Sam’s Week Off From Chemotherapy

Our week off from chemotherapy was full of challenges and lots of small victories.  Sam and I were faced with a lot of problem solving.  What to eat?  When to eat?  What drugs work?  Which ones have unbearable side effects?  How often can you take these medications?

Controlling the side effects of chemotherapy involves a lot of tinkering, teamwork, and patience.  There’s no doubt that chemotherapy has rough side effects.  It seems possible to make life tolerable even with these grueling effects, but it takes some figuring out.

With the help of our oncologist and a chemotherapy nurse, we were able to pinpoint which medication was causing the headaches.  Once we figured that out, we had to figure out how to stop all of the hiccupping.  Sam had the hiccups for two straight days.  His persistent hiccups interfered greatly with what little appetite he had and our ability to sleep.  We were both pretty miserable.  Fortunately, they make drugs for just about everything these days.  The second I knew that his hiccup-curing pills were at the pharmacy…I was there.  These happy little pills were just what he needed.  Our sanity was saved.

Once the side effects were temporarily maintained, it was naptime baby!  Sam, Theo, and BB have become great napping buddies.  In fact, I don’t know who slept more the few days after his treatment.  Fatigue is one side effect that doesn’t really have a solution but napping sure feels good.  I can’t decide if our cats are happy about the extra napping buddy or if they are annoyed that a tall human has gotten in the way of their napping space.

Quit Hogging The Bed!

During chemotherapy and up until four days after his last treatment, Sam didn’t have much of an appetite.  He was usually nauseous and said that food had a metallic taste.  Even though our refrigerator is stocked with scones, muffins, cheesecake, and lots of meat and cheeses, Sam couldn’t stand the sight or smell of any of them.

The BRAT diet is great to fall back on, but it doesn’t offer a lot of nutrients or protein.  Jackie has spent a lot of time reading about diet and nutrition with cancer patients receiving chemotherapy.  Moms are the wisest people on this planet.  Through her research and cookbooks, she has already taught us so much.

He washed these down with rice milk.

Nutrition is a vital part of healing and staying strong while receiving treatment.  However, food loses its appeal to most patients receiving chemotherapy.  Who enjoys eating while being nauseous and tired? It’s unbelievable to think that eating is an overwhelming task for Sam.  Our evenings used to be filled with excitement with what we’d have for dinner or where we were going out to eat.  Our pizza, beer, and nachos diet is temporarily on hold.

This is why we have mothers.  Jackie made Sam several nutritional snacks, meals, and drinks that settled Sam’s stomach and satisfied his hunger.  This week she made:  sweet potato soup, zucchini soup, pomegranate popsicles, hard-boiled eggs, tapioca pudding (yum), sweet potato chunks (similar to sweet potato fries but healthier), green tea with chamomile, and ginger tea.  These light and flavorful foods have really helped Sam stay nourished throughout the week.  Making sure Sam is excited about eating is essential as we continue to keep him as strong as possible.

Pomegranate Popsicles!

Each day, I give Sam a shot of Neupogen.  This stimulates his white blood cell production.  Finally, all of those hours I spent watching Grey’s Anatomy are coming to good use.  Initially, the idea of poking my husband with a needle seemed frightening and unorthodox but I got over that pretty quickly.  I wash my hands, clean his skin, take the cap off the needle, grab some loose skin, let Sam know I love him, and then it’s time to poke!  Go white blood cells go!  After each shot Sam is rewarded with Teddy Grahams.:)

Theo's butt on a $600 shot.

These last few days have been almost normal.  Sam and I went back to work and more importantly…Sam’s appetite came back with a vengeance!  The first day it came back he insisted that I take him to Burger King.  He wolfed down a Whopper in record time!

We met with the oncologist today (May 19th) and Sam’s white blood cell count is high enough to being treatment again next week.  He’ll be receiving six hours of chemotherapy each day for five straight days.  I believe we’re all a little nervous about this next go round, but we’re ready.

We’ll update the blog next weekend.

Thank you again for all of the loving emails, comments, and cards.  We are blessed to be surrounded by such awesomeness.


Leslie's MY Xbox!

2 Responses to “Sam’s Week Off From Chemotherapy”

  1. 1 gene & judy mckittrick May 20, 2011 at 4:35 am

    Thank you Leslie for keeping everyone up to date with Sam’s Healing process. Your love for each other sure shows through you postings and everyone will share their thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery. Please tell all the family hello for us. Gene & Judy McKittrick

  2. 2 Kate May 20, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    (a) there’s a hiccup-curing pill?? I am so proud to live in the 21st century. Medical science FTW.
    (b) Theo: keep your heinie off the Neupogens. They’re NOT STEROIDS. And they WON’T give your heinie special powers.

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