The Ups and Downs of Chemotherapy
My third chemo and subsequent blood transfusion the following day took its toll on me. Unfortunately, I experienced all the side effects of chemo, all at the same time, and felt like a cancer patient for the first time. The symptoms included extreme fatigue which necessitated me to be in bed for three days, fever, constipation (resulting in hemorrhoids – ouch), mouth sores which made it difficult to eat and talk, zero appetite and change in taste. The extreme fatigue was probably the most daunting and debilitating.
On those days, just the thought of getting out of bed, changing into clothes, brushing my teeth and going downstairs for breakfast tired me out. I just wanted to hide under the covers and sleep all day. I was in the land of the living dead, like a zombie, not available to anyone. My family had to deal with seeing me quite helpless, weak and unresponsive f or the first time in three months and I think that was difficult for them and for me. Just as it seemed like it couldn’t get any worse, things slowly started to get better as the days went on.
Then, I got some incredible news from my oncologist, Dr. Tiedemann, yesterday. The latest blood tests showed that my serum M-Protein levels had been reduced significantly (by more than 50% from baseline — which is considered a Partial Response). In layperson’s terms, this means that, miraculously, the chemo treatments for my Lymphoma are also attacking my Multiple Myeloma cancer cells! This was completely unexpected news for us and we are beyond thrilled at yet another blessing from God.
What I am learning is that every chemo treatment has a cumulative effect — requiring longer and longer for the healthy cells to rebuild. Chemo targets and kills rapidly dividing cells in the body, such as cancer cells. But there are normal cells in the body that are also rapidly dividing, and chemo attacks these good cells as well. Each dose of chemo kills only a percentage of cancer cells; therefore, multiple treatments are required to destroy as many cancer cells as possible. So I can expect to go through the same pattern for subsequent chemo treatments. Except this time, I will be more prepared and manage this better.
So, Mr. Chemotherapy, sir, I welcome you with all your ups and downs, even though you sometimes make me really sick. I accept you, and thank you for all the hard work you are doing to get rid of both my cancers. And, I look forward to our next meeting on Monday, May 14th.
I say to you: ”Bring it on!”