What happens at chemo?

I bet some of you are wondering what actually happens at a chemo session.  So I figured I’d break it down for you.

I am lucky because I only have to do my treatment every 3 weeks.  There are people that come in days in a row for weeks or longer.

Here is how it typically goes.

You show up and check in.  You are given a folder of your orders and you take them down to a box in the corridor and put the folder in and wait to be called.

When your name is called, you weigh in and the nurse takes your vitals.

You are given a wrist hospital name tag with your information.  I guess this is so a nurse doesn’t screw up and give the wrong toxic meds to someone.

Depending on if there are seats available you will either be asked to wait or directed to a room.

I have been in the two group rooms at UCSF transfusion center.   One of these is split in two with 3 beds in each of the half rooms.  They are full hospital beds. These rooms are pretty tight.  The nurses play music (K-FOG) in these rooms which makes it a little more cheerful and lively. The other room is larger and has 5 seats and 2 beds.  The large room is really quiet.  Slightly more depressing, but you have more room to breathe.

Every time you come you are assigned your personal nurse who will take care of you the entire time.  The nurses are so amazing.  They are really kind and caring to all their patients.  They do their best to make you comfortable by bringing you snacks (graham crackers and saltine crackers), water or warm blankets.

Then you get to the stickin part.  Your nurse will go through your instructions with you of what drugs you are going to get that day.  And then you get attached to your IV and drip.

My order is:

  • Saline for hydration – 1 hour
  • Solu-Medrol – 1 hour
  • Mesna – 20 minutes
  • Cytoxan – 1 hour
  • Lupron injection in the butt.  This is meant to protect me from becoming infertile from the chemo.

It is a pretty boring experience.  I usually take a snack along and a bunch of electronics to keep me entertained.  in fact, I am writing this blog post from my chair with my feet up.

You would also think that it might be fairly depressing being surrounded by a bunch of sick people.  It isn’t.  Everyone seems pretty OK with their situation.  Either they do chemo a lot or they have accepted their illnesses.  I know that I have accepted mine and think of these chemicals being dumped into my body as something that will be healing.

Thankfully I have not had side effects from the chemo because I am on a lower dose than a cancer treatment, so I can’t say that chemo would always be this agreeable.

And, that my friends, is the chemo experience that I have had.