Chemo is such a mental game.
Don’t get me wrong, the physical side effects of putting cytotoxic drugs into your bloodstream aren’t pretty, but the tougher game is in the brain.
The first time I went in for treatment, I was a great big ball of nerves. In the weeks prior, I had armed myself with as much information about chemotherapy as I could muster. I had lists upon lists of the potential side effects, and was absolutely convinced I was going to experience everything from hot flushes to heart failure.
As it played out, my body did endure a hell of a lot in the week following transfusion: nausea that left me unable to eat properly for days, night sweats, unfathomable exhaustion and then a whole host of secondary effects brought on by taking medication to combat the first lot of side effects. I really can’t divulge it all. Bodily functions gone awry are totally off limits – for your sake, and mine!
But chemo comes and chemo goes. By the end of the second week, I really started to feel like my old self again. I had energy to (sort of) keep up with my kids, walk every day and eat all the things I love to eat. I even managed to run a whole kilometre a few days prior to going in for Round Two!
But…you guessed it…just as I found my feet, the next transfusion, a most sinister beacon, loomed on the horizon once again.
SORRY SISTER, YOU’RE GOING DOWN! (And down I did go – again.)
While the symptoms the second time were pretty much identical to those I’d experienced before, what amazed me was the way that my body – and brain – pre-empted them. I was like the classic Pavlovian Dog walking into the Epworth last Wednesday: a wave of nausea hit me even before the chemotherapy drugs touched my veins! Talk about mind over matter!
Today is Day 7, and so while I’m feeling ok, I’m already thinking ahead to the next cycle in 14 days time. How am I going to teach this brain of mine to calm the heck down?