The body and mind are amazing! I'm already beginning to forget just how horrid chemotherapy actual was. Nothing can truly prepare you for chemo. I made the conscious decision not to look up the possible side effects because I didn’t want to freak myself out, think I had side effects I didn’t, or create side them. During chemo I thought I'd gotten off fairly easy with side effects, but when I began compiling the list of suffering I had during chemo I realised, though they were milder compared to what I read others suffering in my support group, I did in fact have A LOT of side effects!
Pictured above is the molecular structure of what people receiving it call "The Red Devil" also known as Doxorubicin and Adriamycin. Looks harmless enough in the picture, but as we know looks can be deceiving and this stuff is BAD. Though it is poison to the nth degree I chose to look at is as healing.
Research and fasting for dear life...
Cancer, any cancer, is trial by fire. We began researching everything cancer related and came across a documentary called “The C Word”, which lead us down a path to fasting, which lead us to Dr. Valter Longo’s research on fasting and cancer. Then when my breast surgeon mentioned it during one of our early appointments we decided to give it try, because really what could it hurt. My oncologist said she likes to “keep it bland” I don’t think anything could be more bland than starving. The theory is that fasting to autophagy puts the body’s healthy cells into protection mode leaving the damaged/mutated (cancer) cells more vulnerable to the chemotherapy drugs. The cancer cells are really just damaged/mutated cells and they now lack the ability to protect themselves. So that’s what I did a water only fast for 72 hours each week I had chemo infusions. While it may seem as though it would be super difficult we found it wasn’t. Maybe it was because I was desperately trying to save my own life, but Jeff did it with me each time, so that certainly helped!
I began chemotherapy in early September, 4 rounds of dose dense Adriamycin (aka “the red devil”) and Cyclophosphamide, and then 4 dose dense rounds of Paclitaxil (aka Taxol) with my last infusion in the middle of December. I was terrified of what chemo would be like! The only frame of reference I had was what I’d seen on television and in movies, so I thought I’d feel sick and be nauseous and puking all the time, and I will do anything to not throw up I REALLY HATE IT! Like most of what’s on TV nothing could be further from the truth, chemo is so much more and WAY WORSE…
What Chemotherapy was like for me…
They give you pre-meds, before they start the main chemotherapy infusion, that consist of steroids, anti-nausea meds, and Benadryl or other allergy med, so you don’t have an allergic reaction to the actual chemo cocktail. They also gave me two different prescriptions for anti-nausea meds to take at home, but I never had to take a single one, gratefully! With A/C I had (and these are not in order of discomfort level) mouth sores, beyond extreme fatigue (esp. toward the last infusion as chemo builds on itself), reflux, (from steroids), vaginal tears, hemorrhoids, loss of taste in my mouth (even water tasted bad), neuropathy started (numbness in my fingers, toes, and front teeth), my nails started to discolor, my hair fell out (I mean almost all of it even nose hair 😳 really the only hair I had left was arm hair) but I got to keep my eyebrows and eyelashes mostly, my period stopped (they call this chemopause), hot flashes started dizziness, muscle weakness, loss of balance, constipation, my eyesight took a significant hit, it really wrecked my immune system (was on the verge of needing a blood transfusion my red count was so low by the 4th infusion) and my white cell count was super low as well, it dried my skin out, nearly constant bloody nose, runny nose/dry nose, watery eyes/and dry eyes (they'd cycle back and forth).
My oncologist told me Paclitaxil was generally better handled, but I would have rather done more A/C after what I experienced with Taxol. With Taxol I had beyond excruciating nerve and bone pain 24 hrs a day for 5-9 days after each infusion (I was literally in tears) it shot up my spine, down my arms and legs and nothing helped! I would remain as still as possible, with a heating pad on me, and take both the pain meds prescribed and RSO cannabis, so I could sleep, but they barely took the edge off! I described the pain after meds like a gunshot with a silencer, still there just a bit more quiet. I had insane joint and muscle pain (like I’d been beaten with a baseball bat) and I’m pretty sure the Neulasta on body injection (used to keep my white cell count up) held the lions share of guilt for those symptoms. I had some loss of taste, but not like on A/C, constipation (pain killers were the culprit this time) lost what little was left of my hair (namely eyebrows and eyelashes), and some muscle weakness. And it was like some of them would get together all at once to take me down, I’d get nerve pain in my ankle which would cause my knee to give out mid step and the muscle weakness was like “see ya in the fall” (there’s a reason they constantly ask you if you’ve fallen recently) throat sores, watery eyes continued, diarrhea, and rashes.
As my body now detoxes from chemo I still have random rashes, joint pain (which got worse after surgery and I’m still trying to find a way to fix it), I get tired easily, excessively watery eyes and runny nose (those have stopped now), neuropathy (mostly gone now just mild and in the very tips of my fingers) and my front teeth still get numb off and on.
Surgery is next… (preparing for and grieving the loss of my breasts 😢)
Me on the first day of chemo
Comments will be approved before showing up.
If you are unsure of your ring size I offer inexpensive reusable sizing bands. You can also visit a reputable local jewelry store and ask to be sized.