Facing Fear And Surrendering Control

Despite the tremendous advances in cancer diagnosis and treatment in the past 20 years, there still is a great deal of anxiety among patients when they first hear the words, ‘You have cancer’.

Dr. Finestone

It was winter when I felt like my life was placed on hold. Getting a cancer made me feel that I’ve been robbed of attaining a good life. It was like a hard pill for me to swallow, it took me sometime to process everything and accept the situation. After I’d had a realization of my purpose, I stopped worrying about how I can follow through with my dreams, my goals, and the people around me. But instead, I’d focused on myself and began a new way of living. Life has it’s funny way of hitting you and reminding you to be good on yourself.

At Bhorade Cancer Center of Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital

My first day of treatment started on February 5, 2018, I was on the True Beam (external radiation treatment) everyday, Monday to Friday for 6 weeks. During those treatments, I just lay flat on a surface and stay still for 15 minutes. The laser from this machine targets the affected area, rotates around the body to deliver radiation therapy. It was pain free and was not uncomfortable at all.

While on radiation treatment, once a week for 5 weeks, I was receiving chemotherapy at the same time. This treatment took about 6 hours of infusions, which include : pre-hydration given over 2 hours, pre-medication given 30 minutes before chemo, cisplatin given for an hour, and lastly 2 hours of post hydration therapy.

During my chemotherapy sessions, I was pre-medicated intravenously with anti-nausea medicine before the chemo. Along with that, I had my 3 kinds of anti-nausea pills to continue at home for 3 days and to take it as needed. My doctor prescribed me these medications to make sure that I’ll be ok and prevent from crashing down to weakness.

I was instructed by my doctor ahead of time that feeling ill is expected after chemotherapy. Different people respond to treatment differently. Some would feel ill on the 2nd or 3rd day following after chemotherapy. However, the ill feeling usually takes a day and gets off the next day. In my case, I get the symptoms of dizziness, tinnitus (ringing in ears), nausea, and unsteady gait a day after the chemotherapy treatment. Then on the following day, I feel much better again.

On the other hand, radiation therapy also gave me a physical reaction such as loose bowel movement. It’s a side effect of radiation therapy causing the bowel to irritate. I get this reaction over the weekends while I’m off the treatment. Because of this, I have a standby anti-diarrhea medicine prescribed by my doctor to take it as necessary. Since getting frequent loose bowel movement for 2 days, this has caused me to have a low magnesium level. To bring it back up to normal again, I had taken magnesium replacement intravenously during the day of my chemotherapy session. Fortunately, I had this electrolyte imbalance once only and didn’t had to go through succeeding replacements. Managing this situation was an eating challenge, taking in solid foods just aggravates the bowel reaction. I was able to cope with it by hydrating myself with water or any fluids, and clear liquid.

Getting a blood draw wasn’t difficult than getting an IV access

Every Monday, I get my bloodworks done to check my numbers before I start my chemotherapy session every Tuesday.

While going through this treatment, to better understand my risk for developing certain cancers, I had met with the genetic counselor and had my genetic testing done. This is an important information to know and understand if any possibility of gene mutations occurring within my immediate family. 

Thanks to my amazing nurses who took care of me : Jacki Chigas, Nina Poulaki, Denise Fleck 

Dealing with all these was quite overwhelming. It taught me to be more patient with myself, and think more positively on the process. With that being said, to keep my sanity intact, I was provided well with supportive services and resources which helped me rebuild my outlook towards life.

Resources :

ORGANIZATIONS YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONNECT WITH :

  • Look Good Feel Better – beauty professionals help you with skin and nail care, make-up application, tips on wig selection and wig care, scarves, turbans, hats, and style tips. For registration information, please call The American Cancer Society 1-800-227-2345
  • American Cancer Society – offers information, guidance, and emotional support. http://cancer.org      1-800-227-2345
  • Imerman Angels – connect with someone who has been there. Connecting cancer fighters, survivors, and caregivers. http://imermanangels.org 1-866-463-7626
  • Wellness House – provides programs to educate, support, and empowerment to help improve the physical and emotional well-being of all people affected by cancer. http://www.wellnesshouse.org 
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology http://cancer.net 
  • CancerCare http://cancercare.org 
  • National Cancer Institute http://cancer.gov  
  • Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act http://ginahelp.org 
  • Ambry’s Hereditary Cancer Site For Families http://patients.ambrygen.com/cancer 

FIND A GENETIC COUNSELOR :

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