Living my life with Lymphoma.
By the time I was scheduled for my first treatment, I was ready. I had no fear. I know if I had started treatment long before I did, and not had experienced such constant sickness for so long, starting treatment would have unnerved me. I’m sure I would have thought that it was just going to make me sicker in a number of ways, with hearing dreadful stories about chemo side effects all my life.
But, instead of fearing my first appointment, I showed up front and center and said “I’m here for my first treatment”, with a big smile on my face. It didn’t hurt that there was a big chocolate lab wearing a vest that said “PET ME” who was there to greet patients as they came in.
Within five minutes, I was called in. I got to pick the area and chair I wanted and settled in. The nurse was extremely nice and explained everything she was doing, including which medications she was administering. I received seven bags of stuff. Two bags of anti-nausea medication, one bag of Benadryl because one of the chemo drugs has a tendency to cause an allergic reaction, and four bags of chemo…”little fighters” as the nurse referred to them as.
The session took seven hours. The first time is always the longest because they administer the drugs slowly and monitor for allergic reactions or early side effects. We heard a commotion a few stations down and saw that the staff threw a little party for someone who had just finished their last treatment.
I left there feeling better than I had in five months. My abdominal pain had diminished and I knew I was on my way to a better life. The side effects didn’t settle in until the next day. I was nauseous for two days, and once that begins, the three oral medications I had and was taking didn’t touch it. Then I had crushing fatigue where I got up from the dinner table with a short explanation of “I gotta go”, and went upstairs to bed for several hours. The next day, I started experiencing oral thrush and it took seven hours to get treatment from the time I called my Hematologist’s office until I had the Magic Mouthwash in hand. Most of the problem was with the pharmacy. All of that time, and it didn’t really work, I had to get pills to wipe it out. Then I began with a fever which lasted through the night, and finally a urinary tract infection that kept me up the better part of another night. I was juggling my medications, my mother’s medications, and one of my dog’s medications because he had just had a mast cell tumor removed and had to take three medications. It was a long week.
My treatments are three weeks apart, and my second one was last week. My nurse practitioner gave me some clues as to how to avoid the nausea and it worked. No nausea this time. She also gave me information on how to stave off oral thrush, and so far, so good. I had the crushing fatigue and just disappeared for a few hours while life went on noisily in the house, none of which I heard.
Cancer treatments are not like they used to be. They have antidotes for most of the side effects which make the whole process much more tolerable.
In any event, if something was going to save your life, any side effects would be minor compared to the alternative.