Chemo Week 1 is Complete!

Chemo Week 1 is Complete!

About an hour ago I took my seventh dose of chemo. And that means I’ve officially completed my first 7 days of temozolomide. Chemo week 1 down. Only 3 more weeks to go!

Only.

I’ve been chronicling the day-by-day over on Twitter. If you’re interested in reading about my treatment on the micro level, you can check out the threads there. (You shouldn’t need to have an account to read them, only to interact with them.) Here are the links for your convenience:

Day 1
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4
Day 5
Day 6
Day 7

The good news, I suppose, is that I did not have an adverse reaction to the chemotherapy. I was pretty sure I would be okay with the low dose—which is why I said I was willing to do it—but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little scared about the possibility of another bad reaction. When that first dose didn’t turn my lips blue and cause me to break out in hives, I was breathing a little easier. (But only figuratively. Chemo fatigue is one hundred percent for real.)

After considering everything in context now, I think what landed me in the ER in 2017 on the adjuvant dose was that it was just TOO MUCH. My body has always been super sensitive to medications, and I think that whole episode was my body’s way of telling doctors not to prescribe my medications by whatever weight criteria they typically use.

Nothing about me or my diagnosis is typical. Nothing at all.

The bad news is that chemo is still chemo, and there are side effects, and they are not fun. Around Day 3 I was completely miserable because I couldn’t poop. (Oh, I’m sorry. If you want cancer glam, you have arrived at the wrong blog.) And as someone who has IBS, I can tell you I much prefer to have IBS-D than IBS-C. With diarrhea, the symptoms maybe disabling, but they are acute and over by noon. With constipation, it feels like the dam will never break, and it is painful and nauseating and depressing. I am so much better—mentally—at handling IBS-D. But waiting for the Senekot to work is not something I excel at doing.

Chemo is a bitch, and it screws up everything it touches. The way the pharmacist explained it was like this:

Chemo targets the fastest growing cells in the body because: cancer. Cancer cells grow quickly and so the chemo targets fast growing cells. The problem is, it’s not great at targeting cancer cells specifically. So other cells that turnover quickly are affected too. Hair cells, gut cells, skin cells. And that leads to things like hair loss, GI distress, rashes, etc. Anyway, that’s how I understand it.

There has been some more good news this week. First of all, every physical item in my Amazon chemo wishlist has so far been fulfilled. (People are wonderful sometimes, aren’t they?) If something comes up later, I might add to it. I did have GrubHub and Instacart e-mail delivery gift cards on it before, but I can’t seem to get them back. I don’t know what gives, but I do know that I am too tired to try and make it work. Anyway, with Dan and I both out of commission right now, those are super helpful. (Dan got his meds this week, finally. But he has to give himself injections and his body is currently…adjusting? maybe? to the new medication. It’s not exactly a fun time for him, but that’s his story to tell.)

I also—just this morning—reached the $5k mark on my GoFundMe. And if you’ve donated to or shared that campaign or both, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. It’s nice to not have to worry about how to pay for stuff while I do chemo. If you don’t know, just trust me. It’s a huge relief to be like, “Wow, I don’t have to stress about this one!”

Did I say thank you? Thank you.

I’m reaching the part of the day where my eyes get really heavy and I fall back asleep, so I’m going to go rest now.

Oh, I almost forgot: my first week labs were good. All counts within range. Basically, we want them in range the whole time, because if anything gets too low, we might have to postpone chemo for a little bit and finish it after the numbers come back up. We don’t want that because we don’t want to drag this thing out, right? We just want to get it over with. But I’ll let you know if the lab numbers get wonky.

OK, really signing off this time. Hope you all have a good one, and I’ll report back here probably next week, unless there’s some reason to post sooner.

Peace, love, and vaccines. (I’m team Pfizer from way back in March, and I’m not magnetized.)

Got $10 and want to help Emily? Here are the ways you can donate:

GoFundMe
paypal.me/EmilySuess
CashApp: $EmilySuess
Venmo: @EmilySuess

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