Shannon’s Journey 11

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This is Chemo Day. Actually, Shannon’s gonna have five more of these. She didn’t tolerate chemo very well the first time around ten years ago. Hopefully, she’ll do better this time. This time, they have better drugs, both better chemo drugs and better drugs for the side effects and a better drug to help her immune system, though the latter one is very expensive.

I will admit, I was a little nervous going to Dr. Reganti’s office this morning, Vesta was too. I think it’s because we tend to identify with the people we photograph. When they’re happy, we’re happy and the opposite is true as well. And when they’re fighting for their lives, even if they’re just sitting in a chair as they’re doing it, it’s nerve racking.

But, as you can see from the above photo. Shannon was pretty calm about the whole thing. Me and Vesta, not so much.

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Shannon’s friend Denise brought drove her into Reno today, cuz driving herself all that way isn’t such a good idea. We caught them in the parking lot as Denise was applying Shannon’s lipstick.

It’s important, in times like this, that you look good. Being sick is a pretty crummy business, but you don’t have to look crummy as you go through it. Besides, when you look your best or even better than your best, as Shannon has everyday throughout her journey so far, those around you are just a little more at ease. And let me tell you, just mention the “C” word and people tense up.

And there there’s the added benefit of feeling a little better during you’re doctor and chemo visits. You know, because you usually just plain feel better when you look good.

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The chemo treatments are five hours long. Five hours of sitting in a chair. Five hours of potential boredom. Five hours of being pretty gosh darned uncomfortable. True, she’s sitting in a recliner, which is better than an airplane seat, but I wager that recliner’s actually more confining and uncomfortable than the tightest, most cramped airplane seat you can get, because when you’re crammed into a seat on a jet plane, you at least know you’re gonna be going on vacation at the end of the plane ride or to visit friends or someplace fun. If you’re going to your best friend’s funeral, maybe you’d resent the plane ride, but usually people are pretty bloody happy about getting on a cramped plane, not so a chemo recliner.

So to counter that boredom, Shannon brought a bunch of stuff with her in that blue bag. She also brought a gallon or so of sweet tea in a giant mug.

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She’s getting weighed in here. Seems like every time you go to the doctor, they wanna weigh you. Though I suppose when you’ve got cancer they want to monitor your weight more than say if you’re going because you’ve got the sniffles.

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Blood pressure a little low. She says it’s always that way. Just thinking about the chemo to come and the hair loss and the possible sickness and nausea and vomiting woulda sent mine through the roof.

But Shannon’s bantering with the nurse like chemo is just an everyday occurrence.

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She’s got a port for the chemo, which was put in during her mastectomy, so all the nurse has to do is swab it, then stick in the needle, set the drip and she’s good to go, chemo-wise, for the next five hours or so. And all I gotta say to that is, “Brrr.” 

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Waiting for chemo.

You might wonder, why chemo if they cut all the cancer out. I know I did. But there’s just a possibility a cancer cell or two broke lose and is wandering around or has settled somewhere else in her body. Cancer cells are dividing cells. They do it often and sometimes they do it fast. Chemo kills dividing cells in a few different ways. If you’re interested, you can learn more about how chemo works and why it’s necessary, by clicking on this UK Cancer Research link.

The Cancer Research UK site makes the whole chemo cancer business pretty easy to understand. I’ve been to dozens and if you’re interested, even a little bit, I recommend it. You’ll learn a lot about cancer, chemo and recovery and it won’t tax your brain very much. A little maybe, but you’ll survive.

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Hey, girls, look this way, please.

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Getting her hooked up.

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Securing the connection. I’m sure that’s not the right medical terminology, but it’s the best I can come up with for now. And beside, it’s an accurate description.

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This photo and the one following are pretty self explanatory. The nurse is drawing blood. 

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Taking a selfie, before Denise has to go to work.

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Five hours later, chemo session over and now she has a Neulasta injector taped to her arm. I’ve commented on the high cost of this drug. It’s wrong to make women pay so much and I believe the big pharma guys should be drawn, quartered and hanged, but cut down while they still got some life in ‘em, and then buried alive.

But for now, they live the life of kings while people all over America go broke because of the high cost of their drug. But it’s not up to me. Anyway, Neulasta is supposed to be administered twenty-seven hours after chemo and this injector is timed to inject at the appropriate hour.

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Shannon’s employer needed some paperwork to authorize her to leave work if she’s feeling adverse side effects. I forget the name of the paperwork, so let’s just call it a note from her doctor.

Shannon filled it out. The doc or someone at her office had to sign it. And they did, for twenty bucks.

Yep, you read me right. When Shannon told the office administrator that she needed the form signed, the office administrator lady said, “You know, we charge for that.”

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Day at the doctor’s over, I took a few photographs of Shannon and her daughter Katlin. I meant to use the best one here, because I wanted to end with a happy picture.

But they were all happy pictures and I couldn’t decide which one was the best one, so I used ‘em all.

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