13 March 2010
WOW! This chemotherapy is like a punch in the stomach. I was well prepared to deal with fatigue and nausea, because I have heard so much about these two side effects. And knowing that this week I’ll probably lose my hair – well, I really think I’m prepared for that too. What I was not prepared for was waking up this morning with sores covering my mouth and throat, and very sore gums, making it almost impossible to eat or drink much of anything.
My friend Ellen warned me: “Your white blood count is dropping. Actually about 7 to 10 days in is when I hit bottom, but then I started building back up (just in time for another chemo treatment!).”
Ellen is right. This is day 7 and I had not anticipated this incredibly uncomfortable side effect, which is probably why I had my first real emotional meltdown at 5:15 am this morning. I’m not sure if they were angry tears or sad tears. But they rushed down my face for what seemed like an eternity. This is only the second time I’ve cried since my diagnosis, the first time when I realized this would be the first year I couldn’t plant flowers in my garden (dirt germs).
“Hello you nasty cancer. So THIS is what they call chemotherapy side effects, huh?”
Dr. Makhoul and his ever-diligent nurse have provided a plethora of well-organized patient information about all these side effects. But I figured, “Hey Stace, you’re stronger than an ox. These other things won’t happen to you. This other bad stuff is for the cancer sissies.”
This morning I realized, there are no cancer sissies. Or, if there are, then I’m one of them. But this morning, after getting myself more composed, I realized that all of us in this battle are Cancer Warriors. Chemotherapy is an incredibly powerful drug, designed to create our cure, but wreak havoc on our bodies during the process. Yes, this will be a long journey with many ups and downs. This morning will be documented as one of my downs. But I will move on. And as Grandma India said, “God’s Warriors don’t cry.”
The cancer team at UAMS Cancer Institute has a wonderful medical support system in place. All patients have access to a 24-hour consult line, with today being my first time to place a call. Within 10 minutes, I’m on the phone with one of the many competent oncologists who will meet me at UAMS at 7 am. Now that’s called patient service. Under their care, I’ll be fine. Nobody ever died from mouth sores. But in the meantime, this morning has already been another lesson learned about chemotherapy, and better anticipating all of the side effects.
I’ll write later, but I need to run. It’s time to dry my tears, put on my big girls panties and get myself to UAMS. And I’m going to wear my new t-shirt that my friend Martha gave me last night. It says, FIGHT LIKE A GIRL.
Posted by Stacy Sells at 6:30 AM