Thursday, June 16, 2011

Chemo Retrospective

Anticipation. More of my videos here.

The other day I came across a DVD someone gave me and thought, I should save this to watch with Jim at chemo. And then I remembered: There is no more chemo!

No more weekly weigh-ins, blood draws, killer bee-sting needles. No more poison injected into my veins. No more eyelashes falling out, fingernails lifting away from the nail beds and stinking, no more gradually worsening numbness and tingling in my feet. No more inexplicable exhaustion mid-week. No more terrible taste in my mouth or steroid-induced sleepless nights. No more dry eyes, dry mouth, unsettled stomach, and low low blood counts.

It's hard to believe.

At the same time, I'm worried about radiation, now officially scheduled to begin July 6th.

Some people get through it easily, without noticeable fatigue, with only a little bit of redness and dryness to the skin. For some the fatigue is profound. Some have painful blistering weeping skin, some experience scarring and pain underneath. And I'm just talking about short term issues. The long term issues are much scarier.

For now, I'm doing my best to savor three weeks of relative freedom.

Let's celebrate, shall we, with a little retrospective - a few photos I took with the laptop to document chemo treatments twelve, thirteen, fourteen, and fifteen, and the morning after number sixteen.

I'll warn you right now, for those who don't want to see: the morning after sixteen I took another "here are my scars" picture. For those that do want to see, there are two other entries where I post pictures. The first was just days after surgery. The next was shortly before I began chemo. And this one will heretofore be referred to as the one between chemo and radiation.

Without further ado:

At chemo #12.

At chemo #13.

Chemo #14.

Chemo 15.

The morning after my final treatment, chemo 16.


Kerry said...

I love the way you stare directly at the camera/all of us...some who cannot begin to comprehend the hell you've been through and continue to go through. Your directness is wonderful, refreshing really, in a world full of grey fog conversations...I hope your radiation treatments give you minimal physical discomfort and your mental turmoil is kept at bay by the love surrounding you...Peace~

Kerri said...

Hi Amy, I just wanted to share a little of my radiation experience in case it's of any use to you (I just finished on Monday).

On the first few days I felt very daunted by the number of treatments ahead of me, and I was realllly tired. And since everyone says the fatigue is cumulative, I was like, Uh oh, this is going to be rough... But then I actually started to feel BETTER as radiation went on, and I realized my fatigue wasn't from the rads but from getting over the months and months of chemo. I was so used to the weekly steroid high, that my energy really flagged without it. So my experience was one of feeling more energetic as rads went on, and then the whole experience started going by really fast.

My skin held up through 33 treatments, maybe because I was religious about applying aloe vera gel right after each treatment, and a few times throughout the day, then calendula cream at night (seemed it would help with healing). As another person commented earlier, it took me a while to figure out I needed to apply the gel beyond the edges of the radiation field, up onto the neck and shoulder and even behind my shoulder blade. I have no idea why the nurses didn't tell me that starting out.

They told me not to eat a lot of antioxidant-rich foods, but most of my diet is antioxidant-rich food, so I just tried to not go crazy with things like blueberries or green tea. I did try to make sure I got enough protein, because your body needs a ton of it to repair damaged tissue during chemo and rads. I also ate tons of seaweed to help clear the radiation out - don't know that was a risky thing to do or not.

Anyway, I hope you have a wonderful break in treatment. And I just wanted you to know that if you feel crappy starting out radiation, it may not last.


Karin said...

Amy, you are so brave! And i'm very 'proud' of you, just the way you are and have been... The pic from your body gives me the feeling you have accept it, and that's really something to be proud of! You are an example. You look great!

tweet again soon ;)


Paula said...

I'm so glad the chemo is behind you! Onward!