Sept. 22, 2022

Day 43: Things Are Unraveling

Day 43: Things Are Unraveling

Natasha attempts a somewhat normal life by continuing to work and dating someone new. But behind the scenes, things are unraveling. She receives news about the alarming masses on her liver and thyroid. After her second chemo, unusual and disturbing side effects lead her to wonder how many other unexpected surprises are headed her way.

Natasha attempts a somewhat normal life by continuing to work and dating someone new. But behind the scenes, things are unraveling. She receives news about the alarming masses on her liver and thyroid. After her second chemo, unusual and disturbing side effects lead her to wonder how many other unexpected surprises are headed her way.


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About Breast Cancer Stories

Breast Cancer Stories follows Natasha Curry, a palliative care nurse practitioner at San Francisco General Hospital, through her experience of going from being a nurse to a patient after being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Natasha was in Malawi on a Doctors Without Borders mission in 2021 when her husband of 25 years announced in a text message that he was leaving. She returned home, fell into bed for a few weeks, and eventually pulled herself together and went back to work. A few months later when she discovered an almond-sized lump in her armpit, she did everything she tells her patients not to do and dismissed it, or wrote it off as a “fat lump."

Months went by before Natasha finally got a mammogram, but radiology saw nothing in either breast. It was the armpit lump that caught their attention. Next step was an ultrasound, where the lump was clearly visible. One painful biopsy later, Natasha found out she had cancer; in one life-changing moment, the nurse became the patient.

This podcast is about what happens when you have breast cancer, told in real time.

Host and Executive Producer: Eva Sheie
Co-Host: Kristen Vengler
Editor and Audio Engineer: Daniel Croeser
Theme Music: Them Highs and Lows, Bird of Figment
Production Assistant: Mary Ellen Clarkson
Cover Art Designer: Shawn Hiatt

Breast Cancer Stories is a production of The Axis.



Kristen Vengler (00:03): I'm Kristen Vengler, and our mission with this podcast is to help you and the people who love you through the shock of diagnosis and treatment.

Eva Sheie (00:11): I'm Eva Sheie, and the incredible woman whose story you're about to hear is a nurse practitioner in San Francisco who has dedicated her life to caring for patients more vulnerable than you can imagine.

Kristen Vengler (00:22): Her name is Natasha. This is a story about what happens when you have breast cancer, told in real time.

Natasha (00:34): Another podcast that we can definitely start is Dating with Cancer.

Kristen Vengler (00:39): I want to hear about what you're doing.

Natasha (00:42): I met this completely amazing person online about three and a half weeks ago that we've been seeing pretty regularly.

Kristen Vengler (00:51): Is this the unexpected guy, the guy that you went out with, and I said, "What are you doing?" And you said, "Well-

Natasha (00:56): How many men do I admit to having that with?

Kristen Vengler (01:00): I don't know. I just know about the one.

Natasha (01:03): I don't know. This was a guy I met three or four weeks ago and we went for dinner and it was just incredibly comfortable and nice and we went to see a show this weekend and he made dinner for me, but it's building on the shit they don't tell you about, chemo. It's like, how do you start talking to somebody that you don't know that well about the unexpected things that may or may not happen if you are actually going to try and date somebody with cancer?

Kristen Vengler (01:31): Right.

Natasha (01:32): At the beginning of our conversation, I said, "Yes, there's no hair down there."

Kristen Vengler (01:39): Right. How awkward is that?

Natasha (01:41): Right. I hope this isn't one of the weeks where I'm suddenly going to start puking for no reason in his beautiful designer house.

Kristen Vengler (01:52): Oh, shit.

Natasha (01:54): I told him on our first or second date, I think I've mentioned a few times, one of my goals, if I can say I have a goal of this podcast and of living with cancer in my community is to talk about it, to not make it be a taboo or a just shameful disease that I've got. He was very gentle at the beginning. He's like, "Is it okay if I ask you a few questions?" I'm like, "Well, of course it's okay." We went to a show on Saturday night in Oakland and I ran into a good friend that I haven't seen for a while, but knows that I have cancer and also knows my sense of humor. The friend came up and is like, "Oh, god, you look awful. Do you have cancer or something?" But this guy that I've just met was kind of horrified. I'm like, "No, no, no, no, no. I need the cancer jokes." It's like, "That's the way I've gone through this and it's perfectly fine." Yes, I am kind of covered in bruises because I think I've got no platelets this week.

