My first chemotherapy treatment

I said I was going to be honest with everyone, so here it is- chemotherapy sucks.

Before I start talking about my first round of chemo, I want to fill you all in on my new treatment plan.

When I met with my oncologist two weeks ago, he informed me that he found a “marker” in my bloodwork which indicated that my lymphoma is more aggressive than what he typically likes to see. He was quick to assure me that it’s still highly treatable, but instead of only going through chemo for only about 3 months (give or take), he was going to have me do a full 6 months of treatment. I gave him every “what if” scenario I could think of, looking for even the slightest glimmer of hope that my treatment could be shortened under the right circumstances, but he wasn’t budging. I accepted his new treatment plan, but secretly, I’m still keeping hope that I’ll fight this off faster than he expects me to! I didn’t even pack any winter clothes to bring to New York with me because I was optimistic that I wouldn’t be here when it started to get cold. I guess that’ll give me an excuse to do some shopping in the next few months.

My oncologist also told me I’d be undergoing my first chemo treatment on June 13. I kept telling myself I was ready and just wanted to get it started, but when the day came it wasn’t as easy as I had thought.

I got to the hospital early that day because I had a handful of appointments lined up before chemotherapy could officially get started. Chemo was scheduled for 12:45 pm and when the time came, I could feel my heart starting to race. My mom and I were escorted into our own private chemo suite. It had a reclining chair for me and a padded bench for her. The chemo nurse walked in and went over what she would be doing. First was accessing my port, which meant getting an IV through my chest. I felt the nerves getting worse. So many people told me to make sure I get the numbing cream for my port before they accessed it, but I didn’t realize this was something I needed a prescription for so it was too late. The nurse told me the needle wasn’t so bad, but all I was thinking was, “how does she know?” Then she started the countdown, “one, two, three, deep breath” My eyes were clenched shut and in the needle went. A big sigh of relief followed when I realized that she was actually right and it didn’t hurt nearly as bad as I was anticipating! Things were off to a good start.

Next came the drugs. She explained each of the four different drugs that I’d be getting and mentioned she would inject them one at a time. Some would take about ten minutes to administer, some over an hour. The first two had to be injected into my port manually. As she was explaining everything, she was getting fully suited up with gloves, a gown, and a face mask. My mom asked why that was necessary and she responded, “I’m in contact with these drugs every day and I’d like to have a child that doesn’t come out with ten heads.” These dangerous drugs that she was protecting herself from were about to be running through my veins. That was an uneasy feeling and I could tell it made my mom uncomfortable too. As the nurse started injecting the first drug into my port, I looked down and saw my legs shaking from the nerves.

About 3 hours later, I was finally done and I couldn’t wait to get out of there. They unhooked me from the machines and I was free to go, just like that. All I could think about as I was leaving the hospital was food. Everyone told me I’d be nauseous and not want to eat but I was so hungry! Other than a smoothie and a banana, I didn’t really eat all day- probably from nerves.

My mom and I went to a place called the Ginger Root which was only about 2 blocks from the hospital. I was actually feeling great until the moment I finished eating. That’s when the effects from the chemo hit me. I’ve never been so tired in my life, but “tired” just doesn’t seem like the right word to use because it was much worse than just being sleepy. I got home that night and went right to bed. I barely got up for three days after that.

The exhaustion was the biggest side effect. It was hard just to get myself out of bed and the only time I really made the effort was if I needed to use the restroom. Otherwise I stayed put and slept. I was constantly thirsty, but even water was hard to drink. On top of that, it tasted awful and drinking it made my mouth hurt. I was hungry, but never wanted to eat. I had awful migraines and I broke out with hives all over my body. It was by far one of the hardest weeks of my life.

I give so much credit to anyone who is still able to work while going through this. Actually, I give so much credit to anyone who currently is, or who has gone through chemotherapy whether you were able to work or not. It’s really not easy. I just keep telling myself that as awful as these drugs are, I’m stronger than them and so are you. I know this has also been really tough on my family and they deserve so much credit too. I’m so lucky to have my parents with me through this and I honestly don’t know how I would’ve made it through this past week without them.

