Haley’s story: Going through chemotherapy treatments

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Haley Galvin receives an IV infusion during her fourth round of chemotherapy Oct. 30.

Haley Galvin, Managing Editor

Chemotherapy: the singular word that I have come to dread the most out of this whole experience. While I did have tumors removed, I decided I was going to go through with the six rounds of chemo that my specialist suggested in order to decrease the likelihood of the cancer coming back. 

Every third Friday, I go to a cancer treatment center to receive chemo, but I start preparing for chemo the night before. I have to take 10 pills of steroids, five at 9:30 p.m., and I have to wake myself up at 3:30 a.m. Friday to take the rest. Then at 8:30 a.m. Friday I go in and I sit there for five-and-a-half hours and get infused with two different types of drugs. I am also given IV benadryl and anti-nausea medication. 

That is the easy part, boring, but easy. I bring a book, my computer and sometimes I even nap. The real “fun” begins when I go home. I mostly sleep when I get home Friday because the medication makes me drowsy. For the first 26 hours I have a small device on my arm that delivers an immune booster shot at some point on Saturday. This is because chemo attacks my cells and my immune system becomes weak. I then begin a regime of pills and fluids to keep myself feeling as normal as possible. I take anti-nausea pills at least twice a day and a claritin for bone pain caused by the immune system booster. 

With all the medications I have to take, I have a calendar that I color code with times of day that I take certain medications. I also have so many forms from doctors of symptoms to watch out for that aren’t normal. If I have any of those I have to call my doctor or go to the hospital immediately. 

I usually feel pretty all right Saturday, but Sunday into Monday things start to get bad. I tend to feel very nauseated, and I’ve even vomited in the middle of the night — that seems to be when it’s the worst. I can never truly sleep because I get splitting headaches that accompany bone pain that feels like shin splints but all over my body. 

The pain is sometimes so bad I can hardly walk. 

One week after chemo, I had a UTI that my body could not fight, and as a result, I had a fever of 103 degrees and had to be hospitalized for three days. It was extremely frustrating because normally I would be just given an antibiotic and sent home. But due to chemo, I was too weak and needed to be in the hospital. 

That is the hardest part of chemo, feeling weak. Some days I can’t even walk downstairs to get an ice pack or a snack. I hate feeling weak and like I can’t do anything by myself. It is both mentally and physically draining. I don’t crave food and oftentimes when I do eat, it tastes funny. That is a weird side effect I didn’t know about until I couldn’t taste anything in my food. 

I have discovered the more I drink water, the better I feel, but I still never feel “good” the days following treatments. It is almost impossible to explain but I constantly feel like I am in a state of just feeling bad. I can’t get comfortable or find the right way to sit. Talking about food often makes me want to puke. A lot of mornings I have spent only being able to keep down ice chips and jello.

I can honestly say, I never would’ve imagined how hard it would be. If they would have told me exactly how it felt going into it, I may have said no. I understand it is the best choice for me, but I truly dread it. Some days I feel like no matter what medicine I take to feel better, or no matter how many hot or cold showers I take, it won’t get better.

Leading up to treatments I start to make myself nervous because I never truly know how long the pain and discomfort will last. I stress myself out worrying about what is going to happen because it is truly something I never want to do again. Friday I go in for treatment four and I will have two left after that. I am officially halfway through. 

I wish they figured out a way to treat this horrible disease in a better way that wouldn’t cause so much pain and discomfort. It is already bad enough having cancer. Why make chemo so hard? 

Thankfully I am not doing it alone. I spend the week after my treatments at home with my family who takes care of me and gets me absolutely anything I need. My little sister is constantly my “little nurse” popping her head in my room to see if I need anything. She has even come in to check on me in the middle of the night. I am so grateful for their support and the help that they give me. They stock the fridge with everything I need and make sure they do everything to make me as comfortable as I can be. So I want to say I am truly thankful to them and I love all of you so much.