Sunday, August 25, 2013

Melinda's Weekend Chemo Stay-cation

Life has been a whirlwind the last half dozen days, from detection to diagnosis to treatment of the small-cell lung cancer we're facing.  The great news is that brain scans come back clear.  So long as any tumors remain in body organs that get a blood flow, it should respond to chemo.  The PET scan does show "hot spots" in her pancreas and neck, so we all think that the decision to start treatment NOW is a good one.  Melinda has been amazingly determined and with the help of a parade of our close friends that have offered support and come stayed with her this weekend, how can we not continue to feel optimistic.  The staff at 3NW has been great, and while nurses can be difficult patients, we've universally loved everyone we've worked with on the floor.  Between the attentive care, central location, and 24 hour room service with a varied menu, it almost seems like a little spa, except with IV chemo!

While the care is great, there is no mistaking why we are here.  Chemotherapy is tough stuff and watching the nurses don gear to protect themselves is startling.  I've been a patient for lots of procedures, but watching them "gear up" is still a shock.  She is getting a dual combo of Cisplaten and Etoposide on the first day, and just the latter for 2 additional days.  She had a bit of a reaction half way through the first bag when her heart rate rose and blood pressure dropped and pulse Ox lowered.  They are still investigating the causes of that, but might have been a reaction to stress, anxiety, or weird eating schedule the day before (hadn't eaten in 20 hours for some of the Thursday tests).  We're meeting a cardiologist Monday for that issue.  No repeat issues on  Sunday's treatment, thank goodness.  Also, more MRI scans on Monday after the first round to monitor any early reaction to the weekend treatment.  She will likely get released after that, and will be recovering with me at home.  Subsequent rounds of treatment will be as an outpatient from the Arizona Cancer Center, literally a mile from our house - only the urgency of the start of treatments dictated the inpatient treatment this time.

But besides the serious issues going on, several of our friends joined in to make it a tolerable weekend, especially when I needed to go to work for most of Saturday for the next Mirror Lab casting.  I had promised a tour to a big group from Phoenix, and was to help with the big crowd of partners and affiliates.  Our local buddies jumped in to make sure she didn't miss me in my absence...

And while keeping one's hair always seems a concern, Melinda is being pro-active.  Knowing that more than likely it will come out or thin dramatically, she wanted to get it cut short, not only to minimize the effect of the chemo, but it is also tough for her to bend over with her current breathing issues, so hair maintenance is much simplified.

Our friend Michelle volunteered to bring scissors and clippers and do the deed for her.  Not that I couldn't watch, but I needed to leave for cat chores, but returned to find Melinda with a short, very stylish cut.  Shown here is the post-shampoo, pre-clip do and the after version with our buddy Erica.

We've been really gratified by the response from around the world as friends find out about the rapid change in our lives.  Facebook is responsible for most, and she enjoys reading all the notes she gets, responding to those that she can.  Evidently, up in the NICU, they reward the milestones of the preemies with beads that are strung into strings.  Well, some of her nurse buddies responded with her own set - these for IV starts and needle pokes, these for chemo treatments.  Of course, delivered in a cat-themed cloth bag!  Hopefully far in the future they will remind us of the trialing time we spent recovering Min's health in the late Summer of '13.  In the meantime, thanks for all your support, love and prayers for her recovery!  We love and appreciate hearing from you!

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