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Monday, May 30, 2016

A Day In The Life: Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy - part 2

As I write I'm sitting in what I refer to as the "chemo lounge". It's a large room with recliner chairs filling every bit of space around the four walls. You hear the conversations of all the other patients in every language; mostly Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, and a bit of English. Israelis, bless them, have no problem using their cellphones with full ringtone volume - including playing games with the volume on. Volunteers go around with tempting carts of treats, cakes, drinks... Most importantly many blessings, kind words, and smiles.

First I get a small IV of anti-nausea medication, then the first chemotherapy drug, Doxil*, and then Carboplatin**.  This is all part of the chemo experience and I try to take it in stride. I'm the youngest patient in the room amongst 60's and 70's mostly. I feel the others' eyes on me - maybe with a twinge of pity for me? I'm not sure. I'm mostly on my iPhone trying to pass the time on social media and reading articles that pop up on Facebook. There's wifi here however it's slow and I prefer my 4G.

This is the life of a cancer patient.... In the past I came weekly and now my treatments are monthly. I'm praying that I go into remission SOON so that I can get an oral maintenance treatment called: PARPS inhibitors. I'm hoping!

This usually takes the entire day..... So I try to stay cheery. I know I'm acting silly and cancer isn't a joke. The chemotherapy  makes me feel terrible physically - I'm hoping that if I focus on happiness and positivity I can strengthen my immune system. So far it's working - my blood counts usually plummet, which requires me to take daily injections. This time my blood counts have remained stable and that is miraculous!

We all have a choice in how we take our lumps; our peckles.
This is mine....

Chemotherapy - Doxil AKA "The Red Devil"

There are so many side effects that may occur... I have experienced some and not others. Chemotherapy is definitely a toxic treatment, which happens to save lives too. It's a balance between life and death.

*Doxil: side effects
  • Serious and possibly permanent heart-related side effects that may lead to congestive heart failure
  • Some side effects during IV include: flushing, shortness of breath, facial swelling, headaches, chills, back pain, tightness in the chest or throat, dizziness, or lightheadedness.
  • Weakness
  • Tiredness
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Stomatitis (painful redness, swelling, or sores in the mouth)
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hand-foot syndrome: tingling or burning, redness,flaking, bothersome swelling, small blisters, or small sores on palms of hands or soles of feet. In certain cases, this reaction can be more severe leading to serious infections, interfering with walking and other daily activities.
  • Rash
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Low platelet count
  • Anemia
  • Cases of oral cancer have been reported in people who had taken DOXIL® for more than one year. The oral cancer was diagnosed during treatment and up to 6 years after the last dose. 
  • DOXIL® may turn urine and other bodily fluids a reddish-orange color (hence the nickname, Red Devil). This is due to the color of DOXIL® and will go away as the drug leaves the body.

**Carboplatin: side effects
  • Nausea and vomiting usually occurring within 24 hours of treatment 
  • Nausea 
  • Vomiting 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Severe abdominal pain 
  • Lip or mouth sores: redness, swelling, ulcers
  • Extreme fatigue: inability to carry on self-care activities
  • Muscle cramps or twitching 
  • Change in hearing 
  • Dizziness, confusion or visual changes
  • Taste changes
  • Hair loss
  • Weakness
  • Blood test abnormalities: Abnormal magnesium level 
  • Burning sensation at the injection site 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Diarrhea 
  • Constipation 
  • Mouth sores 
  • Infection 
  • Peripheral neuropathy: decreased sensation, numbness, and tingling of the extremities. 
  • Sensory loss
  • Central neurotoxicity including dizziness, confusion, visual changes, ringing in the ears. 
  • Nephrotoxicity AKA kidney problems
  • Hearing loss 
  • Abnormal blood electrolyte levels (sodium, potassium, calcium).  
  • Abnormal blood liver enzymes
  • Heart failure, blood clots and strokes have been reported with Carboplatin use.  
  • Allergic reaction during transfusion: itching, rash, shortness of breath or dizziness 
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising 
  • Black stools, or blood in stools or urine 


  1. If you think you stand out because of your age, you should have seen how they looked at my 22 year-old son!
    Here's to zapping and blasting those cells, roll on remission (my son is in complete remission T.G.) xxx

  2. Refuah shleima. Hopefully you will go into remission very soon Bezrat Hashem.

  3. Sending love and hugs your way Ahava. Praying that you will go into remission. Keep up the great attitude.

  4. Chaya Malka HirthWednesday, June 01, 2016

    Hashem should give you the koach to get through the chemo treatments and davening for you to not suffer from any of the severe side effects....chazak vaematz
    Your positive attitude is a lesson for all of us.