Chemotherapy Graduation Day

It’s almost two weeks since I completed chemotherapy. Graduation day was October 29. Just over two months from start to finish.* Time flies even when you’re not having fun.

The mood was much lighter for this final session. I didn’t even mind when they missed my vein not once, but twice. Three attempts to get the IV in and I didn’t freak out. (Ok, I admit, the Ativan was probably mostly responsible for my ‘oh well, shit happens’ calm. My good mood would only go so far on that score.)

My fellow chemo patients and the nurses were all as excited as I was for my final session. It is inspiring for chemo patients to see another patient reach the end of a course of treatment. During my second session a fellow patient was on their last round, and I know my hope rose when I saw someone else finish. Now it was my turn. Not a moment too soon, let me just say! Let the hair regrowth begin. 🙂

As predicted, recovery from this final round has taken a bit longer, mostly due to lingering fatigue. It’s not there all the time – but there are days I’m more tired than others at the end of the day – and that didn’t happen the first three rounds. I’ve still been able to do boot camp and yoga, but I ran out of steam yesterday and missed body sculpt class.

One of the biggest things I learned to do during chemo was pay attention to my body. It’s an amazingly adaptive thing. Before chemo started, I’d never have guessed it would figure out how to handle the assault of poisons infused into my system every three weeks. It had a little help from the drugs they prescribe to manage the worst of the side effects. But, I believe the main reason I was able to cope as well as I did was due to the response my body mounted to cope with the cytotoxins. Once it figured out what to do, it just did it.

As I’ve said previously in lessons learned, all of the things I did to help my system recover as quickly as possible as naturally as possible also helped. The most important thing was drinking lots of water – at least three litres daily. Water helped flush things out, and it also kept me hydrated.

Now I have a month off to let my body recover. I start radiation therapy at the beginning of December, and should finish December 24. More about radiation therapy in my next post.

 

* Most chemotherapy protocols consist of one cytotoxin administered over 8 to 12 sessions, each session three weeks apart. My protocol consisted of two cytotoxins per session instead of one, administered every three weeks for four sessions. I got Docetaxel and Cyclophosphamide each session – Cyclophosphamide first over 40 minutes, then Docetaxel over one hour. Both are highly toxic and that meant my protocol is one of the most toxic ones they give. A friend who was on a typical six month protocol said that I got all of the side effects she got during her treatment, except I got them all at once, and she got hers one at a time related to the drug she was on for that 3 or 4 dose course (she got four drugs, each of which she got four times, three weeks apart).

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