Today marks the one year anniversary of my last chemo treatment! In some ways I can’t believe it’s been a year already. In other ways it feels like it was just yesterday I was sitting in the infusion center. What I can definitely say, though, is that it is so wonderful to be off of chemo! It still actually makes me a little nauseous to think about it. If you want to read how my first round of treatment went, which was radiation along with chemo pills, click here. Otherwise, here are some thoughts from my second round of treatment which was chemo only.
First Chemo Infusion, August 8, 2016:
Well, my break from treatment felt really short. Those 4 weeks flew by! I couldn’t do a whole lot because it seemed to take forever to feel even a little bit better from radiation. Those burns are everlasting! We did sneak in a few beach days though and they were great:
I just had an MRI done too & we met with the surgeon last week to get the results. My tumor & lymph nodes have shrunk considerably! This is such great news! This means that the tumor is responding to the treatment. It was still a little early to have an MRI done, my radiologist warned me that the tumor would still show up on it, but we did one because of the clinical trial protocol. Although I don’t enjoy actually doing the MRI (read more about my scanxiety here), I was glad to have another look at the tumor & to get confirmation that the treatment is working. I must admit that I was somewhat disappointed, I had dreams of hearing that the tumor had miraculously disappeared completely already. But, let’s just hope that the chemo does its job & gets rid of the tumor for good!
And here we are on to Round 2, which is 12 weeks of chemo. I go to the infusion center at UCI Medical Center every other Monday to receive chemo. I am there pretty much all day because I get blood work done first, wait for those results and then it takes a while to get all hooked up to the IVs for chemo to begin. Chemo itself goes for about 3 hours. Then they hook me up to a chemo pack to wear home for 46 hours, so I go back on Wednesdays to get unhooked from it. This week was week 1 & luckily it went pretty well. I didn’t have too many side effects, just tired & a little nausea here & there. I’m hoping that this is the worst it gets for the duration of treatment. We’ll see.
Well, unfortunately, it did progressively get worse for me. So the remaining weeks of chemo pretty much went like this:
Chemo week-I usually felt pretty yucky. The chemo made me so tired and nauseous. To read some of my other chemo side effects click here.
Week off of chemo-I still usually felt pretty cruddy, but I did have a little more energy and was able to get some things done. Mostly, any spare energy I had went to spending time with my girls.
And yes, that’s about how the duration of the 12 weeks went. It was like being trapped in an awful, repeating movie, like Groundhog Day. There was one week when I went in for treatment only to find out that my white blood cell count was too low and I couldn’t get treatment. As much as I dreaded getting chemo, I was crushed. I was mentally prepared to have my infusion again and I didn’t want to skip a treatment because that meant it would now delay the end of this horrible road. I was told I needed to get the Neulasta shot now every week when I got disconnected from the pump to help keep my white blood cells up. Luckily that shot was no big deal for me. The nurses told me to take Claritin for two days before and two days after getting the shot to help with the side effects and it really worked.
I don’t have many pics of me actually doing chemo because, well, they would all look about like this:
Hooked up to the IVs:
A whole lot of medicines going in:
Being tied to that chair I finally got caught up on some things like reading gossip magazines:
This guy. He sat in that uncomfortable little chair during each treatment:
A little over halfway through treatment my doctor prescribed home hydration for me. It was awesome! The sensitivity to cold made it so hard for me to drink even water during chemo. The doctors tell you to stay hydrated, but it’s just so hard when you feel so crummy. It was kind of a pain to be hooked up to the IV for 2 hours to get the hydration, but the great part was that I could do it in the comfort of my own home:
And I feel like it really helped me to feel better faster after each chemo treatment.
Chemo feels like it’s never going to end. And then, after what feels like forever, you are all of a sudden receiving your last infusion:
It’s the sweetest day ever! A day of celebration! Well, as much as you can celebrate being tired and nauseous. But once you feel better, big celebrations! And because I had to delay treatment one week due to a low white blood cell count, it pushed my last infusion to the week of Thanksgiving. It was a bummer because I just didn’t have the appetite for a Thanksgiving dinner. But this year I am definitely going to enjoy our Thanksgiving feast!
*To read from the beginning of my cancer journey, click here.
*If you want a quick update about life one year post-chemo, click here.