Saturday, July 16, 2016

Ten Things You'll Want to Know About Coping with Estrogen-Positive Breast Cancer Chemotherapy

(1) Diet: no more grapefruit, no more wine, no fresh ginger on treatment days.

(2) After the first chemo, you'll feel as though you were walking through Jell-O. I asked if they'd given me a sedative. No, they hadn't.

(3) A glass of prune juice really helps with the inevitable constipation. If you find the stuff sickly sweet, as I do, try half water and half prune juice, and add a little fresh lemon juice. Glug down far more water than you like to drink: a liter and a half--over seven cups a day, for Americans.

(4) What was I writing? What was that name? How old am I? Chemo-brain starts right after the first chemotherapy.

(5) Before you get the chemo, you get the port implanted under your skin above your healthy breast. It looks like a fuse, or like one of those wierd bolts Frankenstein has sticking out of his head--but can be concealed with a good sports bra, if you're in the mood for sports. Getting your port surgically inserted is as much fun as going to the dentist to have a tooth pulled, only moreso. But you'll be okay right after.

(6) You'll be in the mood for sports sometimes. Other days, you'll be lying on the sofa feeling that I-Can't-Get-Myself-To-Water-The-Plants feeling--the way you felt during the first three months of pregnancy.

(7) Estrogen, until now your friend, has become your enemy. Why am I sweating? What's that chin hair? How come I'm not thinking about sex right now? Welcome to the land of the Hot Flash--you'll cope by opening the fridge door and sticking your face in (a good way) or screeching at your loved ones (not). 

(8) Eighteen days in, you'll need that wig. It will have the consistency of hay and to you it will scream "wig!" but if your co-workers aren't looking for a wig, they'll see a new haircut. Accept compliments gracefully, even though the wig feels like having a spaghetti grabber clamped to each temple. 

(9) You'll have to swallow lots of pills in the four days after your chemo. They'll forget to tell you to put on sunscreen. Slather it, and wear a hat. Otherwise the cortisone will make you burn. Even with no sun, you'll get bright red patches on your cheeks--you'll be able to pass as a lupus patient. 

(10) You'll have to give yourself a shot the day after the chemo. Yes, every time. Tell yourself diabetics and hemophiliacs do this every day. It will be over in a minute. Don't worry about the instructions, which say to push the needle in "until you hear a click." A gigantic spring will sproing out as soon as the needle's really in. You'll find taking the needle out much easier than putting it in.


  1. I just saw this, and just wrote you an email. Why didn't you call me????

  2. I'm writing now to tell you to check your email, in case this is the only thing you see.