Kristen Vengler (03:00): Right. Yeah. Absolutely. I'm so happy that you're having fun.

Natasha (03:03): Yeah. But it's odd and next week, my third cycle's on Wednesday and my second cycle was very different. It was harder. I was much more tired, to a fatigue where one day I was like, "My head is not lifting from this pillow and I've been sleeping to noon and 1:00," and nausea almost the whole time, this low lying nausea. I threw up this time, which I hadn't done the first time. Lots of people are like, "Oh, well you should know that it's cumulative." I'm like, "Well, that's not what my oncologist says."

Kristen Vengler (03:42): Exactly. They say that the fatigue is cumulative. That's always what I heard, right?

Natasha (03:47): So far, I disagree with that comment because the first and second time couldn't have been more different.

Kristen Vengler (03:52): Interesting. I think the last time we talked was right before the scan and I think we talked on Monday and Tuesday was the scan and then Wednesday was your next chemo. I think you were a little bit surprised at how ... Not that you breezed through it, but it was kind of-

Natasha (04:10): Yeah, but kind of.

Kristen Vengler (04:11): ... not what you had heard and thought.

Natasha (04:13): Right. Even the infusion itself was ... I got really dizzy at one point, asked for some extra anti nausea meds, which they give you the tiniest drop in the bucket. It's like, if I was at home, I'm going to take more than 0.5 of Ativan. I'm going to take two. But they give you this tiniest thing, almost where I just wanted to say, "Save it, put it back in the bottle. It's not worth." But it felt like my body had a very different reaction, even to the infusion itself. Afterwards when I was done, I wasn't ready to bounce up and go celebrate. It was, "No, that felt very different."

Kristen Vengler (04:58): I remember you said you had the itching before. Did you have that this time?

Natasha (05:02): Not as badly. No. I changed up some of my medication to stop the itching. It was as if something was off with my blood pressure. If I stood up too soon, I got really dizzy. Because I'm getting four medications, it's a long day and it just felt like an even longer day. I don't know. I was just ready to be done with it. Whereas in a way, the first one I felt ... Not excited, but I was like ... Well, kind of. It's like, "Yeah, the treatment's begun and we're going to knock this thing out." I had a couple of days this week when I was like, "I don't know if I can do four more," and clearly I can and I'm going to, and as my father says, "Natasha, this is not an option." I know other people, there are chemos that are way worse than this, I know that. But I had a couple of real, "Poor me," days this month.

Kristen Vengler (05:59): Well, and we're going to talk a little bit later about some other reactions that you had that were pretty crappy, so to speak. We'll come back to that a little bit later. But can you take me through when you get there to the end? What happens again? Because everybody's is a little bit different. I'd love for you to take me through that a little bit.

Natasha (06:21): I get my treatment in a huge medical center at the new UCSF Medical Center. I always get lost from the minute I get there, even now. I get there and I have to find where I'm supposed to go for labs. What they've done to try and help, because it's such a huge center, is they don't really care about your name. You get this little pet tracker that you clip onto you and they can find you wherever you are in the building.

Kristen Vengler (06:48): That's kind of cool.

Natasha (06:50): The nurses have this big screen. It's kind of nice. They literally come to you and say, "Natasha, it's time for your labs," but you tend to feel like somebody from a deli counter. It's like, "I actually have a name. I don't need a number." They do labs and then you sit and wait for the lab results. In theory, labs happen at 8:00, and then at 9:00 I see the oncologist, but nothing goes to plan. Everybody's always late. I'm usually on the wrong floor. Then this time, my oncologist had actually had a COVID scare, so she was working from home and I can't do the Zoom visits, Zoom doctor visits, especially when it's a physical. It's like, I know the lump under my arm has really decreased and I wanted her to verify it for me, and I don't know why I needed to verify it because I know, but I felt like a proud child, like, "Look, mom, the lump went down a bit."

