Surviving Phase 1: 6 Chemo, 6 Weeks of… Well, Let’s Talk About It

Chemotherapy Side Effects

Phase 1 – six weeks, six chemo sessions. Sounds like a Netflix series title, doesn’t it? Except, there’s nothing scripted about this cancer journey. Today, I am getting into the details of chemotherapy side effects – what really went down during those action-packed weeks. And spoiler alert, it was no walk in the park. Here is a week by week raw, honest, and first-hand nitty gritty of what happens after each chemotherapy session and the side effects of chemo.

Bracing for Impact:

Before diving into the whirlwind of Phase 1 chemotherapy side effects, I had to get myself mentally and physically ready. You see, I firmly believed in the power of positivity, so I prepped myself with some serious pep talks. I was determined to keep my spirits high, no matter what.

But let’s address the elephant in the room – my hair. Oh, how I adored my long locks! They were practically down to my hips, and my husband was smitten with them. So, I knew I had to do something to save them from the chemo’s wrath. With a heavy heart, I asked my husband to grab the scissors and so I took off about 20 inches. It was a tough call, but I hoped it would help salvage whatever I could of my hair and who knows, may be the side effects of chemotherapy would leave my hair alone.

Week 1: Brave Beginning.

I will be honest. I was pretty scared going to the hospital because I did not know the outcomes. Any chemotherapy side effect could hit me like a punch. But week 1 was surprisingly smooth sailing. I woke up feeling pretty much like my usual self, which was a welcome relief. No stomach twinges, no fatigue dragging me down – it was almost like any other day.

I dove into my routine with gusto, throwing myself into work and took rest whenever I could. I allowed myself to believe that maybe, just maybe, I’d breeze through this whole chemo thing without experiencing any side effects of chemo. Deep down I was confident that I had this handled. It’s just like getting any other IV fluid.”

Oh, how wrong I was. Little did I know, Week 1 was merely the calm before the storm.

Week 2: Chemotherapy Side Effects Hit Hard

Ah, Week 2 – where do I even begin? I stepped into the second week of chemo with optimism of the last week. The first day seemed promising – I felt surprisingly energized and even managed to tackle some work. But my optimism was short-lived. The following day hit me like a ton of bricks, shattering my illusion of a side effect-free chemo experience.

Chemo side effects kicked in this week – severe stomach cramps took hold, accompanied by an urgent need to visit the bathroom every few minutes. It felt as though my body had revolted against me, leaving me confined to the washroom for what seemed like an eternity. This relentless cycle persisted for two agonizing days, draining me both physically and emotionally.

By the third day, the stomach cramps had finally subsided, but the toll on my body was undeniable. Constant trips to the bathroom had sapped my strength, leaving me feeling utterly weak and depleted. I couldn’t walk or even had the energy to sit. I was practically confined to my bedroom, with my bed becoming my new best friends.

Week 3: Finding a Pattern of Pain

When week 3 rolled in, I realized my chemotherapy side effects had a pattern to it – a burst of energy on the first day of chemo, and then, bam! The second day hits with those chemotherapy side effects – stomach cramps and bathroom runs.  It seemed like this was going to be the new norm with chemo. And let me tell you, it was really taking a toll on me. Leg spasms got intense each day and now body would jerk violently whenever I fell asleep. Needless to say, getting a good night’s sleep was not possible anymore.

And the worst of it all was severe chest spasms which felt like a heart attack. I was having these episodes constantly, lasting for about 10 minutes. What triggered these episodes is still a mystery to me but I found that if I was not having any of these episodes, not moving was the solution. So I became glued to the bed to avoid these pains. Fun times, right?

Week 4: More Pain, More Challenges

So, Week 4 rolled in, and it was like déjà vu all over again – stomach cramps, bathroom dashes, leg cramps, chest spasms – you name it, I had it.

This week I also started experience brain fog. I was forgetting words, I was forgetting the question before answering it, I was getting lost mid conversation, I couldn’t multitask, and on rare occasion, I also suffered amnesia for a few seconds.

