Wednesday, June 29, 2011


wow. i am doing it. not trying to act like i am cool or special or that this is that big of a deal to anyone else in the world...just me. chemo was a big part of my life for six months. as much as it was awful and i hated it. it was the medicine/poison that was used to heal my body from cancer. so it is a big deal to me. it always will be and if for no other reason than that i do not want to forget. what it felt like. how it smelled. what we did to pass the time. the women i spoke to. how it was apart of what changed me. how it was hard some days and not so bad other days.

here is what chemotherapy was like for me.

the tuesday before treatment i would go to the office to get blood work done. my white blood cell count was always very low so i would get a shot of neupogen. that way my count was high enough to withstand treatment on thursday. the shot hurt. but nothing to bad. just apart of the whole thing. mostly just a pain that i needed to get a sitter and drive thirty minutes. i usually went alone because it was pretty quick. i would cry on the way home. just me in the car. maybe feeling sorry for myself for a second that all this was happening. i did not cry every time. i as sometimes tough. acting like i could handle this whole cancer thing.

on wednesday night justin would get home from campaigners and we would watch our favorite show on bravo. top chef. after i put ava down around 7:30pm i would have a few hours by myself. this is when the anxiety would set in. just the thought of going made me sad and angry. i would begin to feel the nausea i would get when i walked into the door from treatment. i would usually try and distract myself from thinking about it by reading, watching tv, or maybe blogging. but i always recall laying in bed with justin and asking i have to go? to which i always knew the answer. but i often thought...what dr. lee actually do if i just did not show up. but decided that was counter productive since it would only drag my treatment out longer. so we went. every other thursday from august to february.

treatment was usually around 9am or 10am. i would get up. i think i wore leggings and uggs to every treatment. i wanted to be comfy. i would always shower because i never knew when i would fell well enough to shower again. we were always rushed. ava would usually be getting up right as we were leaving and the babysitter was arriving. that worked well. i would pack my damask monogrammed chemo bag with my blanket, nook, candy, medicine i might need, my phone, chap stick, and lotion. my hands would get dry and my lips too. i would put lidocaine on my port to help numb it before i got to treatment. it helped to ease the pain when they put the needle into my port. i would cover it with saran wrap so it would not get on my clothes. i would take my emend. the miracle anti-nausea pill that never took my nausea away so i am assuming without the medicine i would have been in hell. i got that sick even with the best anti-nausea medicine. kissed ava and went over her schedule that was typed out in detail like some crazy women. but i think it helped with having so many different people care for her...everything was written out clearly and in detail. emotionally i was okay in the morning. just sorta moving around getting ready and not really thinking and feeling. just going. if felt up for it we would stop at starbucks for coffee and some breakfast. as time went on i felt more and more sick in the morning and not even starbucks sounded good. we would bring noura a drink too. love your chemo nurse. go above and beyond. we tried to with her so she knew how much we cared for her and that she was caring for me so well. i always got my blood drawn before treatment to make sure everything looked good. my chemo only got moved once due to my count being low. after that i always got the shot so my treatment schedule did not keep changing. you get to know the people pretty well. i always had the same few women drawing my blood. we would talk about how young i was and how ava was doing and what was new in their lives. never really talked about cancer.

i would go get justin from the waiting area and we would head back to the treatment room. it was a pretty large room with three rows of leather lazy boys. i usually sat in the same few places. there were lots of windows and that helped. the light i mean. we would get settled. justin would pull up a chair next to me. i usually would throw up before anything even started. i would get so sick just thinking about what was coming. so they started to give me medicine before i even arrived. that helped to take the edge off. noura would come over and we would chat a bit as she cleaned my port and we would count...1, 2, 3 and she would stick the needle into my port that was hooked up to the machine that administered my particular chemo. first noura would flush my port with saline. i can still taste it. it was awful. i ate wintergreen peppermints the first time to help. people said to eat candy. that did not work for me because now i hate wintergreen peppermints. after that i would just plug my nose so i could not taste it. my stomach is turning as i think about that. i would get four drugs. ABVD. not sure what the long medical words are but it was four drugs. i got them all at separate times. three for fifteen minutes and one for an hour and a half. before she started my medicine i would get a few more anti-nausea drugs to help during treatment and i think they made me drowsy because i always fell asleep at some point during chemo. i was hooked up this an iv so if i needed to get up and doing anything it all came with me. i would usually throw up at least once during treatment and then return to my chair. i can still imagine how that felt. getting sick. the horribly bland taste in my mouth during treatment. gosh it was awful. i would drink water sometimes. eat occasionally but usually nothing stayed down. around noon some cancer volunteers would bring a cart around with sandwiches, drinks, and snacks. that cart made me sick. i got something from them once and i got sick from it. so that was the last time. we would usually talk or i would text or send emails.  justin would sometimes do work on his computer. towards the end he spent a lot of time planning our trip to nyc. i would read. but after like four or five treatments i was so tired that i would sleep as much as i could. it took the pain away and helped me forget where i was for a little bit. the chairs were always full. mostly of women. some men. much older than me. we only really talked to other patients three times. once on my first day to a young mother who was celebrating because it was her last treatment for breast cancer. she was tough and strong. another time when i went to chemo alone due to ava's allergy attack to eggs and justin took her to doctors quick and then met me at treatment. the women next to me wanted to talk and talk and talk. she was nice. but i was not up for talking. her life was pretty rough and her husband sounded pretty awful. mostly because he never went to treatment with her. just dropped her off and picked her up. he could have come but said she could handle it. thankfully justin never did that. we did it together. we are a team. i needed him there. i needed somebody. no one should ever go to treatment alone. if you know someone with cancer make sure they have someone to go with. just to sit with them. most patients had a least one person with them during treatment. people played cards. talked. knit. did little crafts. anything to keep busy and help pass the time. some people's treatment lasted  two hours and other people's were 6-8 hours. we were usually in the five hour range. depending on if i saw my doctor or not. but treatment itself was like 3-4 hours. so we usually got home around 3pm when ava was just going down for a nap so i would sleep too. i came home all drugged and tired and i usually looked pretty bad. not usually always. i was so out of it. but i remember driving home with justin after treatment. he would stop for food i learned not to do that because i would get sick no matter what we got. i would walk in the door and immediately went straight to my bed. that was made with new clean sheets. windows open so it was bright. i would close them right away. but i did always love walking into a clean sunshine filled room.  we had people come to clean on thursdays when we were at treatment so we came home to a clean house. a fresh start. it made all the difference. i always slept. or at least was in bed. when ava woke up she would sometimes come in or if i was asleep they would wait. i could write a lot about ava. how i missed her. how i always need to have the monitor in my room so i knew when she was sleeping or awake. i would yell out to the kitchen when i could hear she was eating dinner. our bedroom is off the hallway off the kitchen. pretty close. i would ask if she was eating. what she was eating. if she was crying i would ask...what is wrong why is she crying? my door would be opened just a crack so if i was awake i could hear what was going on with her...meal time, playing, bath time. i always asked to be woken up so i could put her to bed. i usually woke up around 7pm no matter what because my internal clock told me it was time. get her milk and rock her. pray. i usually skipped books. too tired. but sang a little. that time made me feel less guilty. i hated being away from her and too exhausted to play with her. but at least our days ended with each other. it was nice. i would usually return to bed or go upstairs and watch a movie. depended who was here or what people were doing. some treatments were not that bad afterwards while others were incredibly difficult. either way we survived it. so i think i can survive anything now.

