Happy Cancer Girl

A Happy Girls Journey with Cancer

Post Chemo Life

on September 16, 2013

It has been a month since I finished my treatments and I think I’m ready to write about my life over the last few months. I wish I could have kept up with my blog during that time, but I either didn’t have the energy or the drive to sit and type. So this post will likely be long as I want to explain what the last two months of chemo was like for me, and what I have been up too post chemo.

The last time I wrote during my treatments was chemo #10, which was also my first blood transfusion. After that first transfusion I ended up getting a couple more transfusions. One around treatment #14 and than one that replaced my last treatment which was #18. After I reached the halfway point my blood counts remained low. Almost every week I would have my blood checked on the day of chemo because my weekend blood counts were too low for treatment. I was always able to continue my treatments because my counts were always a point or two above the cut off number.

July is kind of blur in my mind now. I would say it went by in the blink of an eye, but at the time it didn’t feel that way. I slept a lot because of my low blood counts. I suffered from a bad case of chemo brain, which really bothered me because I usually have a great memory. The bone pain really started to bother me in July. The only way I can think to explain it is like this, it felt like someone was taking a melon baller and was scooping the marrow out of the bones in my legs. It didn’t hurt all the time, but when it did hurt…it hurt pretty bad. One of my knees also ached pretty bad, every time I would walk up my driveway or any place uneven ended in a bit of a limp. The numbness in my hands and feet got worse in July, I was told to use a cane when walking because I kept tripping. I didn’t use a cane, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I couldn’t bring myself to use the motorized carts in the grocery store either. The last thing I wanted was for people to look at me and feel sorry.

July also brought along some really hot weather. Owen and I ended up buying an air conditioner because the heat and the hot flashes were making me feel worse than I really needed. The air conditioner helped cool the house down, but I felt kind of trapped. I knew going out would make me feel sick, so I stayed home more often and had my mom do my grocery shopping.

Speaking of my mom, she deserves so much more than I will ever be able to give her. She came to stay with me back in February when I had my surgery and pretty much stayed until I was done my treatments. She went home some, but she would always come back to cook, clean and take me to the hospital. I honestly don’t know how she did it. Between all the driving, staying at my house, cleaning up after me, making sure I was eating and endless hours at the hospital watching the life drain out of me…she is a strong woman and I will always be grateful for her. I think the job of the caregiver is almost harder than the job of the person going through the treatments.

August kind of came and went with a bit of a blur also. I had a couple treatments and then I was done. I was happy, but I was so tired that I don’t think it really registered. My bones still hurt and my hands and feet were still numb. At some point during the month I tripped going up my stairs, which left me with a cut on my hand and a big black and blue egg on my shin. A couple weeks after my last treatment I got a rash on my armpits, I think my hair follicles were irritated. A few days after that rash my arms also broke out. All of the hair that fell out wants to grow back and the start of the growing is really itchy and annoying for my baby soft skin!

What’s going on now? Well my hands and feet are feeling much better. They are still a bit numb, but not as bad as they were. I did trip down 3 stairs yesterday, but I think it was because I was daydreaming and not really paying attention. Thankfully I didn’t fall and although I hurt the bottom of my foot, it’s nothing too serious. My knee still hurts, I’m going to give it a little more time and then if it doesn’t feel better I will head to my GP for a check up. My bones ache on occasion, but nothing like they did in July and the first of August. I’m still tired, but mostly cause I over do it some days. I think my recovery from chemo is moving along at a pretty good pace. Each day I am able to do more than the last. Somedays I’m really tired and I take naps and push through the rest of the day. I’m reading and doing puzzles to help with the chemo brain. My head is not as clear as it used to be, but I have no doubt that I will get it all back eventually. I had a CT Scan and it showed no evidence of disease, I am now cancer free!

For six months I was busy with surgery, healing, blood work, doctors appointments and treatments. During that time I remained positive and happy for the most part. I almost always had a smile on my face. Now that the flurry of cancer is over (for the most part), I am left to heal. What I have come to realize is that there is more to heal than just my body. The emotions that I pushed back are now starting to surface. I was right in saying don’t worry about it, I will be fine. Because it was true, I have made it out the other side of the treatments and I am alive. But emotionally I think I am just starting to realize that I actually had cancer. Not only did I have cancer, but I had the most deadliest of female cancers. I beat it, and that is amazing and I’m really glad I did, but that doesn’t stop me from randomly bursting into tears thinking about all that I’ve been through.

