Mid-way Checkpoint

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I am now mid-way through my chemo treatment for breast cancer: 3 chemo sessions done, with 3 more to go.  I wish I could say that with each chemo, things get easier.  The truth is that chemo is not very selective and cannot differentiate between good and bad cells.  It just invades the body and kills both good and bad cells.  And each chemo has a cumulative effect so that each additional chemo is worse than the one before.  Typically, I have found that the first 10 days of chemo for me are bad, and then things improve significantly and I join the land of the living.  Side-effects, when things are tough, include mouth sores, loss of appetite, no taste buds (so food tastes like sand paper), chemo brain, weight loss followed by weight gain, vomiting, diarrhea, nose bleeds and fatigue.  I think the part I have found most difficult is the fatigue, when even getting out of bed in the morning is a challenge.

This week I found out what was making me so exhausted.  My hemoglobin count has been dropping rapidly.  2 weeks ago, it was 83.  This week it is 62.  To put things in perspective, the average hemoglobin for a woman is 120 and hospitals will typically give you a blood transfusion when your blood count hits 70.  So today I spent the day at the hospital where I received 2 pints of blood.  As always, we respectfully named the bags of blood.  We called the first one Massimo (which means the greatest) and we called the second bag, Eva (which means life).  I said a prayer of thanks to the donors that gave me this gift of life, and then I prayed as each drop of blood entered my body happily and cheerfully.

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So, there are good days and there are bad days:

Some good days bring exceptionally delightful life events — Shayne is coming home on Saturday after being in Kenya for some time.  And, on Tuesday, we all fly to New York to attend Sabrina’s graduation from Columbia University!

Some bad days can be really challenging.  Cancer is a tough taskmaster.  I am learning that it is okay to be sad when things are difficult and take time to look after myself.  Sometimes this means taking naps, sometimes it is about asking for help, sometimes it is saying no to activities, sometimes it is just about having a good cry.  An equally important lesson for me is knowing that it is not healthy to stay in this state of sadness for long.

So, I have found an incredibly positive antidote to sadness:  having multiple projects to look forward to that enrich my life and feed my soul.  More on this in my next post!

10 Comments

  • Lucy Mwangi Nyaga , May 20, 2016

    Munira you inspire me a lot. Thinking of you. You are a warrior and full of legacy.

  • Anonymous , May 19, 2016

    Happy for Sabrina and Shayne coming home. Bright moments of happiness-Munira you are inspiring and i love you loads though from far. BEAR HUGS!

  • salome , May 16, 2016

    Mukhiani maa

    you have given me so much strenght , I pray from the bottom of my heart for mushkil asaan
    fear and worries, will create additional “BHOJO”
    Try to take each day at a time and hold on to your faith ,

  • Robert Boulton , May 16, 2016

    Sometimes it is OK to be sad, Munira. My bet, though, is that most days, as usual, you brighten every room you enter. Bob.

  • Anonymous , May 16, 2016

    Thank you for sharing your journey, you are one strong and courageous gal, halfway through the treatment plan, yeah!!! Congratulations on Sabrina the over achiever’s graduation. Enjoy Celebrating the proud parental moment.
    I am waiting to read all about your upcoming exciting projects.
    My antidote to beat sadness is hiking, home projects and spending time with the boys and family get togethers.
    Enjoy Shayne’s home coming and celebrations in NY.

  • Erika and Dave , May 16, 2016

    Hi Munira,
    You truly inspire us, on how you seek what’s positive and delightful, during this most onerously daunting chemo experience. We hope and pray for your complete recovery. Congratulations to Sabrina and all your family, on her graduation!
    Warmest wishes,
    Dave and Erika

  • Kathy Thom , May 16, 2016

    What an incredible milestone for Sabrina. That will be such a celebration for her and the entire family. I know that there will be a bright glow from the audience as you and Nagib sit beaming with pride! I think of you often and send you many thoughts of strength and healing as you push on through it all, still teaching us such valuable lessons every step of the way.

  • thesmilingpilgrim , May 15, 2016

    Keep on doing well :)!

  • Lynda and Dave Cavanagh , May 15, 2016

    Munira,
    So you are half way there. Half is behind you. You are such a trooper. I think of you daily. Please congratulate Sabrina from Dave and I. It will be so nice for you to have the children close. I am in Vancouver for a week attending a Law Library conference. David came out to join me and we are going to stay out see a bit more of the beautiful province.
    Keep up the fight as I know you will win. Hi to Nagib.
    All my love,
    Lynda

    Sent from Lynda’s iPad

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  • mylegacytoyou , May 15, 2016

    We can’t have you sad and exhausted! Let’s talk more projects, more exciting activities, and more strength to your tired bones… How about authentic South Asian cooking lessons ? Just say the word, and I’ll be there with my spices, herbs, and coconut milk powder!
    Love you loads and thinking of you everyday…

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