End-Of-Chemo Anxiety

Naturally, reaching the end of a course of chemotherapy is supposed to be a happy thing, and it is. Now that you’re not getting poisoned every three weeks, you can look forward to all kinds of things, like eating salad, mingling with crowds, and your hair growing back.

But at the same time…

I’ve been doing this since early January. Chemo came in with the new year. Now we’re on British Summer Time (Daylight Savings Time, for my US homies). The weather is warm, leaves are coming out on the trees. It’s not exactly what you’d call the end of an era but my life––my routines, my activities––have revolved around chemo for most of the winter.

It’s not that I’m not glad it’s over. Believe me, I am. I want to go out, I want to eat salad, I want to go to the gym. I even want to go to the dentist (I broke a tooth).

But at the same time…

There’s a little anxiety that maybe six rounds aren’t enough. Maybe I need one or two more, just to make sure. Even though scans at the halfway mark showed enormous progress in killing off the malignant cells, maybe I should have just one or two more infusions, just to be on the safe side. Seeing as how I can’t take off and nuke it from orbit.

Not to mention I’m losing chemo brain and chemo fatigue. Now when I’m stupid and tired, I’ll have to find something else to blame it on.


18 thoughts on “End-Of-Chemo Anxiety

  1. You are coming out of a long fight and I am just heading in- I wanted to say thank you for sharing everything you’ve been through. I have early stage breast cancer- little did I know as I read about your feelings and experiences (And wonderful critter posts) that you making a road map for me. Cancer fucked with the wrong Diva! You are amazing!

    • I’m sorry you have to take this journey, Beth. You are one of several friends who has recently been diagnosed with some form of cancer. If anything I’ve written is helpful to you, I’m glad. Hang in there, fellow-traveller, and keep me, and all your friends, posted as to how you’re doing, when you’re feeling up to it.

      Cancer messed with the wrong Diva for sure!

  2. I’m wondering why you can’t eat salad when you’re on chemo. I wasn’t told of any dietary requirements when I was on it and I ate salad. Wondering now if I was unknowingly putting myself at risk.
    Hope your last session goes well.

    • I was told not to eat any fruit or veg I couldn’t peel, and no raw food because my immune system would be compromised by chemo. Raw or unpeeled fruit and veg might carry bacteria that wouldn’t bother a healthy person but could make someone with a compromised immune system ill. Several times over the last four months, I ran fevers and ended up in hospital hooked up to intravenous antibiotics; I was cautioned after each episode to stick with cooked food only.

      I confess I cheated a few times. I ate sushi yesterday and last week, I ate a bowl of blueberries. But otherwise, I’ve been careful.

      • That’s interesting. I’ll have to ask about that when I next need chemo. (I have stage 3 cervical cancer, they can’t remove it.)
        With the warmer weather, I bet you’re craving salads,don’t blame you for cheating!

  3. You are THE DIVA who has made a reality show, complete with pole-dancing and funny hats out of your chemo-trials. I/we believe in your brain’s ability to rise phoenix like from this to find new targets for your wit and stinging scrutiny – even if you don’t – yet.

  4. How could there not be anxiety about those very things!

    I am inordinately amused by the fact that the advertisement right after your sentence “Now when I’m stupid and tired, I’ll have to find something else to blame it on.” is for UPS, with the slogan “We can Help!”
    (Friend of Dave Axler’s, admirer of your writing, if you need my bonafides). Been following your journey and admiring your courage and general badassery.

    • I have no idea what ads appear for each reader. I just get a notice telling me that readers will see something in that particular space that may be of interest to them; something like that. Of course, I *could* blame UPS. The surreality appeals to me.

      While I generally don’t insist on bonafides, I must say I like your pedigree. 😉 Thanks for taking a few moments to give me some good words!

  5. Personally, if I were you, I’d worry more about being arrested for “genocide of millions of innocent cancer cells” or what ever nonsense charges the Cell Biology Liberation Front is promoting nowadays…

  6. So odd, Pat, to be reading EXACTLY my own feelings and worries. It’s normal. And, unfortunately, it never goes away, not completely. If it helps, because you and I have had the same cancer, and the same treatment regime, chemo brain and fatigue excuses are good for at least another year while you recover. And you WILL finally reach that (excuse the pun) fatalistic acceptance that either it has worked, or it hasn’t. But the anxiety does fade, and you’ll end up going DAYS, maybe even whole WEEKS without it preying on your mind. It’s the new normal – pre-cancer Pat is gone, and post-cancer Pat is still evolving. Lean on those of us who’ve been there, it helps us, too.

    Oh, and yes, Jools – if you’re doing chemo, contact your local Cancer Council – they will have information about the best way to handle it, including DON’T EAT RAW FOOD, that sometimes doctors and even oncologists are too busy to remember the ‘small stuff.’ You also shouldn’t be eating anything high in anti-oxidants (as counter-intuitive as that might be) like blueberries or broccoli – chemo is your friend, a big scary tattooed biker friend with anger management issues, but still your friend. You need to give it the best shot it has at doing its job, killing off cancer cells, rather than giving those cells any help surviving. Get on-line as well, talk to other survivors, we’ve been there, we may know a few things even the doctors don’t. (Like if you’re having Taxol, stay out of the sun, it’ll cause a skin rash.)

    • Well, actually, we started out with the same cancer. But recurring uterine cancer is a slightly different animal than first/only occurrence of uterine cancer. You had a much more serious case than I did. But unfortunately for me, I’m in that small percentage of women who experience a return of the original cancer (and generally, if you’re going to have a recurrence, it’s usually within the first year of the original cancer). I’m hoping for remission and the signs look very good but I know there’s no guarantee.

      Still, I’m thinking positive. Why not?

      • As well you should. Pre-chemo, my odds were pretty fucking dismal. Post chemo, and I’m doing better than ANYONE expected, including my surgeon and oncologist. So will you. Because we’re both just too fabulous not to. 🙂

  7. Er…. “g2-b51bd84f86f21f3412b06d74f3bd31fe” is me, Lee. Your mate dune undah…

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