First week of radiation, chemo, and trying to stay PRESENT

We are wrapping up the first week of radiation and chemo treatment.  5 radiation treatments, one each morning, and 1 chemo treatment on Wednesday afternoon.  It’s “comforting” to know that whatever we can’t destroy with the blow torch (radiation), we’ll get by poisoning (chemo) the ground water…there’s like a hundred other metaphors for this treatment so pick your favorite 🙂

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First chemo treatment.  I’m the only dude under 70 getting chemo at my facility so I didn’t get as many laughs from shirt as I was hoping for.

 

The short version of this week’s treatment is that it was manageable.  I feel blah.  Not bad, just blah.

The most noticeable side effect has been the fatigue.  I felt it hit about 24 hours after chemo (Thursday afternoon) and then it hit even heavier after 48 hours (this afternoon).  I have also felt queasy, but not fully nauseated.  I’ve got 3 different anti-nausea medications running through me and I can feel this battle going on in my gut — the body wants to be sick but the meds aren’t letting it.

I’m just starting to feel the radiation effects…parts of the tongue feel like I sipped hot chocolate that was way too hot and I can feel the start of a sunburn on my neck and jaw line.  There has been some increasing fatigue as well with each successive treatment.

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TruBeam radiation machine in the background that rotates around me 360 degrees while I’m strapped into the movable bed that you see on the right of the picture.  The placement of the bed, the measurement of the dosage, and the path the machine takes around my face are all meticulously calculated.

 

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Getting all snuggled in on the bed.  I’m strapped in like this for 5 minutes or so during each treatment and its not as bad as it looks (they have a U2 pandora channel playing to calm your nerves).

 

What I’ve struggled with this week is keeping my mind in the present.  During the surgery recovery I could focus each day on a few small steps forward.  I could feel my body making progress and that helped keep my mind in the moment rather than getting overwhelmed by the entire treatment process I’m facing.

Chemo and radiation feel like the opposite of recovery.  Every day feels like a small step backward, physically.  I know that the side effects are cumulative and that the worst I will likely feel will be at the end of the sixth week.  So it’s tough to not take what I’ve felt during the first five days and extrapolate to how bad this is going to get.

What has really helped me this week is trying to maintain whatever normalcy I can.  Taking the kids to school.  Going to work for part of the day.  Eating dinner with the family.  Reading lots of articles about the Cubs.  Listening to Camilla describe her CrossFit workouts (what is a thruster?).  All those things make me feel normal and happy.

Some passages of scripture this week really helped my mindset — none more so than Ether 6:1-12 (scripture from the Book of Mormon).  While the effects of chemo and radiation treatment might feel like I’m moving backwards,  I realize that it is actually pushing / pulling / driving / pounding me toward the ultimate destination.  There are no speedboats or cruise ships on this ocean voyage.  This is about loading up in the wooden barge and hanging on for the ride as the Lord blows the wind and waves toward the promised land.

Feels like I should get a Caribbean cruise booked for when this is all over.

6 thoughts on “First week of radiation, chemo, and trying to stay PRESENT”

  1. Jarem,
    I just heard about your circumstances and blog yesterday! I have been thinking about you since I heard and I have a top ten list for you:
    1 – First things first; you are officially on my prayer list!
    2 – Your faith in God is ah..mazing!
    3 – If anyone has this…you do!
    4 – You can do all things through Christ, who strengthens you. One of my favorite scriptures and it has helped me through the toughest times in my life. “All things!”
    5- Hands down, you get the Mr. Positive award!
    6 – Your blog encourages others and I know it helps build your own faith.
    7- I’m blessing you every day to have mobility, functionality, strength and energy, and acuity of mind!
    8 – Love of family and friends surrounds you! Love is all you ever need!
    9 – You have inspired me; not just in this moment, but you have an energy that is contagious. I have felt it whenever I have been around you. You have inspired many and will inspire many more.
    10 – Fly the “W”!

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  2. I love this because you explain things so well. People ask how I feel after chemo, not good not bad just blah. And you are right about not feeling better each day to reach a goal. When you do feel a little better its time to go back to chemo and feel ” blah”. I’m glad the ladies in the office are nice, oh and the guy that introduced himself and said hi every day with a smile, you made my week. I hope you are doing well. See you in a couple weeks.

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  3. Hi Jarom, my sister-in-law told me about you and your blog. She is friends with your parents. You look familiar. I volunteer in the Huntsman Infusion Center two times a week. Is that where you are having treatment? If I can help in anyway, please let me know. I have been in the “cancer world” for over 16 years. I live in the lower avenues, five blocks from the Temple. Thanks, Brent V. Marrott

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