As I suspected weeks ago, finishing chemotherapy is not the joy that everyone seems to imagine it would be.
To be honest it’s kind of depressing. When I was in chemo I was in fighter mode, I was doing something horrible to do what I had to to get rid of cancer and hope it never came back. As much as chemo sucked, I felt like I was doing something meaningful.
Chemo is considered this huge difficult thing, this practically insurmountable thing that people go through to fight cancer. Now that it’s over, it feels like I should be done. I’m starting to feel normal again, my hair is hideous but growing back, my energy is coming back, I’m exercising again. It really feels like I’ve gotten over the hump, and I should be done with cancer now. I should be able to keep moving forward, working towards getting my life back.
Nope, it’s not like that. On May 24 I will start five weeks of radiation, five weeks of going to the hospital every single day Monday to Friday for a treatment that is going to burn my skin, increase my risk of future cancers, and possibly leave me exhausted. I have six ugly little tattoos on my body. It never occurred to me that I would be bothered by radiation tattoos, but I am. I hate them. Every time I stand nudr in front of the mirror and see them, all I see is cancer, marked on me as permanently as it has been by the scar on my breast.
Yesterday I started tamoxifen, an oestrogen suppressing medicine that can have some pretty unpleasant side effects like (more, I’ve still got them from chemo) hot flashes, erratic menstruation, weight gain, exhausting, aches and pains. A lot of people tolerate it well, but a lot of people don’t. If I do tolerate it well, but I’m a lucky lucky girl because I get to start ovary suppression injections, and be shot straight into menopause, if I tolerate that well then oncologist strongly recommends I have my ovaries removed since I will likely still be premenopausal when I finish my five years of hormonal therapy. My oncologist was practically crying yesterday when she was telling me about this, telling me how much she hates doing this to young women, putting them into early menopause and ageing them prematurely. I wanted to tell her that I bet I hated it a lot more than she did. I should be looking forward to enjoying these early middle aged years, not an unnatural induced menopause 10 years before its time (don’t get me wrong, I don’t care about my fertility at all, I just care about still feeling like the young and healthy woman that I’m supposed to be).
People keep asking me how I am now that I’m done chemo. I say that I’m great, that I’m happy to move me to the next treatment. But the truth is I’m just done; I’m tired and I’m done. I’m done with cancer, done with treatment for cancer, done with ever having cancer. Unfortunately it doesn’t matter that I feel done, because I’m not. I have to go through radiation. I have to take the medications, I have to go through menopause early. If I want to have a much lower chance of cancer coming back, I don’t get to be done yet.