On The Eve of My First Chemo Treatment

Just shy of four months after being diagnosed with Triple Negative Invasive Ductal Carcinoma Aggressive Breast Cancer and with four surgeries from April 20th – May 23rd, I am sitting in the recliner in my family room crying. The stitched area across my chest, where my breasts used to be, is still sore from all the surgeries. But I am not crying because I am sore or in pain, I am crying because I actually feel the best I have felt since my first surgery, almost two months ago, and I am sitting here on the eve of my first chemo crying because I am mad.

I am mad because I have been dealing with mammograms, doctor’s appointments, testing, waiting, more testing, anxiety and four surgeries since January.  Six month into the new year I am still sitting here and trying to get rid of this disease that is inside of my body.

Everyone says the catch phrases: F*ck Cancer and Kick Cancer’s Butt and all that jazz. Yes, F*ck Cancer, and Yes, I am going to kick cancer’s butt, but not before it kicks mine.

This disease that has taken so much from me – my breasts, my health, my drive,  at times my feeling of self worth, some friends and now I am about to lose my hair, too … but it hasn’t given me anything except pain – physical and emotional.

I am mad because for the first time since my first surgery on April 20th, today I was able to clean my house, wash and put away laundry, and drive myself to the grocery store and get a cart full of groceries – all on the same day. These annoying errands that I used to hate doing, are things that I have missed being able to do over the past few months. I have felt so helpless. I have felt like a bad mother. I would have loved to be able to do all these things all in one day, rather than not being able to do them or breaking them up over the course of a week or more.

But today I finally felt well enough to complete these tasks. I finally feel somewhat normal again. But now I am sitting here reading about my Docetaxel + Doxorubicin + Cyclophosphamide (TAC) chemo treatment plan and all the possible side effects: nausea, diarrhea, exhaustion, vomiting, mouth sores, neuropathy, skin irritation, lung problems – wheezing, shortness of breath, things like that -, and bleeding in my bladder. This is not even an all inclusive list of the many possible side effects, and it doesn’t even include the rare ones – I won’t even get started on those.

You’ll note that I didn’t list hair loss (alopecia) or extreme fatigue in that list of possible side effects. That’s because those are not possible side effects, they are actual side effects that will happen to me. As far as the other stuff, we’ll have to see how it goes.

Tomorrow I will go through my first round of chemo. In total, I will endure six rounds – one round every three weeks. I am crying and mad because I have been dealing with this disease for six months and I still have 4 1/2 months before I can declare victory over this stupid disease.

I am mad that I finally feel somewhat healthy, still quite sore, but much better than I’ve felt in a long time, and in less than 8 hours the chemo nurse will hook an IV into the chemo port that was surgically implanted into my chest and I will sit there for over four hours and be pumped full of poison. A poison that will take me around 12 days to recover from between rounds. A poison that will kill the cancer but make me a different looking, tired and very sickly person.

I am  grateful that I was only stage 1 of this horrible cancer, given all I’ve been through. I honestly and truly could not imagine what would have happened had I not gone in for that “routine” annual mammogram and found my cancer so early. Please don’t ever take my anger the wrong way. I am blessed to be alive and I am thankful for my oncologist, surgeons, doctors and the love support that my family and friends have given me.

But as I sit here on the eve of my first chemo treatment, I am crying because I am scared. I have already lost both of my breasts, now I have to lose my hair, eye lashes and eye brows.  I don’t know how chemo is going to affect me, but it’s not going to be O.K. for awhile. I don’t want to lose my hair and eye brows. I don’t want to be tired and feel sick all the time. I don’t want people staring at me if I am frail, unbalanced, or if my wig slides to the side. I don’t want people to look at me with pity in their eyes. I don’t want to not be able to tend to my son properly. I don’t want to get chemo/cancer brain. I don’t want any of these things but I hate this damn disease and I want it gone from my body.

So, on the eve of my chemo, I sit here mad and crying longing for the day that I can put this all behind me, pick up the pieces, and reclaim my life. I am scared, mad and crying – but I will survive this, and for that I am blessed.

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