By Danni Moss
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Since my cancer was stage II, my oncologist recommended the full standard protocol at that time. I had 4 adriamycin/cytoxan (A/C) treatments, dose dense (every two weeks), followed by 8 weekly Taxol treatments. Emend was the hot new anti-nausea drug and I did make it all the way through chemo without ever throwing up. But I think it was more because the Emend took away just enough nausea that my cast iron stomach was able to bear it. The nausea of the A/C treatment was killer and after each treatment I had to take all the anti-nausea drugs they had given me to make it through the following couple days.
I also had a port to ease infusions – which I highly recommend. However, I did develop a blood clot, necessitating that I give myself belly shots for several days until the Coumadin kicked in — a new, and unpleasant experience. By the time I got to the third treatment it was really getting to me mentally. They prescribed Marinol for me which was wonderful and enabled me to get through the remaining A/C treatments (3 and 4). (Marinol warrants its own entry so I’ll talk more about it elsewhere.)
The Taxol treatments seemed so much easier at first, since there was no nausea, but they soon took their toll. I was exhausted beyond description and had a lot of body pain. But the time passed soon. And the chemo appeared to work well. The primary tumor shrank significantly, and scans confirmed it had pulled the cancer out of the lymph nodes.
I was surprised to learn the side effects of chemo actually were worse about 3-4 weeks after chemo ended — when the steroids were out of my system. Also, 3 weeks after chemo ended, the cancer began to regrow. It was a scary several weeks, since I couldn’t have surgery until 7 weeks after chemo.