Chemotherapy

Bone pain. Shingles. Nail loss.  Throat and mouth sores.  Early menopause.  Infertility.  You didn’t know that these were common side effects of chemotherapy?  Neither did I, my friend.  Probably the most frequently asked question I get is about chemotherapy.  I get it. You guys don’t know what it’s like and it is scary.  This post will walk you through a chemo session which really is a piece of cake compared to what happens after one of them, but that is for another post.

The day starts at 9 a.m. with a whole lot of pills. Most are to help with nausea but some are steroids to help with recovery.

Once I get there, I put a patch of numbing cream on this bad boy below:

Titanium implantable port

What is that you ask? That is port. It is a device I had surgically implanted into my chest that has a catheter that is inserted into a central line in my body (medicine is amazing!).  This means I do not have to have an IV done each time I have chemotherapy.  They simply feel for my port and insert a needle into my chest.  Does it hurt?  Well surgery was short but recovery was still pretty painful for two weeks.  The actual insertion of the needle each time at best feels like a flu shot to the boob. Still better than them digging around in my tiny veins, in my opinion.  It also means that I don’t have sore IV sites and I can play with the kids more easily.  This is me at the chemo clinic waiting for the cream to numb the site before the needle is put in, it usually takes about 45 minutes. Fun fact: I now get something called “anticipatory nausea” which is when my body begins to feel extreme nausea and anxiety before I go in for my chemo sessions!

This is what it looks like with the needle put in.  Not too bad.

This is my set up.  I get a big chair, a TV, a window, snacks, whatever I need.  The drugs usually take about 2 hours to administer.

I started at about 10 a.m. and was done by about 1:30 p.m.  Then I go home and rest.

I know it has taken my a long time to write. This was the week I lost my hair. The pictures above were taken last Monday.  By Tuesday, my hair was falling out by the handfuls and on Thursday I had my head shaved by the lovely Sarah at Turning Hedz and looked like this:

Sorry for the blurriness.  It is a big change over only 3 days.  Hair loss happens very quickly and is no joke.  It is a tough thing to constantly find your hair everywhere and all over everything.  I struggled for a whole week, wondering if I would post this picture but, you want to know the story and I want to tell it to you.

2 Comments

  1. I have always loved your writing Rhea – thank you for sharing your story. I wish with all my heart that you were “unpacking your backpack” about something far less painful than this, but I am honoured to follow your journey and am sending you, Ryan and the kids all the prayers, energy, good vibes, love – whatever you want to call it – every day.

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