Having had cancer is only half of it though. I am now able to process the fact that I have had a hysterectomy and what that really means for me. I have a giant scar that reminds me several times a day that I am missing something that I didn’t ever think I would lose. My body is not the same as it used to be, it can’t produce the hormones that it once used to. I can’t replace those hormones because of the type of cancer that I had. I used to act like a crazy hormonal person, I guess now I sometimes act like a crazy non-hormonal person. I am mourning the brown haired, big eyed, glasses wearing, booking loving, nerdy children that I wanted to give birth to. The little Buerkle babies that had stolen my heart before they were ever born. This isn’t about having children, it’s about not being able to bring a child into this world that looks a little bit like me and has 100% of Owen’s brains. I know that many couples can’t have children, it often has nothing to do with cancer, and I know that we will get through it, but right now it hurts. I thought that I was ok, but now that I’m not as busy as I was, I have a lot more time to think about what has happened and what isn’t meant to be.

Don’t get me wrong, I am still happy, I am still me. I have so much to look forward to. My list for living needs to be worked on. I have started knitting, but had to stop because my fingers hurt too much. I hope to pick it up again soon. The house by the Bay, well it will be less of a dream and more of a reality next year. If building a house doesn’t keep me busy, then nothing will! I’m also going to apply to school for next fall. After all the time I have spent at the hospital I’ve realized that I like it there, and I really admire the people who work there. I want to be a Licensed Practical Nurse. Maybe someday I will even be an RN. In the meantime I would like to volunteer at the hospital, I miss it already. It will be nice to be there for something other then treatments or appointments!

Have you heard Miley Cyrus’s new song “Wrecking Ball”? I know that a lot of people are upset with her for going from a Disney princess to a young girl who doesn’t wear enough clothes and smokes pot, but as an adult without children, I’m enjoying her new music. As for the video for this song…I don’t understand why artists are expressing themselves by being naked, but whatever works for them I guess! Until next time, I leave you with Wrecking Ball.

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11 responses to “Post Chemo Life

  1. NotDownOrOut says:

    You sound strong and hopeful, despite all you have experienced. I’m wishing you more recovery, less pain, and many new dreams to pursue!

  2. Anita Finnamore says:

    Hi Renee , we are so happy for you and your family. You are a strong and beautiful person we LOVE you Anita and Gene.

  3. I am glad you are feeling a bit better but you still have a long road to deal with everything, but look on the positive side your cancer free and I am sure you will get through everything just great you are such a strong young women and a very ambushes young women. still keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. and you have a very strong hubby and a strong family who will always be there to give you all the support and help you need.but keep chin up and am so glad for you.keep smiling that pretty smile and you will go far. and here is wishing you luck on becoming a RN you would make a good one, so good luck Renee in what ever you want to do..AFA Lee Ann Buxton.well my surgery is on the 27th of this month at 11:00 AM. so stay strong Renee.:)

  4. Gina Rousselle says:

    Renee, I have know you for a long time, and to read you journey for the past 6-8 months makes me so sad yet so happy! I never in a million years thought i would meet a person as strong and warm hearted as you and to call you a great friend of mine. I thought that when i first heard of your misfortune that my heart said i feel sorry for you and that i wouldn’t know what to say to you as my heart wept for you and your family. As i kept reading and facebook creeping (lol) you i realized you are the same person.
    We have talked a lot over the past few months, your strength has given me strength to keep going with my own journey.(THANK YOU!!) i was never so happy as you could tell from my fb status the day you told us all that you were disease free. I struggle now to find words to let you know how excited i am for you to get your life back on track, Make new dreams reality.
    I cant wait to see you and give you the hug i been waiting to give. Talk to you soon and stay strong.

  5. goldeygrad97 says:

    I am happy you finished your treatments and have a big old NED status! I will warn you not to do too much too fast. Recovery takes time. I am six months out from my last treatment and fatigue is still a huge factor. Good luck with school. I don’t care if I never see the inside of a hospital again so you are a better woman than me!!

  6. blogmefast says:

    you have been through a lot, and you have the courage to post about it, which i think is good for your recovery..i can feel what you are going through with the loss that you’re talking about…your posts are always appreciated..

  7. zcher says:

    I’m happy to hear you are doing ok. I thought of you often when you were not posting!

  8. Hi! I just stopped by and was checking out a few of your posts. I admire your courage and thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I had a quick question about your blog and was hoping you could email me back when you get the chance -emilywalsh688 (at) gmail.com- Thanks : )

    Emmy

  9. Hi Renee,
    For some reason I didn’t get a your last blog post in my email so I have just popped over to find out how you are.
    You have had one heck of a tough time and it’s no surprise that you are emotional. You have had to put on a brave face for so long, just to get through it, and now when the finish line is near your emotions are coming to the surface. Give yourself time to grieve for the children you have dreamed of and time to come to terms with all that you have been through. Take care xxxx

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