Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Blue Book

Not a blue book for cars...  My blue book is about all things chemo. 

We met with the Nurse Practitioner the week before my first treatment for instructions regarding chemo and side effects. The first thing she said was that today’s chemo is NOT what it was years ago and NOT what is portrayed on TV. Whew!

Chemo kills fast growing cells - healthy as well as cancerous - which is why some of the side effects are inevitable.  But that's okay. I just picture chemo Pacmen eating up all the cancer cells. 

Here are possible side effects and what I’ve experienced so far:

Bone Marrow Suppression
Day 7-10 after treatment will be when my white blood count drops and I’m most susceptible to infection. When it drops, normal signs of infection are missing (runny nose, cough, etc), so a fever may be the only evidence of infection. If my fever hits 100.5, I need to call the doctor! Germ-X is a regular part of my day now. Low red blood cells can cause anemia and fatigue. Low platelets can cause bleeding issues. 

Thankfully, my sweet husband does most of the cooking. I need to stay away from raw meat and only eat fresh produce that we wash ourselves. No restaurant salad bars, etc. 

Fatigue/Low Energy
I’ve been taking a nap after supper, but who knows if this is related to chemo or just life. I liked naps before this all started!

Hair Loss
This WILL happen – probably by day 14 after my first treatment. We’ve already been wig shopping and picked out a sassy new hair style! I also have some cute hats and scarves. This will be the outward sign of the inward battle of cancer. We’re shaving my head BEFORE my hair falls out!

This has been my worst fear, but I have not experienced any with the first round of chemo. I have horrible indigestion and could win a burping contest, but I can live with that! In fact, my kids used to tease me that I never burped out loud. They told me “let ‘em rip.” Well, now that I am, they are grossed out and telling me to stop. Kids... Tums are my new candy.

Loss of Appetite
I haven’t noticed this except that some things don’t sound good if my tummy is upset (see above).

Taste/Smell Changes
I haven’t noticed this yet.

Mouth Sores
My mouth feels like it’s coated with fur, but otherwise no sores. I’ve been using a rinse made with salt and baking soda that helps!

Skin Changes
One medication could tint my skin. Hmmmm – this summer I could have smooth legs AND a tan!
Constipation / Diarrhea
So far these have balanced each other! Just in case, I have Senokot-S and Imodium-AD on hand.

Numbness/Tingling (neuropathy)
Neuropathy has attacked my jaws. Beginning the afternoon of day 2, I started having a weird sensation at the back of my tongue/throat and pain with chewing and swallowing. Days 3 and 4 were #10 on the pain scale, and relief started on day 5. I was able to eat on day 6 without stabbing pain shooting through my jaws and up to my ears. Imagine the start of strep throat, ear infections, and a sinus infection going on at the same time. Tylenol, Tylenol, Tylenol.
Eye Changes
I was hoping to get some cool new glasses to go with my sassy new wig, but chemo can cause temporary vision changes, so I better wait.

Sexual Changes
TMI. Actually, one thing chemo can cause is early menopause. This might not be a bad thing – especially if it’s permanent!

Cognitive Dysfunction
Chemo Brain. Not sure how I’m going to know this is an issue since I’m pretty much scatter-brained anyway. The kids already call me Dory (from Finding Nemo) with short-term memory loss. But at least now I have a legitimate excuse!

Emotional Changes
Doesn’t that speak for itself? Lots of changes and emotions.

Sounds like fun, huh! Actually, it hasn’t been too bad. The jaw pain wasn’t fun, but at least I haven’t been hugging the toilet. Most anything is better than hugging the toilet!!!

Since my treatments are every three weeks, it looks like I’ll have two good weeks before more possible side effects. It’s obvious people are praying for me – God’s peace is amazing!!!

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
~ Philippians 4:7


  1. Thank you for sharing, Terri...this helps me know how to pray for you. So happy to hear you are doing so good.

  2. Terri, When Daryl told us you had a blog we were quite intrigued. We think it's great that you can share your story with others plus we don't have to keep bothering Daryl for updates. We know your journey won't be easy but we have faith in the Lord that you will see this through. In all of this we found out something we never knew about you... you are quite the Wordsmith!

    Although we have been at a distance for some time now we want you to know how much We Love You!!!

    You are in our prayers, Clark & Pegi