Chemotherapy Looks Like This

Photo on 1-15-16 at 4.08 PM

Three rounds of Taxotere, Herceptin and Perjeta have knocked my cancer out. But it’s also ravaged my poor body and I feel about 100 years old. This is what I look like today, and if you can imagine I feel even worse. I’ve got a few eyebrow hairs holding on. The eyelashes are gone, which makes my constantly watering eyes even more irritated by everything in the air. I look like I’ve got 2 black eyes. My nose constantly runs and my lips are so pale. My skin looks kind of gray. Nobody offers make-up to match a gray complexion. My fingernails and toenails are lifting off. And this is my “good week,” the last few days before we do another infusion of poison on Wednesday.

Luckily, I only have to make it through three more rounds. I can’t really imagine it, but I keep telling myself that I can do it and it will be worth it– really burn those cancer cells out so I can buy myself a bit of a break. And in the end, a little more time. Though I have to admit the the time I’m getting right now isn’t of the best quality. But the cancer is on the run. Those little cells are getting their asses kicked and hopefully won’t be brave enough to grow again anytime soon. I’m trying really hard to be excited about the latest great PET scan results. But it’s difficult when I’m just so tired and I feel like crap.

At the moment, my biggest struggle is my eyesight. Besides causing watery eyes, Taxotere actually leaves the body in your tears so the skin around my eyes is constantly irritated, stinging and itching. My vision is blurred from the tears but also it seems the eye muscles themselves are tired. I can’t drive at night anymore and I can only look at the computer for short periods of time. Even if I make the text huge on my Kindle, reading is really difficult. You all know how much I love to read and I spend a few hours each day, at least, absorbed in a book. Losing that is a huge blow and I am hopeful that the problem will reverse itself when I can stop the chemo for a bit. In the meantime, it looks like I’m going to have to try some audio books. Anybody into those? Recommendations? I subscribed to some podcasts, too. It feels so passive and boring to just lay around and listen to something, but maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised. I do try to just listen to the TV without looking at the screen too much, but it’s not very exciting.

I’m happy my treatment is working so well. I’m frustrated with the side effects. I grieve for my other Stage IV friends that aren’t doing as well right now. And the ones we’ve lost. I mourn for the life I feel like I missed out on. This is not how I expected things would turn out, for sure. But none of us get a perfect life, right? I have a wonderful family and friends and house and the best dogs on the planet. I have fewer worries that a lot of folks. Overall, life is good. I just need to be reminded of that sometimes! Six years is a long time to live with cancer.

Three more rounds. A few more months. The damage will get worse, but then it will get better and better. I can get through it easier when I know it’s working.

5 thoughts on “Chemotherapy Looks Like This”

  1. Karen, I am so sorry that you have to go through this. It really is the pits. If there is anything at all that I can do to help, please let me know. I could come over and read to you, run errands, drive you wherever you need to go. Anything. I would love to be able to be of help to you.
    All my best, Suzanne and a zillion kisses from Willey

    1. Suzanne, you are so sweet! Thank you for your very kind offer. Maybe you and Willey and I could meet up for a slow walk sometime, I would love to get a few kisses from that adorable little guy. I miss his sweet face!

  2. Oh Karen, I am so sorry! I know those of us who haven’t been through what you are going through have no idea. To not be able to read would suck but I have done audio books and once you get use to them, they are pretty good. Better then nothing, right? As far as podcasts, I love NPR’s ‘Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ and ‘Vinyl Cafe’. I haven’t really dove into the podcast world but am sure there is a lot of great stuff out there that others know about.

    I have a pretty slow week next week so would be more then happy also to come over, run errands, bring or make food, read to you, walk the pups, whatever you would like or is needed. I am free most days after about 2:00 and earlier on Monday. Just give me a text or message.

    xoxo!! Mary

    1. Hi Mary! I don’t need much help at the moment since my parents are close by. But they are going to AZ February-April, so I will definitely take you up on your offer then. I am always up for visitors, though, and would love to hear about how things are going for you! I have chemo on Wednesday, but otherwise my calendar is open.

  3. I wish I lived closer, you know I would be over walking Finn and Piper. So sorry you have to go thru all this. Not anything prepares you for cancer….Sending all kinds of good thoughts and energy……..Love you lots


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