the treatment of disease by the use of chemical substances, especially the treatment of cancer by cytotoxic and other drugs.
Such a vague description of the horror show that is chemotherapy. Yes, chemotherapy is losing your hair and being sick, but what no one tells you is that it will be THE hardest and most grueling process of your entire life.
The beginning the first round of my chemotherapy I was in the hospital for because of severity of my symptoms. Apparently the normal process is to get a PET scan, take a chemo class, and then begin chemo. Well unfortunately I didn’t have that luxury. If there was anything SO frustrating about this process it’s how much chemo was down played or not fully explained to me in the hospital, so with that being said that first round hit me like a semi truck. Like I said before when you think about chemo you think about “hair loss” and “being sick” unless you’ve gone through it you truly can never understand the agonizing pain that your body puts you through. It’s as if your body no longer belongs to you, and you’re just taken prisoner. The mouth sores and sore throat welcomed me in the first round. The sores were on each side of my tongue and the back of my throat making eating anything just about impossible. If mouth sores didn’t stop me from eating then the nausea sure did. When you hear about the nausea caused by chemo were not talking about a little stomach ache. We are talking about morning sickness, worst hangover of your life, food poisoning, stomach flu, and so forth all put together and multiplied by about 10 and that’s what the nausea is just about equivalent to. Next on the list may be a little too much information, but it’s just the cold hard truth. Going to the bathroom will ALWAYS be some kind of project. Within a 4 day span you can go from diarrhea to no bowel movement at all and it just repeats it self over and over. I will tell you, you will never take something as simple as pooping for granted ever again. (you think i’m kidding but i’m not) Next on the list is the Neuropathy which is a dysfunction of one or more peripheral nerves, typically causing numbness or weakness.I had no idea what Neuropathy was until going through chemo, but it’s essentially like your hands and feet are constantly tingling as if they’re “asleep” but constant. I also struggled with weight loss after the first round and lost about 8 lbs in 3 days (thanks mouth sores) Then there’s the mental head games chemo gives you. I try to remain as positive as I possibly can during each round, but there’s a lot of emotions you feel during chemo because of the steroids and other medications, and possibly being trapped at home for the last 3 months has something to do with it too. I have about one breakdown each round where everything just gets to me, and all the pain and thoughts i’ve bottled up just come pouring out. I wish I could say the chemo side effects were my only problem, but anyone going through this knows that Chemo may just be the beginning. See Chemo basically kills everything without trying to kill us, so we naturally we need all the help we can get. After Chemo comes Neulasta. Neulasta helps reduce infections for us because lord knows we can not handle getting infections without proper blood cells to fight them off. With Neulasta comes a whole different set of side effects, and the absolute worst is bone pain. I have never experienced bone pain before this and let me tell you it will make a grown man cry, and somehow “Claritin” is supposed to do the trick, but just like the rest of my cancer journey I am “special” and the trick of Claritin seems to exclude me because NOTHING works. Then there’s the Lupron which is currently protecting my ovaries from the chemotherapy, so my husband and I can hopefully have children once this nightmare is over. The side effects of Lupron aren’t has horrendous as the rest, but hot flashes are no walk in the park along with the usual added nausea and some more bone pain. I know this sounds like a lot of rambling, but people continually tell me they wish they knew what I was going through, or they have no idea what chemo does to people. Well this is the ugly truth. The biggest lesson you could take away from an experience like this is to Be Kind, I’m sure you’ve all heard this before but it costs nothing to be kind, absolutely nothing. When I go out in public with makeup and my wig, you would have absolutely no idea I have cancer, and the horror I go through on a daily basis because cancer is just a chapter in my book, not the whole story. Today I am smiling because I am here and I feel beautiful, and if I’m out in public it means although I am in agonizing pain I want to be apart of the world today. It means I at least am not feeling one of my side effects today, and I want to take full advantage. For my Lymphomies just remember no matter how hard it is, no matter how many times you think to yourself that you can’t get through this round. YOU CAN. You can and you will because the reality is you didn’t think you’d make it out of the hospital, you didn’t think you’d make it past the first gruesome round, but if you’re anything like me you’re more than half way across the finish line, and remission is just around the corner.
In my next post I will write about how to control your side effects, and how to conquer the anxiety the night before chemo and the day of.
XOXO Bechtold Badass.