What it feels like to finish chemo

My throat aches, I’ve got head spins and dizzy spells galore, my muscles and bones feel like lead, peripheral neuropathy is now present in my feet, and overall, my body feels like it’s been hit by a Boeing 747. It’s downright exhausted. And there’s no wonder. It’s battled 20 weeks of combative chemical warfare. And yep, my body survived. No white flag of surrender, just a solid 5 months of my body withstanding the onslaught of chemo. I applaud it. I appreciate it. And I embrace it, even in its current glorious inflamed -anemic state!

Thankfully, I’m booked in for another blood transfusion this Tuesday which will hopefully revitalize and pump up my little hemoglobin levels because right now, they’re struggling to transport enough oxygen to organs which is why I’m feeling light headed, faint and extra fatigued. Pump up the jam, I say.

So heads up, this will likely be a short post as it’s already a struggle writing it (or is that due to being horizontal?) My little beady eyes that pop out from the ghostly anemic face are doing their best to stay open despite a solid 10 hr sleep last night, and 2 decent kips already today. But I must say not waking to my alarm like previous Sunday mornings was amazing. No chemo tomorrow means no blood test today! So I didn’t need to rush down to Pathology first thing.Beach walks sure beat a blood test at pathology to kick start a Sunday morning. I won’t miss those weekly jabs or hour long waits.

Finishing my very last chemo session last Tuesday was one of my greatest achievements. Yet it still feels a bit surreal to think that chemotherapy is all over. 16 sessions completed. When it consumes your mind, body and soul for so long, it’s hard trying to disconnect from it.

Maybe that’s why on the morning of my last session, I woke up and cried. I know they should have been tears of happiness, but they weren’t. I can’t really articulate exactly what they were. I cried as I took my final dose of pre-meds thinking is this scheduled routine really now over? I cried as I made a cup of tea thinking about day 1 and the anxiety and fear I had felt having once wondered, when will it ever get better?  I cried as I drew on my eyebrows and saw just how different I looked on the outside, but also because of how different I was now forever on the inside. I cried because I knew that when I arrived at the hospital it would be just another routine session for the nurses, but for me, it was one of the most profound days of my life. I cried as I locked the door of the house as I left for the hospital, knowing that when I returned I was quite literally opening the door again to a new, chemo -free phase of my life.

Hospital Routine was as per usual: check in, get weighed, blood pressure taken, anti nausea pills given, IV tubes and chemo connected, hours to pass, infusion finished, tubes disconnected, next patient please.  If it wasn’t for my pink party wig that I wore all day or for my sisters who sat by my side, you’d think it was just another ordinary day at the office.

But for me, it was far from it.

On my return from the hospital, I popped champagne (to my naturopaths horror) and celebrated with an intimate gathering at my sister house toasting to finally finishing chemo treatment! With my Mum, sisters and nearest & dearest (a few VIPS missing), we celebrated in a humble but beautiful way, one I’ll always treasure.

(The massive party where every man and his dog attends will take place after I have surgery and am cleared of all cancer!)

Along with the bubbles, the tears once again flowed. As soon as I started saying a few words I couldn’t stop crying. I cried thinking about every single person who had messaged and wished me well, because without their support I wouldn’t have been so calm and made it through unscathed. I cried with appreciation for those special few (you know who you are) that without fail called or texted me every single day to make sure I was okay. I cried thinking about how lucky I am to have my amazing partner who never once faltered, or backed away when things were difficult, and who continues to love me unconditionally. I’m sobbing now as I type this. With such intense physical, financial and emotional changes that chemo and cancer create, all you really desire is consistency and I’m so grateful that the love and support that I’ve been shown has been exactly that.

My AMAZING, selfless, caring and incredible best friend brought me 16 pink balloons, each one presenting the 16 chemo sessions I had over the 20 week period.

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These balloons not only symbolized the actual chemo sessions, but for me they also presented every lost strand of hair, every tear, hot sweat, nose bleed, bone ache, worry, sleepless night, and painful moment I have felt during this process. In what seemed like the only fitting thing to do, we gathered close in a ceremonious way, and simply Let Go of the balloons, watching them rise into the beautiful sky. I exhaled as I let go of not only the balloons, but also the past and all that it encompassed, knowing that life now, will only be on the up.

Balloonssss

4 thoughts on “What it feels like to finish chemo

  1. I love this post! (Well I actually loved them all)! Can’t wait for you to feel better Emmy! You seriously are amazing 😘😘😘

    Like

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