Thursday, August 13, 2009

One Year On Chemo

One year ago yesterday, I started chemo. It’s hard to believe but I’ve heard of others who’ve been doing it for over five years. Wow … where do they find the strength and courage?

The first nine months of my chemo were difficult. The side effects were intense. I wondered how much longer I could continue with that treatment. Thank goodness the oncologist monitored my symptoms as she eventually made the decision that it was time to cut the dosage back by 25%. At first I was angered by this decision but now I look back and realize it was the right one. I now have more energy, have a clearer mind and more quality of life. Overall, I’m still pretty weak in my legs and lower back and standing for any length of time or walking any distance is a challenge.

On a positive note, two of the largest tumors have had some shrinkage with all others being stable.

Throughout the year I’ve also experienced some setbacks … one of the same tumors that had previously shown shrinkage has also showed some growth. My central line catheter on my chest became infected and we had to have it removed. More recently I developed lymphedema in right arm likely due to the infection caused by my catheter. With that I have to wear a compression sleeve and glove. After having a PICC line inserted in my left arm, I had a chlorhexidine burn which required special care and attention. Chlorhexidine is a chemical antiseptic and it appears I’m allergic to it. On a really minor note, I acquired my first ever plantars wart likely caused by my weakened immune system.

The side effects I now experience that are more closely related to the chemo and meds include: indigestion, mild nausea and mild diarrhea, a stuffy, runny and sometimes bloody nose, and disturbed sleeps and fatigue.

Also I have an accumulation of fluid in my lungs. I think it is called pleural effusion. I have developed hand foot syndrome which affects my feet more than my hands. I feel sensitively and numbness on the bottom of my feet. My hands appear to be pretty good. On a separate note, chemo has caused some of my finger nails to discolor and start lifting. Some days they are sensitive and others not so much. I also have watery eyes that tend to give me grief. Oh yes, I almost forgot, I have … hair loss.

Overall I’m amazed at what the body can take.


WhiteStone said...

Actually, I'm amazed at what you breast cancer patients can endure! My treatment for ovarian included six sessions, 3 weeks apart. I can't imagine enduring as much as you all seem to endure. God bless you in all ways!

Sue in Italia/In the Land Of Cancer said...

You are so strong to have done this for a year. I feel so bad about whining about my 4 months of chemo, I couldn't imagine dealing with this for so long but I see that you have to. I am glad that you have recovered some of your physical strength. Let's hope that the tumors don't grow any more.

Peggy said...


Wow you have been through so much.
I have not started any treatment yet and if/when I do, I just hope that I have half the courage that you do!!!
Hugs and visualizing your remaining tumors shrinking!

Roxanne said...

You, my friend, are one TOUGH COOKIE!

Anastasia said...

A YEAR of chemo? Holy cow!
Daria, you ARE amazing.
May the tumors shrink and shrink and shrink some more!
Blessings :) :) :)

Megan said...

It is amazing what the human body can endure. I admire your courage in fighting this battle.

Michelle said...

Wow. Mum has a lot of these issues too, and she only did four cycles, so I guess the cancer causes some of it.


Michelle said...

You have been through so much. A year is a long time. The side affects just stink...I can relate. I have one eye that just waters constantly. It drives me mad!
I always have a tissue up my sleeve...grandma taught me that!
You are amazing!

Sara Diana said...

I have been feeling sorry for myself recently with other breast cancer patients starting treatment after me and finishing before with 6 sessions. Me? I will have had 12 chemo sessions in all over a period of 6 months. Short time, I know BUT the 12 canulisations have taken a toll on me not only physically but emotionally too.

I have been thanking God over recent days for my wonderful wonderful body! I have endured this chemo, I still have periods! I still funcion (just about) and my arm veins are only just holding out for me! I kissed my arm last night!

You are very strong and very brave, I admire you so much.

Keep strong Daria.
Peace be with you x

nollyposh said...

You are one strong girlfriend that's for sure! You must have a wonderfully adept immune system too to cope with all of that... You go girl xox

Jill said...

Daria, you are definitely one strong lady and I get a lot of strength from you by reading your blog. Tonight is the Lights of Courage (for cancer) here at the dragon boat races. I have a lantern that I am going to hang there for everyone that has been affected by cancer.These lanterns are quite something to see and read with all the messages hanging from them.
Stay strong Daria.:)

Anonymous said...

just continue to be strong and fight it out all the way my friend