The last time I posted was March 9th. Today is May 8th. I have had three chemo treatments and am coming up on the fourth and final one on May 16th. Let me just say that my words from the last blog post about God being with me every step of the way still hold strong and true. Yes, it’s gotten more difficult with each treatment, but with the difficulty comes the strength of His love and basis for my faith. My faith is built upon a strong, strong foundation…and all that I’ve been through the past 18 months simply shores up that foundation and makes it stronger than ever.
I find it difficult to write posts like this and on Facebook sometimes because I have friends who are going through SO much more than I am right now. But I feel that I am being led to share my experience, from nausea to bald head to mastectomy recovery, so that maybe one other person out there will be led to lean on God. If that happens, then this has all been worth the pain and suffering.
There are so many things a chemo patient goes through that I never even considered before. Everyone knows about the nausea and losing your hair. I didn’t realize before my chemo that not everyone loses their hair. It depends on the chemo drugs you get. Most breast cancer patients do lose their hair because they get Taxotere, one of the main chemo drugs that causes hair loss. And I always thought you lost your hair simply because chemo is poison. This is not the case. Chemo targets the fast growing cells in the body, which cancer cells are. But so are your hair cells and your nail cells. Thus why you lose your hair and your nails go to pot.
I’ve also learned a lot about the side effects of chemo, which aren’t just nausea, vomiting and hair loss. You also get mouth sores. Not pleasant. And restless legs. But for every side effect, my awesome doctor has an answer. Miracle Mouth Wash!!! Truly a miracle! Basically a mixture of Lydocaine, Benedryl, Maalox and Nystatin, it kills off the yeast in your mouth which causes the sores, numbs it with the Lydocaine, hits you with the allergy medicine and Maalox which is soothing to the mouth too. I’d like to keep it around after this is over just to have on hand…it’s awesome stuff!!!
Also, the restless legs. If you’ve never had restless legs…they’re awful! You can get no sleep and if you do fall to sleep, you’re awakened by your legs literally jumping. It feels like little ants crawling under your skin; simply awful! I’ve only ever had restless legs when I had severe anemia. Well, I’m not anemic so I mentioned it at a recent appointment and immediately got a Rx for something to help out with the RLS (restless leg syndrome).
There are other infections I’ve gotten along the feminine line (you can guess if you are paying attention to the details of this post!), and I’ve got medicine for that too. Anything they can do to relieve your discomfort during chemo, a good oncologist will address. And quickly. I am sure I have the most amazing oncologist, at least in the Atlanta area. Dr. Jayanthi Srinivasiah is a well-established and accomplished oncologist and hematologist. I met her almost ten years ago when I had severe anemia before my hysterectomy in 2006. I had to have a series of iron infusions before my surgery to get my hemoglobin up. Just last year, right before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I had to have another series of iron infusions for anemia caused by bleeding I had after a colon resection. Obviously Dr. Jay was my first choice; no thoughts about it actually. Literally just as I was over the iron infusions and about to go in for my follow-up appointment with Dr. Jay, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. When I went in for my follow-up appointment and told her I had breast cancer, we didn’t even discuss the anemia again! It was resolved and I was actually feeling great. Thank goodness I went for my yearly mammogram last October 16th. I did put it off four months after the year I’d been through, but when October rolled around it reminded me because October is breast cancer awareness month. So I had the appointment, went through a series of multiple scans and biopsies, and was officially diagnosed on November 4th, 2016 with Stage 1, multi-focal, invasive ductal carcinoma. I felt like I was in the twilight zone. This was the kind of thing that happened to other people, right? Not me. Wrong.
I thank God every day for what I’ve been through. It makes me who I am. The support I’ve received from family, friends, friends of family and friends, has been nothing short of amazing. The prayers that have lifted me up have been the thing that keeps me going. And I will be forever grateful to those who have lifted me with that one little word or two: “lifted” or “praying” or “prayers.” Many people don’t like Facebook and the invasion of privacy. Guess what? Anything can be used for good if you are looking at it through God’s eyes. I am humbled by the people who have sent me cards, reached out to me on FB and kept me in their prayers. The breast cancer survivors, especially from my hometown, have been amazing. If I hadn’t posted on FB that I had BC, they wouldn’t have known to reach out and had such an easy way of contacting me. Their messages and chats, and answers to my many questions about mastectomy and what follows, and chemo, have been more help than they will ever know!
I feel as though I’m rambling right now but I felt led to write a post…so here it is. Rambling or not, hopefully someone will be touched in some way, reach out to me or someone else if they have been diagnosed and need help, or simply pray to God to help them through this difficult time when they might not have otherwise. God is always good. Always. And what people don’t realize is that God always answers our prayers. We just have to be willing to accept “no” as an answer sometimes. I prayed that I wouldn’t have to have chemo. But the answer was “no.” And that’s OK because God is using it to His good and touching someone through me. I fully believe that. God uses us all during times like these and it’s up to us to lean on Him as He asks us to, using our lives as a testimony to His love.