One of the most important conversations I had with the oncologist before starting chemotherapy highlighted all possible side effects and how to go about managing chemo side effects.
Nausea, cold sensitivity, infertility, hair loss, skin dryness, neuropathy, low white cell count, low platelet count, risk of infection, mouth sores, etcetera. For each chemo regimen, the list varies, but nothing on any list is very appealing.
Knowing what might lay ahead helped me feel equipped and empowered as I started chemo. In fact after the first round of chemo, I thought I knew what to expect and talked to the oncologist about how to mitigate the most bothersome side effect that I had experienced. I felt confident that I was well prepared for dealing with this chemo thing.
Then came round two. Side effects were similar, except that the main side effect from round one was no longer an issue and the preventive measures I took actually made me miserable.
From round to round, I have found that the side effects can vary somewhat or other times widely. Sometimes one will be worse than another and just as soon as I have a plan with the oncologist to mitigate the most bothersome, another pops up and the first one doesn’t seem so bad.
Yes, it makes planning difficult. But sometimes, it is also a relief when nausea that had persisted from round to round suddenly isn’t a problem at all in one round. I still believe that being informed and prepared for chemo is preferable to going in without the information. I am grateful for sites like livestrong.com and the American Cancer Society that provide information about the side effects of chemotherapy for different kinds of cancer.
For me, managing chemo side effects is a little like playing a video game: Just when you think you have it mastered, you get bumped up to the next level where the environment is the same, but the variables have changed.
They say forewarned is forearmed and indeed I can say that at this point in my chemotherapy I am ready for just about anything.