Natasha (07:51): Then once I've met with her, then there's more waiting. I don't know if it'll happen every time, but they sent me in the same chair. That's really nice. It's much more open plan. The hospital I work at, it's very small rooms and people have much more privacy, but here it's very open plan. There are sort of four of us in a pod. Because I'm doing the DigniCaps, it starts with that. It starts with an awful lot of fussing around with getting the thing on my head. It feels like ... Anybody who's done scuba diving, it's that tight. It's a scuba hat. Then underneath, it has this sort of plastic thing that has channels that hooks up to a freezing water machine. It's a little bit like an ice machine, for anybody who's had knee surgery.

Natasha (08:45): Then I think they have to pre freeze my head for 45 minutes before they can start anything. It's always the first 20 minutes, it's awful. I have to take Tylenol before I go, because I'm going to get a headache. Then I usually get one of the bouncy nurses, which is a mixed blessing. Honestly, I'd rather they have me with the snarky nurse. This time I'm like, "I'm a travel nurse." I'm like, "Okay, how long have you been doing oncology?" "Oh, this is my first job." I'm like, "Oh, this is great. This is great."

Natasha (09:20): What I missed out is they've already accessed my port for the labs and they leave a little thing dangling down so they can use that. One of the things, people listening, you need to remember is look at the clothes you're wearing before you go to chemo, especially if you've got a port, because if you have a long sweater dress that they can't access the port, you may just literally have to get changed. But they need access to the top six inches of your chest for eight or nine hours.

Kristen Vengler (09:50): What do you wear?

Natasha (09:52): I've actually got a shirt that I like to wear, kind of a camisole top under, and then it's easy to just have the port accessible. But I saw a lady who came in with this beautiful sort of long sweater dress and they're like, "Oh, I don't know what we're going to do with this." They're pulling the collar down and it's San Francisco, so people wear fancy stuff and she's probably got some $300 cashmere fancy thing that's getting pulled down and it was all very awkward. Eventually she went and got changed into a hospital gown.

Natasha (10:23): Then they usually start with the premeds, which is just a ton of stuff. It's like, "Here's something to stop you having nausea. It should last three or four days. Here's something else. Here's something else. Here's a bag of saline water that's going to make you want to pee every three hours while you're hooked up to this machine and this hair machine." Strolling to the bathroom with your pole is not that easy, because I have to get unhooked from this hair machine.

Kristen Vengler (10:53): I have a question for you. Did you notice that when they flush your port, or probably when they do that saline, that you taste something?

Natasha (11:00): Yes.

Kristen Vengler (11:01): Tell me what you taste. I want to know what you taste.

Natasha (11:03): I taste the sea. I taste the ocean, because they don't use a lot of heparin. It's mostly just salt water.

Kristen Vengler (11:10): Okay. I've never drank acetone or nail polish remover, but whatever I would imagine it tasting like, that's what it was like every time. I was expecting the saline or the salt water.

Natasha (11:22): Oh, wow. Yeah.

Kristen Vengler (11:24): I'm just curious. Everybody's different.

Natasha (11:25): Yeah. I don't taste any of the other premeds. I think I did talk last time about that weird reaction with the dexamethasone, which makes your-

Kristen Vengler (11:35): Naughty bits.

Natasha (11:36): ... naughty bits burn.

Kristen Vengler (11:39): Yes.

Natasha (11:40): Unbelievable. Just for 30 seconds, and then it starts and they hang bag after bag of chemo and I think my first one is Taxotere, and then I get the Carboplatin, which comes after that. Then something happens in the middle, some change around of tubing. Then I get the two hormonals, the PERJETA and the Herceptin. It's a long day. I think last time I was there from about 8:00 till 7:00.

Kristen Vengler (12:11): Oh, Natasha.

Natasha (12:12): Yeah. Because once that's done, the hair machine has to be stopped and then they have to have a cool down because my hair is literally frozen under there.

Kristen Vengler (12:25): Do all of those chemo medications, are those all types that are known to cause hair loss?

