UNDERSTANDING: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – Part 3
UNDERSTANDING: An Anthology of True and Significant Life Events – compiled by Stevie Turner
It is my privilege to take part in this anthology with other 19 authors writing on difficult experiences in our life.
An excerpt of my contribution
Miriam Hurdle – Stage IV Melanoma – Q&A: 11 to 15
- Did your treatment go as scheduled?
Yes, it did. Dr. O assigned a case manager to me. She gave me a schedule and instructions for the current cycle of treatment. The supervisor of case management from my primary medical center took over my case. She coordinated and obtained authorizations from my health insurance for hospitalization, doctor’s visits, lab work, CT Scans, prescriptions, and home care nurse visits.
After two cycles of in-patient treatment, I had a surgery to remove the shrunk tumors. Dr. O gave me two additional weeks to recover before the next cycle. He said I responded the drugs well and no new growth of cancer cells, I only needed two more cycles of chemotherapy with the total of four instead of six.
- How did you feel as the treatment progress?
I felt good and strong after the first cycle, but from the second cycle on, it was difficult because I was getting fragile. Being strong was important to receive the harsh treatment, so I walked up and down the streets in the neighborhood every day even though I couldn’t pick up my feet.
- Were there any side effects?
By the second and third days in the hospital, I felt weak and hard to speak. I asked my daughter, and some friends waited for me to call them when I could talk.
Three chemo drugs were infused through intravenous (IV) along with saline solution to dilute the toxic drugs. By the time I checked out from the hospital, I kept 16 pounds of fluid and my skin turned purple caused by the burning from the drugs. After the excess fluid secreted, I was down to skin and bone because the drugs burned the bad and good cells. I needed many layers of clothing to stay warm with less blood in my body.
There were two cycles I needed two units of blood transfusion before the following hospital treatment began. Each unit is 1 pint or 450 millimeters. An average size woman has 9 pints of blood and I needed 2 pints twice.
- Did you suffer depression from the treatment?
No, I didn’t. Some people asked “why” they had cancer, but other people said, “why not?” I prepared for the worst but hope for the best.
- What support groups did you have other than your family?
One friend from the church fellowship took on the task to have people signed up to bring meals for us and give me rides to the doctor and the hospital. I checked in to the hospital on Wednesdays and checked out on Sundays. My husband had classes on Wednesdays. People who gave me rides knew that I had no strength, so they were considerate and didn’t expect me to carry on conversations.
I received “Get Well” cards and emails from friends and family throughout the six months.
My neighbors were also supportive. One neighbor made barbecue steaks for us week after week. They teased me I ate the largest piece of steaks even though I was the smallest person among them. Another friend teased me that I should take advantage of that because I could eat anything without worrying of gaining weight.
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