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Chemo's done. What's next?

CorrieB
Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2013

So, my very best friend (closer than a sister) just had her last chemo treatment on Monday. Chemo's been hellish hard for her (that will likely surprise none of you), but she stuck with it. My question is, what's next? I want to be able to support and help her as much as I can, but I thought it'd be easier to do that if I asked the questions. She had twelve treatments, two weeks apart.

How long do the side effects last? The nausea, fatigue, moodiness (we've just been calling it 'roid rage)? When does she get to establish her new normal? I mean, I understand that she'll go into monitoring & vigilance (she'll be good at that, she's a good advocate for her own healthcare needs). I just want her to feel BETTER.

Any help is welcome. Is there anything I can do in the way of support to make it easier for her, or should I just keep doing what I've been doing (which is mostly just being there to listen, and to make her laugh when she's feeling down)?

Thanks,
Corrie

thxmiker's picture
thxmiker
Posts: 1282
Joined: Oct 2010

The Chemo side effects can last for 6 months or more.  Some times there is nerve damage and the neuropathy can be for ever.   It took 18 moths for most of the neuropathy to go away,  I lost feeling in my toes and liitle fingers.  The nausea and fatigue will all go away in about 6 months and most will go away in 8-10 weeks.

 

Keep up our friend's spirits.   It is not their desire not to do things, it is their in ability.  Do not leave them out, because they keep not showing.  That will change and get back to normal.

 

Cancer is scary.  Talk about future plans with your friend. Let them know you are there in their future.

Best Always,  mike

 

Sundanceh's picture
Sundanceh
Posts: 4408
Joined: Jun 2009

What's Next?

That's always hard to say as it varies with whether or not the disease stays at bay and for how long. 

I'm currently looking at a possible 4th occurence for myself in nine-years time and of course, am wondering what's next with my fight.

Let's assume that she's done the one...and then will be done...

Some side effects can last a lifetime like neuropathy if she did the Oxaliplatin.  Other side effects can have a temporary timeframe and will dissipate according to each person's metabolism and biological make-up.

Nausea will go away....Fatigue eventually will.....she just needs to rest when she needs to....for as long as she needs to.  The body has experienced serious trauma as these meds are cytotoxic and you can't just take them without there being some residual effect...even if she doesn't feel like anything is amiss.

Steroids will fade as well...

Establishing a new normal?  Again, there is no set timetable for this...she'll handle it according to her own gifts.  No undue pressure should be placed to feel or be a certain way; this is a setup for disaster. 

Basically, if she doesn't expect too much, too soon, she won't be let down...Time and Patience are just as big a weapons as the treatment themselves.

As for support, do what you're doing....be her friend....and not just today...but be her friend if it comes back again....or again....

All too often, friends want their friends to fit back the way they used to be in a timeframe that is geared more to them - not the patient.  When the patient can't get well quick enough...or continues to get sick over and over.....many folks, friends and family pull the rip cord and bail out. 

This is devastating as it begins to undermine the friendship you thought that you had developed.  More to the point, it sends the signal to the cancer patient that their value is not what it was...and then Hope packs a suitcase and heads out the door.

And in Hopes' place, Depression can quickly move in and set up residence...

One of my ex-friends called me one day...I was about a mile off the highway...I was extremely sick and I answered the phone....told me he was in town....but so busy....that he did not have 120-SECONDS for me:(

Just be her friend:)

Best wishes!

-Craig

CorrieB
Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2013

I really appreciate all of the help and sharing I find here, thank you. I'd been riding the lurker train for quite a while, but you guys were helping me then, too (you just didn't know it).

I don't want her to find the new normal for me, or her husband and kids, but for her. I just thought that having a little knowledge from people who've been through it could help me when things aren't going as smoothly or as quickly as she'd like... does that make sense? We've watched other friends drift away - I guess they weren't friends enough, or they freaked out about the illness, or whatever - but she's got me for life, no matter what it throws at us.

Thank you for being so generous with your story and your experiences. I'd wager that you're helping more than one person like me (assuming I wasn't the only lurker).
Laughing

Corrie

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