When I started chemo it was really rough, I wasn’t sure how I could possibly handle 16 weeks of it. I felt hopeless and wanted to give up. It got a little easier after that treatment, but it still definitely had its very difficult moments. I never went as low as I did that first treatment, but it’s been a very tough 16 weeks. It was a unique experience in that not only were the physical side effects difficult, but it’s also really hard mentally dealing with getting better just to get sick again over and over again.
Now I’ve had my last treatment. It was a long day, 10:50am-7pm and I had a reaction to the taxol again even though they loaded me up with even more allergy meds. There was about an hour where I was really worried that they were going to have to stop the treatment and I’d have to come back. Pretty upsetting on the last treatment, especially because I am transitioning to my new Louisiana insurance on Jan 1. Thankfully I made it through and was the last patient there. However that didn’t stop the awesome nurses from making a fuss over me and helping me celebrate the end of my treatment.
During my taxol chemo I’ve been downloading a movie per session to watch because it’s tough to read when pumped full of benadryl and especially with the allergic reactions I’ve been having. I try and pick ones that are easy to watch. For my last treatment I picked the Notebook because I’ve wanted to see it for years and I figured A. wouldn’t be sad to miss it. For years I’ve been hearing about how romantic this movie is and how great it is. I’m female and have a pulse so I love Ryan Gosling and I also love Rachel McAdams. So after years of buildup I watched the Notebook and… thought it was terrible. I think that ends my brief chapter of Nicholas Sparks movies for good.
So what are my next steps? I meet with my oncologist in about three weeks and then I meet with the physician’s assistant that runs the survivor program a couple of weeks after that (you can come with me Mom). These meetings will be to check in on how I’m recovering from chemo and next steps. The plan is that I will come in for an exam every three months for the first couple of years. These don’t involve scans, they’ll probably include a blood test to see how all of my levels are (like they do before chemo) and a physical exam. Chemo side effects differ from person to person. Some people feel some of the side effects for years, here’s hoping that’s not me. It looks like I can expect an inch of hair in two months, dream big right? So those of you that are sorry to see the wigs go, worry not. They’ll be around for a while longer.
My immune system should be healthier in 4-6 weeks, although it will take a few months to get back to full strength. I can have sushi in a month. I guess that will be my celebration dinner. They told me that I can have my champagne as soon as I feel up to it, so hopefully when our friends are in town in a few weeks. I felt awesome getting out of that last chemo appointment, but one lesson I have learned through my weeks of getting poisoned is don’t overdue it. It’s tough not being able to go balls to the wall and celebrate this being over, but I’m going to be patient.
I am so happy to have made it this far and not to have to do chemo anymore, but it’s far from over. I have to get through my side effects, grow some hair, and figure out what being a survivor means. The reoccurrence risk is scary, especially for the first couple of years and I’ll have to figure out how to live with that without it being a dominant part of my life. I also have my reconstruction surgery still pending, I’m getting a third opinion with a plastic surgeon who looks promising and is affiliated with my hospital. I haven’t met him yet, but I’m hoping he’s the one because that would simplify things for me.
I do have some amazing things right now happening to help me make the transition. I think it will be a little like after you have your wedding. You’ve spent months being in cram mode getting everything done and focusing so much time and energy on this one thing that is now over. We’re moving into our new place on Friday and hopefully bringing home a puppy on Saturday. These will give me things to focus on and re-prioritize, especially when one of them is a new life that needs help learning about the world.
Goodbye 2014 and goodbye chemo.