A few days after finishing chemo I started going through some fairly 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. 💕