chemo one is done

A wise lady experienced in these matters, having just completed her own treatment, told me that the first round of chemo is more of a mental challenge as you wait to see how it will impact you. That was spot on for me, as I felt physically tired for a few days and had some low level nausea, but mentally I was slammed by the enormity of this process. Until now, I think I've compartmentalized all this in a somewhat manageable way, but the chemo treatment kind of felled me with a new level of seriousness.

I think it was mostly to do with the medications. The copious amounts of drugs that I now take demonstrate how I kind of lose control of my body for the next few months. I take chemo for cancer, but in order to help my body accept the chemo, I take Pill A for three days, Pill B for four days and then I have two bonus pills in case my nausea beats the first two. Pill B, is a bit of an upper and will affect my sleep, so I can take sleeping pills to counter that. But then because of all these pills I might get constipated and so I have pills to counter that too. I have injections I give myself for five days post-chemo to kick start my bone marrow into creating more white blood cells. But then the chemo will just kill them off again when I next get it. And so we begin the cycles.

And on top of all this during round 1, I had to take Tylenol to counter the rip-roaring headache I had for five days because I couldn't drink coffee. THAT felt like the ultimate insult.

When consulted about this, the aforementioned wise lady informed me that she'd given up coffee two weeks before beginning chemo, just to to avoid that. Why the wise lady did not share that gem with me remains a mystery.

Chemo Day itself was a hoot. Mum and I walked both to and from the hospital, which felt strong, though chilly. The chemo suite was filled with classic Yukon characters; all willing to heckle our nurse and chip in with their opinion as she talked me through my instructions. Our nurse had to stop injecting me at one point because she was shaking with laughter. It may have been when one old duck across the room was grumbling about never getting any drugs that she could actually sell. All she got, she poker-face-stated, was this 'jungle-juice,' that no-one ever wants to buy.

"As you can see," my nurse said, when she'd stopped laughing, "there isn't much privacy in here, but there can be some good camaraderie."

It was so true and I'm thankful for it. I felt like the new kid in the chemo-suite, and was interrogated completely. They now all know about my port, my plastic surgeon, my cancer, my treatment. I know who there was palliative and who a short-termer. We share a language of cancer that helped short-cut us through any small talk. They helped make this feel normal when I'm reeling through my abnormality.

Round Two is this Thursday and before then I will continue to ski every day and relish how strong my body is feeling. I will cook and take the kids to Jackrabbits and maybe even snuggle with them instead of yelling at them to stop dawdling, which kind of feels like my refrain. And I will keep you posted.


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