The First Day of Chemotherapy – What They Don’t Tell You “Might” Happen

Today, I’m sitting at home, resting…if you’ve seen my Facebook post, my white blood cells are too low at this point for me to receive chemo on Monday, which would be my third treatment. Since I’m not supposed to really leave the house, I’m getting caught up on some posts – I’m wearing a mask if I do leave.


The one thing the nurses and Dr. Hagemann told me when I left after my last appointment was that it’s okay to be nervous and scared heading into your first treatment, but show up…just show up and it will be okay, we will help you through this.  It’d never crossed my mind that showing up wasn’t an option, but they say it happens.

Me being the planner I am, had Googled, Pinterested, etc everything about what to expect, what I needed to take with me, side effects of the drugs – you name it, I was looking it up.

My friends Jodi and Anne gave me bags full of everything I might need or had helped them through treatments (Anne is a 3 time cancer survivor, she’s my go-to when I have a question or have something new they’re throwing at me). Blankets, notebooks, lip balm, lotion, adult coloring books, etc – I was prepared and had my LARGE bag packed the night before. A plan was in place, everything child related was handled – Dad would take Jaxson to school, Nancy would stay at home with Olivia since it was President’s Day – but again, not sure I slept too much.  Let’s be honest, I was scared shitless!

Since I didn’t know what to expect, I kinda just went with the flow of things. I started with a bag of pre-medication (Dexamethasone and Benadryl) and once that was completed the Taxol drip began (this would take 4-4.5 hours). What they didn’t tell me MIGHT happen set in at the 15 minute mark, 5 minutes past when it SHOULD have happened if it was going to happen.  I had a SEVERE adverse reaction to the drug…it came out of nowhere, they refer to it as hypersensitivity. I went from telling my mom I didn’t feel well and grab a trash can to, “Mom, my face is on fire, I think my ears are swelling”, to the two nurses running to my chair as I started coughing and my chest tightened up.

Without time for gloves or anything, the two nurses began drawing H-blockers (basically Pepcid and something else) to counteract the reaction – then ran down the hall to get Dr. Hagemann – whatever they gave me, knocked me flat on my butt…I was slumped down in the chair for about the next 45-60 minutes. I’d receive a bag of H-blockers and then we’d slowly try to administer the drug again. How could I not have read somewhere that this was a possibility? Let me guess…happens 5% or less of the time…I didn’t ask, I really didn’t want to hear that I was an anomaly again – ha! I gave everyone a pretty good scare though, including myself.

The first thought that went through my mind AFTER things were under control – what if I can’t take this drug, what in the world are my options then…what if there isn’t another option?? Thankfully, that wasn’t the case. They monitored me very closely, still do, and started the drip again, increasing the speed every 15 minutes. Things went well and I seemed to be okay. I started feeling and looking better, everything was now headed in the right direction.

The remainder of the treatment went well, Mom and Sonya brought me lunch back and I ate a little something, took and nap and before I knew it, my time was up and I was ready to go home, the 6 hours was up. I had anticipated leaving the session feeling a little groggy, but was told I’d probably have a couple good days before the yucky stuff set in…unfortunately, that wasn’t the case since I’d had such a severe reaction. For the next week, I didn’t feel the greatest – nausea and body aches got the best of me, but I survived and the first one was done!

2 Replies to “The First Day of Chemotherapy – What They Don’t Tell You “Might” Happen”

  1. There are so many things that only someone who has experienced effects themselves, can tell you. No one ever told me about the horrid constipation I would experience. But that was my story and this is yours. I hope the rest of your treatments are uneventful. Keeping you in our thoughts and sending you positive energy daily.

    1. Oh gosh, I have that as well…I knew I’d have that to look forward to from a friend and I’ve been able to manage it pretty well. It’s not fun though!

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