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COVID, Chemo & A Crying Baby

About halfway through the first section of chemo, I started reading about the next set of meds I would be receiving: Doxorubicin and Cyclophosphamide (also known as A/C). In my research, I found a nickname for this combo: The Red Devil. The "Red" comes from the bright red liquid they insert into your port using a syringe. The "Devil" part because, as everything I read and watch explained, it's wicked and cruel. This is real chemotherapy, the stuff nightmares are made of. I would research, misty-eyed and incredulous. I have to go through hell to get better for an illness I never felt. I am still trying to wrap my head around the logic there.


At one of my follow-up appointments with Dr. R., my mom ratted me out and told him I was reading about the Red Devil. He laughed and said that the chemo I was on is not an easy combination of chemotherapies; Carbo and Taxol are complex medicines, "If you are tolerating these relatively well, there is no reason why you won't do the same on A/C." That was encouraging to hear. Dr. R was optimistic and seemed to have faith in my strength. The nurses, however, were much more realistic. When I mentioned A/C, they looked at me, nervously laughed, and said, "Well, everyone handles it differently, so you never know." Over and over again, you are told that everyone handles cancer treatment differently. I was hopeful my experience would be the exception to the rule. I have a devil horn brand, right? Maybe my "special" port mark would give me the power to tolerate The Red Devil like a champ.


I was anxious to start this section of chemo, only 4 cycles and a 3-week break between infusions. I was scheduled to start one week after my last taxol infusion. However, we hit our first roadblock in the chemo journey 3 days after my previous taxol infusions.


It was Sunday, which usually starts out good for me and gradually worsens in terms of side effects. But this day, my energy was low from the start. The baby and I played in her room all day. She was coughing a bit and sneezing, but otherwise, she was in a great mood, had high energy, and had a good appetite. So I figured everything was fine- I'll keep an eye on her. When I put her down for her second nap, I checked on Eli, who was busy in the garage all day. My mother-in-law Cheryl walked in with a mask and tears in her eyes, "I tested positive for COVID," she said, "I am so sorry." I see the fear and panic in Eli's eyes; this is his worst nightmare. We haven't been sick since 2019, and now I have cancer and a baby. I read the room and realized one of us needs to be calm and compassionate. I reassured Cheryl that it was bound to happen, but we need not panic; the baby, myself, and all of us will be okay. We would just see how it plays out and be positive.


The baby wakes up from her nap, and she is fine. She is a little warm but has no temperature yet. She eats like a little piggy for dinner, comically so. But then starts to fuss more than usual. I bathe her and give her a bottle. She downs the bottle in record time, and right as I sit her up, she projectile vomits… everywhere. She and I and the wall are soaked. "Help!" I nervously laugh and scream for Eli's assistance. Delaney and I both strip down and get another bath. Eli cleans her room. At this point, I'm pretty sure this is not a coincidence, but Eli starts to obsess about her dinner and what she ate all day. We put her to bed, and the baby wines and squirms for two hours, sleepless. Then she started to cry, and when we went in, more projectile vomit. This time, Delaney wretches like a full-grown human, her little body tightening and releasing, and she starts "calling dinosaurs," as we say in our family, after my brother, who sounds like he is calling a pterodactyl when he throws up. She is half asleep, crying and vomiting, and Eli and I are a mess. We hold her as she groans in pain…. We take her temperature, and it's 102. Panic has officially been set in for Eli. To outsiders, you wouldn't know his anxiety is at its height. Still, I can tell by his insistence on calling our parents for advice and the pained look on his face as if he has not taken a breath that this really is his greatest fear. I'm calm because one of us has to be. Eli says we need to take her to the ER. I disagree; it's best to wait, but I know nothing else will satisfy Eli. So off to the ER, we go.


Having cancer and a baby has its perks; it takes us less than 5 minutes to be seen at 11 pm- a record. We tell the nurse the situation: Grandma Cheryl is positive for COVID-19 and explain Delaney's symptoms. Delaney lays in my arms with her eyes closed, and she groans and cries in pain. It's heartbreaking. As they start poking her, she screams, and Eli has to leave the room. At that exact moment, my mommy arrived, always armed with positivity and calm, just what new parents need. They swabbed her nose, and we waited 15 minutes. God-given Mommy's superpowers kick in, and I feel peaceful and calm, and as Delaney cries, I sing to her. She looked up at me through teary eyes, whimpering, then listened and calmed. I rock her in my arms, and she is still and quiet.

Wow, I can do this! Chemo, cancer and all, I'm still a mom, and moms are tough!

The nurse checked the testing strip, and the line was positive. We were given an overview of how to treat the symptoms, which is all we can do. We leave, exhausted but reassured that she will be okay and we have a plan. Delaney is almost like a newborn again for the next two days; she sleeps all day and lies in our arms. Within a few days, she is back to her high energy self, crawling, walking and playing. Her and Grandma Cheryl get through COVID with flying colors.


Then Eli and I started to feel it. I won't go into the details of how it hit us, but I will say this. From 2019 to 2023, Eli and I never got COVID. I was beginning to think that I either was Bruce Willis from the movie Unbreakable (except in my version, he can get cancer) or that COVID really wasn't all it was cracked up to be. Well, Eli, I both issued retractions from these statements and wrote a formal apology to COVID, which in part stated, "I take back everything I said about you. You are just as mean as everyone said. Please stay away…"


I had to reschedule my first A/C treatment, which, I was frustrated by. But knowing what I know now, I would have delayed the Red Devil for 50 years if I could. This halfway point marked a change in me. This is when I officially felt, looked, and acted sick. The following 4 months turned out to be the most challenging time of my life so far; when, as the Red Devil was saving my life, I felt like the Devil was trying to kill me. Is that dramatic enough for you?


10 Comments


Guest
Feb 05

pregnant with my daughter. As a last resort and a shot in the dark, the doctors gave me chemo while she was in my tummy at 6 months. Through the grace of God he allowed us both to live. August 2020 it came back, and not the good kind. I did 2 years of treatment at Stanford ending on Dec 16, 2022 and because of the radiation to my chest plate I suffered 2 heart attacks in Oct. 2023 and they had to put in 5 stents. I know about the red chemo....but you can and will get through this. I know it. I can hear and see your strength in your awesome videos!! We all can!! I'm sorry you…

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Guest
Feb 05

Hey Movie Star this is May, Shannon had given you my number and you texted me a few weeks ago to say hi! I thought that was the coolest thing EVER! Thank you for making my day Movie Star!! I'm thinking of you, your beautiful baby and family and I truly pray for you all. I pray for healing of your whole body and mind! I pray that your thoughts don't consume you and that you stay positive so you can fight!! I pray you have no pain while going through treatment! Reading your story brings back memories for me. I have battled cancer twice now, the first time was when I was pregnant with my daughter. As a last…

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WOW!! I think of You, Eli and Delaney all of the time!! I love you all and Jehovah-Rapha has the control. Stay Positive, Find Joy & Gratitude EVERY DAY-ALL DAY & Let go of the wheel!

Prayerfully!!

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Guest
Dec 07, 2023

Psalm 29:11 Jehovah loves you! And we all Love you! as you continue to show your courage in all your trials 😊🫶🏼🤗🥰

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Guest
Dec 07, 2023

You are superwomen. You are strong. You are Fighting. You are loved I lam always sending you positive NRG and vibrations

Wholeness Balance and Vibrations.

thanks for sharing


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