As I had early stage, hormone receptor positive breast cancer, and my MammaPrint test came back with a high probability of recurrence, I decided to go ahead with the recommended course of chemotherapy. For me, that “C” word – chemotherapy, was much more frightening than the cancer itself. However, I did it, I survived, and it wasn’t nearly as bad as I had imagined it would be. I am going to share my experience and hopefully help ease your fear, anxiety and apprehension, should you be facing the same situation. What scares us most is the unknown.
There are different types of chemotherapy treatments for different types of cancers. All breast cancer patients do not receive the same chemotherapy, as there are different treatments for different types of breast cancers and their different stages. I received two drugs, taxotere and cytoxan. Prior to treatment, my oncologist informed me that nausea and vomiting were typically NOT side effects of this type of chemotherapy, and I am happy to report she was right, I experienced neither. Nor did a good friend who also took the same chemo combination. I realize not everyone is going to have the same reactions, and I can only relate what I experienced.
I received my chemotherapy treatments on Tuesday mornings, four total, each three weeks apart. First I was given intravenous fluids, followed by intravenous anti-nausea medicine, then the two chemotherapy drugs, one after the other. This whole process took approximately 2-1/2 hours, and each time, I downloaded and watched a funny movie on my IPad. I was extremely blessed to have my husband by my side for each session. I returned to my oncologists office the next day for a shot of Neulasta.
TIP: For some reason, it was assumed that I was to to have a port placed in my chest to receive chemotherapy. I wondered why because I am healthy and have very good veins. When I made the nurses examine my hands and arms and showed them my veins, it was obvious I didn’t need a port. Lesson – always question if you don’t think something is right.
On Thursday evening, the drugs would hit me, and I would be in bed for the next three days with extreme fatigue and body aches, and an overall discomfort – similar to a bad flu (but without the nausea and vomiting). By Monday, I would start to feel better, and over the next couple of days, my strength and feeling of health came back. By the thrid week, I felt pretty much back to normal. And while the fatigue continued to build up with each successive treatment, I was still able to go to the gym and train my clients throughout the entire process.
Sometimes, instead of running from something scary in your life, it’s easier to learn not to be scared of it.