I also want to truly thank each and every one of you from the bottom of my heart for your support. I’m still not caught up on all the thoughtful messages and comments. Even if you’re just silently following along and reading my blog, I appreciate you all. So many of you have reached out and shared your own personal struggles with me, others offered advice for what I was about to go through, and some gave words of encouragement and it all means more to me than I’ll ever be able to express. THANK YOU.

My next chemotherapy treatment will be on June 28. For now, I’m slowly getting back to normal. I’m not sleeping as much as I had been, but I still get worn out easily and feel dizzy after standing up for more than just a few minutes. The good news is, my appetite has come back and my taste buds are returning to normal. I’m hoping with time I’ll find ways to cope with some of the main side effects I’ve been dealing with and at least with my next treatment, I’ll have a better understanding of what to expect.

ALSO- My mom and I were making silly videos in between all of my appointments to keep our spirits high! I made a quick compilation of them below. Hope you all enjoy my mom’s singing LOL! 🙂 

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46 thoughts on “My first chemotherapy treatment

  1. Crystal you are Blessed with strength and love, and I pray that it gets easier. You’re doing Great! Continued Blessings…
    Mom’s James Brown not bad:)!

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  2. Good evening Crystal see u did ok i say a pray fir u everyday keep smiling yourca trooper baby thank you for your thoughts and prayers on my upcoming surgery on July 27

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Stay strong. You have awesome support from your mother and lots of people pulling for you. You shall beat this and will come through even stronger than you already are.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You keep going on Lady! You’ll make out fine. Better days follow the bad days! Been there with my husband. I hated seeing him feel so bad after chemo. He kept positive and just wouldn’t give up and I wouldn’t let him. Looking at him now you wouldn’t know he has cancer. You just got to keep pushing even when you don’t want to because that’s what’s going to pull you through. You’ll do it, I can tell by your great attitude. Having a great attitude doesn’t mean you won’t have those bad days, it just mean better days are sure to follow. You take care and keep the faith. God has your back.

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    1. Your husband is so lucky to have you! I never realized before this happened to me, but the caregivers never get enough credit. I’m so glad to hear that your husband’s doing so well. Hoping the best for both of you- stay strong!

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  5. Stay strong, and be silly when you can Crystal!! Whatever it takes to navigate this journey…..be selfish. We are continuing to pray for you. So thankful you are with your family. And I personally appreciate your honesty. We saw a friend go through a similar journey with the same disease and understand that every journey is different. Stay strong and lean on the people that love you most!

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  6. After watching my son go through this, for the exact same type of cancer, I know it is not easy. My prayers are with you Crystal. When you have know other choice then to get tough, You just get mad dog mean!!!

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  7. You are a wonderful example of strength and courage, Crystal! I’ll be praying to St. Peregrine, the cancer saint. He miraculously survived it. Keep fighting the.fight!
    Peace and prayers,
    Emily

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  8. Get your prescription for lidocaine (?sp) and you will not even feel the needle for your treatment. Put the cream on your port site at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours before treatment–don’t be stingy with it.
    Cover it generously with Press and Seal wrap–yes, the stuff you get at the grocery store! That will enable you to wear regular clothes over your port and do whatever you need to do for that time before you treatment. One of those little tips few people know. I also found the first treatment the worst, probably because of all the unknowns. Now you know what you at up against. We loved you on WVEC and look forward to your return. In the meantime, we are lifting you up in prayer.

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    1. No Saran Wrap, ! Your chemo nurse will give you a clear bandaids that you put over the cream !! Make sure to rub some in the port area then ‘a big glob’ then the bandaid

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  9. Crystal, you are in our thoughts and prayers. Thanks for the updates. Your are such a strong young person…keep strong and god bless you and your family. Hugs…oh, your Mom is quite the singer!

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  10. What a journey! And you’re sharing it with all of us! Thank you for such an inside view of what YOU are going through, while touching us with your mom’s heart. Praying you feel His presence. God loves you both!

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  11. Crystal, you are so amazing. I just want to come and hug you and help you through this mess..You are so beautiful inside and out. Is there anything any of us can do to help you through this besides our prayers? If so just name it. You and your family are in my prayers every night.My the Good Lord bless you and keep you, may he shine his light upon you and give you peace. Amen

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  12. Praying for you Crystal you are a beautiful young lady with a beautiful personally and on the road to a speedy recovery be blessed

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  13. Crystal, your a very strong lady and very blessed to have your mom at your side! Just remember to breath and and it’s OK to just sit and cry your eyes out… much love. Hoping this gets better for you

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  14. The private chemo room sounds a bit odd…. As I’ve met lifelong friends in the ‘chemo room’, plus it’s nice to know others going through what you are and see it … Not just someone who say I know how you feel. Sending love and positive vibes – the 757 misses you!!!

