When I first found out I had cancer my first question was, "will I need chemo". I watch movies, tv, read books so I knew what chemo was. I knew that it made people extremely sick, caused them to lose hair and was basically HORRIBLE. I was more terrified by the chemo than I was by the cancer itself.
I wasn't too concerned about radiation, surgery or life in the hospital. My main focus was the chemo therapy. I had absolutely no idea what to expect but it frightened me. Well here is the skinny on Chemo for those of you who haven't faced it.
There are many different types of chemo therapy. Oncologists chose what type they will give you based on all sorts of information, what type of cancer you have, what other treatments you are receiving etc....Every type of chemotherapy has different side effects and every person reacts differently to each type. There are also many ways to recieve chemotherapy. Some chemo is taken orally while others are administered by IV. Just like cancer, chemotherapy cannot just be lumped into one category.
My chemotherapy day was Friday. This is how it works. If you are getting chemo via IV you have a day that you receive your treatments. Its always the same day every week. Normally you are taken to a reclining chair. I received treatments at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. At Dana there is a floor where chemo is administered. On this floor there are many many chairs. The only thing that separates your chair from another persons are curtains. There is a small amount of space, just enough for the cancer patient and a loved one to keep them company.
As you may know many people fighting cancer do so while living their day to day lives as well. People fighting cancer go to work, parent, attend college etc...Many times I saw men & women in their suits, mom's and dads who just dropped their kids off at school etc...Myself, I was only well enough to be in a chair for my first administration of chemo. I was very sick throughout my entire treatment. I didn't work, didn't attend school, didn't do very much of anything. Because I was so sick I had my treatments while laying in a hospital bed. I was on the same floor as the chemo chairs, my area was still seperated by the curtains the only difference was I layed in a bed.
The entire process takes many many hours. For me the usual time was between 6-8 hours. First they give you hydration, then the chemo, then more hydration and many times anti neasua. Its a long process. Many times I slept through most of it because I was also on heavy duty pain medications. I can't imagine how hard it was for my supporters who had to sit for so many hours watching me suffer, watching so many people fight against cancer.
My chemo was cisplatin. The side effects of this form of chemo includes severe form of kidney impairment and hearing loss. I did not lose my hair. It was funny because I was certain that when one gets chemo they lose their hair but not every form of chemo has this side effect. My kidneys were watched very carefully. If you have been reading my posts you will know that my tumor caused major problems with both my kidneys. So my kidneys were closely monitored to be sure they didn't fail. I did not lose my hearing. However, I do get ringing in my ears every now and then. Some days my hearing is better than others but for the most part I am fine. Yes I also suffered from the throwing up, neasua etc...Every chemotherapy has that side effect, can't be avoided. But it was doable. I did it, you can do it too. And, the good news is when you are done with treatments you will start feeling better and it will become a distant memory soon enough!
If you have had, having or going to have chemo please comment to this post and share your experience.