One treatment down, many to go

Published on June 26, 2014


How was your week besides the rain and cold?

Mine… ohh there is really no word to describe it, but let me tell you about it. Maybe you can come up with a word for it because I can’t.

I started the week going to the hospital for my bone filler IV meds and I even got there on time. The new port worked great, no leaks, but I didn't realize that I still had to get a needle through the skin to get into the port.

The port has like a gel pack spot in the middle of it so the needle is a direct hit into the vein and there is no more wiggling the needle around under the skin trying to grab the vein. The vein could collapse and they have to try this again.

The needle in the port is a sure shot and in go the meds. It didn't hurt either. The nurse told me to be sure if anyone is administrating anything to my port to watch them, they have to draw blood back through the needle in the port before they put anything in.

If I don’t see blood, I’m to make them stop and make sure I see blood before they continue. Seeing the blood makes sure there are no air bubbles.

Where the port is threaded into my heart, an air bubble will kill me faster than any cancer will. I told her I hate looking  and that’s when she said, “Kathy, you look and if you don’t see blood, you stop them.”

I told her I would since she is the one person I really do listen to. She has been my chemo nurse for years. You would have a hard time finding a person with a nicer personality than Alice. She treats you like a person, not like you’re just a patient who has to listen to her. I’ve had a few nurses over the years who make the fear of not knowing what’s happening to you even worse.

Alice will sit with you and go over things until you understand. Sometimes with me it’s like talking to a wall, but she makes sure I understand and I really appreciate her for that.

Well, Monday night my car decided to spring a leak in the power steering hose. Oh my God, what else can go wrong with my little old car?  It’s like me. Parts are wearing out and getting rusty, but I just keep fixing us up and we keep on going.

I’m just glad it was the car’s hose that leaked and not my new one.

On Tuesday, I had to leave for Halifax at 6 a.m. to get there for my 8:15 a.m. appointment. I got there at 8 a.m. so talk about just making it. The machine that sets up the grid for my markings was broke so I didn't get them done until 12:30 p.m. The markings are little blue dots that they call tattoos.

They set the grid lines (like a squaring-off area) and they have to be exactly on target so the radiation beam is right on the cancer spot they treating. 

Once the grid is set, they mark you with a black marker, then prick your skin with a lance and then wipe the blue dye spot so it’s permanent.

They aren’t bad enough to bleed much though. I have so many radiation tattoos from all the treatments over the years, I could play connect the dots. Now that the markings are done, I’m ready for the radiation that is usually done right after the markings.

You guessed it… the machine was done for resetting so my 8:15 a.m. appointment turned into 5:30 p.m. I had nowhere to be so I mostly slept in the chair in the waiting room. The technicians came out to apologize and offer me a room with a bed, but I was fine and it wasn’t their fault the machine wasn’t working.

Things break. The machine was finally up and running. It is huge and the bed rises up and it moves ahead and back until the grid lines are matched up with mine. The X-ray machine is above you and there are machines moving on all sides. It’s like a huge transformer only it does not turn into a robot.

They start with taking X-rays of the spot to be treated and once that is done, then you get zapped. You can't feel it or see it, but you hear it. When it’s done, you’re waiting for the little green men to come out and stand around the bed like a sci-fi movie. It takes about 15 minutes in total to get the treatment and that’s with the set-up.

I’m getting four treatments on my hip (you can only get one a day) to harden the bone. The doctor is worried that when I start chemo, my hip will break and then I’m in real trouble so they want to make it stronger. I’m also getting my shoulder done to stop the pain from the cancer that’s in there.

So one treatment is done and I will let you know next week how the rest go. Weight wise… oops, I have to breath in to button the pants.

Have a great week folks and, yes, summer is really here.


Kathy Golemiec is a resident of Westville and will be chronicling her struggles and challenging as she undergoes cancer treatments. She will be a weekly columnist with The News.