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A Year and Four Months of Chemo, And Now It's Over A Year and Four Months of Chemo, And Now It's Over

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Unread 07-23-2004, 09:04 AM
A Year and Four Months of Chemo, And Now It's Over

Helen did an excellent job describing how to continue to be proactive after treatment is over.

I, too, felt like I was in a free fall when I finished treatment for breast cancer. While going through chemo, I felt that my health was in "medicine's hand", and I was doing my best to contribute by exercising more, trying to eat healthier and remaining positive.

Once chemo was finished, I felt more isolated and responsible for my own health. It's hard to believe that there is comfort in going in for infusions. You don't realize it until it's over. My Dr. warned me not to feel surprised if I felt depressed in the months after treatment. It is something that the Medical community is becoming more aware of and some centers are coming up with programs to assist survivors.

Don't feel alone in your feelings. Almost everyone that I have spoken to has gone through the same anxiety. It is temporary and as you adjust to your "new normal", life will revolve around other things than cancer. Support groups like hystersisters and BC support groups were very helpful. Continuing to keep up on the latest research and findings has also made me feel more in control. Of course diet and exercise go without say.

On a positive note, my hair grew back at a snails pace and super curley, but several haircuts later, it is very thick and the curls have loosened. I had lost weight during chemo, and unfortunately, that weight came back on......but then again, so did my appetite. It is so nice being on the other side now. I felt 100% within just a few weeks. It's been helpful being helpful to other people going through treatment. There is tremendous therapy in that as well.

Congratulations on passing another milestone!
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Unread 07-23-2004, 09:49 AM
A Year and Four Months of Chemo, And Now It's Over

s Dina

Congrats on reaching the next level of recovery!!!!
I have heard it said that recovery from chemo takes as long as the time frame for which you received chemo.
But since you are so young and healthy, and the consolidation was actually a lesser dose, I think you will be back to normal quite quickly.
I finished chemo in mid October after receiving it over four months.
I can honestly say I felt pretty darn normal by the beginning of November. It was in mid December when I finally had crew cut length hair and I would venture out without a hat.
It all depends upon how quickly your blood counts and bone marrow rebound.
As for your security blanket being lost, again you will surprise yourself with your inner strength. Will your followup be every three months to start? I am certain you will find a way to live fully in these three month time spans. Cancer will still find a way into your thoughts on a daily basis. Perhaps that never goes away. But it is quite manageable. Then about a week before a checkup the anxiety grows. I get my labs and testing done before my actual doctor visit. That way I get results in person, face to face. But I admit, from testing time to seeing the doc, I sorta live in my own zone. I seem to do alot of journaling at this time.
May your dance with NED last forever Dina!!!!

s karenann
Unread 07-23-2004, 10:15 AM
Celebratory Chocolate and Cheers!

Dearest Siren,
Congratulations, a big and a belated Happy B-Day. I have only been lurking the last few months, not posting much, but I have been thinking about you a lot lately. In fact, I was just composing a PM to ask how you were doing and what you were up to.

I am just so happy for you, the chemo is done! The feeling that you've been cut loose and are on your own is very common. I certainly did, and I haven't spoken with anyone who hasn't felt the same way. Now, a year and a half later, still on a 3 month check, I actually get cranky and am tired of seeing doctors! Of course, I know it is for my own good, so I keep my appointments and grumble alot.

Once treatments are over, your hair should come back quickly. I found going through the different stages of grow-out kind of fun. I wanted to have my shoulder length hair back again, but it came back so curly and unruly that I've decided to keep it short for now. It is so easy to just wash and go. I don't even comb it!

The one weird thing that keeps happening - my eyelashes continue to fall out every three months. They do grow back in about a week, thank goodness. When I mentioned it to the oncologist, he just said "hmmmmm".

Celebrate big time my dear! Maybe even a little champagne? You deserve it. Many blessings and all my love.
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Unread 07-23-2004, 10:30 AM
Congratulations on Finishing Chemo!

