overwhelming to know that all “normal” activity is going to come to a fast halt.  I’m a new mom and currently breastfeeding and go figure that this time around it came so easily and now I have to abruptly stop and within 1-2 weeks my body will go through what’s called “treatment-induced or medical menopause”.

men·o·pause

ˈmenəˌpôz/

noun

  1. the ceasing of menstruation.
    1. Menopause is the time in a woman’s life when her ovaries stop making estrogen and she has not had a menstrual period for 12 months. Most women start menopause naturally between 45 and 55 years of age. Some cancer treatments cause menopause to occur earlier. This is called treatment-induced menopause.

Just to make things clear about the menopause thing… 

CAUSES: Treatment-induced menopause can be caused by…

  • surgical removal of both ovaries
  • chemotherapy
  • radiation therapy to the pelvis
  • hormonal therapy

The effect of radiation therapy on the ovaries may be temporary or permanent. This depends on the woman’s age and the dose of radiation. (I have been told that my treatment plan will permanently destroy my ovaries)

SYMPTOMS: Symptoms of treatment-induced menopause can vary in severity. Each woman experiences menopause differently. The symptoms of treatment-induced menopause are the same as natural menopause. They include…

  • hot flashes
  • night sweats
  • irregular or no menstrual periods
  • problems sleeping such as not being able to fall asleep, or insomnia
  • vaginal dryness, itching, irritation or discharge
  • loss of interest in sex
  • painful intercourse
  • bladder or vaginal infections
  • mood swings or irritability
  • weight gain
  • depression

After menopause, women are at risk of losing bone mass or density, which can lead to osteoporosis. Women who have entered menopause also have a greater risk of heart disease.

CONCLUSION:  If cancer doesn’t kill me then my sadness of hot flashes and my vaginal dryness may lead me to jump off a bridge OR I may fall to the ground of a massive heart attack.  Awesome.  :)-

So after some “light” class chat we found ourselves exploring the underground Hospital “tunnel” under University Ave.  I’ve heard people talk about but have never been in it. Made me realize what an amazing city we live in and how grateful we are to have such an incredible health care system.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s