Wednesday, January 30, 2013


Yesterday was my final day in the BGC (big girl chair as my breast cancer gang call it). Mary came with me and did some filming so maybe one day soon you can all see our wonderful chemo setting on the 6th floor of the Vancouver cancer agency. Though maybe a bit hard to believe, I have found over the course of my 8 chemo sessions, that it is a warm and positive place. As patients we are all there hoping that our treatments will put our different cancers at bay. Often there is a genuine wish to share experiences and the volunteers some with dogs in tow, some with their own cancer stories to tell all add to the mix. The nurses are all warm and caring and so knowledgeable.

Our chemo floor does not have a big bell to ring at the end of chemo as many American ones do but I am not sure that I really wanted that anyway. I was happy to have the sessions end but I am not quite there yet with feeling it is the end. Many patients are back with recurrences and in the back of my mind I know there is that chance for me too. I am not going to dwell on that but it is a reality. My nurse, Jen did give me a big hug and the other patients in my room wished me well.

Before I got my Taxol each time I got 20 mg of Dexamethosone and 50 mg of Benadryl IV. These are to ward off any allergic reactions mainly from the solvents used to render the Taxol infusible. So I turn in a bit of a zombie for awhile with dry mouth and slurred speech. Oh well, a small price to pay for no allergies and the benefit is lots of steroid energy for a couple of days following, like today!

Now for my chemo comments. On another blog I am following, a young woman also here in Vancouver with breast cancer, posted what she called a "Letterman" style list of the 10 worst things about chemo. Funnily enough just a few days prior while waiting between yet more appointments, I had made my own list. I used two pages, one for positive and one for negatives. The negatives won!


  • loss of the hair on my head~~buzz cut video way back in October. 
  • hair loss everywhere else I have hair~~most annoying has been nose hair as my nose runs non stop outside especially when walking, hiking or snowshoeing. One day I was leaning over to grab some toilet paper in a public bathroom just prior to a hike and snot suddenly poured out so fast it left a puddle on the floor. I read and laughed out loud when a fellow BC writer described doing the same on a boardroom table!
  • watery eyes due to dryness caused by chemo and drugs taken along with chemo
  • dry nose with bleeding especially at night if I end up nose breathing~~no nose hair does not help.
  • dry skin and more age spots (hope that is just my imagination!)
  • mouth sores~~compromised immune system
  • diarrhoea, constipation
  • nausea
  • loss of taste buds
  • weight and muscle loss
  • fatigue
  • unmentionable infections
  • anaemia, neutropenia
  • headache and fevers
  • muscle pain 
  • neuropathy (this is the latest for me from taxol)
  • chemo brain~~this is a very real consequence but seems that it is reversible. 
  • fear, anxiety, anger, frustration

  • Chances for reflection on what is important (and not so important).
  • Understanding what I am grateful for.
  • Having my family support me and make me laugh (and cry sometimes).
  • Renewal of friendships.
  • Knowledge that my chance of survival is greatly increased.
  • Meeting other cancer patients and hearing their stories.
  • Knowing what an amazing cancer center we have in Vancouver. 

 BC Cancer Agency chemo room~~last infusion!

Celebratory glass of wine with Dick last night!



  1. Love your smile. I had my first chemo yesterday and I too am angry about all the time that has been used up with diagnosis and surgery over the last 3 months. I'm still looking at 3-5 more chemo over next 4 months and then 6-1/2 weeks of radiation after that. I opted to begin reconstruction at time of surgery, but that is on hold now until after radiation. I am headed to my studio now for the first time in months. I think that will help me pass the time and contribute to healing process.

    1. Mary Ann, I did not read your comment until just now and will write to you via email. Too many of us here. I talked to Linda Lusby in the fall about her BC and was just at Lorne Stefan's last week~~his wife died in Dhahran of metasticized BC in 2006 and I was with her. I spent years going to chemo with Linda and wow did it all get brought home when I started in with this whole process. :) Marian PS I see you work on FB and wow you are so talented!