"Don't spend time worrying about how you are going to die. Worry about how you are going to live today"

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What I learned about chemo

I still can't believe I am done with chemo.  It has been a week since my last treatment and somehow it has still not registered that I don't have to go and do it again in two more weeks.  I have to keep reminding myself! 

I do sit and reflect a bit about what I thought chemo would be like and what chemo really was like.  Before I started chemo I pictured myself as bald, thin and wrapped around a toilet puking for weeks.  I just kept picturing my face swelled up from the steroids and mouth soars too.  I also thought I would lose my lashes/eyebrows and that my finger nails and toenails would fall off.  I also imagined I would be in bed sleeping all the time from exhaustion.  I guess I read way too much on the breast cancer chat board websites for my own good! 

What I did learn is that chemo is not that bad for some people.  Chemo was not that bad for me (for that I am truly blessed!).  For me I was able to keep my hair with Penguin Cold Caps (losing my long brown hair was my worst fear!).  In fact my hair has grown about 1 1/2 inches since my last color job in late February! My eye brows have thinned but are not gone yet and now that I am done with chemo they should start growing in quick.  My eyelashes have hung on...who knows if they will go (some people lose them after they finish chemo) but for now they are just as they were before I started chemo.  My finger nails and toe nails have continued to grow throughout chemo.  I just filed them down again yesterday.  I was never really nauseous.  I have not taken one anti-nausea pill since starting chemo.  I have gotten tired a few times, usually just in the days following chemo but I have not taken one nap.

The other things I learned are that exercise is key.  I exercised 5 days a week through chemo.  I did not miss any workouts except for the infusion days.  I worked out hard too, 45-60 min on the elliptical at level 10-12.  I usually burn about 600 calories per workout!  I really pictured myself not working out at all so I made a commitment to myself before chemo that I would exercise 5 days a week, and I did it!  The funny thing is that at this very moment (yes a week after completing chemo) I am in the BEST shape I have been in for at least the past 6 years!  I am small, muscular and my body fat seems much lower.   I would have never thought I could do anything like this while recovering from a bilateral mastectomy and going through chemo.  It's nuts!

The other thing I learned is how much diet matters.  I have been following the Anti Cancer book diet principles (to eat more cancer fighting foods) and it really makes a difference.  By eliminating the refined foods and going organic I have overhauled my body.  Before this diet I had so many body aches and felt crappy (before getting diagnosed).  I never imagined that by changing my diet I would feel SO much better.  This is honestly the best I have felt since before my son was born!  My body aches are gone.  I have a lot of energy too (most of the time - except in the days following chemo).  I feel like I eat so much more food too and can't imagine how I am not gaining weight.  I guess it's because the food is even healthier than what I ate before so it makes a difference. 

Overall chemo was not fun, but I managed through it 10 times better than I ever imagined.  If anyone out there is reading this and getting ready to start chemo, don't buy into all the chemo crap.  Tell yourself you will be OK.  Get off your butt and keep moving - even if you just walk.  Drink lots of water.  Check out the Anti Cancer book and it will empower you to fight cancer through diet.  You can get through chemo without looking and feeling like a cancer patient.  I did!

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the positive thoughts on your experience with Chemo. It may make my decision easier, whether to do the chemo or not. I have the same diagnosis as you.
    Thank you,