Natasha (12:32): The second two don't for sure. The two hormonals don't. The Taxotere and the Carboplatin are pretty known for their hair loss. I felt guilty about being able to afford this hair machine, even though we've praised my dad for paying half of it. But this is an entitled comment and believe me, I feel all the guilt that goes with it, but I do feel happy that my hair's not fallen out.

Kristen Vengler (12:58): Yeah. Well, that's another thing you don't have to deal with, right, when you're feeling shitty is, "Oh, there's a handful of hair. Cool." Right?

Natasha (13:04): Yeah. Oh, because my dog ate my wig. My new dog ate the wig. I came in the bedroom the other day, I'm like, "What is that on the floor? I'm like, "Oh, the new puppy ate my wig. Okay. That's good."

Kristen Vengler (13:18): Oh, man.

Natasha (13:22): It allows me to go through the world, not getting stared at as a cancer patient.

Kristen Vengler (13:29): Have you lost any hair with the cold capping?

Natasha (13:31): Not yet. No, not that I'm aware of. I mean, I can brush it and none comes out. That's none on the pillow.

Kristen Vengler (13:38): Great.

Natasha (13:39): Yeah. It's interesting because I think my body awareness, I really don't like the port. I'm still losing weight. I can imagine why because I just had no interest in food for the past month and there's only so much frozen mac and cheese that I could really get down. When I was throwing up, I really wasn't interested. My port's really obvious because I look so skinny, you can ever see the wire. I'm skinny and knobbly and I hate it. It's a different sort of body feel but I avoid mirrors, for sure. Getting dressed to go out on a date when it's the opposite, it's like, all my clothes make me look disgusting. Everything's just hanging off. You find the tightest, tightest Uniqlo jeggings that you bought years ago and it's like, "Yes, something that doesn't make me look disgusting."

Kristen Vengler (14:35): That's so interesting. I wonder if it has to do with the difference in your HER2-positive and your hormone negatives, because a lot of people say it's the steroids, the steroids make you gain weight. I was listening to a podcast and it was someone who was talking about gaining 40 pounds, and she was also hormone positive, as was I. I think when you and were talking about some of the side effects that you had, it had to do with something you were taking because of the HER2-positive that made you sick. The bed situation.

Natasha (15:10): Oh, the bed situation. Yes. Oh my god. No, this is PERJETA. That's its brand name. I should look up what its generic is. This time, I had the worst diarrhea that must be humanly possible. It was as if my intestines had been rerouted and somebody had connected my bladder to the other orifice. I didn't know how to deal with it. Then there was the night where I woke up in a pool of my own poop. I got up and I was just exhausted and I cleaned the place up and I tried to blame the puppy, but she wasn't even there. I cleaned it all up. I was like, "Natasha, that was disgusting." Super tired, went back to bed.

Natasha (16:07): An hour later, it's the same story. I wanted to just stay and die in my poop and just sleep on the other side of the bed and, "I'll take care of this in the morning." But, no, I'm from England, so we clean it up and we do more laundry. Then for some reason, it just stopped. I was so full of immodium, I was beyond the daily dose for immodium. We've talked, Kristen, you have no way of knowing which of the side effects is going to come when and for what reason. I'm close to cycle three, so I thought all the side effects should have been finished by now, but no.

Kristen Vengler (16:51): Let me make sure I'm understanding the timeline on this, too. This wasn't like it was days after the infusion.

Natasha (16:56): No.

Kristen Vengler (16:57): This was a couple weeks after, right?

Natasha (16:59): Yeah.

Kristen Vengler (16:59): Because we're coming up on your third treatment this week, right?

Natasha (17:02): Right. This is what we call our good week-

Kristen Vengler (17:04): Right.

Natasha (17:05): ... with the three week schedule. Usually the first three or four days after the infusion, I'm fine because I've still got all the premeds. Then it can be a week where things are just iffy. You don't know which way it's going to go. Then in my first cycle, the last week and a half was clear. I could have done anything. But no, not this time. I get, as they say in Ireland, the wild shites.

Kristen Vengler (17:31): Wild shites.

Natasha (17:33): Yeah.

Kristen Vengler (17:38): This is literally shit they don't tell you about chemo, right?

