I want to talk to you about chemotherapy. I can put a positive spin on most things (if you have been religiously following my blog you will have picked that up) but chemo, I’m struggling.
Let’s be clear, I am not saying to would-be recipients ‘Don’t do it’, that decision of ‘benefits vs risk’ will already be evaluated by your oncologist, it is not my place to sway anybody on their decision. Neither am i questioning the clinical efficacy of the treatment, we are all individuals, and everybody’s clinical outcome will be particular to them.
I simply want to talk about my experience and how it has moulded my feelings and concerns for further treatment.
The difficulty with chemo (unlike surgery) is that the further in you get the worse you feel. in simple terms ‘You have surgery, you recover, you have chemo, you become ill due to the chemo’.
I cannot speak for all cancers and all chemotherapy treatments, but my experience for bowel cancer was that this was certainly the case.
My particular chemotherapy for my particular bowel cancer was :
Oxaliplatin infusion with Capacitabin tablets. This administered on a 3 week cycle (2 week on and one week off)
Whilst the clinical teams fully appraise you of the side effects of the chemotherapy both physical and mental, nothing can you prepare you for the full impact of the treatment.
• Didn’t lose my hair (whoop whoop)
• Minimal vomiting
• Minimal nausea (controlled via medication)
• Did not experience Palmer planter syndrome (inflammation and redness of feet and hands)
• Extreme fatigue (I mean after cycle 6 could hardly walk up the stairs without needing a sleep)
• Permanent metallic taste in mouth
• Mouth ulcers
• Loss of taste
• All food tasting like cardboard
• Loss of interest in food *Il come back to that one…
• Cravings for some foods (Fish fingers , steak and grits for breakfast)
• Peripheral neuropathy (Damage to nerve endings in fingers and feet resulting in no feeling in either. This still persists to this day in my feet)
• Inability to drink or touch cold or metallic things (water, taps, cutlery, tiles and handles) without getting ‘electric shocks’
• Chemo brain – degradation of cognitive ability, affecting concentration, judgment etc.
• Mood swings
• Night sweats
• Inability to control body temperature
2016 – ‘Cycle 6, the cats instinctively new when I wasn’t well’
I cant polish this one up, in fact writing this blog has been the toughest yet. Just writing up the side effects has caused me to cry uncontrollably. I have left this, composed myself and come back to it an hour later.
For me this is still very raw, and compounded by the grief of losing my sister to bowel cancer, the sense of guilt for still being alive and not being able to save her. The sorrow for the other people that I had chemo with who sadly did not make it. And the pure fear of knowing that I will have to go through all this again.
I said after last time “I can’t do this again, I would rather just die”, but I will be doing it all again.
Please God give me the strength and faith to get through this, I just want to run and hide and pretend it isn’t happening but I can’t.
Sorry guys this is dark., but this is how it is today. This is how cancer plays with you.
You can have today you little shit but I am taking back tomorrow, and the next day…