Saturday, 22 August 2015

A Day in the Life of a Chemo Patient

After having this blog for a while now, I realised that I've never shown or explained how and when I receive my treatment - I'm used to it so that it's normal, and I only seem to remember it's not if my friends ask me questions. So, last week I thought that I would take some pictures and show how the process works. The pictures aren't gorey in anyway (I can't cope with it myself still!) but I apologise if any of them offend you.
This is the needle that's used to administer the chemotherapy. Before I started treatment I had an operation to have a single lumen port-a-cath installed around my ribcage. A tube then joins a vein in my neck to give the treatment. This means that I don't have to have drips inserted into my hands for each treatment, which at one point would have meant having that done 5 times a week. The red line is the small scar from the original operation, and I have cooling spray put on my skin so I don't feel any pain or discomfort from the needle, which can be left in for up to a week. The needle keeps itself in place naturally when correctly inserted, but tagaderm stickers are placed over the top to keep it sterile.
A Carefusion drip is used to infuse the treatment. Pressure is used to push the liquid from the bag into my bloodstream and is completely painless. Some drugs are administered by syringe straight into the tube attached to my needle, one of these that I have is called Vincristine. The chemotherapy that is administered using this machine is protected from sunlight with a brown bag as it reacts with the light. This picture shows a flush of saline which has to be used between each drug to make sure I receive the full dose.
The machine is set by the nurses to run each drug at a different rate to get optimal results from each. This means that two nurses must check the drug, my name, date of birth and rate of infusion before starting treatment. The machines can be pretty annoying though, I had one machine that stopped because I coughed, and another that used to stop because I sneezed! I get there has to be safety features but I think that's a bit much.
I am unsure what the next step is for my treatment, and I will not know until next week so I am just focussing on finishing these steroids which make me hungry, angry and a bit like a dragon.


  1. Lots of love Tash x interesting to know the process. Stay strong through the hard bits :)

  2. A very worthwhile insight for anyone who might be a candidate for Chemotherapy, or who has a loved one in that situation. There are so many different treatments and regimens, with different drugs and time scales, but your clear dispassionate description ought to reassure chemo candidates that it need not be feared. Of course, everyone also reacts differently to treatment, so it isn't easy to generalise about how anyone will feel. Your treatment is pretty ''aggressive'', as it needs to be, but your matter of fact explanation, and self awareness of the effects are an example to anyone that they can be tolerated. I am, as ever, filled with admiration for your stoicism, and willingness to share your experience to help anyone who can take heart from your example. You are a special person Tash.

  3. Really proud of you Tash for what you are doing to help others. You are an amazing girl & I want you to know I love you xxx