About this blog

I was diagnosed with breast cancer on June 11, 2010. As a result of my treatment, I have lymphedema in my left arm. I draw my strength from the Lord, as well as my family's Scots-Irish heritage. Our Graham's were a tough and scrappy bunch of fighters on the Scottish/English border. They came to America and continued to fight when necessary: in the American Revolution; the Civil War; and my brother is a Captain in the U.S. Army. My ancestors settled this country against all odds. My great-grandmothers on both sides of the family were pioneer women who settled the West. Along with that heritage, and the full armor of God, I am walking the walk and fighting the good fight.

Friday, August 20, 2010

One down, five to go

I'm home from round #1 of chemo. All in all, it wasn't bad. In fact, it was kind of a break! No kids to entertain, no diapers to change, no sibling squabbles to mediate. I had 3+ hours to relax, read, snooze, or watch TV.

I had a good breakfast. I wanted to make sure I had some vegetables in me. I made eggs with spinach and a tomato in it. A slice of Ezekiel low sodium bread, and a bowl of organic berries. Bring on the chemo!

Eric came with me to get me settled in. They took me to my station in the chemotherapy suite and I sat down. The nurse who would be taking care of me looked at me and said, "I think we have a connection!" Really? As it turns out, we have a mutual friend. A lady who was in my bible study group last semester is a mutual friend. She and her kids were swimming at their house just the other day. She told her nurse friend that she knew someone who was going to be starting chemotherapy and to look out for someone named "Tonya." Our mutual friend didn't know if I was a Kaiser member or not, so the nurse didn't think much about it. When she looked at the schedule yesterday, she didn't notice my name. But this morning when I came in, she saw it. Isn't that neat? I told her that it was such a GOD thing! She goes to Calvary Chapel Oceanside. She said that we would be spending eternity together, its nice to take care of each other before that. Cool!

She put a warm towel around my right arm for a few minutes before the poke. When she took the towel off, my veins were FANTASTIC!! It was like the Nile river! So easy to see...standing up almost saying, "Right here, lady!" The poke did sting a bit, but what do you expect? That was the worst of it, and it was over quick. They started with a saline drip for awhile, I guess to flush things out. She also gave me a mega dose of Zofran, an anti-nausea medication.

She asked me about various health issues I may be having. When she asked about my sleep, I admitted it hadn't been going too well the last few nights. She mentioned that the steroid that I'm supposed to take the day before, day of, and day after chemo would contribute to sleeplessness. On the other side, it gives me energy during the day. She called Dr. P and he prescribed Ativan to help me sleep. I'm not supposed to use it every day because it is habit forming. And I'm not big on taking drugs. It's a slippery slope-you have to take one drug to counteract the effects of another drug and it just snowballs. But I do want to get some sleep, so I think I'm going to take one tonight. Just while I'm on the steroid. The nurse said my energy will drop fast when I stop taking the steroid (which will be on Sunday, Day #2) So I most likely won't be needing any sleep aids!

We also talked about nutrition. The nurse said raw fruits and veggies were okay, as long as they were very clean. She said she wouldn't advise a restaurant salad bar, but if I'm doing it at home and washing them well, its fine. Good! I go out of my way to buy organic produce, and I recently have gotten into the habit of using a vegetable wash to make sure any bad things are washed off.

They started with the Cytoxan. It wasn't a big deal at all. They started me out with the drug going in slower, at "50." I figured that was 1/2 speed, but as it progressed, they got me up to 200. I didn't feel any effects of it at all.

While I was there, I just read my book. The lady next to me was on her last round, but her rounds went with one long day (today) and then a short day next week. I was surprised not to see any bald people, or women in scarves. This is the chemotherapy suite, after all! One lady I could tell was in a wig. Maybe other people just had better wigs? I'd better lose my hair after all the hats I've been getting! Either that or turn into a hat person.

Jean-Marc had his 2 year old well baby checkup in the middle of all this upstairs in the pediatric office. Eric went home and took him to that. Afterwards, they came to visit me. He was so cute coming into the room. He wanted to get up on my lap, but that wasn't going to happen. It was lunch time for him, so Eric took him home. But he cried on the way out. He's going through another separation anxiety phase right now. Not fun.

The two nurses who were there are planning to do the Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk in November. Their team name is "These nurses stick it to breast cancer." I told her that I was planning on doing it next year!

After the Cytoxan was the Taxotere. Again, no big deal. I didn't feel like anything was going on. During the course of the morning, I unplugged my mobile unit and went to the bathroom, refilled my water bottle. I had 40 ounces while there. Before I went in, I had 10 ounces of water with 2 ounces of Xango juice in it. I also finished off my night time water, so that was probably another 10 ounces. This afternoon, I've had another 20. I don't think drinking water is going to be difficult for me! I'm even thirsty now, after 80+ ounces, and its not even 4 p.m.!

Mom came after Eric got home to pick me up. The timing was perfect. We dropped the prescription off at the pharmacy and went to lunch. I wanted to stay close, so we went to the Stir Fresh Mongolian Grill. I wanted some more veggies and just made my sauce mild. It was good. Afterwards, we had a frappucino at Starbucks. On the way home, we picked up the prescription and it was done.

So how do I feel? I feel fine right now. It's strange waiting to be hit with the unknown. The nurse advised that I take the anti-nausea med tonight, and then once in the morning and evening for the next 3 days. Better than getting sick. Hopefully that will ward that off. Eric feels worse than I do, actually! He didn't sleep well, either. He's been complaining of a headache all day. I'm sure its all stress related.

I'm hoping to feel well enough tomorrow morning to go to my sister in laws baby shower. But like everything these days, I'm playing it all by ear. Stay tuned!

My prayer requests:
  • That the drugs in my body right now are killing off those cancer cells. Digging their way into their DNA and disrupting the replication process. Die suckas!!
  • That the side effects I experience be manageable.
  • That Eric start to feel better. He has a business trip on Sunday and needs to be able to function. (Don't worry---mom has already offered to come and stay here with us if I need it!)
  • That the kids have some peace and not be afraid. Mom told me that after we left this morning that the 3 of them had some prayer time and talk about their fears. They both were crying. They don't share this with me, or at least they haven't so far. But mom said it was a very good time and they were able to express their worries and give them up to the Lord.


  1. You're a trooper! Thanks for posting this. While I didn't have chemo, your blog is very educational to me and those facing chemo too

  2. Hi Tonya,

    I've been thinking about you all day. So, now you know what Chemo Day is like. Tomorrow, you might feel a little flush in the face, but you should be ok for the baby shower. I will call tomorrow for what you're in the mood for Dinner. I'm still so sad you're having to go through this. I'm super glad you have someone there to watch over you.

    I'm glad to hear your mom will be there on Sunday. You might start getting tired by then.

    I'll talk to you tomorrow.