Today, Tuesday, September 22 is the day! (Ignore the above date...that was an ill-fated attempt to blog on Sunday) Today is the last day of my Chemotherapy treatments. I am excited to say that these last treatments with Taxol have been quite bearable. In doing my research, I read that doing 12 lower doses of Taxol as opposed to 4 high dose treatments is just as effective...and has significantly fewer side effects. Well, having had one high does that nearly killed me and so far 8 lower doses, I would definitely have to suggest to anyone who is about to start with Taxol...go with the lower doses. While it has been no picnic, it has been bearable. I have numb tingly feet, but I have taken many vitamins and supplements to help keep that to a minimum. I have had some nerve pain and headaches. I wake up nauseous and when I get worn out I get nauseous again. Heartburn, constipation, sleepless nights, exhaustion, body aches, fatigue, depressed mood, weird sores on my hands, mouth sores and many other side effects have plagued me...but they were so much better than the first 2-3 months that I am grateful that was all.
I think one of the most annoying side effects is the loss of my taste. Believe it or not, I can put a glob of salt on my tongue and barely, if at all, detect it. I can taste sweet...which you might think, considering my sugar addiction, that would be great, however the yummy sweet things usually have some salty, savory element to them that make them especially yummy...think cookies you forget to put salt in. Even a sugar junkie wants to taste something else other than sweet. It has also been so annoying when I go to a restaurant, forgetting that my taste buds are dead, and anticipating a delicious meal, only to realize while waiting that I won't be able to taste it. That happened on a number of occasions...and it really was depressing. I never realized how important our sense of taste is to our happiness. I even served some juice to my family that, although I had just guzzled a glass of it, they assured me it was fermented. (I sure slept well that night.) Eating good food is fun...when you can't taste it, well...it's not. (No...not being able to taste hasn't caused me to lose weight either.) I'll be glad to get my taste back..and just in time for the holidays!
After today's treatment, I will probably feel kind of yucky for about a week, then I will be on my way back to health. I am excited to begin to be more active...maybe take up the couch to 5K challenge again. Next month, Ron and I are going to take a vacation. This has been a long year and I think we need it. We are thinking Washington DC... I bet it will be beautiful in the Fall. Then, after about a month off, I will begin radiation treatments. These will be every day Monday thru Friday for about 6-8 weeks. I think I will be done before Christmas! I don't expect the radiation to be too bad. I hear they make you a little tired and the burn spot gets irritated and can crack, but there are creams for that. I am just looking forward to feeling back to my old self.
So in about 2 hours I will receive my last chemo treatment. I reflect back on how I felt on my first chemo day, the dread, the fear, the unknown...I never imagined the last day. If I could go back and talk to my fearful self on April 7th of this year... I wouldn't tell her...you have much to fear. I wouldn't tell her that you will be more miserable than you ever have been in your life. I wouldn't tell her it's worse than you have imagined... although true, that would terrify her, and she's already pretty scared. She has a good reason to be afraid...it really was bad...at least the first 3 months.. I think instead I would tell her, it will be hard...but you are strong, and when you feel like you can do this no longer, God will strengthen you beyond your natural ability to cope. I would tell her you have many people praying for you and supporting you, and YOU CAN DO THIS. I would tell her that it will get better. I would tell her that this will give you insight and experience that you never wanted, but along with that you will also gain compassion and understanding that can only come with experience. I would tell her how nice people will be; how people will turn their kinder sides toward her; how even strangers will hug her and pray for her and give her encouragement through it all. I would tell her of growth...the kind of growth that only comes through the enduring of hard things. I would tell her that it will feel like a very long time, but it will end. And then I would just hold her and we would cry together...