Keri's Breast Cancer Story: The First Chemo Treatment
My wife, Keri Haberstroh, was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 25 in 2005. My name is Doug, and I am here to tell Keri's breast cancer story, from start to finish. That is what Keri would have wanted.
In this second set of emails, Keri updates her friends and family on her first chemo treatment; she begins with a panic attack and then gets back to being herself, sweet and steady. Keri also describes her treatment schedule and subtle changes in how things taste.
Subject: Wig Pics
Sent: Sunday, April 24, 2005 10:19 AM
Here are some pictures of the new wig. Keep in mind it really is intended for me to wear and that I will be getting it styled again before I wear it out in public.
Sent: Friday, April 29, 2005 12:57 PM
Hello to all,
It's been a while since I've updated everyone on how I'm doing. So here goes...I've had my first chemo treatment. It was the scariest thing I have ever done. Mom and Doug were both with me, but even with their support I managed to throw a full-blown panic attack.
It's sort of a weird experience. I could see myself and what I was doing, but couldn't seem to control it. Eventually I calmed down and let the medicine do its work. It takes a good couple of hours each time I go. The chemo session involves actually three days.
Two days I go and have medicine through my port like an IV and the third day I get what they call a growth shot. This shot helps my blood count so that I can have the chemo every two weeks instead of every three weeks. Which at least speeds up the process. From the last time I was at the oncologist office I was told that my chemo should be done in 12 weeks.
Of course they monitor me each time and this could change as the weeks go on, but I have a count down I made and am keeping track of each one I get finished with. I put what I thought was the most I would probably have that way I will be pleasantly surprised when I'm done early with my countdown.
Episode 1: See the full breast cancer comic strip.
So far I haven't had many side effects. I still have my hair although I have been told I'm certain to lose it. I keep waking up every morning and checking my pillow to see if it has all fallen out yet. They prescribe me a jumble of pills every time I have the chemo and I'm finished taking them in about a week afterwards.
I haven't had any problems eating though I have come across the one side effect that is real annoying and that is that things I eat and drink now sometimes taste different than I know they are supposed to. The most frustrating one is water. I want it to taste crisp and clean like water normally does, but my mouth doesn't taste it that way.
The only thing I have had to be real watchful of is the fresh fruits and veggies. Because of the insecticides and things they use to keep the bugs away I have to make sure they are good and clean and cooked before I eat them. Frozen and canned things are okay though. It just puts a damper on my cooking enthusiasm.
Staying at home has been bittersweet. Of course everyone would like to have a chance to not have to get up to go to work in the morning, but it makes it hard to get motivated to do much at all. I try to get out at least once a day. I'm struggling a little with figuring out what is okay for me to do now. I guess the concern is that with all the drugs I have in my body I'm more susceptible to catching those simple colds and coughs which I would actually have a harder time getting over now so I wash my hands often and try to stay clear of other people that are already sick.
I'm sure this is all more information than most of you really want to know so I'll start wrapping up now. I appreciate all the thoughts, prayers, cards, gifts, flowers, and everything that you all have been sending. I am keeping them all out in the open to remind me that I have reasons to get up and moving in the morning.
I think through all the chains of family and friends now with both Doug and my family and our church here. I have been put on an international prayer chain. If God wasn't paying attention before He should be now.
My dad is going to be here next week for my second chemo session and I have pills to take this time to prevent the panic attack. It's going to be a long road and the doctors say that I'll be having doctor's visits often now for the rest of my life. Eventually they will dwindle down to the standard once a year, but for now it's often and between the surgeon and the oncologist. Thanks again for all the thoughts and prayers. They really do mean the world to me and to Doug. I'll email again soon with another update. Sorry to those of you whom I have already talked to and this is a repeat of info. Take care all of you.
Love to you all,
A Note from Doug: We're also telling Keri's breast cancer story as a weekly comic strip. Check back each week to follow her story. This week's episode, Episode 1, follows the story line and emails sent in this SharePost; it covers the first week of chemotherapy