Week Five Fatigue and Life’s Essentials

I had chemo treatment number 5 this past Monday. I have still been trying to kick the respiratory bug I got a couple of weeks ago. The cough has slowly gone away, but I have been left with some lingering fatigue, stuffiness and a general sensation of my chest and lungs not being 100%. At this point, it is hard to figure out what is chemo related and what is illness related.

     I knew I was going to feel crappy after chemo anyway, so Steve and I went for a run in the morning. It would end up being the longest run of the week. The kids were out of school again, so Peyton went to a friend’s house and Riley came along to the cancer center with us. The infusion went as anticipated. The chemo nurse asked the doctor about my chemo induced amenorrhea. I guess he was surprised that it had happened, but I can vouch for the fact that it has. He seemed to think my cycles would start again once chemo is over. I hope so. 

    I am not sure if it is the chemo or the anti nausea medication, but I am always very tired after chemo treatments. I look forward to getting home, putting on my pajamas and crawling in bed. I was not as sick this time as I had been the previous week. I laid down for a while, and when I got up, I found that the friend who had watched Peyton that afternoon had made me some “chemo moonshine” to help with the nausea. I do think sipping a little of this helps with nausea. No, there is no alcohol in it 🙂

     On Tuesday, I had to take Greta in to the vet. She has had a growth on her leg for a while now that we have just been observing for changes. The previous Friday afternoon, she had jumped up on the bed with me, and I noticed a big red spot that alarmed me greatly. You can’t tell from this photo, but it is raised. 

I took her to our long time vet, Dr Mohr, at the Black Forest Veterinary Clinic. Last summer, the BFVC burned to the ground during the Black Forest fire. I was devastated for our vet. I also selfishly was sad for myself because I did not want to take Greta anywhere else. The good news is, Dr. Mohr found space directly across from where his clinic had been, and he is back in business. He did a fine needle aspiration of Greta’s leg and said he had been concerned about it being a mast cell tumor, but he did not see any cancer cells in the FNA fluid. We have enough cancer in our house right now. Greta is nearly 10, but she seems to still be a very healthy dog. I am looking forward to sharing a few more years with my girl.

   To celebrate, we came home and snuggled in my bed together. 

     The theme of this week has been fatigue and taking care of the essentials. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, I crashed and slept during the day. I am not and never have been one to take naps. So, if I fall asleep during the day, I am truly exhausted. I think the previous week of not sleeping due to my cough just caught up with me. I really felt like life has just kicked my behind the past couple of weeks. Some days, it has been all I could handle to get my kids ferried around to school and activities. What I did appreciate from catching a few daytime Zs was that napping enabled me to stay up past 7 pm to spend some time with my family in the evening. There is nothing more important to me right now than supporting my kids to the best of my ability. My having cancer has been obviously very distressful for both girls. The fact that I have had to go to bed so early many nights has been a constant reminder of illness and of life being turned upside down. Being able to hang out with the family after school and practices and activities and homework is a gift. I don’t want to sleep through six months of their lives. I am all too aware of how fast the clock is ticking for all of us right now. Being ill is robbing me of precious time with my children who are growing up much faster than I would like.

    Going through surgery and chemo has taught me that sometimes you have to pare down to only the essentials in your life in order to survive. I have had to really set limits and prioritize how I spend my time right now, since my energy is so limited. My family, my friends and taking care of my body through rest, exercise and nutrition are the most important things right now. If that means I only have the energy to get my kids to school, go for a short run or walk and then come home and nap so that I have the ability to see my kids and husband in the evening, then so be it. Maybe I will feel better after I am completely over this illness and I am just dealing with chemo side effects, but maybe not. Maybe this is the new normal for the next few months. Either way, I am learning that life is very short and precious. I have no idea how long I have left on this planet but I plan to spend my time with people I really love, doing things that I consider essential and joyful. Maybe it shouldn’t have taken me 45 years and a cancer diagnosis to figure these things out. We spend too much time thinking about all of the “shoulds” instead of what is really crucial to our own well being. Think about what and who you consider essential in your life. Spend your time with those essential people doing those things that give your life meaning. 


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