Jossalyn Larson is an English Professor at Missouri S&T, a motivational speaker, and the author of a children’s book called Chico’s Great Escape. She is a wife, a mother, and now, as of this summer, a breast cancer patient who is offering an up-close-and-personal view of what it’s like via a series of vlogs.
Josssalyn has stage 2b invasive ductal carcinoma, which means the cancer started in the milk ducts and has spread to surrounding breast tissue.
In this video, Jossalyn walks us through the process of a typical day getting chemo, from prep-work at home, to the various steps she has to take prior to treatment at the hospital itself, to the type of chemo she gets and the medication she requires post-treatment.
Before her treatment even begins, she prepares the site of the chemo port on her chest, which is where the drugs will be administered later.
To cut back on any discomfort or pain when they place the needle in the port, she puts lidocaine on the tender skin around it. This will help numb the area.
She had to ask for a prescription for the cream, so she says to speak up to your doctor if it’s something you think you want.
Then she covers the area in saran wrap so that it doesn’t rub off or spread away from the area she needs it.
Next up is heading to the hospital. She immediately has lab work done, and fields a nurse’s questions to make sure she’s healthy enough to endure today’s treatment and that no alarming changes have occurred since her previous visit.
“Then it’s time to stab my port,” she says glibly.
After the nurse set ups the port, Jossalyn sees her doctor to discuss her lab results. Then it’s time to camp out on the hospital bed for a couple hours as she gets her treatment.
But before she gets the chemo, she gets doses of steroids and anti-nausea medication — both of which take longer to administer than the chemo itself!
Her 13-year-old son is the cameraman as well as her support during the treatments.
“I also start to get a little punchy,” Jossalyn says as the pre-chemo drugs hit her system. Then she and her son both start laughing.
Her specific kind of chemo is called AC. It’s a common mixture of two types of chemotherapy drugs, Adriamycin (A) and Cytoxan (C). Adriamycin is also known as “the red devil” because of its bright red color. It comes with a host of side effects, like nausea, vomiting, and even red urine.
Adriamycin can’t be administered via an IV, so the nurse has to slowly push the drug into her chemo port with a syringe over the course of 20 minutes. Then, the Cytoxan is administered via an IV drip.
After her treatment is finished, the nurse places a contraption on her stomach. It’s a device that, over the course of 24 hours, will inject her with a medicine called neulasta. This will encourage her bone marrow to produce more white blood cells, which chemo is notorious for decimating. But it comes with its own set of side effects and pains, which Jossalyn explains more about in the video.
To learn more about what a day of chemo treatment may look like and see Jossalyn navigate the day’s ups and downs like a champ, check out the video.
We wish you the best, Jossalyn!
C. Dixon likes to read, sing, eat, drink, write, and other verbs. She enjoys cavorting around the country to visit loved ones and experience new places, but especially likes to be at home with her husband, son, and dog.