Monday, July 25, 2011

Chemo, A Picc Line and A Mother's Love

A tear rolled down my cheek as the nurse, Margie, tied the tight tourniquet around my upper left arm in preparation for the picc line procedure on Saturday, July 22. I had been bubbly all morning, getting to know my nurse and engaging she and Steve in light conversation. The tying of the tourniquet stopped my enthusiasm dead in its tracks.

I had had my first chemo session last Monday, when I learned that I would need a picc line moving forward. My fragile veins have weathered too much as of late. The fact that I would be subjecting them to further chemotherapy medications through IV ensured their final degradation. I was not at all surprised when my chemo nurse recommended the picc line.

Chemo nurses are masters at what they do. I have never encountered one that I did not like. In fact, they had no problem at all finding a vein for chemo last week. My nurse was warm, friendly and efficient. He had nothing to do with the tears that graced my cheeks as I faced settling into the chemo chair once again. My mom was with me. We both cried. When the chemo nurse told me that I would probably loose my hair, we both cried some more.

Sitting in that chair, in that room was difficult. Writing this now, I liken it to the common feeling that most have with regards to schooling. The longer you are out of school, the less you want to go back. Though, it seems rather obvious to say that I did not want to have more chemo. Since my last session in March 2010, the adverse emotional block towards chemo has been gradual. Someone once told me not to bring anything you like to chemo because you will never want to use/see it again after. Right after finishing chemo last time, I did not understand this concept. However, over time I noticed that some of the clothes I wore while receiving chemo, I had not worn since. The purse I carried to chemo has not been used since. In fact, I finally discarded a t-shirt that I knew that I would never wear again ..... because I had worn it to chemo on several occasions. The culmination of these feelings was earlier this year, when during a routine check up at Oncology (which shares a waiting room with the chemotherapy suite), I thought to myself, "I do not think I can ever sit in that room again. I do not know if I would have the strength."

These feelings did not bode well for my newly scheduled chemotherapy treatments. I found the strength, as I always do. I got over it. My mom held my hand. I think that she is the only person I would have wanted with me. I needed to feel the feelings I was experiencing, without shame and without worry. I knew we could cry together and that everything would be ok. With my mom there, I did not have to be the strong one, the caretaker.

Beyond the tears, my nausea started straight away. It was all nerves, as my current chemo drug does not cause nausea. But the rest of the treatment went well and I felt fairly decent the entire week that followed.

Fast forward to Saturday, when I got my picc line. Beyond the fact that it out and out sucks that I have to have it, it is a fascinating procedure. There is now a tube that runs through my vein from my upper left arm to the area right above my heart. I saw the x-ray, after the procedure was complete. It hurt a bit. But that is the last time that I will have to deal with a needle for a long time. All blood draws can be taken from the picc line. I have to admit, because of everything I have been through in the past three weeks, I am afraid of needles for the first time in my life. The bruising on my left wrist are some of the ugliest bruises that I have ever endured. All from the IV's necessary for the numerous procedures and tests ordered to diagnose and track my disease.

The only bruise I do not have is one from my chemo last week. The last one that would be given to me via IV, my chemo nurse was the shining star. And today I go back for more. And I will continue to go back and back until the cancer gets the clue that it is not welcome. My gracious mother in tow.


  1. When I had PICC line number 5 inserted last year, I wanted to scream. In my mind, it was outward evidence that something was wrong with me. Once you've had that level of treatment, it can become difficult to revisit a place physically and psychologically. You're not alone. Hugs.

  2. I am proud to be your mother and be there for you, no matter what. Your smile and attitude lights up the chemo room. Just like the nurse said today, "You don't look like a chemo patient!"
    Your dad and I are always here for you and we are the "care taker" for you . Hugs and love!

  3. Pumpkin,

    I am sooooo sorry that you have to go through this again. Its not fair and as you say "it sucks." But I know you are a fighter and will meet this ugly disease head on. I am very proud of you and love you very much. Many hugs, Dad

  4. Another wonderful description<
    I was thinking of giving you a quilt that I have been working on<
    but now think that is not a good idea.
    I think a gift card for lunch out with you and your brave caregiver would be more appropriate.

  5. I just love that your mom and dad commented here. I have no words except to say that I am reading every one of your words and admire your tenacity. I can't even imagine how hard it would be to go back to do more chemo... but we all know you do what you must. There is no choice. Keep that beautiful smile. We are here for you.

  6. Go Marsi! I think you should buy some cheap tshirts with inspirational mottos or something on them and toss 'em when you want. Only wear them to chemo. Just a thought. Love ya. Shelley.

  7. Marsi,

    Loved seeing that your mom and dad wrote on your page; they are amazing, wonderful people and you are truly a reflection of them. I like the cheap t-shirt idea mentioned above, but think you should also add some sassy ones into the mix! Love you, Marsi! Big hugs! Amy R.

  8. I am a 45 year old husband and dad of 2 teenagers. I just had a brain tumor removed that the doctors were very surprised to find was hairy-cell leukemia. I am going in for a PICC line next Monday, and will have my 2-CDA chemo via a continuous drip through the week. At least I don't have to go the hospital!

    I doubt you sat down to write this post thinking that you would calm a freaked out middle-aged guy down about yet another scary procedure, but you did just that. Thanks so much for your comments. They helped me alot. Your parents have raised a fighter who will definitely beat the tar out of cancer. G-d bless.


  9. I am a 60 year old grandmother of 5. I just had a cancerous tumor removed from my left breast. I go in for my first PICC line on January 17th. I was completely terrified and was researching it online when I found your blog. Thank you for sharing. You really helped me keep things in perspective. Keep up the good fight! You are a blessing to all of us who are beginning this "walk". Donna K.

  10. My gosh, I wish you well. I will pray for your healing. Keep safe and stay happy!