There are some things that you can expect to be a little different about this posting as compared to the past posts: a lack of brilliant wit and creative writing, poor grammar, poor sentence structure, over use of comma's, the possible misuse of verb tense, and if I forget to press spell check, a rash of misspelling. Why this sudden digression? Because it was written by me, Nathan, Elisa's husband. One of the many ways in which Elisa is my better half is her wonderful talent with the written word. So my apologizes in advance. Elisa had been asking me for a while to contribute to the blog, which I emphatically declined. I told her that would be like asking me to go run next to Carl Lewis. However I felt that I should pick up some of the load on this one, as it was a day about Elisa. Yesterday was a very big day. A very long, physically and mentally exhausting day. Elisa had her medi-port ( Elisa does a beautiful job of describing what this is in an earlier post ) placed in her chest and received her first chemotherapy treatment. Up until today ( and here i can only speak for myself ) Elisa's cancer had a ghost like quality to it. It was all words and reports and slides. There was no pain. No symptoms. There was no way, other than the lump in her breast, that her body was telling her that she was very sick. Not anymore. Yesterday a physical aspect of it was added. Everything became much, much more real. She will now have a physical reminder, 24/7, stitched into her chest. And it is not going away anytime soon. This was difficult for me to see. It was difficult for her mother and father to see. It was even more difficult for Elisa to have done to her. (I really hate that one of the side effects of my chemo is that it hurts to cry. )
So bear with me as I take you through the day.
We were at NYU from 7:20 am until 7:30 pm.
Yesterdays entourage consisted if Elisa, her mother Eileen, her father Al and myself. After checking in we all headed to the radiology waiting area. Around 8 we were taken in to the patient prep room where a nurse went over the procedure that was about to happen and what to expect. The actual procedure for inserting the port is very quick, you are back out to recovery within the hour. So after changing Elisa was led to the OR and the rest of us were relegated to the waiting area. Just about an hour later she was out and in the recovery area where we had to wait until 11 for or scheduled transport ambulette to take us from the NYU hospital to the NYU cancer center where she will be getting all her chemo treatments. During the wait, Elisa was finally allowed to eat a little food. Unfortunately her body was not so keen on that and she became very nauseous. Never fun, but even worse when you are exhausted, just had a foreign object stuck in you and are hooked up to monitors and an I.V. They were able to give her some meds to help with the nausea and soon she was feeling back to good ol' exhausted and achy.
The transport arrived about 45 min late and we headed over to the next stop.
I would like to take a minute to say how amazingly kind and courteous our ambulette driver was. His good nature cheered us up and we felt a little better by the time we drove the five blocks the the cancer center. Thank you Harold.
First stop was blood work. Then upstairs to have a consult with Elisa's oncologist. We had a ton of new questions that we wanted to ask based on some of our research and Al had a whole list of his own to ask. Dr. Volm took the time to answer everyone with the gentle and clear manner that made us a big fans of his from our first meeting with him. (I am going to try to speed this up, if anybody is even still reading at this point).
Next stop was chemotherapy. We all scarfed down a sandwich while we waited to be called in (thank you again Eileen for going out to get those!). Once we were taken back and given the quick tour of the facilities (very nice if you were wondering) we were led to the room that Elisa was to receive her chemo. Luckily she got one right next to a big window and sun was pouring in. Elisa was soon napping like a cat in a sunbeam. 10 minutes later they came to start the first of the set of three drugs - Herceptin. Like most drugs, there are usually a long list of side effects that one can have, but most people don't get. Herceptin is no different. Only it is very uncommon to have a reaction. But as you all know by now, my wife is special. So about 2 minutes into the infusion her body start to tremble - a sign of a reaction. Of course nausea comes with it too. Oh, and did I mention that now the local anesthesia from her port placement has worn off? Needless to say this makes for a pretty shitty combination. So Elisa is feeling horrible. I feel horrible watching this. This is really starting to suck. They give her Benadryl for the reaction and Atavin medication. Both make you drowsy. They give her only Tylenol for the pain (let me tell you, having just had one put in a couple of weeks ago, these people are out of their minds when they say that it won't hurt that bad).
But the combination of the three drugs have a great effect and Elisa falls into a deep sleep for the next four hours. Dr. Volm comes up to check on her when he is told about the reaction she has had. The good news is that this could mean that the drug is working right away. The bad news is that there is a slight chance she may have the same reaction during her next treatment as well ( you know how we love our slight chances). Fortunately after the next treatment (which will be next Thursday) there will be no more reactions to the Herceptin.
The next several hours pass by without event thankfully. Elisa even sleeps through all the medicine changes, a nutritionist consult, several nurse visits, port care instructions, and discharge instructions. She wakes up for the last hour and we are finally free to go. Al drives home in an hour and she eats a little and crawls into bed.
So there it is, Elisa has started her chemotherapy treatment. I was about to say that she has started fighting her cancer, but she started doing that from the second that she was told her diagnoses. She has been fighting it with her amazing positive outlook, her courageous sharing of her feelings on this blog, her gracefully acceptance of the weight that has been placed on her shoulders and her wonderful and abundant humor. And there are so many others who have been fighting it with her. With your thoughtful e-mails and letters. Your prayers and the positive energy you send us. The food you make for us. The rides to and from treatment. The time you spend with us in your hearts and minds and in our home. I am grateful to you all beyond words. I am grateful and proud of my wife beyond measure. We will keep fighting this. Together. This cancer will not beat my wife. Will not beat my family. Will not beat this city of people that has risen up and surrounded us with it's love.