I’m often asked what chemo side affects feel like…I mean how bad can they be?…well they are awful!…but at the same time (for me) they are managable and a necessary evil…
There is a long list of potential side affects and I’m pleased to say that I don’t get hit with them all!…and I really hope no one does! But the ones I do get feel like a mixture of your worst hang over, meeting flu, meeting the pain the day after an insane workout.
Chemotherapy attacks the fastest dividing cells in your body – whilst this enables it to attack cancer cells it also attacks your immune system, skin cells, hair folicules, nails, reproductive organs and the lining of your nose, throat, stomach and digestive track…hence the long list of potential side affects.
Following a chemo dose you are given a card of possible symptoms and asked to rate each symptom on a scale of 0-3 each day until your next dose. If any symptoms reach 2 or 3 (i.e. moderate or severe) then you can call a specialist cancer care line for medication to help.
I try to avoid this as it involves a trip to the hospital and more tests and waiting for results and ultimately feeling more like a vulnerable patient (I speak from experience) which is an emotion I try to limit to the day I receive chemo…although in the same breath this care line has been invaluable in reducing my concerns during my early chemo days when I had no idea what to expect and I’d have been lost without them! It’s just the hospital visits I try to avoid rather than the care line, thanks to which I’ve managed to get my post-chemo sickness under control due to some wonderful medication tweaking the oncologist department did after my first chemo – imagine severe food poisoning for five days!…
As a result my side-affects at this stage in the cycle (2 days post-chemo) include extreme fatigue, bone and jaw ache and nose bleeds. I find the bone and jaw ache the hardest but I’m comforted by the fact that it has passed within 5 days in my previous cycles – hopefully it will be the same this time! The bone ache is caused by the chemo attaching your bone marrow…I usually feel it in my legs, ribs and back. This can be distressing as I have cancer cells on my right lung and the pain in my back and ribs act as an unpleasant reminder of this fact.
The fatigue makes me crave sugar – and today I caved and had some gluten free cake I found hidden in our freezer. It was delicious!…although I’m not sure yet if it was worth it!
Today I’m trying to manage my side affects with plenty of fluids, healthy eating, sleep and long baths. Unfortunately another side affect of chemo is that is a depressive and in the first few days following a dose I really feel my mood taking a hit. Again this will pass but can be challenging when I am really needing my usually positivity to get through the worst side affects.
So today I am grumpy and sore but, as I always say, if cancer is taking the same hit as my physical and emotional state then it’s totally worth it.
Hoping tomorrow brings some relief.
Love and light, Fi xx