Two years ago today Catherine started her chemotherapy. At this point all of her scans, treatment, hospitalizations, seem like a blur. It seems surreal - I can't believe some of this stuff actually happened. Now that things are starting to slow down for us, I am trying to record these events before they will forever be forgotten.
The day Catherine's chemo started was such a seminal event in our lives. We were in the end stages of pregnancy with Sabrina, who would be born just three weeks later. Before chemo started, I kept hoping that the doctors would tell us they switched the scans and gave us the news they meant to give another family. Or they reread the scans and there really was no brain tumor, it was just a blip on the scan.
Once the chemo started, it seemed more real. Staying on "the cancer floor" at the children's hospital was now our reality.
The day Catherine started her chemo we had to be at the outpatient surgery center very early. Catherine underwent surgery to have her port inserted in the front of her right shoulder. Dr. Pitt, who had operated on her to remove her SCT when she was 3 days old, did the surgery.
After the surgery, we stayed in the post-op area until the nurses felt that she was stable. Then we went upstairs to "the cancer floor" to get Catherine's first dose of chemo. Because she had never had chemo before (she was only 27 months old), the oncologist required that she get her first dose of chemo in the hospital rather than the out-patient clinic.
Once we got upstairs, we were placed in a hospital room so they could run some tests on Catherine's blood. Then the pharmacy made her chemo and the nurses began the infusion. Catherine was still pretty lethargic from the anesthesia they had administered that morning. So, she slept most of that day. After the infusion, the oncologist made us stay in the hospital for a few more hours to see if Catherine would have any adverse reactions to the chemo. She did not, so we got to go home that night.
I remember that Catherine used to sleep for a day or two after she got her chemo. We were so relieved that she had a G-tube for feedings, because we were able to pump formula into her tummy while she was sleeping. We were able to give her medicine through her G-tube while she slept, rather than wake her up. All the efforts we made to get her to eat and get the G-tube removed seemed wasted at this point, as it was instantly clear to us how essential having the G-tube would be to saving her life, by allowing us to keep her hydrated and fed while she went through chemo.
After that first chemo treatment, we always went to the Outpatient Clinic, which is across the street from the hospital. With just a few exceptions, she had chemo every Monday afternoon. Catherine was usually awake during her chemo treatments and played games, watched movies, did crafts, etc. She frequently fell asleep on the way home from chemo and went straight to bed as soon as we got home.