On December 6th, 2011, I had my last dose of chemotherapy. What seemed like an immensely long journey when it started was finally at an end.
I went in to the infusion center and got settled into my chair. My port had been misbehaving on and off for some time, and today it was a struggle to get any blood return from the site, even after multiple saline flushes. Finally, after a lot of contorting in an effort to unsnag it from whatever was causing it to be blocked, my nurse managed to get some blood out, and we could proceed with the treatment. I had a great talk with the medical assistant who had helped me so often, and halfway through, the nurse brought me a teddy bear in celebration of my end of chemo. When I was done, I had a chance to stop by the nursing station and say goodbye to a lot of the folks who had helped me over the past 5 months. They were all delighted for me, and informed me that I was only allowed to come back for visits, not for treatments.
Afterwards, my DH took me out for coffee in celebration, and I got a lot of calls and emails from friends and family congratulating me on finishing. I was very happy, but unfortunately, didn’t really think about the fact that although I didn’t have to go for more treatments, I still had to deal with a full dose of Taxol in my system, where each week the side effects were worse. I was pretty knackered for the next 10 days. The fatigue, joint pain, and neuropathy just kept right on. My feet were getting pretty numb, and I was still wearing flip flop sandals in an attempt to avoid losing any more toenails. I caught the tip of my shoe on a door jamb and face planted one night when visiting a friend, so I had the aches and pains from the fall on top of everything. Bruising can be pretty spectacular at this point! I banged up my shin, my new knee, and my hands – just what I needed.
But the end of chemo was an amazing feeling. I almost don’t know what to do with myself now that I don’t have two appointments every week, as well as the roller coaster of chemo reactions. It’s been almost a month, and I’d say that I’m beginning to feel somewhat better, or at least stronger. I knew that the neuropathy could linger on for 6-12 months, but I wasn’t really expecting the joint pain to stick around (although a search of the internet indicates that it is not unusual). I have an appointment with my oncologist on January 3rd to talk about next steps. She has warned me that recovering will take longer than I expect, so I am guessing that we’ll talk about recovery as well as followup schedules. Friends in my support group have recommended the book After Breast Cancer as an excellent resource. I ordered my copy of it from Amazon, but haven’t read it yet. I should go pull it out before I see Dr. S on Tuesday.
So hopefully, it’s all coming to an end and life can find its new normal. Woo Hoo!