Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What the week of chemo was like for me

When I found out I needed chemo, the first question I wanted to know was "What is it like?" You hear stories, and you see people who go through it, but the details were never really clear to me. I had a long convo with my friend Lynne, and she gave me a lot of her details, but at the same time she said that it may be different for me, and it was. So here was me week...

Chemo day was pretty easy. I was a little tired but nothing over the top. My body felt "heavy." That night I slept ok, but woke up about 4 am and really didn't get to sleep much after that. It was a side effect of the meds (steroids) they gave me with the chemo. My Main Squeeze was all set to get the kids ready for school on Tuesday without my help, but since I couldn't sleep, I got up and started working on lunches. About midway, I had to stop because my stomach really started feeling bad. I started having bad indigestion - just a sour, rolling tummy, but no nausea or vomiting. The indigestion continued all week regardless of what I took for it. It made eating not fun at all.

I hopped back in bed, but had a hard time falling asleep - the steroids were still doing their thing. I usually go to Bible study at church on Tuesday morning, and I told myself that if I was still awake at 9am I'd go, but if I fell asleep, I'd skip it....well...I fell asleep, and finally got about 2 hours of sleep. In the afternoon, I had to go back to the chemo lab to get my white blood cell booster shot. I took #3 with me. He had just gotten a flu shot the week before, and I figured he'd be sympathetic. The nurse gave him a cookie. :o) Tuesday evening, I felt well enough to eat dinner with some friends from church, but when I got home, I literally fell into the couch and fell asleep - exhausted. When My Main Squeeze pulled me off the couch, I remembered that one of the nurses said to take one of my nausea meds at bedtime to counteract the steroid so I could sleep, and it worked. I slept great.

Then Wednesday hit. I felt like I had been smashed by a truck. I couldn't get out of bed. I couldn't eat anything. My stomach ached. My body ached. Fortunately, I slept, and slept, and slept. It was worse than the flu, worse than morning sickness, worse than anything I had ever experienced. My Main Squeeze was able to work from home that day, and I am so grateful. I don't remember much, but I do remember a few kisses to the forehead and his hand on my shoulder.

I wish I could tell you that Thursday and Friday were much better, but they weren't. I was wiped out. My mouth felt burnt. I ran a low grade fever. My body was sore. I slept a lot. I had more "sitting upright" moments than Wednesday, but I was dragging. We met some friends at the beach for dinner. At first, I was afraid I made a big mistake in going. I thought I was going to be sick, but it passed, and we had a nice visit. The breeze off the water was refreshing. That's one good thing about cancer...you can just sit in a chair and enjoy the view and the breeze, and nobody holds it against you. I did the same thing on Friday. The weather was beautiful. I sat in the driveway and watched the kids bike up and down our street. It was refreshing.

On Saturday, I took it easy most of the day because I really wanted to be able to go to church Saturday night. It was amazing how exhausting going to church can be. By the time I walked the kids to their classes and got into the sanctuary, I just wanted to sit. And I did sit for most of the worship time - which is really not like me. When it came time for Bible & Life Groups after the service, I ended up laying down in our car.  The other hard thing about church is that I'm supposed to be really really careful about germs right now - no hugging, handshaking, and lovin' on like all of us good Baptists love to do - but most people didn't get the memo from the oncologist about that one. How do you tell the sweet lady who's been praying for you everyday that you can't give her a hug??? Maybe I'll start wearing a sign around my neck that says "I'll take your love and your prayers but not your germs." or maybe "Fist pounds only please."

When I went to the doctor on Monday for my one week check up, I was down 7 lbs (no surprise, I hardly ate anything) but almost all my blood counts were back up to normal. The doc went through my symptoms over the week with me, and she gave me some new things to try to help. I'm taking prilosec now and the indigestion is much better. They gave me some "magic mouthwash" too, and my mouth is feeling less "burnt." I still get tired easily, but I like taking naps. I only had 1 today. I'm getting used to that being part of the new normal. I'm a little disappointed that it's taking longer than I thought it would to get back to "normal." I don't know why I expected it to happen quickly, but I did. I'm learning that each person's cancer experience is very individualized. There may be similarities in the story, but each person's journey is very personal.


  1. I'm told it gets a little easier with each treatment. Praying for you, Sarah, and your family! Praying that God will give you an extra measure of strength when you need it!

  2. I don't really know how to start this, but just want to ask if we know each other? I'm also a scrapper and am also going through chemo right now for ovarian cancer, and I, too, have young children. Anyway, my email address is camdensmommy @ gmail dot com if you want to connect. :)

  3. I'm gonna send you an email Melissa. Thanks for commenting.


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