Taking things for granted and my letter to Chemo

I haven’t been on here for awhile so it’s time for an update. I am finding that these chemo cycles are unpredictable and no two are alike. I just had my 6th infusion last week of this infinite chemo and it is all still going as well as can be expected. My biggest symptoms have been fatigue, nausea, constipation, body (bone and muscle) aches, very dry mouth, a constant taste of metal in my mouth, no appetite, memory loss, severe stomach aches, pain in my sternum and back where the tumors have damaged the bone, and worsening of neuropathy in my fingers, feet and lower legs. Most days I feel like I have the flu with a few good days in between. I’m pretty weak most of the time now and get short of breath, or winded very easily, thanks to all the tumors in my lungs. But I’m grateful that I can still breath, walk, talk, and feel. I’m still here…fighting.

It’s funny the little things that we take for granted like Saliva. When you have a severe dry mouth with no saliva it makes eating very difficult. I cannot eat bread, crackers or anything dry anymore. It sticks in my mouth and is hard to chew up and swallow. You don’t ever think how important saliva in your mouth is until you don’t have it anymore. My eyes are constantly blurry because they water constantly (making it hard to drive, especially at night) and my nose constantly has a clear drip. My finger tips are numb and it is hard to put on earrings or button my clothes. It is difficult to type cause I can barely feel the keys on the keyboard. I have to look at the letters when I type now to make sure I’m hitting the correct keys. My toes, feet, and lower legs are numb BUT hypersensitive to the touch and hurt if even the sheets in bed touch them, much less when I wear shoes. It feels like jelly fish are constantly stinging me and fire is being held to my skin. OUCH! Makes me jump!

I constantly tell my family the same things over and over again only because I can’t remember that I’ve already told them like 5 times already. They have learned over the last 3 years to be tolerant of my memory loss and don’t get as irritated as they did at first. They just calmly say “you’ve already told me this (like 500 times)” lol I forget words and how to spell them (and I used to win spelling bee’s in school when I was little!) Oh how fun this journey has been! The newest symptom is the “shakes”. My hands shake like I have Parkinson’s Disease. 😦 This symptom is caused from the new anti-depressant that I am on. Yes, I succumbed to admitting that I may be a little depressed and got on an anti-depressant. I’m glad that I did cause I feel a whole lot better and am laughing and enjoying life again despite everything that is happening to my body. And yes, I still see my therapist, every Friday at 3 o’clock. (I have recurring set appointments, unless I have an emergency.)

I believe I started getting depressed and having anxiety after I was told that the cancer had metastasized. I didn’t realize it until my doctor put me on a med for anxiety (that also treated depression) but it made me feel really bad and made my sodium levels go below normal, so they took me off and I requested an anti-depressant which has worked wonders for depression and anxiety. If any of you out there feel down or depressed or have anxiety, please don’t be ashamed to admit it and get help. I don’t care anymore who knows it or what people may think, I feel better and I feel good about it. Mental health is very important whether you have cancer or not.

I’m still holding onto my job (barely) but it keeps me going and gives me purpose. Being a nurse was a dream of mine since I was a little kid and became a reality for me. So it is really important for me to keep my job as long as I can. Once I retire I will most likely volunteer at the cancer center where I get my infusions. I know chemo is hard on the body but I am also thankful for it, because without it I would most likely not be here anymore. Cancer is a monster and it eats you up pretty fast from the inside out. Chemo has to be strong to kill that monster, unfortunately it kills good parts of you too. If I had a choice to do it all over again, I would do the same treatment.

My letter to Chemo: Dear Chemo, even though you have ravaged my body and make me literally sick, I love you and thank you for extending my life, killing this cancer, and teaching me to be humble. Because of you (and GOD of course) I have lived to see grandchildren being born, meet the one’s that live so far away, you’ve given me extra time with my loved ones and my wonderful husband, you have made me appreciate the little things in life that normally we don’t even see. Like how beautifully blue the skies are, how puffy the clouds, the beautiful thunder storms and lightning that lights up the purple skies. The way the moon lights up a dark night. The heat of the sun on my skin. The smell of rain, the feeling of wind across my face, the natural perfume of flowers and all the wonderful colors. The smell of fresh cut grass and the smell and sound of the water sprinklers in the summertime. Swimming in ice cold water. Lightning bugs lighting up the woods at dusk. All the different seasons. The smell of newborns and their sweet little cries. Laughter, tears, joy and sadness. The smell of the salty ocean and the sound of the waves at night. The beautiful white capped ocean waves and the feeling of just how powerful the ocean is. Sand between my toes. Finding beautiful shells and sand dollars on the beach. Our furry little friends. Food, when I used to be able to eat and enjoy it. Margarita’s and wine, when I used to be able to enjoy it and drink it. Medications that help with all the cancer and chemo symptoms. I’m grateful that you didn’t take my hair this third time around cause I didn’t like being bald. Thank you for the weight loss, cause I needed to lose a little weight, lol. I’m grateful that cancer didn’t get me until all my kids were grown and on their own. I’m grateful for the bonds of love with family and friends and how strong they have become. Thank you for all the new friends that I have made throughout this cancer journey. Shopping, lol. (Amazon, and all the little stores here in my hometown) Soooo many things that I once took for granted and wish I still had or could still do. But most of all, You have taught me how to love deeper than I have ever loved before, unconditionally. I guess chemo has extended my life to appreciate these things but getting cancer was what really humbled me and taught me to appreciate the little things in life that we take for granted. So thank you Cancer and chemo…..Goodnight. 🙂