Natasha (17:43): Yeah.

Kristen Vengler (17:43): Number 992.

Natasha (17:45): Right. I look at the side effects, just taking me and you as an example, it's been so different. By big, big fear was neuropathy. So far, I haven't had a tingle of anything. Doesn't mean it couldn't happen in the next two minutes because that's chemo effects. But I don't remember anybody talking about diarrhea to that level.

Kristen Vengler (18:10): Right. I don't know if you got the chemo book or not, but I have the 70 page book of all about chemo. It's partitioned out to, "Here's the most common. Here's the less common. Least common. Rare." I didn't read it all. I'm sure every single side effect that I have, like my freaking chemo toe, I'm sure that's in there somewhere, but I didn't get to that piece. There's no rhyme or reason as to who gets what.

Natasha (18:43): Yeah. I think that's the crapshoot. It's like, nobody can really tell you what it's going to be. I mean, they say fatigue and I can think, "Oh, I've fatigue," until you get the chemo fatigue. I think that's been one of the hard things because the fatigue I had this time was to a level where I was just staying in bed, therefore I'm not eating, therefore I'm getting skinnier and bonier and I'm also not hydrating properly. There's a way that I'm causing some of my own nonsense that goes with it, but what are you going to do?

Kristen Vengler (19:17): Right. Eva and I had that conversation about exercise, right, is going to make the issues with my feet better, but how do you exercise and move when you feel like crap and every step is painful? It's a whole catch-22. That's where you are, too, with the fatigue.

Kristen Vengler (19:37): Have you had the situation where people, when you tell them you're having these symptoms or these side effects, they're like, "Oh, yeah. It's a chemo thing."? They're very flippant. It's like, "Oh, no, I'm bleeding out my throat." "Oh, that's blood vessels broke in your throat because of chemo." What?

Natasha (19:57): Yeah. I mean, I have the situation where they'll tell me about other friends or family members who had it much worse. This is slightly betraying my friends, but because it's only a stage 2A and I might not need a huge surgery, I have friends who refer to this as cancer light.

Kristen Vengler (20:21): Sorry.

Natasha (20:23): No, I know.

Kristen Vengler (20:23): Give them to me.

Natasha (20:25): Or it's also been decaf cancer, which is kind of funny, and they can get away with it because of who it is. But there is that sort of attitude that because I'm not losing my hair and I'm trying to have a relatively normal life, that there's a lot of misunderstanding of what's going on behind the scenes. The number of promethazine it took me to be sitting in this restaurant with you right now. But I would prefer that than the dead puppy dog look of, "Oh, no."

Kristen Vengler (20:58): Yeah. Completely. Last time we talked, you were just going to get the scan. Can you remind us about what led up to that and then what happened? Because Eva and I were going, "Have you heard from Natasha? Have you heard from Natasha?" We were like, "Oh my gosh, she's not calling because something's wrong."

Natasha (21:16): It took a while to get the results. Way back when I was getting all of my early results to determine the treatment plan, one of the scans, they found a couple of somethings in my liver and they were pretty sure, and I read the first report, that it was just benign things that go in the liver. But my oncologist is so thorough that she wasn't happy with radiology saying, "Possibly benign." She sent me for another full body MRI so they could really focus on whatever this was in the liver and they've now called it, "It's definitely benign." Just little cysts or something like that.

Natasha (22:09): But had that actually been small metastasis from the breast cancer, I would have been up to a stage four, my treatment plan would have changed completely. They did find something to do with my thyroid, but they're happy enough to leave it. I guess I am.

Kristen Vengler (22:26): You said a nodule or something like that.

Natasha (22:28): Yeah. A nodule in my thyroid. But it's this thing, lots of people have nodules on their thyroids. I'm like, "Yeah, and one in eight of us get breast cancer," so let's not just say it's, "Oh, that lump."

Kristen Vengler (22:39): Exactly. Yeah. Well, I am so relieved because that's the thing, a lot of people don't realize, when there's a scan or something, it's like finding out if you have cancer all over again, every single time. There's so much anxiety around it.