we had amazing people care for us when i was sick. i have blogged about pretty much every visitor. so i wont do it again. but thanks for loving ava. loving us. and sacrificing your time and energy to be here after chemo. i hate that it even existed. but thankful it was you.

i hope i did not forget anything. but that was our experience with chemotherapy. i hope you never experience it for yourself. but sadly most of you reading either know someone with cancer or are currently being treated for cancer. you can do it. it is not that bad. it only feels that way now. okay yes chemo is hard. all of it. i take that back. it is bad. the only way i made it was because i trusted the Lord and knew that i could say how much it sucked. how hard it was. and how much i hate chemotherapy. but i needed it. everything changed because of cancer. life is now broken up into pre-cancer and post-cancer. what happened before and after. i am living in the after and looking forward to what is ahead. ava is crying. i need to get her.

enjoy your wednesday. the pixie cut is getting a little trim today.


  1. this is a very brave post. thank you for your words. from now on, i will always make sure anyone going through a difficult illness has company at the hospital, it seems obvious, but honestly, i'd never thought of it before...

  2. I have been following your blog since you were on Kelle Hamptons and I have been doing the same thing. When you wrote this I so related, the taste of the saline, that horrible lunch cart, the long hours of infusion, the coming home , the wanting to be with your family and yelling from the room to know what the kids are doing. I am also finished with my treatment but I will forever be scarred it was a traumatic time, chemo is traumatic. I have a new found respect for anyone going through chemo , they are power sources they are pillars of strength, they are above the normal, because to have been to hell and still crawl back and then go back again and again for more , that has something to be said for.

  3. Reading about your chemo experience made ME start feeling the nausea. I can remember my treatment mornings oh too well...I can taste the saline when they would flush my port...only Sour Patch Kids would take that nasty taste away and I only figured that out for the last few treatments. I finished treatment March 2010 and have yet to finish the scrapbook about my journey...I can't...everytime I sit down and look at the pictures I get sick and am unable to formulate a thought. And yes "Chemo Buddies" are the hubby worked OR would stay with our son, so I'd have a different "Buddy" for each treatment..was nice...until the end when you just want to sit and sleep, NO talking! haha
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Thank you for sharing, Libby.

  5. oh friend, i can't even describe how much this post means. thank you for sharing the intimate. The details of you life, and what God carried you through. So thankful for you and for cancer-free. your life is making a profound impact. love you so much.

  6. Great post Libby...I miss you all.
    Pop Pop

  7. Wow! Such a graphic post. I can only imagine and can totally get these images. It's awesome that you are able to share your journey with people like me who has no idea what you went through. I think about people being alone is what touched me! I need to remember that...

  8. I just wanted to say that I am so happy that you are done with chemo now and thank you for this post. I was diagnosed with CLL 3 years ago at age 28. I haven't started chemo yet because no one truly knows what to do with me, I am such a rare case. This post though, helps to calm a few of my fears. It is definitely no picnic, but the unknowns for me are sometimes the hardest parts.

  9. Thanks again for sharing. Love you, Shirl

  10. Saw that your blog was pinned by mine as "inspirational'...that made me feel be in your company! Love the latest is BEAUTIFUL. I also love reading about this journey. Although it is painful and hard, you are on the other side at the moment. The Lord doesn't promise you won't go through anything else hard...but made it through that, which means he can carry you through whatever comes!! Praise God...


i read every comment. so please leave one. i love it.