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4 weeks post-chemo

September 17, 2018

It’s been four weeks since I had my last chemo treatment. I feel good. Almost normal, whatever that means (I still have three kids.) After this last treatment, I had a surprising amount of pain in my mouth. It felt like I had eaten something really acidic and had burned the inside of my mouth. It was really painful for a couple weeks, and I still have some lingering pain. At this point, though, I’m wondering if it is still chemo related or if it’s something else. I’m also still having some intestinal issues, but other than that, I feel decent.

The week of my that treatment was the last week that my sister Joy and her family were here from China, and all my siblings were in town for some of that week. I think because of that, the end of chemo kind of slid by. Don’t get me wrong – we were all happy and celebrated, but there were a lot of other things going on.

It’s also a strange thing in that while we were all happy chemo was done and it was great to ring the bell, I knew I still had at least a couple weeks of feeling bad before this part was really, really over. At my last appointment, Dr. Z gave me time frames ranging from 5 weeks to 6 months for different effects to subside. (I can’t remember what was at 5 weeks, but neuropathy was up to 6 months.) So August 20 was the beginning of the end instead of the absolute end.

In the last few days, I’ve been thinking about how I’ve just moved on to the next thing and wondering how I can more properly appreciate and recognize the end of chemo. It’s crazy how when you start something, it feels like it’s going to last forever. Chemo is going to take four months! We’ll be into the next school year before I’m done. And then one days I realize it’s been over for almost a month. I’m not really sure exactly what I’m looking for here. Probably to be more grateful. You know how when we are in pain we cry and beg and pray for the pain to be gone, and then when it is gone, we practically forget about the whole thing? Or is that just me?

I saw Dr. Z again today. Routine visit to make sure everything was normal. It took two nurses to get my blood. There wasn’t any blood return in my port so after a lot of trying, she went to my arm. Couldn’t get any blood there even after a disturbing and distressing amount of wiggling and prodding with the needle. She called another nurse who started on my wrist while she went back to my port, and they both got blood at the same time. Gah… It was awful.

Thankfully, he said all my blood work looks good. I’ll see him again in 6 weeks and have a CT scan in mid-October. He seemed apologetic for the frequency of scans, but said in light of the nature of my cancer, he wanted to do that. I am very grateful for the scans though. I don’t know how long it will be before I really take comfort in a clean scan.

I have my appointment tomorrow where I’ll get set up for radiation. I’m hoping I will start October 1. That was the date the doctor and I talked about in June since we have fall break next week and wanted to go out of town. She said as long as I had my scans beforehand, it would be fine. The plan is to do radiation 5 days a week for 6 weeks. Because of the lymph node involvement, they will not only radiate my breast area, but will also do the lymph nodes under my breast bone and collar bone and in my armpit. The main side effect I hear about is exhaustion with skin problems being right behind. It’s like getting a slight sunburn every day, but some people get really bad burns. I hope that I’ll respond to radiation as well as I did to chemo, but I’m not going to worry about it right now.

That’s for tomorrow and next month. Today, I am grateful for air conditioning and a husband who gets carried away when there’s a wine sale. I’m grateful that I can take all three girls into the grocery store and not feel insane at the end of it. I’m grateful that I never lost my appetite or struggled with nausea over the last many months and will do my best to see my too-small clothes as the blessed result of that. I’m grateful for the okra plants and beautiful zinnias that my parents planted months ago and are still making our mouths and eyes happy.

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