You can find all kinds of information on the web, and in your doctor’s office, about what chemicals you are being treated with and what they might do to you. Chemotherapy at first struck dread into me, thinking about what it would do to my body. I wanted to do the things I had always [...]
You can find all kinds of information on the web, and in your doctor’s office, about what chemicals you are being treated with and what they might do to you.
Chemotherapy at first struck dread into me, thinking about what it would do to my body. I wanted to do the things I had always done, to try to minimize the harm and keep my body in balance throughout, at least as much as I could.
Chemotherapy is a wild, crazy wave, and my job was to ride the crest of it until it broke. Certainly I wanted to protect my healthy cells, but I wanted those chemicals to knock the %*@!! out of the cancer that was threatening my life. It was a battle for control of my body. It was a game of chicken between those purple ewoks and wookies and the angry little bald man. My body was the stage for this drama. Never mind balance, that didn’t apply here!
I understood that uninterrupted treatment was the key to my survival. By the fourth infusion, I finally understood that to stay on that wave I had to be as comfortable as possible. Steroids with the infusion, ativan at night. Pain killers, anti nausea medicine, laxatives, stool softeners, all my normal bodily functions had to be slapped around to keep me on that wave. I had a vicious cancer, and one delayed treatment for whatever reason would give it a chance to bounce back.
When I finally understood that this was the way of it, my strategy became very clear. Stay on the crest of that wave, don’t fall off, support my body under the onslaught, and let every ounce of energy I had be harnessed to assist the treatment.
The first big breakthrough was, pain and discomfort leads to stress, which weakens the body more. By the fourth infusion I was taking all the meds they gave me, at the first hint that I might need them. The more comfortable I was, the more my body could use the energy I had to fight the beast.
I conserved my energy for the same reason. I did things I loved, like walking, improv, reading, puttering outside. Things that were an energy drain I declined, and people who were toxic to me I kept out of my space, sometimes with help from others.
I said yes constantly, as I have discussed in another post. When people wanted to pray, bring food, take care of my children, or tidy my home, I welcomed it all. I also said no, just as consistently, to anything that would use my precious, limited energy for something that was not important to me. Saying yes opened my heart. Saying no taught me to trust myself.
I used complementary therapies to minimize side effects, and to protect my healthy cells as much as I could. I used imagery to protect my heart, to watch the tumors shrink, to build white blood cells and hemoglobin. I never had to miss a treatment because of low blood counts.
Dr. Brown told me to “eat what looks good to you” and I did that. I also developed my once a day nutrition shake to make sure all the bases were covered.
I took advantage of every resource. My colleagues gave me massage weekly (I remain so grateful for this!), I received acupuncture, and I had a Healing Partner who provided Healing Touch for me every week for 6 months.
I wanted to be sure I was really showing up for all this. I wanted my whole being to know that I was engaged in my life, that I was passionate about it. I took advantage of the counseling that was available at Healing with Hope. I blogged like mad at Caringbridge, and celebrated life. I painted my room purple.
Do you have to do all this to weather the chemo storm?
No, not at all. Do it the way you do it. Just keep three things in mind, if they seem good to you.
1. Use all the medications they give you to be comfortable. This is not the time to be stoic! A comfortable body heals better and faster.
2. Do the things you really love with the energy you have. That way you actually get some.
3. Let people help. It blesses them just as much as it blesses you, if not even more.
If this is you right now, know that my thoughts are with you, and you will get through it!
We interrupt our regular blog program today for a moment of grief, as your chronicler just read a story that was painful and sweet beyond bearing. As I have been emerging from my cave of recovery and joining the world I see stories that break my heart, and I know how blessed I am to [...]
We interrupt our regular blog program today for a moment of grief, as your chronicler just read a story that was painful and sweet beyond bearing. As I have been emerging from my cave of recovery and joining the world I see stories that break my heart, and I know how blessed I am to be alive.
I just read through a blog by and about a 37 year old mother, who died of Inflammatory Breast Cancer in July of 2008, 14 months after she was diagnosed.
I am so sad that I never met her. I am so sorry for the ache remaining in the hearts of her six children, who still open cards written for them in the months before she left them.
She was breastfeeding her youngest child when her symptoms began. She waited too long.
Damn, damn, damn. It hurts. She was one of too many on a list on the blog I was reading. I read their stories. They were all mommies. They all left children behind.
Survival is bittersweet sometimes.
About The LIberation of Persephone/ElizabethElizabeth Danu started this blog to provide a postive and useful resource for people facing cancer and thier loved ones. She is now a ten year survivor of Stage IIIC Inflammatory Breast cancer, enjoying her post-cancer life as a mom, blogger, speaker, wellness consultant and unquenchable optimist. She also sings and performs regularly with her a capella quartet, Curious Blend.
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This blog is a labor of love, and it has to fit into the nooks and crannies of my crazy, busy, wonderful life.
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Thanks so much!
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- Elizabeth on Inflammatory Breast Cancer
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- Elizabeth on What to Know Before Your First Chemotherapy Session
- Sheila Warren on What to Know Before Your First Chemotherapy Session
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DO NOT DUPLICATEAll text and art found on these pages belong to Elizabeth Danu, Copyright 2008 - 2014 unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use of any material on this site is strictly prohibited. For permission to use anything presented here, please contact me directly. Elizabeth Danu
Disclosure:My intention with this website is to provide an oasis of hope for those facing a fierce diagnosis. Any proceeds from this site go towards building this resource and for breast cancer research, particularly directed towards Deadline 2020 for the end of breast cancer. Blessings, Elizabeth
My bedside companion in 2007
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