On Friday, April 16th, I spent my last day in the infusion lounge at Hoag Hospital receiving my final chemo treatment. Getting chemo isn’t uncomfortable or painful; it’s the knowing of the week-long (sometimes longer) side effects that lie ahead that I always dread, even with the final round. But this time knowing that a sweet spirited kitty would be awaiting me at the cottage helped to quell my anxiety.
Chemo side effects kick-in two days after all of the long acting premeds given before chemo subside. So when I get home from a chemo treatment, I feel peaceful and relaxed from the Benadryl buzz, and when that wears off by Saturday, I’m left with the lingering energizing effects from the steroid. Last Saturday after my final chemo, my kitten-like energy rivaled Samantha’s as we played “get-the-mousey,” “toss-the-pom-poms,” and hide-and-go-seek throughout the day. I asked Alexa to play some Sly and the Family Stone and danced my booty off as Samantha watched, saucer-eyed and intrigued with my movements until she joined in by prancing alongside me (no kidding). I organized my closet, vacuumed, did laundry, washed dishes, watered my garden then finally slowed down about sunset (oh to have that kind of energy everyday!). I got through Sunday with only mild nausea.
By Monday morning, intense nausea awoke me and by Tuesday, nausea was followed by fatigue, muscle aches and weakness, and thrush. Before my first chemo the nurse told me that chemo side effects feel like having the flu—excuse me—you mean the flu on steroids. Even the muscles in my feet became weak and achy.
For the remainder of the week I remained sofa-bound with the exception of random bouts of playtime with Samantha. As I would recline back on the sofa, completely worn out after playing get-the-mousey for five minutes, Samantha belted out sorrowful meows, begging for just one more round…
I awoke today almost side effect free, feeling somewhat celebratory in my chemotherapy treatment accomplishment. I’ve been called a warrior and have been praised for my perceived strength. But coping with cancer and chemo has been so debilitating that most of the time I’ve felt small and meek. I’ve just been riding out the storm, doing what I have to do until the clouds break and the rays of sunshine clear the darkness. I can see those rays now. I can feel them energize my spirit and reposition my outlook to better see the approaching end of this “long strange trip” I’ve been on.
I start radiation treatments in a few weeks, and will say that I’m anxious about it. I will be facing more side effects, but as I’m told, they are not as harsh as chemo. I hope that’s my case and that my renewed spirit can maintain its newfound power throughout radiation.
My gratitude for the love, support and understanding of dear friends, family and my beloved Bobcat (RIP) is never ending.
And now Samantha is here to help see me through the last leg of my journey.