Natasha (22:58): I also wish they did more scans, and this is why my brain was tripping this weekend because it's all very well that I can feel that the lump under arm has essentially gone, but it's the breast mass that we need to worry about and nobody could ever feel that. If they could never feel it-

Kristen Vengler (23:17): Right. Or see it.

Natasha (23:19): ... or see it, then maybe it's just massive and nobody knows.

Kristen Vengler (23:24): What's next? What's going on next?

Natasha (23:27): Next Wednesday is cycle three, so I'll be halfway through. I'm nervous about this one, though. I don't know, I don't know what the side effects could be coming out from this. Again, now I'm like, it could be anything. Way back when we started talking, I mentioned that there was a clinical trial that they were trying to sign me up for that I decided not to do, but one of the things with that was after cycle three, they did an MRI to check that the chemo was working. I think I want an MRI to see that it's working. Just doing six cycles, you know the story, they come out and say, "I'm sorry, you just went all through that and it didn't do anything."

Kristen Vengler (24:16): That was a question that I had is, were they able to tell anything about your tumor by the scan? Did they look at anything in those MRIs when you had that body scan?

Natasha (24:26): No. Just that it existed and how big it was and the size. No, they weren't able to tell anything smart. It's interesting, I was thinking the other day, bits of tissue have been sent to various places to get various scores of things that I don't really understand, and I haven't had any feedback from that. I should follow up. I think, yes, I have a lot of confidence in my oncologist. I don't have confidence in the system, as it were.

Kristen Vengler (24:52): Agree.

Natasha (24:54): Back to my early days when they're scheduling me for surgery when I haven't even had a PET scan, nor do we even know if it's breast cancer, but I'm meeting a surgeon.

Kristen Vengler (25:04): Right now, you're a third of the way through. We'll be positive on that, right?

Natasha (25:07): Yes.

Kristen Vengler (25:09): All the mind games we have to play.

Natasha (25:11): Yep. Then Wednesday it'll be halfway through and I actually went online yesterday and booked a reservation in a restaurant that's very hard to get into-

Kristen Vengler (25:21): Oh, nice.

Natasha (25:21): ... for the evening of cycle six.

Kristen Vengler (25:23): Yay. Good for you.

Natasha (25:25): Which is some time in mid June. It's a ways away.

Kristen Vengler (25:31): That's great.

Natasha (25:33): We know it's not the end of treatment for me, but it's the end of I hope the tough one.

Kristen Vengler (25:39): It's a big deal.

Natasha (25:40): Yeah. The way the rooms are set up where I get my chemo, it's not conducive to having chats with other people. They're a little bit far away, but somehow I always end up with somebody in my pod who's a super chatterbox, which was great.

Kristen Vengler (25:53): Oh, that's good.

Natasha (25:54): Yeah. I had this lady who was talking to me. She did the Penguin caps and how it didn't really work that well for her. But it was lovely. She was probably in her early 80s and I did not want to go into, "Is this breast cancer coming back in your 80s?" Her husband was like, "Your hair looked fine. You were just being picky."

Kristen Vengler (26:16): I forgot you could have people in there, too.

Natasha (26:18): Yeah. I've still told my friends COVID won't let them in, because I really don't want to have to entertain somebody while I'm sitting there.

Kristen Vengler (26:28): That's another whole topic is the way of taking care of other people's feelings during it. I'm a little ticked that you're feeling like you have to justify your cancer.

Natasha (26:41): My decaf cancer.

Kristen Vengler (26:43): Yeah. Your decaf cancer, your cancer light. One of my good friends in my women's group, she said, "Kristen, I'm joining your club. I got some results back." She goes, "It's nothing like yours. I'm not going through anything like you did." She ended up having a pretty sizable lumpectomy and radiation that kicked her ass. She kept saying to me, "I know it's nothing like yours." I'm like, "No. But this is still your own personal health. It doesn't necessarily mean because I'm having these other things that my corner of hell is any hotter than yours. It's a different situation."

Natasha (27:23): We will all live with the fear of recurrence.

Kristen Vengler (27:27): Constantly.

