After Chemo Treatments Are Over

Mood: Depressed 😫

A few days after finishing chemo I started going through some faily serious depression. I know that it doesn’t make sense…why would I be so depressed?? I made it through one of the most difficult parts of my treatment, when so many patients don’t for one reason or another, but I finished and on time as well. But once you are done with chemo the realization sets in that you are not done, that there are still several months to go. It has already been 9 months since this nightmare began and it doesn’t feel like the end is near….but it is…😟

My depression has been caused by several things and until now, I haven’t felt like sharing what I have been dealing with. I needed to wait until I was feeling stronger mentally and had turned a corner and was starting to really feel better. I have been going through physical and sensory changes as well as all of the emotional issues that go along with being a cancer patient.

Both of my big toe toenails have changed in texture, color and until recently were oozing a clear liquid from under my nails. Both of the nails are healing now, thanks to some ointment I am using, but I have been very much afraid of losing one or both of them for the last month. I could still lose both nails but I am doing what I can to keep that from happening. The toenail issue is just one of many Taxol side effects that is fairly common, but waited to effect me until the last few weeks of chemo.

I have been using a gel to help me keep my eyebrows and eyelashes and up until the last few chemo treatments it was working fairly well. But now, even though chemo is over and I am doing as directed, I have lost all but three eyelashes on my left eye and all of my eyelashes on the right eye. My eyebrows are slowly falling out as well and it seems that there is nothing I can do to stop it. I look more like a cancer patient now that I am done with chemo, than I did while I was at the height of my 4 1/2 months of treatments and it makes me sad…..I can barely look in the mirror.

I have also been dealing with some neuropathy in the finger tips of both of my hands. Now that I am three weeks out from ending chemo it is getting better but I am still dealing with it on a day to day basis. The sensations I am feeling in my finger tips should eventually go away with time, the sooner the better, as it is annoying to say the least.

The fatigue has been relentless, it doesn’t matter how much I sleep or rest, I get tired doing the simplest things and it has been a constant battle. When my fatigue was at its worst I would have my entire body hurt just from walking up the stairs in my house. The fatigue caused a big part of my stress just realizing that at this time last year I was running for 30 minutes straight a few times a week and running 10 flights of stairs a few times a week as well.

The steroids I have been given for the last 4 1/2 months caused me to gain weight while going through chemo. Yes, it is better to gain weight then lose it during chemo, but weight has always been an issue for me for most of my life. The weight gain was just another side effect that helped my depression get as bad as it was. I feel awful walking around with an extra 12lbs on my body but I of course am happy that I am alive and that I completed all of my treatments.

Lastly, chemo brain is a very real side effect of chemo treatments. At first I didn’t think I was suffering from it until a Saturday afternoon came along where we had to go back to two stores while out running our errands. I had forgotten to put things on our list that we needed and I thought I had marked everything off that we had on our list only to find that I had skipped them entirely and we left the store without them. That Saturday was a very rough day for me as I am usually so organized but it was obvious that I was not in control of my mind.

So let’s end this blog post on a positive note……My hair is starting to grow back! It is fine, light colored and in just a few areas here and there, but it is coming back in and it actually started growing a few weeks ago before I finished treatment. I am happy to say that the fatigue is improving, slowly, but improving none the less. I am hoping to start walking and building my strength back up very soon, and I will then start working on losing weight and getting back to where I was. Last of all, I realized early last week that the chemo brain is gone and I that I am feeling like I am in control of my mind once more and that I am truly starting to feel like myself again. πŸ’•

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Some people have asked me if I am done with my journey now that my chemotherapy treatments are over, and the answer is “No”. I will not be done until I have been through my 3rd surgery, radiation and follow-up imaging showing that there is no sign of cancer anywhere in my body. With that said, the piece I have shared below is so true…I have already been through some of these with more to come….πŸ˜”

πŸŽ€ Breast cancer awareness month is NOT all pretty pink bows πŸŽ€

Please consider the following women this month:

πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman being diagnosed right now scared out of her mind wondering how long she has to live.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman about to undergo surgery to have a part or all of her breasts amputated.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman undergoing her first chemo treatment wearing an ice cap on her head in an attempt to save her hair and therefore her identity.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman who cries herself to sleep from the agony of the pain in her bones from the medication she has to take to combat the low blood cell counts.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman trying to comb her hair as gently as possible as to not have too many clumps come out at once.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman who has radiation burns so badly she can barely lift her arms.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman who’s trying to choke down soup or water but mouth sores, throat, and esophagus make it painful.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman in the beautiful scarf covering her newly bald head.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman hovering over the toilet trying not to throw up from the stomach pains and nausea.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman who’s stuck at home because the diarrhea makes it difficult to be away from a bathroom for too long.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman who financially can not afford to miss another day of work for yet another treatment session.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman who has to take maintenance medication that changes her and makes her feel like a different person.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman lying in bed at night unable to sleep wondering if she’s done all she can to prevent it from coming back to kill her.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman lying in bed at night unable to sleep because she knows it’s already come back and wants more than anything to live to fight another day.
πŸŽ€πŸ’ͺ🏻 The woman who’s lost her fight and family mourns her loss in this world.

~Written by Bethany Young, Cancer Survivor~

Saturday Fun

October 5th, 2019

Mood: Happy 😁

We had a busy but good day….weekly shopping, went to a local fair with a dear friend to watch a friend of ours sing, had an amazing dinner on the way home. A busy day fighting fatigue as I try to get stronger and as back to normal as I can before my next surgery.

I finally got to relax on the couch at about 11:30pm but it was well worth every minute….and yes, finally a pic of me without a wig on. πŸ’•

Taxol #12

October 3rd, 2019

Mood: Excited πŸ˜„

My last Taxol treatment went well!

Before my treatment I met with my oncologist and we had a great talk about how I have done and what my next steps are. All in all I navigated through my 16 chemo treatments very well. My side effects were minimal, mainly fatigue and slight neuropathy in my fingers during the last few weeks of treatment. There is no telling how long it will take for my red blood cell count to go back to normal, this is what causes my fatigue, but the neuropathy should disappear fairly quickly.

I told him that I already have an appointment made to meet with my surgeon, Dr. Schwartz, next week. He reminded me that I won’t need my port anymore and I assured him that I have already discussed that with Dr. Schwartz. During my reconstruction surgery he will not only do my reconstruction but he will also remove my port.

We also discussed that it is time for me to meet with my radiation doctor so she can examine me and take measurements before I have reconstruction surgery. By the time I left my oncologists office I had my appointment scheduled with the radiation doctor for two weeks from yesterday.

Last of all we talked about when I will need to see him next so he can put me on the drug I will need to take under his care for the next 10 years. We determined that I will see him around mid-January as soon as I am done with my radiation treatments.

I am so relieved that this part of my journey is over. I am ready to do what is necessary to get my health back to normal as much as possible before I have my surgery. I have been so tired going through chemo that I have not been able to work out and the steroids have caused me to gain about 20 lbs so that has not made me feel very good, especially over this last month.

My oncologist said to take it slow as far as getting back to being active and he is right….I don’t want to injure myself. So the next few weeks will be about continuing to rest, working on moving more and getting back to my regular diet which is mostly keto.

Video of me ringing the bell! πŸ’•

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