Monthly Archives: June 2014

Imbruvica For My CLL – The First 30 Days

Champions quoteHello Everybody!

As I have just started my 2nd 30 day supply of Imbruvica, I thought I’d give a quick update on my progress!

Today I can say that I am doing well but the first week or so was pretty rough.  My most frequent side effects are stomach problems, fatigue, nausea and abdominal cramping. Shelby says that my stamina is not what it once was and that I fall asleep much easier than normal (which is normally on the couch while we are watching TV at night).  I would say that all of these effects are manageable and that I am still working full time while continuing to take classes toward my BS in Organizational Leadership.

My next appointment with Dr. Zibelli is next Tuesday, July 1, 2014.  I’ll be getting blood drawn later this week to check my CBC’s, CMP’s and my IgG levels.  If my IgG levels are low, I may be receiving those monthly ‘immune boost’ infusions again.  Personally, I cannot feel anymore lymph swelling in my neck – always a good sign!

I guess that is it for today!  I’ll be sure to let everyone know how my doctor’s visit goes next week.  Fingers crossed!

Category: My Fight

In My Corner: The Nazareth Oncology Nurses

This past Sunday, June 1, 2014, was National Cancer Survivor’s Day. Nazareth Hospital hosted a luncheon to celebrate the survivors and invited me to be the guest speaker.  Overall, the day was fun, laughs were had and my speech went relatively well. One of the reasons why I enjoyed it so much was because the four nurses that I have dealt with since receiving my infusions at Nazareth were there.  They all greeted me with a hug and a smile.   As always, they made me feel important and I left the luncheon feeling grateful and sentimental for all that they do.

Nurses are special people.  They are the first people you speak to when meeting with a imasurvivordoctor and are mostly pleasant and kind. They have the duty of taking blood pressures, obtaining your medical history and hearing about your ailments.  And they normally do this with a smile, no matter what type of day they are having.

My oncology nurses are no exception to this rule albeit one big difference – they administer chemotherapy to cancer patients!  This cannot be easy.  From my years at the receiving end of chemo, I’ve observed what they do daily.  They access the patients body through their ports or arm, they mix and deliver the drugs, they help alleviate the side effects of the drugs, and they are the sounding boards of the patients.  As a patient, you deal with the nurses much more than you even see the doctor.

Because this is the In My Corner section to Cancer Boxer, I have to give special mention to the four nurses at Nazareth Hospital in Northeast Philadelphia for giving me a truly positive experience during a stressful period.  I’ve been fortunate to have all wonderful nurses in my history of chemo, but am focusing on the women at Nazareth because this is where I’ve been all year, and this is what I feel today.

Kathy was my first nurse who sat with me all day while I had my first dose of Ofatumumab in the hospital.  Because of the high risk of an allergic reaction, she had to sit with me for almost 12 hours!  I also had a terrible cough at this time and she worked tirelessly to try and find me something I could take that wouldn’t negatively interact with the drug (we never found anything).  I’m sure it was a boring day for her, but we spent my waking hours conversing, learning about each other and just getting along.  As far as first experiences go, Nazareth Oncology was off on the right foot.

Peggy works in the Infusion Suite in the hospital.  While going weekly for 2 months, I would always see Peggy perform on other patients.  She was extremely patient, loving and knowledgeable.  When I was getting drunk on the Benadryl drip, it was Peggy who could describe how I was feeling before I could!


Kathy, Terry, Me, Nicole and Peggy

With the exception of my first two infusions, Nicole was my regular oncology nurse.  From what I could see, Nicole was always smiling!  Her kind demeanor would easily reduce the stress about the chemo that I was having.  We would have our friendly talks and she always would remember things we talked about in past weeks.  Nicole would also have to deal with my side effect complaints and would research, make phone calls or do in her power what could be done to alleviate them. I felt like after two months of weekly treatments that I had gained a friend and even missed her (and Peggy) when I stopped seeing them every Tuesday.

The Oncology Navigator, Terry is a major reason why I came to trust Nazareth for my Infusions.  She also sat in with me for a few hours during my first dose of Ofotumumab and had so much knowledge, facts and advice to give.  She is extremely intelligent, funny, diligent and has a huge heart.  Terry runs the support group that I now attend and was the driving force behind the Survivor’s Day luncheon.  From what I see, Terry is truly passionate about her job and it shows in her performance.

I could write more about these remarkable women and would give them praise to anyone who will listen.  Too often, people are quick to vocalize the negative in others, but I choose to scream out the positive.  They manage to take as much stress out of an extremely stressful situation for their patients.  I think about how much trust I have put into these women and am amazed at how capable and caring they are.  They truly are as the saying goes: “Nurses are angels without wings”.

Category: In my Corner
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