Chemo is over!!!! It's been 20 long weeks - 5 months - 4 brutal rounds of Adriamycin & Cytoxin - 11 rounds of Taxol - 15 rounds in all - total hair loss, including eye lashes and eye brows - 5 days of dramatically low blood pressure - 1 episode of passing out - 4 injections of Neulasta from Mike - countless medications - many headaches, visual changes, back and joint pain & muscle spasms - too many needles and pokes to access my port - weeks of annoying hot flashes, runny nose and eyes - daily fatigue with countless hours spent in bed, and.......I MADE IT!!! I am not the type to toot my own horn, but I must admit that I am pretty proud of myself for making it through these last 5 months. I rarely complained and tried to keep my head held high through it all, because I knew I could do it. I know I can get through anything, especially with my amazing support team. I swear, if all it took to beat cancer was sheer drive, motivation and hard work - I would have had it beat already! I can't thank you enough for all of the many ways you have shown your support throughout chemo - it has truly helped us get through the hardest times. I am so grateful that this first huge hurdle is over and that I made it through in the best shape possible, but I know the journey continues. There will be many more hurdles along the way, so let's get on to the next!
For many weeks now, I have wanted to share what Chemoland is like. But, there has always been something else that I wanted to share at that particular time, so I never got around to it. Today I wanted to give you a small glimpse into the world at the Weisberg Center (aka Chemoland), because it has become a bit of a second home to me - as odd as that may sound. The Weisberg Center is a satellite of the Karmanos Cancer Institute, located in Farmington Hills. The main hospital in downtown Detroit is a part of a huge medical center that is always crazy busy, with tons of people running around, and it can be a bit overwhelming. I am so grateful I get to receive my care at the Weisberg Center, which is a much more intimate, relaxed, and peaceful environment.
Here are a few pics I took to let you see where I spend much of my time these days. The images are limited in order to protect the privacy of patients that were already in the clinic on this day.
A couple snapshots of the lobby...there is also another section over by the windows with comfy arm chairs, a television, and reading materials.
A gorgeous water wall that makes the lobby feel very tranquil
There are three main areas in the building, aside from the reception and main lobby. There is the clinic where I see my oncologist, the front portion of the building where they do imaging and radiation, and then there is the infusion side where I received my chemo.
This comfy green chair in the infusion area is where I have spent many, many hours throughout the last 15 rounds of chemotherapy. There are walls on either side that allow for some privacy, a huge window on one side that looks out onto the garden, a television, and then one side is open so the nurses can keep an eye on all of us.
Behind the building there are beautiful, lush gardens with many animals, flowers, and sculptures. There is a patio with tables, chairs, and benches where family and friends are able to sit and relax. The windows on the left side of the picture below are the ones that you see in the picture above, next to my infusion chair. So this garden is what all of us patients are able to see while we receive our chemo treatments.
Doesn't it look as peaceful and relaxing as chemo can possibly be? Although the Weisberg Center is beautiful, that's not what makes me so grateful that I receive my treatment there. It's the wonderful people. There's Felicia - the receptionist that greets Mike and I every morning with the biggest smile and most heartfelt, "How are you?". She has known us by name since day #1. I don't need to sign in, or wait at the desk for my wristband - I am able to go relax in a comfy chair because Felicia insisted on it from the very beginning -she goes out of her way to come find me and check me in. She somehow knew when it was Mike's birthday and even tried to make it special for him by giving him a little "happy birthday" name tag. She is the best and I wish that every doctors office or hospital had someone like Felicia sitting at the front desk, always with a huge smile, and kind words to try to brighten your day and make you feel better.
I have talked before about how much I adore Dr. F, but I also love my infusion nurses - they are the best! Denise, Traci, and Ashley are the nurses that have taken awesome care of me during these months of chemo, and Tiffany who assists them. They are always so friendly, warm, and caring. As a patient, they make me feel that they truly care about me, that they are really looking out for me and that they are cheering me along! I am so grateful to have such a wonderful team around me. Even though I am glad to finish up these treatments, I will miss seeing them every week.
Although chemo is over, I will continue to spend a lot of time at the Weisberg Center since this is where I will always see Dr. F and where I will receive 30 radiation treatments later this year. If I have to go through all of this, I am at least glad that I get to do it here - a place that makes me feel so comfortable, and where the Cheers theme song is true, "where everybody knows your name!"
At 5:30 am the morning after chemo ended, we left for sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Mom, Doug, Mike and I took a little Labor Day trip to celebrate finishing chemo treatments! Our wonderful friends, John & Paul invited us to come stay with them and it was perfect! They have a beautiful home on a canal off the Intercoastal waterway, only a mile or so from the ocean. We had a perfect trip spent relaxing at their pool, walking along the beach, eating lots of yummy food, and visiting with lots of friends! Aside from visiting with John and Paul, we were able to spend time with my mom's great friend, Sally and her family as well as meeting up with Brinley, Andy, Andrew, and Brin's parents. The weekend flew by so fast, but it was just what we needed to recharge our batteries.
John & Paul's home has the most amazing landscaping - their property is covered with luscious plants, trees, and flowers. You can't even see their house from the street, or from the dock because it is surrounded in this incredible landscaping. While relaxing in their pool, it felt like I was engulfed in a tropical forest that gave us complete privacy from the outside world. It was simply gorgeous.
Being near the ocean is always so relaxing for me. It is a great reminder that we are such a small part of this vast and huge world. Hearing those waves and seeing nothing but the bright, blue sea until it meets the horizon, helps me remember that there is a greater power at work in our lives and He is capable of amazing things.
John & Paul - thank you so very much for letting the four of us come invade your gorgeous Florida home for the weekend. We had so much fun with you and we are so grateful we were able to do this! Mike already misses his morning egg sandwiches. ;)
We are now back to reality. The school year officially started for Mike today and I will be heading back to the doctor on Thursday to get my test results and discuss our future plans. I hope everyone had a wonderful, relaxing Labor Day weekend. I'll be sure to update the blog again at the end of the week to keep everyone updated with the latest news.
Don't forget to mark your calendars for a great event on Sunday, September 25. Our dear friend, Patty has been working hard to make this happen and we are so grateful! Please contact Patty if you would like to contribute to the silent auction. Tickets for the event will be available at the end of the week.
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