My first taxol treatment was last Thursday. I was told that taxol is generally better tolerated than adriamycin/cytoxan, which is what I was on for the last 8 weeks. While it’s nice to not be nauseous all the time, I’m certainly not a huge fan of the constant fatigue and aches and pains in my bones and muscles. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. It’s mostly in my legs and abdomen/rib area. On Friday I came home from the days appointments and tried to sleep. Took 2 Ativan, Motrin, and Benadryl… and that STILL wasn’t enough to compete with the steroids they gave me through the iv before my infusion. I was up every 2 hours in pain. Saturday, I was in bed pretty much all day. Yesterday I power-walked on the treadmill for 15 minutes and had to stop because I got light-headed. And to think I was running 5 miles a day in October. I get depressed just thinking about how rapidly my physical fitness has declined. I know it will come back because I’m young and otherwise healthy. But it still depresses me.
I am grateful that the treatment appears to be working. But it is really difficult to stay hopeful and optimistic when your physical body is taking such an assault. Chemotherapy weakens the body, and I knew that going in, but I had no idea what it would do to my spirit. Not only do you feel like shit, but you’re bald, and most likely gaining weight rapidly because of the steroids. You don’t recognize yourself in the mirror. It’s not enough to have to fight for your life, you have to confront every insecurity you’ve ever had around your physical appearance too. You can’t be incognito. Everywhere you go, you’re a cancer patient. To call this experience traumatizing would be a gigantic understatement.
I hope sometime in the very near future, we can do away with this treatment and replace it with something less harmful and toxic. Something that doesn’t alter ones sense of self in such crappy ways. Something that doesn’t create more suffering than the actual disease itself.
I’m struggling today. Because even though the treatment is illiciting a positive response right now, who knows what the future will bring. I guess I just have to try to think that it will make a difference in the long run…