Treatment & Care: Chemotherapy

Day 131: Almost done! My last chemo treatment is coming up. I’m so excited to put this in my rear-view mirror FOR GOOD!

Last chemo treatment coming upIn two days, I will have my fourth and final chemo treatment. Can I get a collective WOOOOOO-HOOOOOOO?!! I cannot begin to express how excited I am to get this last treatment over with. At the same time, I am absolutely dreading it. It’s been nearly three weeks since my third round of chemo, and today is the first day I have felt almost normal since.

At the risk of sounding cliché…I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.  

Every day since my third treatment, I have been more tired and weak than ever before. I’ve struggled just to get out of bed, which doesn’t happen until noon or 1pm some days, and even then I still wake up feeling unrested. When I actually do get out of bed, most days my legs feel like they’re going to buckle beneath me. My body feels like one big ache, with all of my muscles and joints feeling extremely sore.

I have hand and foot syndrome, a not-so-fun little condition caused by one of my chemo drugs that makes my hands and feet (including my nails) very sore, sensitive and itchy. My head and stomach ache most of the time, and the chemo drugs seem to be coming out of my skin, causing my face to break out in painful boils.

I attended a “Look Good, Feel Better” session at LMH Oncology Center for this very reason. Look Good, Feel Better is a support program designed to help chemo patients manage their changing hair, nail and skin needs. It was led by a volunteer who, courtesy of the American Cancer Society (ACS), brought in tons of cosmetics and showed us how to use them to conceal and/or alleviate the issues we were encountering. In my honest opinion, they need to better encourage the use of all-organic cosmetics (and yes, I wrote to ACS to tell them so), but ultimately I think it’s a great program for a very unpleasant situation, and I think it’s great that LMH is an outlet for it.

I think what I hate the most about chemo is that I can smell and taste the drugs pretty much all the time, and it’s sooooo gross. Another thing I hate: chemo is sending me into early menopause, which means insomnia and overheating. One minute I’m too hot and the next, I’m too cold. And that’s just the physical stuff. Lately, the mental side effects are taking their toll as well.

I feel lonely and depressed much of the time, since I can’t go out much and don’t get to do "normal" things. I feel like crud all the time and basically stay inside my house all day every day, and I know this next treatment will bring more of the same, but worse. Those of you who know me best know I don’t like to be negative, but I have to keep it real when it comes to chemo.

On the other hand, those of you who know me best also know I will almost always try to take a negative situation and turn it into a positive. So, that being said, my plan right now is to focus on and enjoy feeling pretty good for the next two days. I’m also going to focus on the light I can now see at the end of the tunnel. I have heard from other survivors who have been through chemo that it takes about a month for the drugs to exit your system following your final treatment, and about a month for your energy and strength to fully return. I cannot wait to get this stuff out of my body and feel good again! Time to put on my big girl pants and take this last treatment by the horns!

Now, to end on a positive and appreciative note, today I want to thank my friends at work, who are being so incredibly supportive as I claw my way through this grueling process. I don’t mean just with well wishes – they actually got me a laundry service, a cleaning service, two fully prepared meals delivered to my house every week since my treatment began, and more! These gifts are so incredibly thoughtful and have made life as a chemo patient so much more bearable. It's no surprise that the company I work for is among the best of its kind – an organization is only as good as the people who work there, and there are no better people on the face of the planet than my colleagues. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I miss you guys so much!

Time to sign off and start preparing for this final treatment. I recently discovered a quote from Winston Churchill that helps me keep moving forward and inspires me as I approach what is certain to be the toughest part of this process yet:

"When you’re going through hell, keep going."

I wouldn't want to disappoint Mr. Churchill, so I'll continue putting one foot in front of the other until I come to the end of this very bumpy road. Happy thoughts and rest well, my friends!

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After Chemo Round 3, Before Round 4

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