It’s Finally Here: My Very Last Chemo!

It’s Finally Here: My Very Last Chemo!

It’s here. It’s finally here. Tomorrow I will have my very last chemo infusion.

jim carrey celebrate gif

Six months ago, sitting in my hospital room, boobless and sore, I was staring down the barrel of a long, gruelling chemotherapy regimen and wondering how on earth I would get through it all. Still dazed by my sudden swerve into Cancerland, and the speed at which my life had unravelled, all I could do was nod numbly as my Oncologist spoke about my proposed treatment and how it was necessary to poison my body in order to purge it of Cancer. Everything I heard and read left me distressed and scared.

It’s a strange process, Cancer treatment. You have to get sicker in order to get better. The day of my Breast Cancer diagnosis I had been for a long morning run, I had even been to see an Asthma specialist at the Epworth and passed his lung capacity test with flying colours. I was, in my mind, a picture of perfect health! Yet, just hours later I was back in the very same building with a referral to see a Breast Surgeon.

Since then, it’s been a long and difficult road. Chemotherapy is toxic, and it has ravaged my body with countless adverse effects: extreme nausea, vomiting, fatigue, muscle and bone aches, insomnia, a constantly dry mouth, changed taste sensations, mouth ulcers, nose bleeds, hair loss, constipation, diarrhoea, nerve damage, tender fingers and toe nails, dry eyes, watery eyes, weight-loss, night sweats, and a very low immunity. Quite a list, isn’t it? In fact, managing the emotional lead up to each infusion, and the physical fall-out that follows has almost felt like a full-time job. It has hijacked my life, taken over my thoughts, stolen my freedom.

chemo sucks chemo sucks 2

So you’d think that I’d be ecstatic to be emerging out the other side, right?

yes_no_maybe-88610

Well, yes and no. I kind of have mixed feelings.

From a physical viewpoint, I can’t wait to be rid of it! Each time I have gone in for chemo treatment, the smell of the place is so acrid it makes my stomach churn. I watch all the lovely oncology nurses gown up in their purple protective wear, pop on their goggles and gloves before handling the drug mixes and I wince at the fact that while they’re worried about a tiny spill of the stuff, the whole bag of cytotoxic splendour is being pumped through my poor body. The labels on each batch don’t make me feel that great either!

chemo sign

But as each infusion date has been gloriously crossed off my calendar, I count down the hours now, knowing the list of side effects above is mostly behind me. I have made it through the fog and am emerging out the other side, ready to reclaim my lost stamina and get this body of mine moving again. Hair has starting sprouting atop my head again, and although its downy soft, and pure white, it is a small sign that my body is on the mend. If you look hard at the picture below, you might just catch a glimpse of my new fuzz!

kate new hair 3

The flip side of chemo ending is purely an emotional one. Back in January I joked about planning a ‘remission soirée’ to celebrate finishing active treatment. I envisaged partying through to the wee hours with all my favourite people, rejoicing in the idea that I’d kicked cancer to the curb and could get on with my life.

I’ve since come to realise that finishing treatment can actually be a very anxious time for cancer patients. You see, even though chemotherapy is hideous to go through, the impact of its effect on your body, however debilitating, kind of feels good; as if the severity of my side effects is somehow a testament to the drugs’ efficacy. To be released from its guard is scary. Suddenly I am on my own again: Me versus Cancer.

It feels like I’m on the edge of a great precipice about to take a leap of faith, knowing full well there’s no safety net to catch me if I fall. Actually, I kind of feel like this guy, but way less prepared:

Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda walks the high wire from the U.S. side to the Canadian side over the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, June 15, 2012.   (Mark Blinch/Reuters)
Tightrope walker Nik Wallenda walks the high wire from the U.S. side to the Canadian side over the Horseshoe Falls in Niagara Falls, Ontario, June 15, 2012. (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Fortunately, I’m not completely on my own just yet. After tomorrow, I will continue to head in to the Hotel Epworth for tri-weekly infusions of my targeted therapies, Herceptin and Perjeta (aka the wonder drugs), in mid July I start 6 weeks of daily Radiotherapy, and soon enough I’ll be put on some sort of oral Hormone therapy too. So, for now, I am still in the soothing safety net of active treatment, but without the nasty side effects of chemo drugs. So I guess that is a GREAT BIG WIN, isn’t it?

