I’ll admit I’ve found my strength and determination sagging in the last few days. This should be the beginning of my “good week,” or at least the week in each chemo cycle when I feel the most normal. But here it is Tuesday already and I’m far from normal. I feel haggard, worn down, sick to death of being sick, sick of innumerable trips down to the cancer center, sick of trying to keep track of umpteen different pills and the varying schedules for taking each.
My last chemotherapy with all three chemo drugs was two weeks ago today. I should be celebrating by now. But I’ve been too sick. Trying to force more liquids so I don’t get dehydrated (forcing a drink is not enjoying a drink, but they all taste funny anyway). Sticking to BRAT foods to deal with the diarrhea (I now pretty much hate everything in that diet except toast, because it’s the only one that doesn’t taste funny). Trying to find some normal foods that taste good and have some appeal but don’t cause too much gas, don’t have too much fiber. Eat your favorite foods? Lots of luck. At least 80% of them will taste funny. I’d kill for a good steak or a platter of tacos — provided they taste like they should.
Of course, the chemo induces fatigue and weakness and this will be exacerbated if you don’t eat enough. One of the drugs they give you will cause your ankles to swell, but if you take a diuretic, you’re robbing your body of the fluid it needs to keep your gut functioning properly. And if you take too many meds to stop the diarrhea, you’re likely to end up constipated, which is probably even more uncomfortable.
While struggling with all this, I see on the calendar that tomorrow is my first appointment with the radiologist. I’m not ready for that yet! I need more rest, more strength to face that. I’ve a million questions and expect not to like most of their million answers. And hell, yes, I’m scared. They’ll be shooting radiation at my chest, which happens to have my heart and lungs in it right behind the tumor site. I’d really rather they not do that. Especially when I have a nagging cough that nothing seems to control. (Can they hit a moving target?) And there were those two little glowing nodes in there on the first CT scan so long ago. The first doctor suggested they been disturbed by the biopsy, the second that they were perhaps inflamed from the surgery. To me they just looked like two little pearls of cancer in a very difficult-to-access location. Will they show up on the next scan? Will chemo have wiped them out? Or will they still be grinning like two little cheshire cats, daring the radiologist to get to them?
I don’t know what the radiology schedule or treatment will be, precisely, but I keep reading 5 days a week for 5-6 weeks. How grueling can you get, given it’s almost an hour’s drive down and back each time. I don’t know what the side effects will be. And frankly right now I don’t feel I have the wherewithal to face it all. I’m just so damned tired …
And if that weren’t enough, a week from today I’m supposed to report for my first Herceptin-only treatment. That’s one of the three drugs they’ve been giving me, but from now on I’ll be getting just it, every three weeks, for a year. They say there will be fewer, milder side effects, no steroids before and after, no Neulasta shots, no nausea medication. Yeah, right. Except for the fluky side effects I experience, because, after all, every case is different.
I really broke down last night. I was in tears. I don’t think I can keep doing this. I’m not ready to see the radiologist tomorrow, or the oncologist next week. I just want my life back.