Light at the end of the tunnel

22 Aug

The light at the end of the tunnel is becoming brighter and brighter. So far I’ve had 27 radiation treatments, 7 intravenous chemo appointments and 94 oral chemo pills (and a whole slew of other medications including pain killers, stool softners, laxatives, anti-diarrhea and anti-nausea meds and fever reducers) and tomorrow is finally my LAST radiation appointment and day of oral chemo pills.  Although the whole process has not been easy, looking back it has gone by rather quickly.  And now looking ahead, I am excited to begin the healing and recovery process.  Since finishing my final intravenous chemo appointment this past Monday, I’ve already begun to notice my energy level and endurance increase.

* * *

I was getting my haircut the other day, and one of the stylists at the salon had an embroidered pillow sitting on top her styling station that said something to the effect of “I don’t have hot flashes, I’m just spontaneously and uncontrollably whisked away to a hot sunny day at the beach.”  Well kudos to the person that can actually brainwash themselves to believe that. I, however, appear to be lacking an imagination when it comes to episodes of hot flashes and they feel all too real.

Benjamin Button

Hot flashes are the one side effect that will likely not be dissipating with the conclusion of treatment.  When the doctor first explained this to me, I got a warm and fuzzy feeling inside, but not in the good sense…in fact it was just another hot flash – ugh.  As I was complaining about the ‘hot flashes as a side effect of treatment’ my oncologist corrected me, explaining they are not a side effect of chemo or radiation, rather a side effect of menopause.  What??!!  Although I was made aware that this was a possibility (along with 742 other potential side effects of cancer treatment) I surely wasn’t prepared for it.  Ready to jump into combat mode, I inquired what we do to fix this.  First, my doctor explained that we won’t really know if I’ve hit early menopause for a few months.  They could run tests now, however a positive or negative result wasn’t guaranteed to remain as such down the road, whereas in a few months they’d have a better idea.  Then, like any good western doctor is trained to do, he began rattling off a slew of hormone replacement drugs I could consider.  These medications would stop the hot flashes, along with other symptoms of menopause, such as a decrease in skin elasticity.  I immediately envisioned myself as a 29-year old with the skin of a 90-year old…perhaps I could pitch myself as the lead in a sequel to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button!  Not quite ready to make a decision (or ready to accept this was actually happening), I inquired about a more natural approach.  Soy was the answer I got.  While it wouldn’t stop all the symptoms of menopause, it was known for eliminating hot flashes.  I typically don’t eat soy, however I’m at the point where I’ll try anything to calm these flashes down. While Nick was out and about, I texted him with my new found grocery list containing nothing but soy products – and he delivered!

So much soy!

Fingers crossed this will do the trick and I will be able to get through summer in the desert at a cool 110 degrees instead of the 160 degrees I feel when ‘I am whisked away to the beach’.  After surgery we’ll start to look at some longer-term treatment options – if, in fact, it’s determined I’ve actually hit menopause.  In the mean time, I recommend you purchase stock in soy!

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7 Responses to “Light at the end of the tunnel”

  1. Rita Hartert August 23, 2010 at 8:22 am #

    Soybeans are HUGE with Minnesota farmers….almost as much as corn…and the crop looks good this year, so I think you’re in good shape in that dept. Hope this remedy does the trick! Love, Aunt Rita

  2. Sandy Ross(aunt, once removed!) August 23, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    So glad you have endured the treatments so well! Will be praying for your successful surgery. When is the surgery and what will it involve?

  3. Holly P (Angela's sister) August 24, 2010 at 6:58 pm #

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us. Your humor and attitude are an example for all of us! You are a great writer :)

  4. Roxy Miller August 25, 2010 at 12:43 pm #

    Emily,
    I am on bioidentical hormones and I love them! If you ever need to go on hormones this is the way to go. They contain soy and are mixed up for me by a Compounding Pharmacy. Google that and you will see what they are all about. My night sweats went away right away, better mood, etc…. What I like is that the formula is mixed specifically for my body.
    Roxy

  5. Molly (McShane) Davin August 28, 2010 at 10:43 am #

    Emily,

    I know, blast from the past, right? Well I am just now discovering/catching-up on your blog. You are an excellent writer! I am very honestly blown away by your attitude and prospective on all of this. I also appreciate the education I am receiving regarding colon cancer. I may have to go get a dark blue ribbon today! You are an impressive woman. Good luck with the wedding-countdown, mini-moon, and surgery. I will be thinking of you!

    Molly

  6. Molly (McShane) Davin August 28, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    Sorry, colo-rectal cancer … see I am still learning!

  7. Karen Moger August 30, 2010 at 3:40 pm #

    Hi Em,
    I so understand about hot flashes!! I suffered the mother of them all during my little bout with the ugly beast! I was fortunate enough to be going through the worst in the winter. More than once I stepped out on my front step in my “nightie” To calm my latenight “personal summer!” People can say what they want, the flashes suck the life out of you, but it to shall pass. Hang in there, they say it could be worse, yah, right!!!!!
    Aunt Karen

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