Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The First Chemotherapy

This is perhaps one of the scariest things to happen for me during cancer treatment. I was to receive "aggressive" chemo.

Not knowing how it will effect your body is extremely stressful. I had five chemo drugs that I was taking (etoposide, vincristin, phosphamide, cylcophosphamide and one other I can't remember the name of). I was given several sheet of side effects with each drug and told I would get some, maybe all but they can't really tell you before hand which is which. I have a Ph.D. in chemistry and needless to say I was not excited about getting these in my body, but I knew if they worked it would be well worth it. That thought got me through most, if not all of the pain of chemo.

The first chemo was quite scary. I would be getting drugs over nine hours for five straight days. Getting the IV needle was not so bad as needles do not really bother me. Some people get a "port" in their chest so they don't need IVs but I was not willing to go into another surgery to get one.

I had some family with me during the first treatment, my doctors were around and my nurses were great. Did not cure the stress though. There was blood tests to monitor me, people taking my temperature. All those things and more. I felt reasonably well after the first day and called my parents to let them know everything went well.

As the days wore on, I began to feel worse. i didn't get nausea very often as the anti-nausea drugs are excellent. As it turns out that was t he least of my concerns. I began to think that if I only got nausea chemo wouldn't be so bad.

I lost the desire to eat, I had to force myself to. Over time my hair fell out, losing my eyebrows and eyelashes made me the most self conscious I have ever been. I had a lot of pain. The chemo drugs I was on caused my blood vessels to scar, something I am not completely healed from, this causes your arms to be very stiff and rigid, some days painful to move.

I got sores in my mouth, some days so painful i could not talk to my wife. Texting became a solution to this problem. I had a lot of pain associated with my GI system. I won't get into the details of that.

The first chemo was the hardest because I did not know what to expect. Afterwards, I won't say it got easier but I knew what to expect. Four days after my mouth would get sores, seven days after my GI track would act up, eight days after I would get neutropenic and a fever and have to go to the hospital for treatment. I knew how long they would last. The blessing in this was that I could prepare myself better as I knew what would happen and at least tell myself when it would end, "you only have to tough it out a few more days".

I had 42 chemo treatments in all over about eight months. Some were worse than others. It was hard on everyone around me I am sure too.

But I told myself they were working, and they did. The research behind it all paid off. I am doing well these days. As awful as it was, it is better than not having done it.

I wouldn't be writing this blog otherwise. So stay strong if you are getting chemo and most importantly (to me) learn how your body responds, let your body dictate what you can do.

1 comment:

  1. Eight months is a long time, but I'm glad you're sharing this side of the experience. It's exhausting, scary and makes a wreck of the body . . . but it can and does save lives. For now, this is what we have, I guess, so one foot in front of the other. Thanks for sharing your first chemo experience.