New Chemo… And Other Things

As I sit here, surrounded by utter exhaustion, it occurs to me that bullet points would make this a much easier post to write, but I’m not even sure what or how I would bullet point, so prepare yourselves for yet another tedious and disorganized update.

I realized on Sunday when several people asked me how my new chemo is going that I have never given y’all an update on that. So many of you want to know and really care, and I appreciate that so much.

All in all, this new chemo, which I take orally twice a day (three pills in the morning and four at night), is more tolerable in many ways than any of my previous ones. We are thankful for this. But this doesn’t mean it’s easy, by any stretch of the imagination. I take my pills for two weeks (with some blood work visits along the way) and then I have a week off.

My first week on chemo the side effects are fairly manageable–some fatigue and mild nausea. During my second week the fatigue hits like a wall (thus my utter exhaustion this evening). So while I don’t get an infusion and then feel miserable for days, the misery slowly builds up. Then my week off is a recovery week and just when I’m feeling okay again, I start all over.

I am dealing with continual side effects of insomnia (which I’m sure contributes to my fatigue) and depression (which I’m sure contributes to my not writing much these days). As the chemo has built up in my system these last three rounds, I’ve also begun having what’s called hand and foot syndrome. It’s a reddening and splitting of the skin on my hands and feet. The only way I know how to describe it is my hands feel like they are covered in paper cuts and my feet feel like they are on fire, and when I walk it’s like I’m walking on shards of glass.

It’s hard, y’all. This fight for my life. So very hard. I read stories of metastatic breast cancer survivors who have undergone Breast Cancer Treatment Services for years upon years, and I am in awe of their strength. I also read stories of those who don’t survive, who fight with everything they have, who fight with chemo and who fight it naturally, and I am in awe of their strength, too.

And I often ask myself how I’m supposed to do this… doctor’s appointments and track meets and softball games and carpools and birthday parties not to mention the daily chores of laundry and decluttering and dishes. Yet daily God gives me the strength to get through and more. And He is constantly teaching me to let go of what I think are needs–mopped floors and dusted shelves–to do what’s most important which is care for myself and my loves. I am weary of living in a home under renovation. I am weary of finding out there’s one more thing (it’s confirmed that our foundation is crumbling on one side and our bathroom renovation is halted until we can get this fixed first).

And speaking of one more thing… I went to the eye doctor on Monday and he told me that my irises are swollen. What the what? Yes, my irises are swollen. And this is not a cancer or chemo thing, this is a Lupus thing, so he thinks I am flaring but just don’t realize it because the symptoms are so similar to my chemo side effects. I am doing drops every two hours for the next week and then we’ll see how my eyes look. He does think this could be part of my headache problems, because the swelling and inflammation in my eyes would produce pain behind them. So there is hope this will help relieve the constant headache I struggle with.

In a week I will see my oncologist, and she will check my tumor markers again to see if there is any change and if the new chemo is effective. Next week I’ll also have another echocardiogram to see if my heart is repairing itself from the damage of last chemo.

So this is where we are. Living the day to day of organized chaos. The hardest part, honestly, is the depression. I just want to stop feeling sad and hopeless. There is so much hope in my Jesus. I have been listening to Matt Maher’s song, Abide with Me, over and over and over these days, because that is the cry of my heart. More than health, more than feeling well, more than an organized home and energy to do all the things, this is what I want… the walk with my Jesus and know He will never let me go.

Abide with me; abide with me.
Don’t let me fall and don’t let go.
Walk with me and never leave
Ever close, God, abide with me.”

I tried to link Matt’s song, but for some reason it’s not working, but if you wish to hear it, you can find it on youtube. I hope it encourages you. Thank you for how you encourage me. I know I say it a lot, but I mean it when I say I am so very blessed by you.

4 responses to “New Chemo… And Other Things”

  1. Angie, the depression has been the worst part for me, too…just wanting to curl up in a dark corner and cry. But we both know that the Light of the World never leaves us. Praying.

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  2. My dear our prayers are with you and your sweet family .if you need anything at all help around your home car pool our some one to come over just lend a listing ear just call me . 540 435 5940

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  3. I love you, Angie. Thank you for sharing and for sharing in detail. It informs my prayers. And it reminds me to live life and to live it LOVED.

    Every time I see this child sing on YouTube I find myself lifted.
    Worship fills my heart and my eyes turn to Jesus. And it helps. It helps me so much. I hope it helps you too and that you feel HELD by Him as you listen.

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  4. I love you friend. Your story and strength fill me with awe. I am blessed to call you my friend.

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