Feeling Chemo’d

Image result for chemo emoji I’m feeling chemo’d today. No food seems appealing, so I ended up with easy food–a bowl of dry cereal for breakfast (yuck), a banana and a few pieces of cheese (tolerable). I haven’t been able to make myself eat lunch yet. I took my car in for servicing. I’d planned to wait on it, as they have a customer area where I can do some writing. But I felt too bleah, so one of them drove me home. Then I went back to bed for an hour.

Chemotherapy may not be the culprit. Maybe I’m feeling immuno’d. Or hormone’d. Or radiation’d. But my low-grade headache, fatigue, flu-like achiness and mild nausea remind me most of how I felt over two years ago when I was getting chemotherapy, and have felt intermittently since then. Poor sleep and major exertion may have triggered it. I pushed myself exercising at the YMCA yesterday, and I took Gibbie for a longer-than-usual walk in the morning. My day also included support group, a pre-support group dinner, and lunch with my friend Mike (Thai food–I ate hardly any and brought the rest home for Liz).

Chemotherapy gets blamed for a lot of things by people I know: continued feelings of unwellness such as I have described, or worse things: strokes, heart attacks, peripheral neuropathy and chemo-brain. Chemo-brain is the scapegoat for any of us who have had chemo. It is the significant cognitive decline most of us have experienced.

Chemo-brain is also the symptom most often minimized, unintentionally, by our well-meaning non-cancer friends. “Oh that happens to me all the time,” says Non-Cancer Friend, hearing me describe how much more trouble I have not getting lost or ending up at the wrong place because I’ve forgotten where I’m going. Well it didn’t used to happen to me. In fact, one of my cancer friends doesn’t drive anywhere without turning on Google Maps navigation. It’s not that she doesn’t know how to get where she is going. It’s that she forgets where she is going. If this happens to you all the time, and you haven’t had chemo, please don’t tell us that. Thanks.

My lingering chemo effects have been minor. Not that it would have made any difference to my treatment decisions, but the doctors don’t talk about the long-term side-effects.