Now you've reached the stage where a book called "Dancing in Limbo" will be very helpful. I can't remember the authors' names any more--two women who are cancer survivors. People thin when the chemo stops, it's a big sigh of relief and all is well. Instead, I found myself also thinking that I'd been thrown out into the cold on my own. Chemo IS a security blanket. That's why I recommend the book. As to feeling better--I had only 6 taxol/carbo and ended Sept. 6, 2001. Almost three months later to the day I had what we thought were heart problems and was back in the hospital (a scare--heart's ok) and my counts were back to normal and before that I'd been working full time and hitting the mall. With the first recurrence, my counts weren't quite all back after 6 months and right now my platelets are a bit puny but I can't tell that. You'll get test jitters--cancerhead--it's perfectly normal. In five months I had plenty of hair but hated the curls--hey, they're easy care. Now--I'm hoping so hard you won't recur.
Unread 07-23-2004, 11:03 AM
My Crystal Ball!

Hey, SirenSong,

Congratultions on completing chemo!! I never had chemo, but I know after finishing my radiation it was a very emotionally unsettling time for me. I felt like there must be something "more" I could be doing to keep the cancer from recurring, but I wasn't at all sure what that something was. Focusing on treatment certainly keeps you busy, and all the time and energy previously directed to you treatment now must find a new mission or goal.

My crystal ball sees you ultimately embarking upon an adventure like going back to school to become a registered dietician with an emphasis on working with cancer survivors and their special nutritional needs.

Whatever you decide to do with your new-found freedom, good luck and good health to you!

Unread 07-23-2004, 12:11 PM
A Year and Four Months of Chemo, And Now It's Over

As always, it's good to know that I'm never really alone as long as I have you guys. Some of your notes made me cry, too.

Moonflower --

I've had the "my eyelashes fall out every two or three months" problem throughout the low-dose chemo. I thought it was just the chemo, but I'll watch to see what happens from here out.

Everyone else --

I do have hair -- about four inches of it. It has grown back during the low-dose treatments. I just wondered if the rate of growth changed once chemo was out of your system entirely. I'll watch and let you all know. And yes, it's grown back curly and a bit weird. I have to put wax in it and hold it back with little barettes.

MoeKay --

Not sure I'm up for anymore school (already have two degrees), but I do make time to go to the Wellness Community Young Adults group and I share what I know as best I can (both here and there). :-)

Helen513 --

Thanks for letting me know about the live strong bracelet. I'm going to go check out the web site right now. Lance's first book was a huge inspiration to me. During chemo, he said to himself, "If I move, I'm not dead." I've kept that mantra near and dear to my heart throughout this long healing process.

Seashell and Karen and BerthaC and Ellen and Judy and Maria --

Much love to you guys. You made this journey much more bearable, and your support means more to me than I can possibly express.

Thanks for your support and stories, everyone!
Unread 07-23-2004, 12:52 PM
Can Never Have Too Many Degrees!!

Hi, SirenSong--

You can never have too many degrees you know---I have three myself and at the ripe old age of 57 I still haven't ruled out the possibility of another one or two somewhere down the road! (Maybe not until after I retire though and need something to keep me out of trouble!!)

Be well,

Unread 07-23-2004, 01:10 PM
A Year and Four Months of Chemo, And Now It's Over


I am at a loss for works except congratulations on finishing chemo. I guess you just need to live each day ONE DAY AT A TIME. I think of you often and pray that you are doing okay.

The fact of finishing treatments of any kind can be kinda scary, I know that when I finished my chemo and radiation, I was kinda scared as each appt came up, and still am.

I will continue to pray for you that you will be dancing with NED from now on. Best wishes and God Bless.
Unread 07-23-2004, 02:49 PM
A Year and Four Months of Chemo, And Now It's Over

Congratulations of finishing your chemo!!
May you be forever free of cancer. I admire your proactive healthy path to fighting this cancer.
Have a good weekend and enjoy!!
Unread 07-23-2004, 03:19 PM
My security blanket

I just had very early breast cancer. Lumpectomy, radiation -- and Tamoxifen. (Not having any problems with it.) I guess the Tamoxifen is my security blanket. Just "pop that pill" every evening. I have 3.5 years remaining of the 5 years it's normally prescribed. Then what? A new med?

For now -- I am OK.

Mary D.

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