About My Arms

About two days before Chemo 3, I noticed that my arms and chest were breaking out in ugly, painful, red marks.  I had a pretty good idea of what was going on, but I emailed my oncologist and she said to have them call her into the infusion center when I was there for chemo the next day.

My entire family has skin cancer.  Every single one of us has had basal cell carcinomas, some have squamous, and 5 years ago I had a Stage Zero Melanoma (in situ).  4 years ago my dermatologist recommended a treatment of Effudex on my face, which is a topical chemotherapy that goes after rapidly growing cells, such as what are found in actinic keratosis (pre-cancerous sun damage) and early basal cell carcinomas.  It was a horrible, painful treatment as my entire face reacted and I looked like a well done pizza. Luckily, as soon as I stopped applying the cream my face healed up quickly and actually looked pretty good!

What was happening on my arms and chest looked exactly like what my face looked like 10 days into the Effudex, as I explained to my oncologist.  She called in a dermatologist and they both agreed that yes, the AC chemo was also working from the inside out on the sun damage on my arms and chest, and that when I finished the AC, it should go away.  They also prescribed some ointment for the pain and swelling, which was nice.  So now I get a fabulous skin cancer treatment for free along with my breast cancer treatment!

The other issue is that of my veins.  Since it is discouraged to have blood draws on my right (surgical) arm, that leaves my left arm for blood draws.  My wimpier arm.  The one with veins that are buried deep beneath the surface and that zigzag every which way.  The one that it took them 5 tries to get an IV into the day of my surgery. I have all of my pre-chemo blood draws done in the infusion center via my port, which is very easy, but a few days ago  I had to have a blood draw done for part of a study I’m in on breast cancer survivorship.

The phlebotomist called to set up a time to come to the house, and I whined at her about how difficult it was going to be and that I had no veins.  She promised to bring her smallest needle and we’d get through it.  I told her that there was no way she was going in through my hand (not only does that give me the heebie jeebies, but the hand is covered with wicked red spots right now).  After thumping around the entire arm, she ended up drawing blood from my wrist, which wasn’t too bad in the grand scheme of things.  But this is not one of the things I expected to be a part of having breast cancer, and I’m sure as hell not looking forward to blood draws in the future!

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2 Responses to About My Arms

  1. Debbie says:

    Insist they get a nurse who specializes in portal placement. When I was in the hospital, they only had my right arm to work with. They were doing blood draws every 8 hours, and had to keep moving the iv because the antibiotics are caustic. I felt like a fondue pot as they dug around with needles. They must have thought I had chocolate in there! I finally put my foot down. The nurse showed up with a portable ultrasound. She numbed my arm, found the last vein, and painlessly inserted the iv. At least demand they numb your arm first. Some nurses balk because it slows them down. Too bad, unless their arm is a human pin cushion covered with bruises, they need to remember patients come first.

  2. Stacy says:

    You are such a trooper. Love ya and think of you often!

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