January 3, 2023 – – Today was Day 3 of the new treatment at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, and I am beginning to get into the routine nicely. Weekly hospital visits on a Tuesday. Lots of pre-meds prior to going to the hospital. Waiting in the Chemo Lounge (now called the Systemic Therapy Unit!) and being given a buzzer when you register (like you get at a restaurant) When the buzzer beeps, you go back to the registration desk and they tell you where you will be treated that day (I was in the Purple Pod, Seat 8 today). Today, when I walked into the Purple Pod, I witnessed 24-year old Mustafa preparing to ring the Bravery Bell, which signals the end of treatment in their current battle with cancer. His dad was with him, nurses from the unit showed up, and I just cheered him loudly because I remember ringing that bell so hard multiple times in the past 10 years. Each time, it was a symbol of how far I had come. I asked if I could take a picture to remember this milestone event in his life. They graciously (albeit confusedly) agreed.
In the Purple Pod, I was greeted by an exceptional nurse who took my vitals, asked questions about how I was doing and then administered the Daratumumab in my abdomen. Then there was a wait for 20 minutes to make sure there was no reaction, and I was ready to go home. So it seems like my weekly visits take only about 2.5 hours, which gives me a full day to get on with other stuff in my life. And on treatment days (and the day after), I get Dexamethasone, which makes me very happy. While on Dexa, I take advantage of the fact that I cannot sleep until 4 am, and become uber productive. In no particular order, here are some of the things I have done while on Dexa:
- Went tobogganing and did a snow angel for the first time in my life.
- Cooked brand new dishes because nothing seems impossible while on Dexa – a pasta dish with lemon butter sauce for the family, chicken pot pies and mac and cheese from scratch, Greek-inspired chicken bowls, green beans with butter and almonds (who even makes this?!). Every once in a while, Shayne and Sabrina would laugh and say: “Who are you and what have you done to our mother?!“.
- Wrote 4 blog posts.
- Designed a Change Management workshop that I will be facilitating for a client on January 12 (I have no idea if the Dexa-inspired design is brilliant or disjointed and have sent it to a trusted colleague to give me feedback).
- Binge-watched Emily in Paris.
- Cleaned, organized and decluttered the kitchen from top to bottom.
- Participated in an interview with Patient Voice to share my story.
- Signed up to become a certified trainer for Lego Serious Play in 2023.
Why waste a perfectly good cancer?
I have also found that I have needed to take a break when my body is fatigued, and the Revlimid is causing different side-effects that are not so fun, mostly nausea, diarrhea and fatigue. The side-effects are significantly less than what I had experienced during chemo. My appointment on January 16 will be an indication of how my body is responding to this new treatment, and I continue to remain optimistic and hopeful.
As we begin a brand new year, I wish that wherever you are and whatever your challenges, that you get to ring your victory bell this year. May it be a year of kindness to yourself, a year of acknowledging your brilliance, of accepting and embracing your experiences and of living each moment of your life.