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    1. I was in a private room for my first chemo and I appreciated the privacy. After that for the next 6 months I shared with others which was a nice opportunity to meet others. I was fortunate because my 3 stage colon cancer allowed a kinder chemo. I did experiencea a side effect that kept me from touching anything cold after my treatment. That lasted about a week before my next one. I also could only drink room temperature drinks. I went through the summer wanting an iced beverage which I could not tolerate. As strange as it seems I am a stronger individual having gone through this life changing chapter of my life. Strange how I notice the positive even more that I may have overlooked. Crystal, you are a joy to so many and that will continue. Keep that beautiful smile and when the tears come know that one day soon they will be happy tears.

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  15. Hi Crystal..I too remember my first chemo treatment for breast cancer. It is the unknown that makes it scary. It does get easier. Remember to rest when your body says and keep positive thoughts. You will make it through. Praying for a speedy recovery for you. Eat healthy and rest. A good lick and hug from Chloe will do wonders!

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  16. Hello Crystal thinking of you and how strong you are just remember and keep saying yes you can👍 You and your family are in my thoughts and prayers (757 strong) Missing you in my morning weather!!

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  17. Really loved your videos. Your mom’s sing was fine. 😉 Thank you for being so open and sharing your journey with us. Keeping you and your family in my prayers.

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  18. So glad to hear your first chemo session is behind you. My husband and I are keeping you in our daily prayers. We truly enjoy watching the WVEC commercial with you in it. It really makes a personal impact and is a reminder ( that is a promise, right?… 😃) of your return to 757. Each time I watch the commercial, when you hold up the smoothie, I do a “cheers to Crystal”! Stay strong, keep the faith, you are a remarkable young woman! Thanks for sharing this journey with all of us.

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  19. Hi Crystal, Another WVEC fan chiming in. We do so appreciate your strength and courage in sharing your treatment with us. Your on camera experience helps so much in your explanations of the procedures. We keep you in our thoughts and prayers here in Va.

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  20. You Go Girl!!!! Thanks for the video – your awesome personality (and your Mom’s) come through loud and clear. Continuing to pray for you.

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  21. Haven’t had a lot to say but am reading every word you write and praying for your complete healing and that your treatments won’t be too difficult on you. Hate that you have to go through this Crystal, your so young…but you’ll come through it and be able to put it behind you. So glad you had your parents to go home to. Affectionately, Jane…a fan from Cheyenne.

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  22. I stumbled upon this blog through someone’s Facebook page. As I began to read about your journey it reminded me of the many things that I felt when I began my treatment a few months ago. I was diagnosed with testicular cancer back in February. I had surgery shortly after, followed by getting my port placement in my chest. I was told by a local oncologist that I would need 4 cycles of treatment. I was so worried about the side effects and wanted to explore other options. So I took a trip to Sloan Kettering and met with a top notched expert/Dr. that suggested a more aggressive treatment than what was recommended by the local doc. Come to find out the local Dr. had been trained by the Dr. at Sloan Kettering as well! 28 treatments later and I just finished my last chemo session this Tuesday and got to “ring the bell”. I must say it was a great feeling. I go back for scans on July 3 and am hopeful that all is clear! There’s a lot of highs and lows going through such aggressive treatments but you must remember that there is an end in sight. The side effects are real- I’ve lost all my hair, my nails have turned brown and hurt like heck, and the nausea and fatigue are NO JOKE! But in the end you will be able to say that you kicked cancers butt! Not many people can say that! I just want to encourage you to stay positive and hopeful for what the future brings. Attitude is everything. It looks like you have a great support system around you. Just know that I’ll be praying for you and for a full recovery. God bless!

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  23. Hang in there Crystal, I’ve gone through chemo twice, yep it sucks. Just keep your eyes on the finish line, you will make it and have a fab life. Prayers for healing.

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