The Side Effects Infomercial

The impacts of chemotherapy

Would you hook yourself up to an IV and drip drano into your body?

Of course not!

But that’s what I do every other week!

Cancerous cells multiple in a style that is disorganized and rapid to the point where they are basically out of control taking over and destroying organs or body parts in their path.

Chemotherapy works by killing cells that are dividing very quickly. Chemo drugs do not differentiate between cancer cells and the other fast dividing cells that reside in the stomach, mouth, intestines and other numerous areas of the body. Thus, as normal cells are killed and their dividing disrupted, the nasty side effects emerge.

Since normal cells divide in an organized rhythm, within several days or weeks, they return to normal subdividing with the side effects reduced.

Cancer cells divide in a sea of disorganization and they can take some time to restart dividing; thus they are usually hit with another dose of chemo before they gather dividing strength. This causes them to reduce, wither and hopeful die a painful death.

Every chemotherapy causes different side effects and every person experiences chemo differently. I’ve heard some people can sail right through it with minimal effect. I wish I were that person. Most people react significantly and move into a survival mode lifestyle after chemo.

Before you receive chemo, you get to sit with a nurse who reviews all the possible side effects to help you prepare. It’s like being terrorized by a side effect infomercial. 

So, what are these side effects?

Of course there’s the nausea. Also stomach aches, sharp stomach pains, hair loss, twinkling lights in the corner of your eyes, vision changes to blurriness, mouth sores, skin rashes, bloody nose, headaches, exhaustion so intense it feels you are trying to walk while on the bottom of the ocean, insomnia, severe body aches, bone aches, diarrhea, constipation, painful gas, loss of appetite, weight loss, inability to swallow food or drink while it’s in your mouth, loss of control of your hands, trigger fingers, painful cold reactions to touching cold things or being outside when it’s cold or swallowing cold things, loss of feeling in your toes and fingertips, muscle weakness, disorientation, memory loss, inability to pay attention, loss of balance and falling over unexpectedly, dehydration, muscle twitches, muscle cramping. Then there’s just that horrible painful chemo feeling.

I feel like I’m forgetting something. 

I try not to talk about side effects because as soon as I start describing them, I begin experiencing them. When the car enters the Cancer Center parking lot they all set in, even before treatment. 

So that’s why I’m writing this today so I can try to forget about them before I receive treatment tomorrow. 


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This is my blog about living my life with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer—End stage. I joked about writing this imaginary blog when I spent a year on a treatment that allowed me only 10 days to feel well enough to live a fairly normal life. (Actually normal doesn’t even really exist for me anymore!) To earn those good days, I spent the previous 10 days living in post-chemo treatment physical hell – that also became normal in a perverse way. I’m also writing to honor those who are diagnosed with Stage Four Pancreatic Cancer. You might live longer than you expect and I want you to have someone who tells you what that’s like. There aren’t many role models for people with this because, well, they’re usually gone. So, this is for you. Maybe your journey will be similar to mine. Actually, it will probably be very different because “everyone is different.” Even still, maybe this will still be a bit of a guide.

3 thoughts on “The Side Effects Infomercial”

  1. Wow… what a long, long list of awful side effects, and I know you haven’t even listed every one of them. Thinking about you as you now have come and gone from the Cancer Center parking lot for this go-round. Thank you for sharing this Kathy. Sending loads of love and support!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy, I’m so sorry you are going through through this, you provided a telling description of the effects of chemo. I remember most of these side effects but
    especially the extreme nausea, weight loss & constipation. And you are so right about the sick feeling when on your way to your appointment. Your blog is so valuable in helping us to understand better what you are going through. You continue to amaze me and to motivate me to do better in my own life. Prayers and love always.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Badge of Courage, Kathy! I am glad you are surrounded by love of family and good people. As you say—it’s helping get you through; connected arm and arm, heart to heart.

    I again want to say thank you for the education about cancer and your journey. So helpful to us all to understand where you are at and where we all could be someday—your courageous example and information will be with us.


    Liked by 1 person

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