Halfway through “Red Devil”

Friday morning, I had my second (of four) chemos with the “Red Devil.” I’m told this is the most aggressive and the hardest part of chemo. Once these four, every-other-week treatments are done, I go to a weekly chemo regiment for 12 more weeks – but it shouldn’t be as tough on my body as the first phase.

In fact, my pre-chemo lab work last week was described as “phenomenal.” Some of the measures were even better than before I started chemo! There was a concern with how my body would handle the “Red Devil” since I’ve never had meds this harsh before. (How bad is the “Red Devil”? It cannot be injected through an IV like the other chemo meds. It has to be injected through syringe, by hand, so the nurse can make sure it’s going into a vein. Inject 3 ccs, pull back on the syringe to see blood, inject more meds, repeat. If it were to “escape” into my body, it would cause tissue and/or organ necrosis. Even when administering it, the nurse dresses in a sterile gown, mask, double gloves to protect her if any leaks out of the syringe.)

In particular, the doctor was interested in my kidney and liver functions with the blood work. When cells die, the kidneys and liver essentially filter them out so they can be secreted out of the body. The doc described it as little “screens” on the organs that the dead cells have to pass through. In some people, the dead cells build up and clog the screens, backing toxins into the body. This would be bad. However, my lab work shows everything is acting as it should. No concerns. Yay!

The anti-nausea meds and antibiotics fed intravenously during chemo make me kind of hyper for about 36 hours. Lots of energy. Lots of talking. B and I enjoyed a kids-free night on Friday – dinner out and then a nice cocktail. (I had a chocolate milkshake cocktail. No more “frozen treat season” for me!) On Saturday, B and the girls were over for dinner and a sleepover. It wasn’t until Saturday night that I started to get tired (and a little grouchy – well, really just an intolerance for kiddos not listening to me or acting out). On Sunday, I was okay until mid-day when I just started to feel lazy, similar to the Sunday after the first treatment.

As “hard” as the docs make this first phase sound, it really hasn’t been too bad. Yes, I’m super tired the week between treatments, which is because this is when the majority of the cell deaths occur and it’s before a secondary med kicks my bone marrow into overdrive. But there’s no nausea, no bone pain, no gastro-distress. I have headaches for a few days as a result of the anti-nausea meds (but if I have to choose between a mild-but-annoying headache for which I can take a Tylenol or puking my guts out, I’ll take the former).

Lazy, tired, little grouchy? It’s worth it: the mass I originally found in December has shrunk significantly. It’s not as prominent, harder to find, and feels “squishier” than it did originally. I’ll have another mammogram and ultrasound probably between my third and fourth “Red Devil” dose to show the change, but it’s super reassuring that the meds are working and KILLING the masses!

3 thoughts on “Halfway through “Red Devil”

  1. dear Jax,

    I have just completed reading your blog from beginning to end. you are an amazing woman! I am also a widow – my Beloved died 21 mos. ago while both he and I were both in remission with cancer, him with multiple myeloma, and just 2 years into his cancer I was diagnosed with ST IV metastatic breast cancer. 8 weeks after his sudden death (I found him next to me in our bed) I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. I remain in remission , NED for the MBC and no signs of recurrence of the uterine cancer. I was a hospice nurse for 30 years, and I thought there was nothing that was inconceivable – so I have never asked “why me?”.

    I am in awe of your determination to be the best mother/role model for your darling children, for how much love and support you and you Mom share with one another, and for all the responsibility you shoulder to do the best for your self, take care of yourself as you face treatment for breast cancer. and I am over-the-moon happy for the presence and the love that B and his children bring to your lives.

    your writing is so eloquent along with the raw honesty with which you tell your story I wish I could reach through this screen and give you a hug. I look forward to hearing about the next chapters in your life and wish you all good things.

    much love,

    Karen

  2. My wife has just finished 10 weeks of Taxol chemo cocktail and 4 weeks of “Red Devil” with great results. We just go back from hospital after removal of her port.
    The port had to be removed due to necrosis of some of the skin tissue around the port. She is now waiting surgery, radiation and a year of herceptin. Best of luck to all under going treatment.

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