"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me".kjv
Chemotherapy. Poison or life? There are many debates about chemotherapy treatments. Their benefits and their harmfulness.
This blog post is not to join in the debate. As I said at the beginning of my blogging journey, my aim is simply to share my whole journey with the hope that it will bring some encouragement and assistance to my readers who may want to know what to expect going through a cancer challenge.
The chemo treatment was one of the hardest things I have had to go through medically. I had a lot of anxiety leading up to my first treatment. I had in the past seen movies about people going through treatment and the effect it had on their bodies. I had also seen friends and family who had treatments and the effect it had on them. The fatigue, nausea, vomiting, loss of hair and diminished self confidence because of how you look and other debilitating side effects.
It is not an easy thing to go through but it is a decision you have to make. I would say if your cancer is at an advanced stage that is more than 0-1, you want to be more aggressive in treatment. That is strictly my opinion. Personally, I did not want to take the chance of having the cancer spread because I was diagnosed at stage 2 going to stage 3. It had already progressed to my lymphatic system. I had 2 young children. I chose to throw everything at the disease to make it go away. I did not believe that anything other than prayer and chemo could cure me so that is the route I took. If your cancer is not very advanced, you may have a wider choice of treatment options. Again, that is just my opinion.
The actual chemo treatments were not that bad. I did blood work before the treatment to ensure that my blood count was not too low. If my blood work came back okay I would go ahead with the treatment.
My treatments were given through a device in my chest called a port. The chemo port is a small, implantable reservoir with a thin silicone tube that attaches to a vein. It's main advantage is that it delivers the chemo drugs directly into the port rather than a vein thereby eliminating the need for needle sticks.
The actual treatments were quite uneventful. The subsequent side effects though could be pretty nightmarish. My struggle was particularly with joint pain and loss of appetite because I could not taste or smell my food. The joint pain was indescribable. Sometimes I felt like, I had been restrained on a rack and my bones were being stretched to the limit until I felt they were going to break. The level of pain I was experiencing was mostly my fault. I had been given pain killers to deal with the pain but because of my fear of becoming dependent on the pain medication, I refused to take them. After going through one agonizing experience, I started taking the medication when I needed it. The pain became manageable and controlled so I did not have to take doses that will result in my being dependent on them. I actually went through my year and a half of treatment and still had half of my original bottle of tylenol extra strength at the end of my treatments. I only had to use the narcotics prescribed a couple of times .
The side effects would usually hit a couple of days after the treatment and last for about a week and a half. I had treatments once every three weeks. I had many days when I was well enough to enjoy things I liked to do. I hang out with friends. I even organized and attended my church's children musical concert and raised some money for instruments for the children's ministry. I started the Canada chapter of my high school alumni group with some of the members here in Canada. I continued to go to church and sometimes led praise when I was strong enough. Only a few people even knew I had cancer and was having treatments. I was and am very thankful that my will to enjoy life was not diminished by my ordeal.
Life goes on. Although the treatment was harsh, I was consoled by the fact that it was necessary to keep me alive and eventually healthy for my kids. We need courage to go through some of life's challenges to experience our victories. There is always light at the end of a tunnel.