I have now officially completed my 4 cycles of chemotherapy post-surgery! This milestone couldn’t have arrived fast enough, as the last 2 months have been more challenging than expected. With each subsequent cycle,
1) I became progressively weaker as the side-effects added up;
2) It took me longer to recover from the nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue;
3) The nerve pain in my heels got worse and worse, making it difficult for me to walk;
4) My discomfort at the chemotherapy centre grew (I would feel nauseous even before sitting down to receive the chemo drugs, a phenomenon known as “anticipatory nausea”).
After receiving my last dose of chemo, I finally rang the Bravery Bell. This is a bell that patients ring to announce the end of their chemo treatment. When the bell is rung, the room erupts in applause for a few seconds. While ringing the bell means different things for different patients, to me it signifies the end of a marathon. Full of energy at the start, and barely able to walk by the end. Tired, nauseous, easily light-headed as I crawl to the finish line. Mounting doubts as to whether I would be able to complete the journey. I survived pre-surgery chemo, the surgery itself, and post-surgery chemo. Now, I get to finally recover (my recovery from surgery had taken a pause (and at times regressed) during the past 2 months due to having to have another 4 cycles of chemotherapy after surgery to hopefully mop up any residual cancer cells, sigh).
My next goal is to be to get rid of my feeding tube. I need to eat between 2600 and 3000 kcal/day in order to steadily gain back weight. So far I’m averaging around 2000 kcal. Two months ago, I couldn’t get past 1500 kcal, so there’s progress. The sooner the tube comes out, the sooner I can start moving around without worrying about my tube falling out when I stretch or strain my core muscles, and the closer I’ll be to getting my independence back.