Friday, May 20, 2011

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

Have I mentioned lately
that melanoma really,
freaking sucks?

I can normally spin things in a positive tone, but I am physically and emotionally exhausted tonight. If you catch me sounding bitter and sad, tonight I am. I hate cancer. I hate, hate, hate it.

Let me explain my grumpy attitude...

We headed over to Sloan Kettering at 9:00 this morning to have my labs drawn. Although my appointment was not until later, they needed my morning levels. It started off well enough. The nurse called me into the room right away, I did not even have time to sit down. I liked not having to wait! She took my blood pressure---which was normal---and my temperature which was also normal. Then the little lady (and boy, she is TINY!) sits me down in the chair to draw the blood out of me. No one warned me just how much blood she was going to take. As she pulled tube after tube out of the drawer, I started to panic. Was that all for me? 16 tubes for MY blood? What are they? Vampires?  The poor vein she used in my hand did perfectly until tube number 12. It had had enough and refused to give her any more. In goes another needle to another vein. Ouch. Talk about feeling like a zombie...I walked out of the Outpatient Center thinking I was either going to fall asleep or simply pass out in the middle of the road. Loopy! Once I had some food and juice, I felt a little better. 

Since we had some extra time, we headed over to Barnes & Noble. As always, being surrounded by books made me relax. I felt a little less zombie like after rooming around the books. (PS, I am reading Elizabeth Gilbert's new book. Has anyone read it?) 

The meeting with The Wizard was quick and easy. He did notice my left swollen shoulder as soon as he started to examine me. I told him that I have been having pain and that the swelling began on Monday. He told me that we should not freak out yet, that my body has been through so many surgeries and trauma. He told me to give it a few weeks since I just had the CT Scan on May 9th and everything was fine. 

Then it was time for the ultrasound to determine if we should worry about the thyroid nodule that turned up on the last neck CT scan. I knew not long into the ultrasound that something was not right. The tech's mood changed. She continued to focus in just one area. I have had my fair share of ultrasounds, I knew this one was lasting a while. When she excused herself to have the radiologist take a look, she told me to relax. I laid there for about 15 minutes and then in walks a woman. "Hi, Ms. Price. I am Dr. Lee." Warning bells....a doctor came to examine me? After she started to do the ultrasound herself, I said, "So, I am assuming you saw something?" She said, "Yes, I see two concerning things." She told me that she sees the thyroid nodule that they were concerned about, but she also sees "something." She said she could not get a clear enough picture to determine if it is a tumor or if it is just a group of lymph nodes. She continued to examine me for a few extra minutes. I silently laid there, holding back tears. I was grateful that if Dr. Lee saw the few tears that sneaked out, she did not mention it. So, what does this mean? It means I get to be jabbed in the side of my neck with some needles to find out for sure what is going on. It will give us a definite answer. Dr. Lee is supposed to talk to my oncologist, The Wizard, and get back to me next week. Oh, reminder..I did have one lymph node tested from the left side of my neck back in January. It was negative for melanoma. Obviously something is going on, let's just hope it is nothing major. Dr. Lee was not exactly the most uplifting or reassuring doctor I have seen at Sloan Kettering. In fact, she was the opposite. However, I am going to try to cling to my faith...(Please pray it is not a tumor. Please....)

Did I mention that the ultrasound was completely uncomfortable? I am still recovering from surgery on both sides of my neck. My nerves are still recovering from the trauma. It hurts for my boyfriend to touch my neck. Think about a technician who has no sympathy! It was painful. I am very uncomfortable tonight. Very.

Because of the ultrasound discovery, I was unsure if I would still be allowed to begin the trial. Luckily, I was! Although there were no super handsome male nurses, I had a wonderful nurse named Bridget. She was not pushy. She wasn't overly excited. She was mellow, sweet without being too sweet, and quiet. She was my favorite type of nurse. 

The view from my "Chemo Suite."

Because my veins were unhappy from this morning, they did not want to cooperate. Apparently if you warm up the arm, your veins become easier to access. 

That seemed to work! Once she got the IV in me, the 90 minutes began to tick. Every 30 minutes, the nurse came back into my little suite to check my vitals. Each time she came to see me, my blood pressure was decreasing. When it got down to 103/54, the nurse called The Wizard's nurse, Mary. Mary told Bridget that she was not "too" worried, to give me something to drink, and continue to monitor me. Poor Bridget, I think she thought I was lying to her about feeling fine. Sure, I still felt lightheaded, had a bit of a headache, and was exhausted, but those 16 tubes of blood kicked my booty! Bridget just kept saying, "are you sure you are feeling OK?"

After the 90 minute infusion, I had to be observed for an hour. My blood pressure continued to rise back to normal. Soooooooooo weird....

At 6:00 tonight I was finally free to leave. I have never been so happy to see a hotel room.

Today was a hard day on me...physically & emotionally. It reminded me that things can change in moments. I am going to pray, hope and wish that the biopsy will calm my fears. Until then, I am going to regain a positive attitude. 

After all, the sun will come out tomorrow.


Tim said...

Sorry you had such a rough day Chelsea, but you got through it and now you've got your first infusion under your belt! Before you know it you'll be giving directions to the newer nurses on how to do it right!

(For a variety of reasons, I didn't qualify for any clinical trials last year when I was at your stage so I did Interferon... Infusions every weekday for a month... every one in my left arm because I'd had the lymph nodes in my right armpit removed... your post triggered a bit of PTSD in me!)

I just want you to know that you're my hero right now! It sounds like this is a clinical trial designed to test Yervoy as an adjuvant therapy (as you know, it's only approved as a late stage treatment right now) so you're helping pave the way for safer, more effective treatment for those who find themselves suffering from this P.O.S. disease. We're all pulling for you because your success LITERALLY could mean success for all of us!

Be as grumpy, bitter and sad as you want every now and then. You've earned the right as far as I'm concerned... (but somehow, I suspect you'll be smiling again in a day or two... and you certainly deserve that too!)

Kathy said...

Sorry to hear the day was rough. Tim is right though, that's one treatment down. With every drop you are getting better. I'm praying everything goes well with the biopsy. Enough is enough and you have had enough.
Hugs for strength!

Kate said...

Chelsea, I am so very sorry to hear about the ultra sound findings. I am just praying and waiting for you to receive some encouraging news. I mean, enough is enough! And of course you are angry, exhausted and there is now need to "spin" anything...what you're going through completely and utterly SUCKS. No 2 ways about it. I am praying hard for the biopsy to come back clean and for you to continue to beat this monster down and out of your body for good!

Chelsea said...

Thank you all so much for your support. Friday was rough, but I am feeling stronger. The smile is slowly coming back to my face, Tim. :-)

The best thing about the trial is that I am giving the researchers the opportunity to study our nasty cancer and hopefully save someone else from this. Even though the 16 tubes of blood was pretty cruel, I'm so glad I am doing it.

Again, thank you all for your support. It does mean THE WORLD to me.