What does chemotherapy feels like? April 17 2020
Today marks the halfway of my chemotherapy! YAY! What does chemo feel like, I get that question a lot. It’s different for everyone. For me it feels like having the stomach flu for months. First you have a port surgically inside your chest. It’s a metal circle device that has three bumps on it and a tube that runs up your neck to your main vein. Nurses feel for the bumps and use it to insert the Heparin needle that will administer the chemotherapy. I numb it beforehand because I swear the needle is the size of a bicycle tire pump. Once that’s set up. I receive saline and premeds which help with the immediate effects of the drugs - anti-nausea, Benadryl, steroids and Pepcid. The strong chemo drugs are the hardest on you body. One drug that is called the red devil was the worst. It requires a nurse to suit up, wear double gloves. They hand push the drug over 20 minutes. It instantly makes me feels queasy and I feel like fainting. Most chemo takes about an hour per med and a long break between to monitor effects. After a day of treatment I’m wiped out. The day after treatment is the best probably because the steroids which also makes it hard to sleep. For the next week my eyes weep and are unclear making it hard to read or paint. My fingernails have a lovely orange color. I have to swish with salt/baking soda 4-5 times a day to prevent mouth sores. My taste is completely gone. Nausea is fairly constant. If you had bad morning sickness when you were pregnant, chemo could be worse. I was lucky just to have middle of the road nausea, no vomiting. Day five after treatment was the worse. FATIGUE. I never really knew what that would feel like. My mind and body would hit a wall and would just lay my head on my desk. At times like this I wanted to give up. Seriously hard. I learned to just give in and go sleep for three hours or more. All the drugs they give you to counteract the chemo creates constipation. TMI. A part of chemo I hated. Now it’s swung the other direction with the new therapy. Sigh. Weekly blood tests to make sure my body can handle another round of therapy. During one of the chemo drugs I have to wear ice gloves and boots for a couple of hours to prevent neuropathy. It’s worth it, but so dang cold! Overall side effects that will last forever is early menopause, isn’t enough to have cancer and chemo? The heart takes a beating. My initial heart scan was 75% and has dropped to 61%. There is new research that shows that the heart can repair and strengthen after chemo, I am hopeful. The vital organs also take a hit. After treatment I drink gallons of water to flush my system. They don’t want the chemicals sitting too long in the body. Then there are the mental challenges. Sitting in a full room of people like me fighting for their life, all ages young adults to people in their 90s. Knowing that I will live with cancer the rest of my life. Associating treatment day with ginger tea, I now hate that tea. Smelling rubbing alcohol makes my chest tight with anxiety. Seeing red urine (chemo coming out) makes my stomach nauseous. Seeing my baldness and aging overnight in the mirror. Seeing my family sad and concerned. Worried about my immune system-my white and red blood counts have drop dramatically. Getting tired easily. Thankfully, I never had chemo brain (foggy). I pray and am thankful for the nurses and the life saving medicines. Thankful for all you my support tribe. Thankful for each day.