Our Journey with Chemo


The Beginning


It’s CHEO day again.  We are off to Ottawa to meet with the Oncology team.  No parent ever expects to be taking a trip with their child to see a cancer specialist.  Bria didn’t seem to mind and she was excited to meet her.

We arrived at the Medical Day Unit and we were greeted with a smile.  We registered and waited for her name to be called.  My stomach was in knots but Bria was smiling of course!


It was Bria’s turn!  One of her team members came to greet us and take us into her room.  We chatted for a few mins and then we waited. Humphry came along for the ride.


It wasn’t long and her doctor arrived.  She walked in with a huge smile and was very sweet.  She chatted with Bria and explained to her what was happening.  She told her the best course of action for her tumor was chemotherapy.  We talked about the pros and cons of this specific type and it made sense that it was the perfect choice for Bria.

Dr. J told Bria that she will need 70 treatments, once a week!  All I could think of was that it was going to be finished in 2020 and this was 2018!!  Weekly trips to Ottawa every Friday for 70 weeks…yikes!  At this point in the game, it was our only option and we accepted it.  It was going to change our life for a short time but we will make this work.


Dr. J wanted to start right away and booked us in for the following Friday.  Before all this could take place, Bria was to have another surgery to get a Port-A-Cath inserted.  The Cardio team came to visit her and got everything set up for her surgery for next week.

Before we headed for home, Bria had to collect her courage beads.  This is a program by Candlelighters.  This is a childhood cancer support program and they are amazing.  They have a bead program for cancer patients to collect as a way to tell their story.  Each bead represents a different procedure, operation, hospital stay and so on.  Bria has been keeping track of all her needle pokes, MRIs, operations, etc so she can start her necklace.


She had quite the collection already


Back home we go!  A lot to process and so much to prepare for.  Now we wait for her call for surgery!

Surgery Day!

We received the call on Tuesday evening for Bria’s surgery.  We had to be at CHEO the following morning for her Port-A-Cath insertion.

On the road again…


Let me tell you all about her Port-A-Cath.  The reason they are doing this is to make all Bria’s chemo and blood test over the next 70 weeks a little easier for her.  Her chemo will be administered intravenously so having a port will make a world of difference for her.

The “port” is a small chamber that is placed under the skin.  It has a soft top cover that nurses and doctors can use for a blood test, medicine and intravenous fluids.  The port is connected to a long tube that goes into a large vein just above the heart.  Because it is a large vein, it won’t be easy to irritate, like the smaller veins in your arm.   Bria can do all her normal activities with her port and she won’t even notice its there.

We arrived at admitting and got our instructions for day surgery.


The waiting room was filled with children and parents.  They all had the same look of worry that I felt.  No matter how big or small surgery is, its a worry.  She got in her gown and we waited.


Of course, she found some crafts to do


It was time to go in.  The nurse was amazing and made Bria forget all about her surgery.  She did her height, weight and vitals.  Asked questions and gave her some Tylenol.


We sat and waited for Bria’s team to arrive.


Her surgeon was the first to arrive.  He was a gentle soul and had some great laughs with Bria.


Her anesthesiologist dropped by to ask a few questions.


I had to get ready as I was going into the OR with her until she was asleep.  I tried to convince her to take Dad this time but a girl just needs her Mom for some things.


Picture with Dad before we go


and its time…her nurse arrived to walk us to the OR


Bria was so brave going to the OR.  She laughed and joked all the way.  Once inside, she hopped on the operating table like it was her bed.  She wasn’t scared, didn’t cry and she said “this is a walk in the park compared to brain surgery!”  Although she was right, it was still nerve-wracking for us parents.

Once she was asleep, I went back to meet up with Kerry.  We quickly went and grabbed some lunch and we waited in the waiting room near the OR.  She was going to be in there for a few hours and I would keep looking at the screen to see if she was still in progress.  Her surgeon came to see us just after the 2 hours were up.  Everything went great and Bria was in recovery waking up.  The nurse was coming to get me as soon as she could.

“I’m looking for the parent of Bria.”  I jumped up and off I go.  They only allow one parent in there for the first 20 mins or so and I quickly took the position (sorry Dad).  She wasn’t feeling too great when I arrived.  She is always really nauseous after surgery and just minutes after she started vomiting.  They gave her some more medicine to help with that and she was asleep and settled in no time.  They transferred her to the second recovery room where Dad was allowed in.


She slept for 2.5 hours and was feeling wonderful when she woke up.  It was no time and she was ready to go home!


Homeward bound!

We arrived home safe & sound.  Bria was having a little pain but overall felt great!  Surgery #2 was a success!  Once her chemo is done, she will go back to the OR to have her port removed!

Next up…Chemotherapy #1