Chemotherapy effects everyone differently. Some patients have very little side effects, some have all the side effects possible and some fall in between. I personally had a terrible experience with chemo. It made me extremely nauseous, weak, tired and just sick to my stomach. I had 6 cycles of chemo which for me consisted of the following:
WEEK ONE :
Day 1 - Taxotere and Carboplatin
Day 2 - Herceptin and Perjeta and hydration
Day 3 – IV Hydration
Day 4 – IV Hydration and Neupogen shots at home
Day 5 - IV Hydration and Neupogen
Day 6 – Neupogen
Day 7 – Neupogen
Day 8 - Neupogen
Day 9 – Herceptin and appointment with oncologist and blood test.
Days 10 – 14 No treatment
Day 15 – No treatment
Day 16 – Herceptin
Days 17- 21 No treatment
Then the cycle would start over again.
On the first day of the cycle I would receive iv meds at the treatment center from 9am until about 5pm. Yes all day, crazy right? My husband or mom would spend the entire day with me. They made sure I was never alone and if they couldn't make it because of work I would have one of my amazing friends with me. We would order breakfast…lunch…and talk. My mom would always talk to me about work and future plans. She always kept me distracted. It was nice to have all those hours of one on one time with her. My husband would talk to me about our son, work, and the places we would visit when this was all done. He kept my spirits up and went out of his way to make me laugh. These talks with them were the best part of chemo. By the end of the day the medications would have me a bit tired so they would take me home and I would sleep.
Day 2 I would go back to the treatment center for a half day of meds. I would still pretty much feel okay, just a little tired. It would be another day of wonderful chats with my loved ones. I was usually done around 2pm and I would go home and sleep some more.
Day 3 I would begin to feel the side effects of the chemo. The nausea!! OMG I can’t even explain how horrible it was. It was 50 times worse then any nausea I’ve ever felt while sick. I couldn't eat or drink, all I wanted to do was sleep and cry. I will never forget that feeling. I would tell myself , ‘if you just sleep, when you wake up you will feel better.’ I would take naps, wake up, feel worse and end up in tears again. Phil would bring me different concoctions he made to help the nausea. I took several medications meant to help but it didn't do much. The doctor did tell me the medications were actually working because if they weren't I would be vomiting instead. So I guess it did prevent that. The fatigue was also terrible. I was so exhausted and it didn't matter how much I slept or rested. I always felt like I just finished running a marathon. The nausea and severe fatigue would last about a week but it was the longest week ever. I remember thinking, why did I have to go through this? What did I do to deserve this torture?
There was one day I really wanted to take a shower. I felt like a shower would make me feel better. About a minute after I entered the shower, I began to feel dizzy and couldn't breath, I slouched over in the tub and felt like I was about to pass out. I screamed for my husband who ran to the bathroom and rescued me from falling over. He carried me to the bed and laid me down. I remember my finger tips starting to become numb, then my hands, then my arms, I couldn't breath and my heart was beating what felt like a hundred times too fast. My husband called my mom who lives around the corner and said he was taking me to the hospital. My brother showed up instantly to take care of our son. I was so scared for him. I tried to act as though I was ok as we walked to the car because I didn't want Bam to be scared. I kept reassuring him that I would be fine and it was just the medicine making me feel sick. I can’t imagine what was going through his mind watching his mom being rushed to the hospital.
After meeting with several doctors examining my lungs, heart, blood…turns out I was extremely dehydrated. From that day on my doctor scheduled me to receive iv hydration treatments daily for 4 days after each chemo. So at the beginning of every cycle I was at the treatment center everyday for a week.
I wouldn't begin to start feeling a little better until about 7-8 days later. That's when I would go back to work and try to keep busy. By the third week of the cycle I would feel like myself again but would become anxious because I knew the following week I would have chemo again and the cycle would start all over. I had to go through this for 6 cycles which was about 5 months.
Looking back I still can’t believe I went through that experience. I cried so much during those 5 months. Every cycle I would say I can’t take it anymore I just want this to be over. My husband would always tell me “you are almost done, only 4 more to go… 3 more to go…. 2 more to go…” I would look at my son and I knew I had to get through this for him. He needs his mom. And I did. I completed all 6 cycles and had an amazing outcome. There were bad days and there were not so bad days but it worked! The chemo shrunk my tumor so much that it couldn't even be felt anymore.