chemo 3

Recovering from chemo #3. As with the other two, I’m feeling pretty normal, three days after treatment.

Predictable side effects: nausea the day of. Sometimes awful, sometimes bearable.

I can eat pretty much anything until the mouth sores start, around day four or five. Then I need to avoid hard, sharp foods like potato chips, dry cookies or crackers, etc. And overly salty things, or acidic things, including fruit and tomatoes.

Soft foods are best: soups, yogurt. Temperature extremes are to be avoided – no hot foods that could burn, no frozen foods that could irritate. I also avoid things that could get stuck between teeth, because it makes the mouth sores worse when I have to floss or use toothpicks.

My oncologist prescribed a great mouth rinse for the mouth sores; they usually clear up after about a week.

My hair falling out has plateaued – you can still see stubble on my head from when my friend Tony clipped it. It doesn’t seem to be growing very fast – we’ve tried clipping it since, and not much more came off.

I haven’t lost other body hair, like on my arms and legs (still need to shave legs!), or eyebrows / lashes.

Other than sleeping heavily for the first two days after treatment, I haven’t noticed any significant fatigue from the chemo (knock wood) or mental fog. I feel pretty normal from days four to twenty-one.

I still have to avoid germs, although the powerful drugs I’m taking to boost my blood cell counts are doing the job – my counts are normal again before each treatment.

One of the most unexpected side effects has been on my periods. I’d heard from many sources that you stop menstruating while on chemo, and was hoping this would be the case for me. One less thing to worry about, right?

Wrong. My cycle has been affected a little in terms of timing, but my periods definitely haven’t stopped, and if anything I’m bleeding more heavily than I did before chemo. Not fun.

I started my period the day before my first chemo, and had several days of very heavy flow (lasting much longer than normal).

I started my next period several days before this current chemo, but just spotted until the treatment. This morning I woke up to heavy flooding – again, very atypical pattern for me.

Not thrilled about losing so much blood during treatment, but what can you do? My oncologist said Tuesday that my periods would likely stop. I hope so.

Update since I first posted this: I’m wondering now if the menstrual flooding has to do with the uterine lining being affected by the chemo drugs, which kill quickly-reproducing cells (such as the cells that would heal the uterine lining after the enriched layer has sloughed off).