Column: Starting to see the finish line

Now that my chemotherapy is every week instead of every other week, it feels like cancer treatment is flying by. It will be over before I know it.
So far, I’ve been through five rounds of the chemotherapy drug Taxol. As my doctor told me it would be, it’s been much easier on me than the previous combination of Adriamycin and Cytoxan. The side effects of this drug have not been as hard.
I haven’t felt any neuropathy so far. Perhaps that means the cryotherapy gloves and socks that I put on during treatments are working. Or perhaps it just hasn’t started yet. Only time will tell.
The chemotherapy is starting to discolor two of my fingernails and cause them to lift from the nail beds. This is an expected side effect. I’ve been rubbing tea tree oil on them to try to prevent them from completely coming off.
While things are going well for the most part, something really annoying keeps happening when I go in for blood tests before treatment. I keep nearly passing out and/or getting sick after a nurse takes blood.
Twice now the poor nurses have had to push me in a wheelchair either to the waiting room or back to chemo treatments.
Last time it happened it was after a nurse had trouble drawing blood. She asked me to put my arm over my head and cough. Then the syringes she was using kept breaking, causing me more anxiety and her more frustration.
Once she got done, I started to feeling-light headed and sick to my stomach.
These episodes usually pass quickly, and I started to feel better.
I don’t know whether to blame my strong aversion to blood and needles or if it’s something physical like dehydration or a low blood sugar. My nurses tell me I might be dehydrated. I just know that it’s a really bad feeling to be out of control of your own body.
I have seven more rounds of chemotherapy to go. If all goes as planned I’ll finish chemotherapy in mid September, right in time to have a much better fall than summer. Then comes radiation treatment.
I am looking forward to a lot of things when cancer treatment is over. For one, I can’t wait for my hair to start to grow back. I still haven’t gotten used to seeing myself bald. I catch my reflection in the mirror sometimes and cringe at how bad I look.
I’m still wearing the light pink wig when I go out places. It gets me plenty of looks. Sometimes for a minute or two I’ll forget I’m wearing it until I notice people staring. Some people have even come out and ask me outright if it’s my real hair or a wig. Wearing a wig during the hot summer months has not been much fun.
I’m also looking forward to going back to work in an actual office instead of in my bedroom or couch. My cats are usually fine company but I’m really looking forward to being around other people again.
I’m looking forward to running again. I’d like to train for another half marathon next year. These days the only marathons I can do are marathons of Golden Girls episodes.
I hope that will change soon enough.

The way my treatment schedule works out, I’m usually feeling bad on Friday from the last round of treatment when I have to go in for another round. This week when I got there for them to run blood tests, the nurse told me she was having trouble drawing blood from my chemo port.
“I need you lift your arm over your head, turn your head and cough,” she says. Every once in a while she called me sweetie pie, which was endearing.
Then the syringes she was using kept breaking, causing me more anxiety and her more frustration.
I’m really squeamish about blood and all this wasn’t helping. Finally she got what she needed. But my vision got blurry and I started to feel lightheaded.
“I think I need to sit here for a second,” I say. She leaves to keep a blood pressure cuff and puts a trash can in front of me before she goes. I’m dry heaving into a trashcan when another nurse comes in, “Oh no you’re sick,” she says.
Thank goodness for nurses.
It passes quickly. I start to feel better, well enough to walk back out to the waiting room unassisted. The nurses don’t take any chances when I go back for treatment, though. They push me in a wheelchair.
I wish I could make this getting sick thing go away. More than anything it’s an inconvenience. My nurses tell me to drink more water, eat more and take my anti-nausea medicine before I come.
I hope that works.

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