Cancer Care – Reality is setting in here in chemo-land

chemotherapy at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

chemotherapy at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

Tanya Gouthro
Tanya Gouthro

THUNDER BAY – Healthbeat – Reality is setting in here in chemo-land. I got up this morning and ‘put on my face’ (both literally and figuratively, these days) and because it was so ridiculously hot out could not stomach the thought of putting on a wig and threw on a straw hat instead, and went eyeglass shopping with a good friend who gently suggested to me that I wait to choose new frames until after chemo was done because I was ‘retaining a little water’.

Cancer Care in Thunder Bay

The evidence of the toll this treatment is taking on my body is revealing itself, it would appear, internally and externally. I put my frames on hold and settled for ordering new lenses. Temporary fix for a temporary problem.

The joint pain I had during the first two treatments for a few hours a day was manageable with one Advil a day. I continued all of my normal activities and tried to keep my whining to a minimum. The last two treatments, however, are proving to be the most difficult part of the entire trip thus far. The effects of the drugs are cumulative, and so it stands to reason that the final treatments be the difficult ones to endure. The last leg of a run is always the most painful.

The symptoms started with that feeling your body gets when it’s being invaded by a nasty flu bug. That ’everything hurts’ feeling, when your skin doesn’t want to be touched and you just know something bad is happening in your body. That foreboding feeling that sends you diving under covers hoping it’ll only last a week. This feeling is quickly followed up by several days of generalized, seemingly random joint and muscle pain. For a few days one knee hurt to the point where I was pretty much stuck on the couch, pillows propping it up in one specific position, because it was only ‘just so’ that I could be pain-free for a bit. Then it would travel to shoulders, ankles, hands. One day I had stabbing pains around my ear (is there a joint there?!).  I considered using crutches to walk but figured it would hurt my body too much to lean on them.

When people ask how I’m doing I always want to say I’m doing really well. Because, usually, in the big scheme of things, I am. This cycle, for about six days, I didn’t have it in me. I had to say it was the worst cycle yet. That I felt about 90 years old and extremely arthritic. That I was weepy because that kind of pain wears you down. That I felt like holing up and not being around people outside of my small core group, because I just couldn’t put on a happy face.

And then, on Day 7 post-chemo, I woke up feeling perfectly fine. That’s how these side effects work. One day they’re there, and you’re miserable and overwhelmed and can’t get off the couch, and the next they’re gone, and you can hit the ground running (well, maybe walking may be more appropriate at this point). 

It’s. All. Temporary.

Joint pain? Temporary.

Weight gain? Temporary.

Hair loss and feeling like someone‘s taken an eraser to all of the punctuating parts of my physical being? Temporary.

There will be some permanent effects of this Cancer. Most will be invisible, and remain to be seen. And there will be battle scars, evidence of the war I am now fighting.

These, I vow to wear with pride and strength. What doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

 Tanya Gouthro

To learn more about Tanya, follow her blog at

Enhanced by Zemanta
Previous articleTerry Fox Run Halted in Thunder Bay 33 Years Ago
Next articleChildren Helped at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre