I am living my own version of Groundhog’s Day.
At my first treatment, my nurse told me to keep a diary of my symptoms because they were going to be similar each time I did a course. I loved this idea as I am a planner from way back. Every treatment would be exactly the same and I would have no icky surprises to worry about!
Well obviously that’s an exaggeration. While the courses have been very similar, each one comes with it’s own unique road. So let’s play some catch up (I’ve already done four treatments!) and I can show you some of my chemo style and tips for each treatment I did.
Treatment 2: Don’t believe everything you read in Star Magazine
When I was a little girl, my grandmother had a subscription to Star Magazine. The flimsy paper pages lay piled in a basket by her bed and I couldn’t wait to lock myself in her room and dive into the Style section or the latest celebrity gossip. But the one section that always bothered me was the horoscopes. Now to be honest, I’ve never put much stock in the “stars” so it wasn’t the actual readings that gave me pause. It was my sign. Because of my July 23rd birthday falling on the cusp, I found myself in a section that was less than desirable for me: Cancer. “What an icky word for a sign,” I always thought. To be labeled a crab was bad enough but to add the name of an ominous illness felt like drawing the short end of the stick. And furthermore, the descriptions never seemed to fit me. So even though I never used the horoscopes to plan my life, I always felt mismatched with my fates.
Years later, I finally stumbled upon another publication revealed my cusp birthday actually puts me in Leo territory. “Warm, action-oriented and driven by the desire to be loved and admired, the Leo have an air of royalty about them. They love to be in the limelight, which is why many of them make a career in the performing arts. The Lions are always admired for their kindness and helpful nature. Big-hearted that they are, the Leo graciously showers love and affection on people. While they demand loyalty from the people associated with them, the Leos themselves are also loyal and trustworthy individuals.” This was all sounding pretty spot on. Of course there were negatives as well: “The Leos are opinionated and headstrong, and it takes a lot of convincing to make them change their stance. The Leo wants to be in control of situations and expect people to follow them. Their dominating nature may not go down well with everyone.They want to get things done and over with as soon as possible. But their impatience leads them to unnecessary anxiety and even failures and disappointments.” I suddenly felt like my position in the cosmos was starting to make sense. A performer who is fiercely loyal and loves her mane: check! Some impatience and strong will: Yup! I eagerly accepted my destiny as a Leo and never looked back.
I guess it turns out you can’t run from Cancer forever. About a week before my second treatment I saw this shirt at H&M and knew I had to have it. A cheeky nod to my “crabby” new life. I’m trying to take the Leo approach to this new phase: headstrong, immovable, and getting it over with quickly! I’m also surrounded by the people who love and admire me so I can’t lose. The shirt seemed to be the admittance that no matter how much you try to change your stars, sometimes there are other plans for you. So here I am, a mane-less Leo with Cancer. Who says you can’t have it all?!
This treatment started very similarly to the last one, even including me flying in from New York at the last second and plopping into the treatment chair. This time, however, I had an unexpected reaction to my chemo drug, Taxotere. I had a hard time breathing and swallowing and quickly developed a rash. We slowed down the drip but come to find out, I am allergic to something in the meds. I wasn’t aware of this, but this chemo comes from the bark of a Yew tree which my body apparently was not a fan of. After we got this sorted, I went back to sleep like last time and was woken up just in time to shuffle on home.
The symptoms came as usual, the nausea and pain, restless nights and general fatigue. I thought I had seen the end of it around 5 days later but that darn Yew tree reared it’s ugly head again. In addition to the reaction I was having, I developed something called hand/foot syndrome. Basically the chemo is making a mad dash out of my body, hence the hair loss and pore cleansing (which I am actually loving). But unfortunately, it’s escaping through my hands and feet as well, basically burning my skin on the way out. My poor feet were bright red with skin falling off them in droves. I spent two days with my little piggies wrapped in ice while my heels were so sore I couldn’t walk. This was an incredibly disheartening time for me since my mobility and energy have been a major saving grace for my optimism. But I lotioned and iced up a storm and after several days rest, I was actually dancing the night away at a wedding with zero pain. In heels no less! I oddly found the heels to be more comfortable since it put the pressure on the balls of my feet instead of the sore part in the back. So sorry, cancer! You tried but you just can’t keep me from Uptown Funk-ing my way through the dance floor. Don’t believe me? Just watch!