Right now an update seems appropriate having got through the first week post chemo session 1. If you’ve read my previous post, you’ll know that I was given an infusion of FEC for my first cycle, and that I was given several anti-sickness meds (Emend, Ondansetron and Metoclopramide) as well as steroids for the first 3 days after treatment. The best way I can describe how I felt straight after my treatment was that I felt like I was jet-lagged but without the benefit of the holiday.
In summary, my side effects have included:
Yep, despite the hospital’s best efforts, I still managed to feel pretty queasy for most of this first week. Having said that, I haven’t been sick, so all warnings of having chemo and needing a bucket close by were not needed (thank goodness!)
Whoever said one can quickly turn into the other was spot on. Nothing else left to say on that one.
Tiredness, in fact scrap that, exhaustion!
I already suffer from an underactive thyroid so I know all too well what exhaustion feels like, but this has been on another level. I have had to break up any activity (ironing, unloading the dishwasher, etc.) into tiny chunks with a sit down in between. This is no exaggeration. If I were to stay on my feet, I would fall over. I have coped by giving in to day time naps whenever needed.
This has been so weird for me as I didn’t really experience this throughout either of my pregnancies, yet it has really hit me now (and I’m not pregnant!). I currently can’t stand the thought of tea or coffee. That is a shocker for those of you who know me as I usually can’t get past 10am without a coffee and I tend to drink around 8 cups of tea per day. As for food, I have had to stick to fairly bland stuff, like potato with cheese, pasta with cheese and crackers with cheese. The theme is definitely cheese! I crave it every day! This isn’t unusual for me but I am normally a bit more adventurous with my diet! I have also noticed that I can suddenly just fancy eating something, for example, cheese (!) and pineapple and then I have to have it as soon as possible. Very odd!
Aversion to smells
I am currently intolerant of even the nicest smells. No perfumes for me! I’ve had to change handcream about three times as I can’t cope with the smell of my other ones. The washing smells too strong. You name it, I hate it. As for bad smells, well, let’s not even go there!
So far this has happened at night time particularly, but this morning I noticed dry patches in my mouth. I have tried biotene toothpaste, mouthwash and drinking copious amounts of water. The most effective remedy for me is in fact pineapple juice with lemonade. I can see my sugar intake rocketing at this rate.
This side effect comes second after nausea for being the most annoying for me. I have to pace myself so much and sit down regularly. Not really in my nature!
That just about sums up what I have experienced so far. If you are going through chemo treatment, you may find it’s completely different for you – it all depends on the drugs used and the way we respond as individuals. On the other hand, you may be able to relate to some of the weird stuff that has happened to me this week!
The Breast Care nurse suggested I would probably take a big nosedive after finishing the steroids, and she was very accurate with that. Saturday and Sunday (days 5 and 6) were by far my worst days. I managed a walk today which I take as a sign that things are looking up. Having said that, my immunity is now supposedly at its lowest so I shall be running a mile (slowly of course, as I can’t even walk fast at the moment) from any coughs, sneezes and other lurgies!
Luckily, as ever, I have been surrounded by a brilliant support network: meals cooked by my Mum, messages and visits from family and friends and the fantastic Breast Cancer Care Forum community, who are always ready to answer questions. It’s good to be supported as it certainly hasn’t been a normal week in any way – I couldn’t even make it to the ice hockey.
Let’s see what the next week brings.