chemo is even less fun than you’ve imagined… unless you’ve had it or are having it now, then you know exactly. no need for details- i’m just sick for about a week and then i slowly feel better & have more energy until i go back for another round every 21 days. hopefully just rinse & repeat 6 times.
one interesting revelation in all of this is that i’m not a medicine person. around age 5, i broke into an upper cabinet & ate a bunch of baby aspirin… that’s the last time i remember wanting to take a lot of pills. (those tasted like cherry- who can blame a kid?!) i’m usually more of a ‘wait & see’ person. if i have a headache, i drink a glass of water or go outside for a short walk. upset stomach? drink some bone broth and take a closer look at my diet from recent days. skin red & itchy? removing grains and dairy from my food cleared that right up. there’s a pill for every ailment, but they seem to adversely affect me in one way or another- i didn’t realize how much i disliked medications until now!
but then there’s chemo… when you pour toxic chemicals into your veins, you get immediate side effects. chemically-induced illnesses don’t go away with whole foods and a glass of water. you can’t always ‘wait & see’- ongoing digestive distress (ahem) dehydrates & weakens your body, which is already reeling. so basically, i’m a ping-pong ball. i fly between hot flashes & fever chills, exhaustion & restlessness, hungry & nauseous. i’ll spare you the other extremes. but there’s a pill for that, and i have no choice but to take it.
so i’m not feeling great, but there are a few things that are helping. maybe they will help you to care for someone (or maybe yourself) in the same boat?
1. meals for my family. our community drops meals at our house several days a week. i’m not able to eat them the week after chemo (though they smell delicious!), but it’s a precious and selfless gift to prepare food for my people. i’m so thankful.
2. bottled water. i’m usually a tap water person, but i can taste all the metals in our well water right now, and bottle water is delightfully bland. the more i drink, the better i feel- hydration always matters, and right now i’m keenly aware.
3. bone broth. when i can drink 1-2 cups of warm bone broth (beef, chicken, pork- any healthy animal bones + veggies), i have more energy & less stomach upset. it’s a highly nutrient dense drink, and it doesn’t take much to see the benefit.
4. walking outdoors. being in Connecticut, my days of outdoor walks are approaching an end. shifting to snow shoes may be the thing, though, because movement fights chemical induced fatigue better than sleep! i’m not terribly aerobic these days, but 30 minutes of slow walking helps a lot.
5. friends who give ENORMOUS grace. this bears repeating: you are loving us well, friends. i know you wish you could DO something, and i understand that impulse. i like to ‘do,’ too! it’s so much easier than praying, hoping, and waiting. i get it. but there isn’t always something to do, is there? some days we get 5 offers for groceries, walks, and babysitting- we take great comfort in both your offers of love and your ability to hear ‘no thank you.’ it doesn’t seem like much, but when you accept ‘no,’ you are not requiring more of us than we have to give today. that is just as much a gift to us as your time & service.
hear this, please: when you quietly leave a meal outside our door, when you send a text that i can’t respond to for days, when you just wish you could do something to help – we know you love us, and that is everything.