Erik MH:

blog entry

Chemo­ther­apy, radi­ation ther­apy, and side effects

original date2017-10-07 13:53 utc
republished2024-06-06 01:11 utc
topicshealth; orig. on PostHope
noteThis post was ori­gin­ally pub­lished at Pos­tHope, where it’s still avail­able, along with sev­er­al pub­lic comments.

Sev­er­al people have asked me wheth­er I’ve been sug­ar-coat­ing my posts here — or at least choos­ing to write about only the good, rather than the bad or the ugly.

I will admit that, espe­cially in the early days, things weren’t that great: I suffered from naus­ea and fatigue (mostly from the chemo­ther­apy, I think) and pain (from my j‑tube sur­gery and the enflamed eso­phag­us). These weren’t ter­rible, how­ever, and I’d been led to expect that the effects of both the chemo­ther­apy and the radi­ation ther­apy were cumu­lat­ive over time — that is, that they would gen­er­ally get worse over each week of my ther­apies. And so, I didn’t really report on those early days, both because there were oth­er things to write about and also because I wanted to be able to write “I feel awful” posts later on, when I really expec­ted to feel much more awfuller.

In fact, with the excep­tion of fatigue, everything has been improv­ing over the last few weeks. The eso­phag­us is prob­ably even more inflamed than it was, but it both­ers me less because the tumor is tak­ing up much less space: I can eat (and am eat­ing!) many more foods than I could a month ago, and in great­er quant­ity (yea!!). I have no naus­ea. I have little pain around the j‑tube.

And this is appar­ently not unusu­al. The nurses I’ve spoken with about this report that, though the “it just gets worse and worse until sev­er­al weeks after you’ve fin­ished treat­ment” scen­ario does often play out, it’s more com­mon for symp­toms and side-effects to ease — as I’ve exper­i­enced. Again, more for me to be grate­ful for!

I fin­ished my chemo­ther­apy on Monday, and have def­in­itely been feel­ing more tired this week than ever. But I also feel more myself, more healthy. I’m tre­mend­ously happy that I can eat so much more now. I’m still “feed­ing” almost 1,500 cal­or­ies each day via the j‑tube, but I’m also eat­ing nearly that amount in real food — and regain­ing an aver­age of some­thing like a half-pound each day. (And I’m try­ing to keep act­ive enough that all the excess doesn’t end up in my mid­riff; we’ll see how that goes!) I’m still about 10 pounds under my pre­ferred weight, but I’m now at nearly the same amount over my nadir weight of Septem­ber 1st. Half way!

And I have only one more radi­ation ther­apy appoint­ment, this com­ing Monday. Once I’m through that, inflam­ma­tion can begin to sub­side, and my body can con­cen­trate solely on rebuild­ing or repla­cing the mil­lions (bil­lions?) of cells that the chemo­ther­apy and the radi­ation have injured or killed.

Next post: mobile feed­ing, and a con­fer­ence in Montréal