After I was diagnosed only weeks to live because of cancer of Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) Primary non-Hodgkin of Liver, stage IV because of Hepatitis C that I got from the blood transfusion result of the car accident in 2001. I had to be hospitalized right a way by a wheelchair since I was not able to walk anymore.
My first two days at the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, I had to have more tests to make sure my body was strong and suitable to take EPOCH + Rituximab chemotherapy (five days chemotherapy for 24 hours a day).
There were so many blood tests, and they pricked my vein totally 12 times the first day. I was dehydrated, and it was not easy to find a good vein. They put on a temporary PICC line finally the next day, so they would not have to poke so many of my veins anymore.
It was incredible to find out that the PET/CT scan test showed ovarian cancer from 24 years ago, as well as heart and lung damage from my car crash 16 years ago. I had to take the ultra sound of my heart to make sure my heart is strong enough for the chemo. I have hepatitis C, and they told me I need to treat it once I get better from Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma (DLBCL) Primary non-Hodgkin of Liver. They wanted to make sure I do not have hepatitis B, because if I have it, then I would not be able to get chemotherapy. I did not ask why, but the test showed I did not have hepatitis B.
The Rituximab chemo was scheduled to start late Sunday afternoon, just before sunset. I got permission to go outside into the hospital courtyard with Eric and my friend Nancy before the Rituximab chemo. I thought I even had time to go home to see my dogs and cats family, but Eric and Nancy would not risk taking me
When I came to the hospital I was too weak and I was not able to walk, but can you believe that I was able to walk after two days in the hospital with the fluid to revers my acidic condition to more alkaline? I was greatful to the modern western medicine to help me.
I thought even had time to go home to see my dogs and cats family, but Eric and Nancy would not risk taking me home. They convinced me not to leave the hospital so I wouldn’t miss the chemo. I made a little laughing remark, “What a treasure to have my husband Eric and friend Nancy, who are more conscious than I, so I would not miss the chemo, hahaha!”
So, what did I do?
I walked around the courtyard and practiced yoga on the grass.
What a beautiful feeling, and the smell of ocean breath (the UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica was on 16th and Arizona St. so close enough from the ocean), earth and grass. I was ready to receive chemo.
When I came back to the room, my nurse said, “You are back!.”
I said to her, “You must have trained my husband and friend so I could not even leave the hospital.”
“They were well trained,” she said. “By the way, I heard that someone was doing yoga in the courtyard. It must be you!”
I had just been down in the courtyard, and another nurse had seen me and told her. I said, “I can’t believe you already know that I was doing yoga.”
“Of course,” she said, smiling. “I think only you would do yoga in the courtyard before chemotherapy.”
I prepared my room by hanging my crystal balls on the medicine hanger and by the window, set my healing gemstones and aromatherapy diffuser with Bach Flower Rescue Remedy Club Apple and essential oil of frankincense (frankincense supports liver).
I also put on the shelf a photo of Eric and the dogs to make me feel good about starting chemotherapy. I was not sure what all the nurses and doctors might say about it, but believe it or not, all the nurses loved my crystals, gemstones, and aromatherapy diffuser. They all wanted to come to heal themselves.
My nurse said Rituximab usually takes four to five hours for most people, but my doctors planned for 12 hours for me. I reacted to the Benadryl (they use it before Rituximab). It was a very scary feeling of my veins moving all over; at the same time, I felt drowsy and could not even move and talk clearly.
I FaceTimed Eric and told him what was happening he quickly show me how my animal family were doing at home, which helped me so much. I was not scared anymore.
I did not have many side effects, except a little itchiness on my left hand. Just being in the hospital was not easy. I missed the smell of my house, Eric, my dog and cat family, and the garden of trees and flowers. I made sure to meditate, even though I was lying down. I made my first day chemo!
EPOCH chemo started next day of late Monday afternoon. It was an orange color, like sunset. I said to a nurse that it is a beautiful color, so I know it will help me heal. She said, “I never thought of the color of chemotherapy liquid as beautiful. I wish all the patients were positive like you.” I just wanted to feel good in me before this chemical was going to be inside me.
It was smooth sailing in the beginning, but I felt very heavy and dark as the night got deeper. When I closed my eyes I saw the deepest dark (more darker than black) with orange speckles moving so quickly all over. It was so scary and unbearable feeling, like an intruder was coming into my body slowly and could destroy me. I had to hold the tube of orange chemo liquid in my hand, and I started to talk: I know you can help me, but I am feeling very heavy and dark right now, since I do not know you yet. Please help me to heal, but do not destroy my good cells. I know you can do it.
I also repeated the Serenity Prayer over and over:
God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.
And also said,
This too shall pass, this too shall pass, this too shall pass…….
By morning, I had minor reactions—a little stomach discomfort, nausea and constipation—but my blood test showed that I did pretty well with my first day of EPOCH. I thanked to orange chemo liquid.
I noticed that I gained some weight from the fluid they had been giving me; overall, I gained 10 pounds in water content over three days. As you see the photos I looked very good.
I did a body scrub every morning, but I felt it was not enough. So after meditation, I did some gentle yoga and massaged my legs and feet. I walked/marched after breakfast and lunch, which made me happy and gave also a smile to people who passed me. Doing all these things made me able to not have blood clot shots everyday or have to take laxatives and a few other medications.
Meanwhile, my friends were coming to see me almost every day. Sally and Giorgio came to offer Reiki. Eric made breakfast before he went to work every monring at 6am, and Amanda brought it for me. Eric did not have to work in the afternoon, so he brought my lunch and dinner, and he ate my hospital vegan burger and salad, etc. After dinner, we watched Japanese Grand Sumo every night before he went back home. We did our best to make my chemotherapy week as like a vacation the best I could have.
Of course, I cried several times and did not want to be there at all. But I looked at the sky from my small window—every time, either clouds or birds were entertaining me to lift up my pain. One time I saw Kula (my dog daughter who passed last year); she was waiting for me to get better so she can come back to be with me. She said, The promise is, I am coming there, so you are not coming here.
Another incident that happened was that one day, before I was coming home, I was not feeling so well—I think I was just getting tired of being in the hospital and trying to keep my positivity high. I finished my meditation, body scrub, yoga, massaging my feet, and listening to my morning music, but it was not right. I was feeling low. A cleaning woman came into my room (usually it was a man), and she asked if it was all right for her to clean the room. I said, “Of course.” She went to the bathroom first and then cleaned the floor, etc. Before she left, I said, “Thank you.”
She said, “I am honored to clean your room. Everyone said your room is healing. I was so happy when I found out I was assigned to clean your room today. Your room smells so nice and feels good.”
I could not believe what I heard. I asked right away what her name was, and she said it was Rosarba. I asked her where she was from, and she said Guadalajara, Mexico. I told her I was so happy to meet her and that she was able to come to my room. She smiled.
After she left my room, I cried.
Why? I am not sure, but I felt that my existence was validated by this woman who came from Guadalajara, Mexico. Does that make sense? It did to me!
Whatever it was, I was able to make it another day in the hospital and complete my first chemotherapy.
Thank you for your prayers and continuous support.
We are grateful and invite you to help us at this time by YouCaring Fundraisng to Support Sanae’s Recovery from Cancer or purchasing our books directly from us to cover my medical expenses.
Here are our books:
My post mailing address for sending your card, gift or check:
2610A 23rd St.
Santa Monica, CA 90405
I will not be able to personally reply to each person, but I promise I will read everyone’s messages, emails, and cards.
Love, Sanae 💖
To be continued: Side Effects of Chemotherapy and Neulasta Wiped Me Out.