The minute I found out I had breast cancer I immediately said I did not want to have chemo! I was hoping I’d be told that it was small, could be cut out and maybe a few rounds of radiation and it’d all be over. Instead I was given lists of medications, outcomes and medical terms to try and digest. MRIs, PET Scans, physicals and port placement surgery. It was overwhelming and frustrating! Didn’t these doctors know I had a job? A one year old son to take care of? Did they even care?
I had my port placement done 1 week prior to starting chemo…it wasn’t amazing and I struggled to get comfortable with this new thing in my chest. Luckily for me I have an amazing acupuncturist who helped me get past that hurtle (I’ll go in to more details on my acupuncturist in another post). Ports are amazing medical devices and while I don’t always love mine I respect her (yes my port is a her) purpose.
On June 9, 2016 my husband and I drove the 15 mins to the oncology clinic at 7:30am. I was so nervous that I wanted to puke. I had no idea what this was going to be like. Every visit I would check in, get my blood drawn through my port and my line hooked up, meet with my medical oncologists, and then by 9:30am I was usually in the chemo room ready to start my pre-meds. It was regimented and I found comfort in the fact that while the content of my visit may change the process was always the same.
I was lucky in that my chemo story wasn’t as horrible as some of those that I’ve spoken too…My first 4 rounds where two drugs called A/C (Adriamycin / Cyclophosphamide). This was supposed to be the worst of it and while round 1 sucked by the time I got in for round 2 I had a list of things that I knew we could fix either by using my pre-meds or my post chemo meds.
I stuck to a routine of going to my acupuncturist on Wednesday after work, working out on Thursday morning, eating a small amount before heading out the door with my husband to the oncologist. I’d receive my chemo and either watch a movie, talk or sleep. Reading, drawing or doing anything that required a brain was impossible with my premeds. We’d always eat lunch at the clinic since my chemo would usually overlap with lunch. I’d go home and head to bed. Friday’s were my day to work from home, see my naturopath where I’d get my post chemo nutrient IV and sleep.
The weekends after my chemo are still a blur and I don’t think I care to ever have them not be a blur. Your mind does great work blurring out awful periods in your life and I won’t lie I’m grateful! Monday’s post chemo were always my day to push! I’d wake up and head to work and just try to get to lunch before needing to go home and rest. Little victories are what drove me and kept me sane during this time. Routines, control and stubbornness!!
By Tuesday I would hit my naturopath for another IV and just tell myself that if I could make it to Wednesday I’d start to feel better. I won’t lie I pushed my limits on more then one occasion…I’d say I pushed my limits during all 8 post chemo weeks! Was it right? Maybe not but I didn’t care, it was that stubbornness and will to not let cancer win that let me know I was alive. PS if you look at my chemo #4 picture you can see that I’m SO OVER CANCER!!! July was a rough month.
Once I hit a week out from my chemo treatments I was able to resume life at almost my normal capacity. Thanks to steroids my body was able to just snap back to almost 100% (I’d say by round 4 I was able to get back to 95% and by the end 90%). I’d usually be able to resume my work outs and the brain fog would subside just long enough for me to crank out work and personal tasks before repeating this process all over again the following Thursday (my chemos were once every 2 weeks for 8 rounds).
Now all of this was all well and good until I started the second type of chemo – Taxol. Taxol is usually the easier of the two, unless you are special…like me!
I was one of the special people who really struggled with Taxol…all 4 rounds I had an allergic reaction which meant my chemo had to be titrated (this is just a fancy word for drawn out over 6 freaking hours)!! The sessions where LONG and my pre meds sucked and while the nausea wasn’t as bad the bone pain was excruciating and if I’d had it my way I would’ve preferred throwing up to the crippling pain I was in. We changed my pre drugs, my post drugs, my acupuncturist and naturopath tried every trick in the book but nothing really worked; so I suffered. There were days when I couldn’t even cry I was in so much pain. I hated Taxol!!
And then just as the leaves began to change and the hot summer heat melted to cooler nights my chemo was over. You spend so much time creating routines, telling people you are fine and just digging into the bottom pits of your being to get through it and then it’s over. “You’re cured!” This is what naive people who had no clue what going through cancer meant would say and I had wished my cancer was gone at that point but for a reason we would later find out (and not to spoil the surprise here lol) it wasn’t. Chemo didn’t cure me but I still had my double mastectomy so I just told myself at that point I’d be done…of course this is cancer not a fairytale so it definitely wasn’t over…
To be continued … suspense is good for the soul!!