Diagnosed with breast cancer, I was aware about the effects that I would be going through. But there were a few that I didn’t know about.
Things I knew:
1. Chemotherapy can make you sick. Vomiting is a side effect that everyone has. If it’s not food coming back up then, it’s a mucus like substance. Either way, it can put a strain on yourself and your body.
2. Losing your hair. It didn’t take long after my first or second chemo treatment, that I noticed my hair was falling out. Each time I brushed my hair there were more and more hair strands. Eventually, all my hair would fall out (all over my body).
3. You get weak. The most simplest things that you would normally do would now take all your strength. Walking or climbing stairs would make your knees feel like they are going to buckle right out from under you.
4. Shortness of breath. Getting up to walk to the bathroom seemed to be a chore. It would feel as if you couldn’t get enough air into your body. Now, you’re tired and weak and breathing hard.
5. Your taste changes. Many say that a metallic taste stays in their mouth. Everything that you eat or try to eat or drink has a horrible taste to it. I was told not to use silverware when I ate, to buy plastic forks and spoons.
6. You’re always thirsty. There is nothing that can satisfy your thirst now matter how much you try to consume. Water is the best thing, not because it will relieve your thirst, but because you’re going to be drinking so, much that you need something that’s good to put into your body.
7. You can get blood clots. Beware of any physical pain in your legs or arms. Pay attention to sudden bruising. This is not the time to just dismiss any changes in your body.
Things I didn’t Know;
1. The tips of my fingers began to feel like they had fallen asleep. It was the only way that I knew to describe it. They were sensitive and I would often rub my fingers together to get the feeling back in them.
2. My finger nails hurt and started to curl. They began to thin and discolor. When I told the nurse about my finger nails, she told me that I could lose them and my toe nails too. I was often asked if I felt a tingling in either one.
3. Too high of dose of chemo can attach to your skin and eat it from inside out. When I started getting sores all over my body, I just ignored them, thinking that they were mosquito bites. But as time went on I went to see my doctor about them. This is when I learned that my chemo would have to be decreased because it was “eating” through my skin.
4. Confusion. My nurses called this “chemobrain” because most cancer patients had to deal with it. A simple question, forgetting where you’re going or wondering what you came into the store to pick up, are just a few things that you deal with. Some people think that you’re just not listening to them or that you’re doing it on purpose, when the fact is that you’re not.
5. Your eyes water. Often your eyes will just start to water. People may ask you why, you’re crying, when in fact you just have watery eyes. It’s advised to carry a tissue with you or have some nearby.
I’m sure there are a few more things that I haven’t mentioned. We may all deal with our chemotherapy in different ways, but it’s the outcome that counts.