Cancer comes with its own world and vocabulary. When you find out it is inside you, you just want it out as soon as possible. You cannot see past getting it out. Before you can get it out though, doctors need to be sure of what you actually have and what surgery you need (if you can even get surgery).
Depending on what you have and where, you have your surgery. Depending on the surgery, you are given a follow up treatment plan. The treatment plan might include chemotherapy and radiation like mine did.
When I began chemo, I was most concerned with my immune system and having to potentially go to the hospital with any temperature over 100.4. With two school-age children who often get sick in the winter, I was very concerned about this temperature cut off. I also wanted the chemotherapy to finish as quickly as possible. When you first sit down with an oncologist, be prepared for a lot of negativity. I think it is because they worry you will say "no" to the chemo. Trust me, if I thought for a second that I did not need chemotherapy, I would have run away immediately after hearing just SOME of the side effects.
For my cancer, I was prescribed 8 rounds of chemotherapy in 2 week intervals across a total of 16 weeks. Do you know how many days that is - I did - I kept a running count in notebooks, on calendars and any notebook in my reach. I remember sitting on my couch before my first round wishing there was like a live in camp where my children could move and live during the 16 weeks. I knew it would be very hard on them to see me broken and tired and I just knew I would be broken and tired. You rarely hear of chemotherapy patients who are not...
I do not google my stuff - I know the danger of falling down the WEBMD hole and diagnosing myself with imminent death so I stay away from any thing that resembles web searches. I went in for my first round and watched in awe as the chemo nurses (who are all amazing) covered themselves head to toe just to sit and inject me with the red devil - the "A" in the "AC" combo chemo that I was going to get for the first 4 rounds; the second 4 rounds were Taxol.
Here are my quick tricks on getting through the interminable rounds of chemo:
I was lucky enough to get all of these rules in advance by someone who is my Guardian Angel - someone who went through it and was linked up to me by my treating hospital. She explained everything to me and even started texting me to get me to start drinking the water 3 days before my first treatment. I would not have survived chemo without her advice.
Do you have any hints or tips for chemotherapy?
Oh and after my first one, my 6 year old cried because he could not handle seeing me so tired and in bed early in the day. I worked full time through the full 16 weeks and only missed a few days due to complications. I did not have to spend any time in the hospital with fever, because I followed the rules, particularly rule number 6. I made my countdown with sticky notes on my wall when I had 68 days left until my last treatment and each morning would pull off a number. When your number gets small enough for you to see it visually, do the same if you would like - it helps you realize time is passing when you are in the fog of chemotherapy.
Search the blog here: