Pinky Pie

AC, Mom & Me

Posted on: November 9, 2009

The Red Devil going in my IV line

Inserting the Red Devil into my IV.


I may never eat a Popsicle again.

How often did I hear my mom say, “God bless the guy who invented AC.”

It wasn’t the same AC chemotherapy that I completed on Friday that thankfully she never experienced. Her AC was air conditioning.

Mom told stories about the 1936 heat wave when many people slept in the St. Louis’ Forest Park, which is twice the size of Central Park in New York City. Those were the days that people had the courage to sleep outside with strangers because they were desperately in need of a breeze that would allow them to nod off for part of the hot humid nights. Others slept on fire escapes.

There were reasons that air-conditioned theaters and other buildings proudly advertised “It’s cool inside.” Even during depression years, the idea of spending a few hours in the cool was very important to those who suffered so. If they had 25 cents they would see a movie, newsreel, short subject and cartoon.

“Who was the guy who invented AC?” Mom asked several after she blessed the guy.

I wasn’t sure but said I’d find out.  The next time I came to visit and had the information, the interest in the question had passed.

No one in our family tolerates heat well, so we were among the first families to get air conditioning into our homes and cars. Heck my dad even heated and cooled our Bonnie’ dog house which she rarely used as our Springer Spaniel preferred the comfort of our home more than her Four Star dog house.

For the record, the history of air condition goes back to ancient times. with far different approaches that were not as successful. In modern times, a man named Carrier gets a lot of credit. But I live in La Crosse, Wisconsin, where Trane Company became an air conditioning pioneer in 1931 for commercial operations. Later it became involved in residential cooling.

But this isn’t what this blog entry is all about. It’s about the celebrating the end of AC in my breast cancer treatment, which is tough stuff. It surprised me because I thought I was a tough old broad who could handle it with ease. After the second chemo, I felt a truck hit me again. I was concerned that by the third treatment, it would be a tank and by the fourth, a convoy.

But for the first few days after this fourth treatment, I have been feeling pretty good. Even walked 1.3 mile on Saturday and Sunday.

My next four chemotherapy treatments will be a form of Taxol, which is supposed to be a bit better tolerated. I hope. Taxol is shortened to T, which is not the same as my middle initial T for Toby. I’ll also have six weeks of radiation, five days a week.

My first chemotherapy cocktail was called AC with A standing for Adriamcin, also known as the red devil because that drugs is what  knocks a person out. It blocks DNA production of cells and inhibits enzymes that repair DNA. Since the cancer cells can’t live without the DNA, they die or kill themselves. The C in the AC cocktail is Cytoxan, which prevents the cells from reproducing. So first we kill their fun and then we kill them.

No funeral eulogy for those cells, baby.

The Adriamcin comes in two big syringes filled with red poisons that are put into my funeral line very slowly.  When delivering these drugs, the nurse adds extra protective clothing to prevent his or her being exposed.

My friend, Gayda, who went with me to the treatment, imagined the syringes bigger than they were. Perhaps my description of their size was a fish story in which the fish gets bigger and bigger. The C comes in a fluid bag hung on my IV line.

How tough are these drugs? I can tell you that they do heart scans before and after finishing Adriamycin because it can cause heart damage. I volunteered to be part of a research study comparing cardiac ultrasound and MRI comparing the significance. That will kill the day Friday.

A few weeks back after my second AC I suggested they would have to pick me up and throw me in the back of truck to get me to the final AC. It wasn’t necessary as my then I was so eager to get it over that I practically skipped in there. I had anxiety most of all that it would be delayed – it wasn’t – because of illness or who knows what.

Gayda and I played a game of Scrabble during the treatment. I sucked on a Popsicle as the A went in to prevent mouth sores, something that can cause real misery. I’m happy to report that I didn’t get mouth sores.

The Franciscan Skemp Cancer Center staff members have been wonderful throughout this treatment. These are fine, caring folks who will laugh with me and give very good advice about dealing with different problems. They are upbeat and positive, very cool

While it is fall, I can say in that cancer center, “it’s cool inside.” And, I’m not just talking about the temperature.


3 Responses to "AC, Mom & Me"

You’re halfway done, you’re halfway done! Hoooray!!!!!!!!
And no trucks/semis/convoys in sight… even bigger HOOOOORAY!

I was thinking bigger than a turkey baster! And we are appropriately thankful along with you that the AC is done and behaving well so far this week.

Sue, I just saw your episode of Now on PBS. Thank you, thank you for speaking out!!! I too believe we need more of this type of conversation. I wish you the best of luck with your treatment and I will continue to follow your blog. You’re a great writer!

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