HOORAY FOR MY LAST CHEMO DAY!

keep-calm-celebrate-last-chemo

21 thoughts on “It’s Finally Here: My Very Last Chemo!

  1. Congratulations Kate! So pleased for you to be at the end of this stage of your treatment. Doing a little dance for you, side effects will soon be a memory! As always your writing captures so much!
    Giant gentle hugs xxx Sus

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on your last chemo, yay!!

    You had quite a few side effects, so sorry. My worst was the constipation.

    Like you, I felt worried about finishing chemo treatments. I felt protected with it and a lot less worried. It took me a few weeks to stop the anxiety. Then when I started Tamoxifen, after finishing radiation, I felt better. So as long as I am taking something to help me “control” the situation, I feel OK.

    Good luck tomorrow. It will be a big day! And yes, I can see your hair coming back already.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So I got through it ok. No real celebratory feelings, but I was very glad to walk out of there knowing there were no more chemo infusions to cop. I have had a nasty time of it. Particularly through AC. It was hideous. Taxol has been easier.
      Looking forward to a mini break from treatment and getting rads done. How was that for you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am happy this is over for you (AMEN TO THAT!). AC was the devil naked for me, he wasn’t even dressed so you could imagine how bad it was. Hated it. Taxol was much easier for me. I believe older people do worse with taxol because of the bone/joint pains. Like you, I did not feel like celebrating but felt a bit emotional.

        Radiation was technically the easiest treatment but it was emotionally heavy on me. Perhaps it was because I was starting to realize what was happening to me. I’ve been meaning to write about this maybe I will soon. Be sure to get aquaphor to apply to the skin from day one. Also wear loose clothes. Radiation will be super easy compared to chemo but the skin gets burn so be sure to care for it and avoid the sun on that area. Days will go super quickly! You will do well.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re finished now too!!! The end of chemo is a wonderful thing. I have done a week of radiation so far. It’s frustrating having to go to hospital every day but it’s short at least. Not looking forward to the burns, but I’ve been told it’s far easier to handle than chemo.
      All the best xx

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      1. Yes I am finished with chemo !! I have my set up appointment with radiation tomorrow. I am dreading the daily visits too! But we are both getting close to the finish line!!! Love reading your blog…you are great at putting this experience into words! Best wishes to you as well

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  3. Hi Kate, well done on enduring the chemo and keeping us all informed. All the best with the next series of treatments. See you soon – love from Mike and Jan

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  4. Congratulations! Make sure you set a date down the road to celebrate. It is annoying that you finish but you are so beat up from the chemo that you’re not in any condition to celebrate. I had champagne and sushi about a month and a half after 🙂

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  5. A huge congratulations for completing your last chemo!!!! Your fuzz is beautiful! Mine grew in pure white as well and now there’s black growing underneath. I’m very on trend right now!!! I was thrilled when chemo ended and gave it the middle finger. I’ve heard of people mourning the end of treatment because, despite the side effects, they felt it protected them. I get it. I was the opposite. I wanted it to be as far away from me as possible.
    I hope you find joy and peace in this next stage. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I, too, had VERY mixed feelings about my last chemo. I’m now in the middle of 6 weeks of radiation and though I am eager to be done on the one hand, I’m not so eager to be cast back out into the post-breast cancer treatment world on my own, with months between doctor’s visits, as if I suddenly no longer need to worry about the BIG C and can return to “normal” life– for most of us, life will never be the same as it was pre-cancer (for better and for worse).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I hear you loud and clear. What a strange situation to be in. I find it hard to grapple with the idea that technically after this, in a few weeks time I should be cancer-free. I feel anything but 😦

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  7. Great blog Kate, thanks so much for sharing. Have just finished my last chemo this week gone and currently going through the motions of the final frontier of all the wonderful side effects. I too thought I would rejoice, and, like you and many others, its a bag of rather mixed feelings. Lots of hugs and Zen vibes your way x

    Liked by 1 person

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