I said I was going to be honest with everyone, so here it is- chemotherapy sucks.
Before I start talking about my first round of chemo, I want to fill you all in on my new treatment plan.
When I met with my oncologist two weeks ago, he informed me that he found a “marker” in my bloodwork which indicated that my lymphoma is more aggressive than what he typically likes to see. He was quick to assure me that it’s still highly treatable, but instead of only going through chemo for only about 3 months (give or take), he was going to have me do a full 6 months of treatment. I gave him every “what if” scenario I could think of, looking for even the slightest glimmer of hope that my treatment could be shortened under the right circumstances, but he wasn’t budging. I accepted his new treatment plan, but secretly, I’m still keeping hope that I’ll fight this off faster than he expects me to! I didn’t even pack any winter clothes to bring to New York with me because I was optimistic that I wouldn’t be here when it started to get cold. I guess that’ll give me an excuse to do some shopping in the next few months.
My oncologist also told me I’d be undergoing my first chemo treatment on June 13. I kept telling myself I was ready and just wanted to get it started, but when the day came it wasn’t as easy as I had thought.
I got to the hospital early that day because I had a handful of appointments lined up before chemotherapy could officially get started. Chemo was scheduled for 12:45 pm and when the time came, I could feel my heart starting to race. My mom and I were escorted into our own private chemo suite. It had a reclining chair for me and a padded bench for her. The chemo nurse walked in and went over what she would be doing. First was accessing my port, which meant getting an IV through my chest. I felt the nerves getting worse. So many people told me to make sure I get the numbing cream for my port before they accessed it, but I didn’t realize this was something I needed a prescription for so it was too late. The nurse told me the needle wasn’t so bad, but all I was thinking was, “how does she know?” Then she started the countdown, “one, two, three, deep breath” My eyes were clenched shut and in the needle went. A big sigh of relief followed when I realized that she was actually right and it didn’t hurt nearly as bad as I was anticipating! Things were off to a good start.
Next came the drugs. She explained each of the four different drugs that I’d be getting and mentioned she would inject them one at a time. Some would take about ten minutes to administer, some over an hour. The first two had to be injected into my port manually. As she was explaining everything, she was getting fully suited up with gloves, a gown, and a face mask. My mom asked why that was necessary and she responded, “I’m in contact with these drugs every day and I’d like to have a child that doesn’t come out with ten heads.” These dangerous drugs that she was protecting herself from were about to be running through my veins. That was an uneasy feeling and I could tell it made my mom uncomfortable too. As the nurse started injecting the first drug into my port, I looked down and saw my legs shaking from the nerves.
About 3 hours later, I was finally done and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. They unhooked me from the machines and I was free to go, just like that. All I could think about as I was leaving the hospital was food. Everyone told me I’d be nauseous and not want to eat but I was so hungry! Other than a smoothie and a banana, I didn’t really eat all day- probably from nerves.
My mom and I went to a place called the Ginger Root which was only about 2 blocks from the hospital. I was actually feeling great until the moment I finished eating. That’s when the effects from the chemo hit me. I’ve never been so tired in my life, but “tired” just doesn’t seem like the right word to use because it was much worse than just being sleepy. I got home that night and went right to bed. I barely got up for three days after that.
The exhaustion was the biggest side effect. It was hard just to get myself out of bed and the only time I really made the effort was if I needed to use the restroom. Otherwise I stayed put and slept. I was constantly thirsty, but even water was hard to drink. On top of that, it tasted awful and drinking it made my mouth hurt. I was hungry, but never wanted to eat. I had awful migraines and I broke out with hives all over my body. It was by far one of the hardest weeks of my life.
I give so much credit to anyone who is still able to work while going through this. Actually, I give so much credit to anyone who currently is, or who has gone through chemotherapy whether you were able to work or not. It’s really not easy. I just keep telling myself that as awful as these drugs are, I’m stronger than them and so are you. I know this has also been really tough on my family and they deserve so much credit too. I’m so lucky to have my parents with me through this and I honestly don’t know how I would’ve made it through this past week without them.
I also want to truly thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for your support. I’m still not caught up on all the thoughtful messages and comments. Even if you’re just silently following along and reading my blog, I appreciate you all. So many of you have reached out and shared your own personal struggles with me, others offered advice for what I was about to go through, and some gave words of encouragement and it all means more to me than I’ll ever be able to express. THANK YOU.
My next chemotherapy treatment will be on June 28. For now, I’m slowly getting back to normal. I’m not sleeping as much as I had been, but I still get worn out easily and feel dizzy after standing up for more than just a few minutes. The good news is, my appetite has come back and my taste buds are returning to normal. I’m hoping with time I’ll find ways to cope with some of the main side effects I’ve been dealing with and at least with my next treatment, I’ll have a better understanding of what to expect.
ALSO- My mom and I were making silly videos in between all of my appointments to keep our spirits high! I made a quick compilation of them below. Hope you all enjoy my mom’s singing LOL! 🙂