Natasha (27:31): Because I don't feel now like I'm living my best life. I'm really not eating that well. I'm exercising because I have a dog, but I'm really not exercising. I'm not doing anything right now with the thought of making my body feel better, which is terrible, actually. Maybe I am, I don't know. I imagined if somebody 10 years ago had said, "If you got breast cancer, how would I deal with it?" I'd have put myself up as one of those warriors where I would do juicing every day and [inaudible 00:28:03]. Whereas actually, I'm somebody who lies in bed a lot with her puppy and feels sorry for herself. Two weekends ago, I was literally on my hands and knees in a friend's back garden throwing up because she didn't want cancer throw up in her house because it might be toxic.

Kristen Vengler (28:17): Oh, shit.

Natasha (28:20): You're the one handling this stuff. You put the HAZMAT suit on and you do the double check. You're spiking a bag, essentially. I don't know if you've ever been in the hospital when it spills by accident.

Kristen Vengler (28:35): No.

Natasha (28:36): It's a huge drama. Half the unit has to get shut down. I mean, they're putting this in our body and the protocol for if this bag bursts and spills on the floor, it's like Chernobyl.

Kristen Vengler (28:47): Oh my god.

Natasha (28:47): Yeah.

Kristen Vengler (28:49): I remember on Facebook there was this woman who asked, "Do I need to get a seperate toilet because I was told that on chemo days, it's unhealthy for me to use the same toilet as the people in my household because the poison is so toxic." But I thought it was, this poor woman felt horrible, like she was going to poison her entire family.

Natasha (29:14): There's little things. This new dog likes to lick me, and that sounds weirder than it is. I don't think she should be that close to me the week after chemo.

Kristen Vengler (29:28): Agree.

Natasha (29:29): You see nurses whoever get spilled out on their hands, holy hell.

Kristen Vengler (29:35): I can't imagine. That's going into our veins. No wonder we feel like shit. I feel like you're brave, first of all, for dating and that you are lucky to have somebody who is there who just loves you for you.

Natasha (29:50): I told him at our first dinner date, and I don't honestly remember, I think he said, "Do you want to talk about it?" I was like, "Not really." I've talked about it. It sort of plays a role in our relationship, and yet it sort of doesn't. But Wednesday's interesting because he asked, "Is there anything I can do?" I said, "Actually, can you pick me up after treatment on Wednesday?"

Kristen Vengler (30:14): Nice.

Natasha (30:14): Because the plan of people fell through, and they insist on somebody taking me home. I said, "Just to let you know, you're not going to be picking somebody up who's being wheeled out in a gurney and drooling. It's just me that you're picking up. He's like, "Is there anything special I need to do?" I'm like, "No. Just drive up."

Kristen Vengler (30:40): Get a big, old bouquet of flowers.

Natasha (30:41): Absolutely, and maybe a steak.

Kristen Vengler (30:45): Exactly. Well, that's lovely. You were brave enough to meet him online. I'm so dang proud of you.

Natasha (30:58): Thank you.

Eva Sheie (30:58): You for listening to Breast Cancer Stories. to continue telling this story and helping others, we need your help. All podcasts require resources and we have a team of people who produce it, there's costs involved and it takes time.

Kristen Vengler (31:13): If you believe in what we're doing and have the means to support the show, you can make a one time donation or you can set up a recurring donation in any amount through the PayPal link on our website at

Eva Sheie (31:27): To get the key takeaways from each episode, links to anything we've talked about and promo codes or giveaways from our partners, sign up for our email newsletter.

Kristen Vengler (31:36): You'll get notes and thoughts from me related to each episode and links to the most useful resources for all the breast cancer things. If you have chemo brain, you'll be able to just go read your email, find anything we talked about on the podcast without having to remember it.

Eva Sheie (31:51): The link to sign up is in your show notes and on the newsletter page at

Kristen Vengler (31:57): We promise not to annoy you with too many emails.

Eva Sheie (32:01): Thanks for listening to Breast Cancer Stories. If you're facing a breast cancer diagnosis and you want to tell your story on the podcast, send an email to I'm Eva Sheie, your host and executive producer. Production support for the show comes from Mary Ellen Clarkson and our engineer is Daniel Croeser. Breast Cancer Stories is a production of The Axis,