So, after my 4th treatment last week, I will undergo another two chemo sessions, then redo a PET scan. If all looks clear, I will move onto radiation; otherwise, I will get 2 more treatments (total of 8), then radiation.
One of the drugs was discontinued with this latest treatment because it causes neuropathy, and the tips of 8 of my fingers are having issues with work-related tasks (and this typing!). Doc is not worried about eliminating it since my cancer has already responded so well.
I'm now on day #10 post-chemo #4 and it has been more challenging than the previous two, probably because the side effects have lasted a few days longer than expected, and that makes me nervous.
The first few days were much the same: feeling mostly fine on day #1, with a steady decline in stamina over the next few days, but this time with more nausea than usual. That never affected my appetite, however, since I've been eating pretty much around the clock with nary a weight gain.
I know it's most women's dream to lose weight without trying, but I never thought it would be so difficult to have to eat so often. I was not eating to keep my weight up; I was eating because I was starving constantly. Ten days later, I still am, and I've yet to gain any weight.
As usual, I also slept well; in fact, very well. Two nights this week I slept 13 hours straight. It's obvious my body has been in healing-mode.
I'd established after earlier treatments that after taking a massive amount of steroids for five days, my body normally collapsed on day #6, but that didn't happen this time. I was encouraged that maybe I was getting the hang of this chemo-thing and my body was compensating better than the previous three.
It was merely delayed, because for the next several days, I was not a happy camper. I am assuming that the drugs had little to attack since the tumors had been so significantly destroyed; instead, they were going full combat on my gut. I never got sick, but nausea settled in and made itself a permanent visitor while light-headedness was my constant companion. I couldn't stand for more than a few minutes without feeling the need to collapse to the floor from dizziness and exhaustion.
Now, this was also happening as the same time the smoke from Canada was covering our skies with a thick haze and we were being properly warned to stay indoors. Yes, this probably contributed to my overall ill health, but something else was at play: my body felt consumed by poison.
After previous chemo sessions, it was apparent that my body felt like a smoldering inferno. I could actually feel the tumors getting destroyed where parts of my body felt ignited from the inside. Days later, the smoldering feeling would waft up from inside of me as I smelled and tasted chemicals (oddly, this never deterred my appetite!).
This time, my body never felt ignited, nor did it smolder in its own destruction. That felt like happy news, since maybe I had little (or none!) left to destroy. But the chemical aftermath was all too present, which made me leery.
Each time I tried to stand, my body seemed to rebel, summoning me to sit back down. When I didn't, I got this hot blast to my bald head that felt clammy to the touch, accompanied by a wave of nausea and light-headedness.
My body seemed to be trying hard to compensate for the extra poison swimming around my innards by keeping me upright, but its efforts lagged. I sometimes stumbled, worried that I would actually fall. I felt woozy. A headache would suddenly appear. My thoughts felt jumbled. My words incoherent.
This must be what it feels like to be poisoned. And I was becoming afraid that it would never go away.
This lingered for four miserable days before quietly and slowly abating yesterday, day #9. Even today, I can still feel that the reactions of my body are slower than normal, and my head doesn't feel quite right yet, but I trust that I'm resuming my normal steadfast-self. It helps me trust the process more, even though I remain worried about the next treatment that's looming just 11 days away.
Yes, the debilitating symptoms have mostly gone away, which means my body knows how to properly assimilate the chemicals and excrete them. It means I am able to bounce back to my normal-self without any permanent damage.
But what will the next two chemo (or god forbid, four!) treatments bring, especially as these tumors decrease in size but the amount of chemo drugs I receive do not?
I am nervous about what an over-abundance of poison in my body will find to destroy instead, and how I may be rendered more impaired than the neuropathy that tingles the tips of my fingers.
Each time I think about this past week, my body shivers in response and nausea tickles the back of my throat. If I thought this week was tough, will I be strong enough to endure more?
But if I am to trust this process, my body, God, and even my own resilience, I must be willing to embrace all of it.