After My First Chemo, I’m So Overwhelmed

It’s been two weeks since my first chemo treatment on June 9, 2016- a lovely concoction called  Docetaxel + Doxorubicin + Cyclophosphamide (TAC). All this is finally becoming real … and I’m not ready.  Not that it wasn’t real before. Trust me, I went from a 40DD bosom to not having any breasts, four surgeries, a night in the ER, multiple infections, sickness, and appointments with my surgeon (over an hour away) – all within a five week period.It is all real and quite frankly,  it sucks.  After all that, I finally started feeling better, the first time in over two months, then it was time to begin my chemo therapy treatment.

friendMy closest friend came with me and we laughed and chatted the entire time. I was so nervous.  I had no idea what to expect.  The nurse came in,  put the needle in my chemo port on the left side of my chest and I sat there laughing and discussing my bestie’s upcoming wedding for four hours while poison was pumped into my body,  one IV bag at a time.

It felt odd going in.  I can only explain it this way: If you’ve ever had a CT or PET scan with contrast – that warm feeling you get inside for a few seconds – except it was more like two hours of that warm feeling.  But for the most part, it wasn’t too bad.

After the last bag of poison, I mean medicine,  was pumped into me, I was unhooked, given a Neulaste injection into my stomach and sent home.

It wasn’t too bad.  I went to lunch with my friend afterwards,  we stopped at a craft store,  went shoe shopping and picked up my son from school.  I felt fine.

The next day,  Friday, I felt ok but as the day went on I began to get sicker and sicker.  By Saturday morning I was a mess.  I had the worst nausea and nothing helped and then everything tasted like metal,  which of course made me more nauseous. It was a vicious cycle.  I couldn’t get comfortable, everything hurt, I couldn’t keep anything down.  It was horrible. But by late Sunday afternoon I started to feel better and by Monday (day 5 after chemo) I was feeling better.

Unfortunately, that was short lived because then I got laryngitis. By the way,  laryngitis is not a side effect of chemo;  however,  it is a side effect of indigestion and indigestion is a side effect of…you guessed it!  Chemo. I also was getting mouth sores and just began feeling under the weather.  I called my oncologist and he prescribed me an antibiotic to get me feeling better and while I was at CVS I picked up some Zantac and Rolaids for that pesky indigestion, and some mouth wash for my mouth sores.

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Ok. Now I feel a bit better and I return to work.  The day was ok,  but I was pretty tired.  I got home that evening and was sick as a dog.  A slight fever, body aches,  my throat was killing me,  my stomach was upset – basically I was a mess.

I woke up Friday and the inside of my mouth was covered with mouth sores; it was excruciating and I generally just felt cruddy. I stayed home from work and called my oncologist as soon as his office opened. This time he wanted me to come in but first he called me in a prescription of “Magic Mouthwash.” It’s a concoction of antacid, lidocaine and something else, but I definitely see why they call it “magic” – after my first use I immediately got relief and within 4 days all my mouth sores were gone.

The appointment with my oncologist went ok. We discussed my current treatment plan and my options. I did not want to prolong this 4.5 month treatment schedule, but I also can’t handle all this sickness. He decided he would reduce my chemo dosage about 10% and see if that helps. If it doesn’t …well, let’s just pray it does.

I continued taking my meds and began feeling good.  Once again it’s short lived, but this time it’s not as much physical as it is emotional.

My hair has began falling out and I’m not talking a little bit.  It’s coming out everywhere and it’s happening so fast. At the rate it’s coming out, I don’t expect to have hair by this time next week.

It’s not that I didn’t know this was going to happen. I prepared. I bought two wigs. I have wig combs and wig shampoo. I bought fake eye brows and eye brow pencils. I have hats.  My sister gave me bandanas. I bought bandanas. But no matter what,  I’m still not ready.

I came home from work and went up to my bedroom and just sat there crying. Cancer is a horrible disease; it’s taken so much from me and it just feels like every day it’s taking something else. I’m running out of stuff to give this disease.

One thing that all my doctors and everyone I’m around tells me is that they’re amazed at how positive my attitude is and how well I’m handling this.  The truth is – it’s a huge show I put on.  I’m not handling it well.  I cry almost every day.  I’m mentally broken. I am tired. I am sad and I am scared.  I will continue my cancer fight despite all of my setbacks. But honestly,  I’m not ok.

I’m not ready for this disease to take more from me.  It’s going to get worse before it gets better, but I’m alone with a child to raise (and a dog) who depend on me and I’m running short on positivity these days.

I appreciate everyone who tells me I’m strong, I know I am.  But I’m also human.  I have emotions and feelings and they’re not always good. Today is a rough day for me, but I will continue this fight, but I’m just not ready.

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