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    Side Effects (Pain): Two days after my first chemo treatment I had a shot of Neulasta(?). Not sure if I got the name correct. It's something to boost my immune system. The nurse told me that in 2 or 3 days I would have joint pains that might last up to 4 days.

    I didn't have any pains until now. This is 5 days after the shot. When I woke up in the morning I had a little bit of chest pain. Not in the heart, more in the muscle or bones. It was like I had over exerted myself the day before, maybe strained something. It wasn't bad, but you could tell something was up. By 3pm all my major joints were sending pain signals. There wasn't any comfortable position to be in, but sometimes, if I could walk a little the pain would be less. This wasn't a sharp, knife-like, pain. It was more like you had been in an car accident the day before and different parts of your body were sore. Different joints would send out 'twinges' at the same time. Very uncomfortable.

    Eventually I remembered that the nurse had told me to take a couple Tylenol pills for the pain. I popped a couple Tylenol and within 30 minutes the pain was gone. Two pills would knock the pain out for about 3.5 to 4 hours. I waited till I was sure that the pain was coming back before I took more Tylenol, but never more than 2 pills in four hours. I had to do this for about 16 hours and then as fast as it came on, it went away.

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    Side Effects (various): It's now my first chemo treatment plus 4 days. I've had a shot to help my immune system and I popping the pills I was given (predisone?).

    I figured I'd have an upset stomach by now. I have a few aches and pains but I really don't know if they are just the usual stuff that I feel. I second guess every twinge. I'm also still healing from two out-patient surgeries in the last 30 days so they have their own set of feelings.

    The most unusual thing so far was that for the day after I got the chemo, I had the hiccups all day, to the point where my stomach/chest was sore from the motion. I almost feel bad for saying that's the only problem I had. So many others have it far worse.

    I have been eating more than usual. I'm not sure if it's stress related, but food just looks good to me and I'm eating more of it. I'm trying to watch and not consume too many empty calories. For some reason dried fruits, prunes, apricots, pineapples, raisins, just really look good to me. I don't usually eat this kind of stuff. On the flip side, I'm constipated. They told me it could happen. I've started taking the over-the-counter stuff (MyraLAX, etc) to try and correct it.

    On the second day after chemo I had a little trouble swallowing. It wasn't in the throat it was lower, near the stomach. I took smaller bites of food and chewed them more than I normally would and it worked. I also drank a lot of liquid with my meals. The problem went away after a day or so.

    I continue to drink at least 10 8oz glasses of liquid a day. I mix up my salt and baking soda mouthwash and use that 4-6 times a day. I treat this stuff like it's some kind of magic formula. It's just something that I can do for myself, most of this journey has been about other people doing stuff to me or for me.

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    Decision Point: There are just so many things to think about when you are told you have cancer.
    One decision I had to make was what was I going to do about my job. What should I tell the people at work? Should I just take off on the bad-days or should I go on Short Term Disability (STD)? What are the financial impacts of these decisions?
    I work for a large multi-national company with thousands and thousands of employees. My work deals with computer technology and I spend almost all my time with clients. I talk with my boss about four times a year, we work in separate parts of the country.
    I waited until I had my first oncologist appointment before I spoke with my boss. I knew I was going to be missing work for a series of tests and people would start wondering what's up. I set up a meeting with my boss and during the meeting told him my story and what the doctor had told me.
    His response to me was one that was repeated by all of my co-workers. "Figure out what's best for you, then do it".
    I called the companies Human Resource (HR) department and asked about STD leave and the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and what my salary / benefits would be if I went down that path. They were very helpful.
    My oncologist had already told me that many of his patients go on STD leave and he would sign whatever papers were needed to get me on STD leave but some people like to continue working because it takes their mind off the cancer. Some have to continue to work to keep money coming in, or to continue their health care insurance.
    From sitting in the oncologist waiting room and talking with the other patients I realise that while I have cancer, and it's a serious disease, I don't have it as bad as a lot of other people. I thought if they are continuing to work then I probably could do it.
    My wife reminded me that a lot of my work deals with rigid deadlines and other people depend on me getting my part of the puzzle done on time. She asked how I would feel if I was unexpectedly unable to work for days or a week and that caused the team to miss a deadline. We both knew that would put me under a lot of stress.
    In the end I decided to go on STD leave. I'll take a loss of some money but my benefits will still be there. I figure if things go well and I don't have much of a reaction to the chemo / radiation I can always request to go back to work. I'm blessed that I have this choice, some people do not.

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    Drug or Chemo Therapy (Chemotherapy): I've just had my first CHOP-R chemo treatment. 5.5 hours of sitting in a comfortable chair while the nurse hooked up different IV's and told me what each one was doing and what side effects to look for ("Your urine will look pink for a while, IT'S NOT BLOOD, it's this chemical") .

    The new chemo port seems to be working fine. You put some cream on it before you go to the treatment and it numbs it up. They stick one needle into it and then everything else is done from that tube.

    They pump some anti-nausea and steroids into you first and have you take some Tylenol and Benedryl (the alergy stuff) before they start pumping the chemo chemicals. I fell asleep a couple times, probably from the Benedryl. They said they put it in slowly the first time to see if there's going to be a bad reaction and then future sessions will be shorter.

    Bring something to read or some music with headphones.

    My wife was with me for support but I probably would have been okay with her just dropping me off and picking me up. They wanted me to have someone drive me since they didn't know how I would react. It was nice to have someone to chat with.

    It's been a little more than four weeks since I found the lump. It's been a heck of a month.

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    Procedure or Surgery (Surgery): I had a chemo port installed. That's not the correct word for it, it's a Port-a-pipe or Port-o-tube or Port-o-let or something. I call it my chemo port. It's an out-patient surgery to install a connection to one of the large veins in your upper chest/neck area. I thought it was going to be a tube that stuck out of me but it's not. You can't really see anything from the outside of your body, except the little incision. I didn't have any pain or complications.