Chemo is poison. Literally, that’s what it is. Poison that kills the bad stuff – the cancer cells. So, it’s poison for a purpose. But poison is poison. It kills a lot of the good stuff too. And it’s disgusting and I long for the last day of my last round when I walk out of the hospital and never have to return for treatment.
It may sound as if I had a rough ride through Round 2, however that was largely not the case. There have definitely been some lows, but so many highs as well… The reality is, this journey was never going to be easy, but so far, knock on wood, I’ve been pretty darn lucky. All things considered, round two of both treatment and recovery (aka freedom) were more or less smooth sails and, for the most part, I felt great, yet I did encounter a couple minor bumps in the road, when I felt, well, disgusting, for a couple days…
‘Treatment: Round two,’ over Memorial Day weekend (what a way to spend a holiday), went swimmingly – privacy, quiet, calm – up until the last evening when they brought my anti-nausea medication an hour and a half late. When I’m receiving treatment they pre-medicate me with anti-nausea pills at the start of each new chemo bag, but because round two began without a hitch, again they sped up my last three bags of chemo. With the timing shifted up, and probably because it was evening on Memorial Day and the hospital was lower on staff, I got my meds well after the last bag had started. So I got my first taste of proper chemo nausea. I didn’t feel the need to run to the loo or anything, but I could not fathom the thought of ingesting anything. Even water was difficult. Finally the meds came, and a couple hours later (at about 9:30pm…) my appetite returned. I ate a bizarre dinner of oatmeal, almond butter, and a soft boiled egg that evening. I turned in for the night with a somewhat satisfied stomach yet disgruntled by the situation and desperate for morning and my impending release.
The next day brought my next round of freedom, yet not without a threat of postponement.. Needless to say I was less than pleased – I just wanted OUT. My blood work came back showing alarmingly high levels of creatinine, which typically indicates kidney damage/ disfunction. The oncologist and two PAs came to inform me and ordered more blood be drawn as well as an ultrasound, which would inevitably delay my release… no no no! On top of that, I was confused and concerned – what could have happened!? My potassium and magnesium levels had been low the day prior, but after an extra dozen pills or so they had returned to normal… What on earth!? I felt fine, I was on top of this whole side effect thing (for the most part)… and I don’t get seriously sick or have serious health issues! Well, I don’t, aside from this whole ‘malignancy of my lymphatic system’ thing. It had to be a false alarm.
In the meantime, my final chemo bag, which runs for just an hour in conjunction with the last bit of my 24 hour bag, was hooked up to my other PICC line. The chemo finished, I packed my things, and just before a quick shower to wash the hospital off of me, I received word that it was in fact a false alarm – there was an error in the analysis and my creatinine levels were absolutely fine – phew! Delay avoided, crisis averted.
Although the shower revived me, I must confess that by the time I arrived back home, the mild nausea/ lack of appetite set in again. I tried some magic potions (ginger tea and ginger candies) and overcame the nausea. I determined to make some Magic Mineral Broth the next day, and fortunately that morning I woke up feeling fantastic. I had breakfast and a light lunch and hopped in the car to get the necessary organic produce and a green juice. All good. But, literally as soon as I walked back through the door, I had to go straight to bed. I lay there for a while in steady discomfort, and then all of a sudden I had to jump up and run to the bathroom. I’ll skip the details, but, fortunately, that is the one and only time thus far that my stomach staged a revolt.
The following days my mild loss of appetite somewhat improved and I focused on healing through a mild yet detoxing diet. More than anything, though, I just felt disgusting. I felt like the chemo drugs were seeping from my every pore and with every inhale I could smell the hospital and the drugs. I felt foul. At first I thought it was the hospital smell that had infiltrated my belongings so I threw everything in the wash (which is a matter of course post-hospital anyway) but that did not solve the issue… I realized it was me.
Chemo, although it works quite wonderfully for my malignancy, is filthy and foul and I became desperate to get it out of my body. Diet wasn’t working quickly enough so I racked my brain and thought I’d try a detox bath – the ideal solution since I love baths and really wanted to take one anyway – and a quick google search revealed the perfect concoction: an apple cider vinegar and epsom salt bath with lavender essential oil to sooth the senses. Apparently, apple cider vinegar specifically draws uric acid from the body, and uric acid builds up as the cancer cells die off and create waste in the blood. I found epsom salts with lavender essence already infused, so there we go, detox bath sorted. I drew the bath as hot as I could stand and stayed in for a very, very long time. The hotter and longer the bath, the more effective the detox will be.
That day happened to be my mom’s birthday and my sister and I were taking her out for dinner, so I needed at the very least to not feel nauseous. Lo and behold… the bath worked! Completely. I felt cleansed from the inside out and I could breath without a wave of disgust washing over me. We first stopped at the bridal salon so my sister could try on her dress for the first time – wow it’s perfect – and had a delicious seafood dinner, which yes I could eat!! We had a lovely girls’ night and I had found my solution – detox bath immediately when I return home from each treatment! Fingers crossed it continues to work its magic.
The remainder of my ‘Freedom: Round Two’ flew by very quickly, between my endless medical to-dos, organizing, and planning for my sister’s bridal shower. But, in addition to the onerous paperwork and maddening phone calls with insurance, I did manage to fit in plenty of healing relaxation and fun projects… more on these later!
And, I did receive some excellent news – treatment is working tremendously well and I’ve responded very quickly: the growth shrank by 86%, and activity levels in the mass dwindled by 87%! Woohoo!!! Thrilled doesn’t begin to describe it. The good news, however, was tempered by the fact that I must go through all six rounds of treatment regardless… Ugh.
This journey comes with many frustrations, but I strive to remain focused on healing and the light at the end of the tunnel. And in the meantime, I am attempting to soak up all the lessons to be learned, the wisdom shared with me, the stories and fighting spirits of the wonderful cancer fighters and conquerors I meet, and the abundance of positivity and love that surrounds me…. As well as the sunshine, because summer is finally here!!!
Amanda, you continue to inspire and amaze me. I would hope to have a fraction of your courage, fortitude, resilience and grace if I were ever in a similar situation.
Thank you Ellen!
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