Thursday, July 26, 2007

The waiting game

The worst, worst, worst, worst part of cancer treatment is the waiting. First its the 'oh, this is a lump/lesion/something yucky*', wait until we can tell you what it is; then its the wait for surgery, wait for path report, wait for test, wait for test results, repeat last two steps several times, wait for next surgery, wait for next path report, wait for stupid drain, wait for doctor apt, wait for test, and now we are at the 'wait for chemo to start' stage.

Chemo looks like such a piece of cake - NOT! I should preface this by saying that some people sail through chemo with no side effects but most people experience them. I know one woman in my BC support group who said her only side effect was she lost her hair. I am not sure I would use the world ONLY for that. I have four rounds with one drug combination and then four rounds with another. These are two weeks apart so they start August 1 and should end by Thanksgiving. Chemo works by going after fast growing cells, which cancer cells are. However, other fast growing cells in your body are: hair, stomach lining, white blood cells, red blood cells, finger nails, skin, and a few others. As a result, the side effects to look forward to are:

Hair loss - two weeks from first chemo it usually goes in a matter of hours on or about day 14. There is hope I will only have thinning with the first rounds but the second drug combination hair loss is a given.

Nausea - is it possible to have nausea for four months? They can give you a shot for it or possibly a pill but another drug to cover the side effects of the first drug.

Low white blood count - susceptible to infection, stay away from crowds, avoid places like the gym where germs breed. This is why I had to get my teeth cleaned this week. They can give you a shot for this.

Low red blood count - anemia and fatigue. Too tired to do anything. They can also give you a shot for this.

Constipation or diarrhea - well I guess you can't have both. :-p

Mouth sores/thrush - so you don't want to eat. I have a special mouth rinse for this and a prescription from my dentist.

Bad taste - you get a bad taste in your mouth and nothing tastes good. They actually say stay away from your favorite foods because if you eat them with a bad taste in your mouth you may never like them again. I think I may take up eating tofu - lean protein and I cant stand the taste. Also, Ensure shakes are recommended. Yick! I dont plan on cooking for the next four months.

Weight gain - apparently something like 50% of women on chemo gain weight even though food tastes like crap, nausea, and constipation or diarrhea. Go figure. Steroidal water retention.

It used to be that they gave chemo in doses every three weeks. Apparently, the first week you felt like crap, the second week a little better, and then the third week almost human. Well, now they give it as Dose Dense so you get chemo every two weeks so you feel like crap and possibly a little better for four months.

Then after chemo comes radiation - can you say fryolator? - and hormone therapy.

No, I am not stressed. I like lying in bed and staring at the ceiling from 2AM on.

(*Yucky is a highly technical term referring to many different types of medical conditions and procedures.)

No comments:

I Started a New Blog

I started this blog when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. Blogging really helped me cope with my cancer and its treatment. Howe...