Before I was diagnosed with the dirty C bomb, I always pictured being ill and undergoing treatment in a particular way. Many of the side effects of chemo are well known… or are they? I thought it was about time that I busted some of those myths and told it how it really was, well, for me anyway.
1 – Chemo makes you throw up – a lot. MYTH
An hour before I have treatment I’m given a pre med (through the drip) that prevents any feelings of nausea. The following two days, I take a tablet called Kyatrel which extends the effect of the pre med. I’ve been lucky enough not to have thrown up yet. It definitely makes life easier, although the pre meds have their own side effects. (See myth three.)
What chemo does do is make you tired, but I’m not here to whinge and that’s a conversation for another day.
2 – You loose every hair on your body. MYTH
I have eyebrows, eyelashes and sadly my leg hairs haven’t gone anywhere. Whilst I don’t have my long locks anymore, I’m not completely bald. I’m lucky that my good Italian genes provided me with a ridiculous load of hair, because it is getting thin up top, so thin I even beat Dad and my Uncle David in the race of the receding hairlines. But the reason I had to shave my head wasn’t beacuse the bald patches were showing, but because long strands of hair were showing up everywhere, on my clothes, in my bed and always in my food, always!
3 – Cancer patients lose their appetite and therefore lose a lot of weight. DEFINITE MYTH
If there were any perks of cancer, one would think that this would be the winner. However, not the case. Along with anti nausea drugs, I am given steriods as a pre med, and have to take them until day three. It’s no secret that I’ve always been a good eater, but I have never had an appetite as big as this. I am permently hungry; like actually all the time. My clothes are tighter, and my fear of the scales has returned. It just means I need to buy a new Summer wardrobe. Damn…
4 – Chemo leaves you bed ridden. MYTH
This myth is somewhat contraversial, and depending on which member of my family you consult, you will get a variety of answers. I find the first five days of chemo restricting; then each day is better and easier than the last. I don’t have as many springs in my steps as I used to have; and since you’re reading this you’re more than aware of the details of my new normal.
Staying connected, and having reasons to get out of bed everyday have been the encouraging force in allowing me to keep on, keeping on. I try and do at least one thing everyday, and get out of bed as much as possible, even if it is just to move to the couch.
I had a bundle load of questions about treatment, side effects and my reactions; but all the answers were the same. Everybody reacts differently. It’s as frustrating as it is reassuring, but I just take each day as it comes and try to keep the pressure off myself. If one day is less than perfect, it just means tomorrow will be better. Consider those myths busted.