But wait, there’s more. Remember how I said I was clinging onto my hair for dear life? Well, this week, it started falling subtly – just a strand or two floating away every time I touched my hair. It became undeniable – my locks were saying their goodbyes but I was still clinging on the faith that I may save it.

So, what did I do? I chopped off another 6 inches. Now, my once-flowing mane was reduced to a chin-length bob. But they were still hanging in there, and so was I.

Woman shaving her head - Side Effects Chemo

Week 5: Hair Loss and Depression

Ah, Week 5 – a bit of a mixed bag, to say the least. The good news? The stomach spasms decided to take a bit of a breather, giving me some much-needed relief. Fewer bathroom visits? Yes, please! My brain fog didn’t escalate but it was definitely enough to cause problems.

And then, there was the hair. Chemotherapy side effects that I feared the most came crashing this week. My hair finally gave up.

They started to fall in bunches. You know how you see in movies, and you think, I wish it never happens to anyone. Well, it was happening to me. Every time I brushed my hair, my brush would be full of hair. Every time I stroked, I would have my hands full of hair. There were more hair in my dustbin than on my head. It was heartbreaking to watch, knowing that with each fallen strand, I was losing a piece of myself.

In the end, my dear husband convinced me, it was time. With a heavy heart, he took the shaver and gently shaved off the remnants of my once-luscious locks. Emotionally, it was one of the toughest weeks yet. That moment, that entire experience, it was too traumatic. Losing the one thing that I loved about myself felt like a gut punch, leaving me feeling vulnerable and raw.

Week 6: Nearing the Finish Line

Week 6 – the final stretch. But instead of feeling like I was nearing the finish line, it seemed like the chemotherapy side effects were only intensifying. It felt like my body had been through the wringer.

The usual – leg cramps, chest spasms, and overall weakness – they were all there, as relentless as ever. But this week, the brain fog intensified and something else reared its ugly head – my mental health took a nosedive.

You see, by Week 6, I was already feeling pretty beaten down. The physical changes started to hit me hard. My eye lashes were gone. My eyebrows were barely there. It was like I had undergone a free full-body wax, courtesy of chemotherapy. And it wasn’t just my hair and lashes – my entire body seemed to be rebelling against me.  My nails started to take on a grayish hue. Heck, I even lost all my nose hair (TMI?).

Getting Ready for Round 2

This was just round 1 of chemotherapy side effects. I knew that I had to brace myself for round 2. The journey was far from over, and while the challenges of the past six weeks had tested me in ways I never could have imagined, I knew that I had to summon every ounce of strength within me to face what lay ahead.

I had come this far, and I refused to let anything – not the physical toll of chemotherapy, not the emotional upheaval of losing my hair, not the myriad of side effects that had plagued me – stand in the way of my fight.

Yes, the road ahead would be fraught with challenges, but I was ready to meet them head-on. I was stronger, braver, and more resilient than I ever thought possible. Because no matter what lay ahead, I knew that I was not alone – I had my loved ones by my side, cheering me on every step of the way, and I had the unwavering belief in myself that I could overcome anything that came my way.

So, stay tuned for round 2 of this journey, where I’ll continue to share the ups and downs, the triumphs and the challenges, as I go through this battle with cancer.

Disclaimer: Just a Regular Person’s Take on Cancer

I’m just your average working woman and a proud mama of two, here to share my journey with cancer through a blog series Diary of a Cancer Fighter.” I know, one day I will replace this word with “survivor.” But let’s get one thing straight: I’m no doctor. I’m just a regular woman sharing my ups, downs, and everything in between. Especially the wonders of mind power and the power of thoughts that amaze me. So, take my musings with a grain of salt, a dash of humor, and a side of fries. Remember, mind power and the power of thoughts can work wonders, but for the serious stuff, please consult the pros. But if you need someone to talk to, reach out to me, and we can talk as much as we want 🙂

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