Glynn MooreNews editor and local columnist for The Augusta Chronicle.

For me, chemo treatment far from horror show

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When you are about to undergo chemotherapy, you will hear horror stories about the side effects. The worst, for me, was about a man who, when the chemo took his hair, it included his nose hair, and so when his nose ran there was nothing to stem the tide.

That hasn’t happened. Nor has nausea, which is apparently the biggest side effect, because my doctor prescribed three nausea pills. I haven’t even opened the bottles, though, for my first three-day session has left me feeling fine. The nausea could come next time, but I remain optimistic.

Other effects? I lost a little sleep, but then regained it. My digestive system went awry, but medicine fixed that. My mouth sores were only minor, erased by baking soda. A few leg cramps were probably the result of dehydration, which was easy to reverse.

You can’t listen to all those stories, anyway, because each case is different. Cancer is scary; the treatment doesn’t have to be. Listen to my story instead.

I was lucky in that I didn’t have time to ponder the upcoming chemo.

At my quarterly exam on a Wednesday, we found out that, after four years of watchful waiting, my leukemia suddenly needed treatment.

Two days later, a CT scan checked my lymph nodes, and three days after that, I was sedated and fitted with a port in my chest so they wouldn’t have to stab my arms each time. (I had never heard of such a port, and now I had one.)

By Tuesday – only six days after the exam – I was taking chemo.

It was a long, brutal day, friends: I was forced to sit or lie back in a soft recliner with my feet up, a cushy pillow behind my head, a blanket across my body after the chemicals cooled me down while flowing from the IV bag through the port to my bloodstream.

I read on my Kindle. Family and friends visited. Staffers answered my endless questions, sometimes more than once.

A kitchenette held water, coffee, nutritional drinks and snacks. (Peanut butter is very popular with chemo patients.) Knitted hats had been donated for anyone who lost hair and felt chilly.

All around the big treatment room, other patients were being similarly tortured. Some picnicked with friends. Others listened to music or read magazines. There were first-timers like me and old pros. All looked calm, confident that treatment would trump disease.

And then there was the real down side. A chemical that flowed into me to prevent nausea made me groggy and kept me from reading. I repeat: I was unable to read! I had to nap instead. That, my friends, was the worst of my chemo.

Those three days were all geared toward my comfort. Nurses and the other staffers coddled me while I read in comfort. The IV bags hung on a stand next to me that I could unplug and roll to the bathroom, which came in handy. That was the first side effect I noticed, so maybe it’s a good place to end until next week.

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Lkn4Ans 07/20/14 - 09:44 pm
Good Job...

Not only handling your chemo, but putting people's fears aside (who may be facing the same upcoming treatment). With your positive attitude and humorous outlook on life, I know that I, along with many others, are going to enjoy reading your columns for years to come :)

agustinian 07/21/14 - 06:13 am
Thank You

I have followed your columns in the paper for a long time. You are providing a wonderful service to people who may have to deal with cancer. You have invited people in to your most intimate life of dealing with a serious disease, something I know I could not do my self.

I very much admire what you are doing. Take care.

mad consumer
mad consumer 07/21/14 - 10:37 am
Been there and stilll going

Mr Moore
I completed 7 weeks of chemo and 35 days straight of radiation therapy. The chemo was something I actually looked forward too. My experience paralleled yours to the tee. Now here is where I must caution you not to get a sense of well being about the whole thing. I felt great , minor ups and downs, during treatment. What they don't tell you is the hell that follows. It takes your body about 5-10 days after treatment ends to realize what has happened. I have never been in so much pain and discomfort in my life. I finished treatment the last week in June. I have not slept through the night since. My mouth and throat burn like I am eating fire and the disgusting stuff that is coming out of my mouth is indescribable. I don't want to scare you but talk to someone who has been through the whole deal and is fully recovered from the therapy, The doctors don't tell to about post therapy. I still have at least 2 more months of recovery to navigate. If you want to contact me directly my profile with the paper has my number. Enjoy the good times while they last.

shamrock 07/21/14 - 01:06 pm
If I Didn't Know Better

If I didn't know better I would have thought you were writing about my chemo treatment. Yes, I heard all the same horror stories ... in fact had my hair cut a little shorter so it might not be such a shock. Got sick one time, but since my wife also got sick it was probably the food we ate the night before. The plastic trash can with liner in the living room is still unused and at mid-point in my twelve treatment schedule of bi-weekly treatments I have had much more time to read, watch movies (on the Kindle) and visit with my son. I also panicked when I first learned about the cancer, but there was very little time to fret with the port-a-cath inertion, biopsies, colonoscopy, breathing treatments and them chemo. Kind of like a wreck ... little time to think as your trying to lock down those brakes. Thanks for sharing because I could have used some of this inside look instead getting the "worst-of-the-worst" stories. Chemo affects everyone differently so your best source of info is your doctor ... and definitely not the Internet. After a few hours of searching, I knew it was time to start making funeral arrangements to spare my family the trouble.

DESIMAE 07/21/14 - 01:22 pm

I had breast cancer when I was 26 and had to have only 6 rounds of chemo along with a mastectomy on my right breast. I did have the sickness, but only vomited one time. It was tiring for me to go through it. But not nearly as bad as I thought. The first week after my treatment was the roughest, and then the next 2 weeks went a bit better. Very hard to eat regular food because of the nausea. And the first time I went, I was having a panic attack. They had to give me something the first couple of times to get me to relax. But like I said it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

alinchron 07/21/14 - 09:17 pm
Certainly admirable

Worked with you in the Chronicle newsroom a quarter-century ago, Glynn. Always enjoyed your special brand of humor. Didn't realize until seeing your column today that you've been sick. The personal reassurance you're offering here to your readers facing the same battle certainly is admirable. Wishing you the very best--a full recovery and continued success going forward.

Sweet son
Sweet son 07/22/14 - 12:22 pm
mad consumer

Your comment was not necessary.

Just My Opinion
Just My Opinion 07/23/14 - 04:53 am
Sweet son, I have to admit

Sweet son, I have to admit that, after reading the column and the first few comments, I was alittle taken aback by mad's "honest" comments about his own experience. But then I went on to read the other comments and I realized that these people....those who have been diagnosed with cancer....those folks seem to NEED to share with others what they've seen, felt, and lived through in dealing with their cancer. It's cathartic for them. I really got the sense that it's one of those issues that people who have been blessed to be cancer-free aren't really able to comment on too much and certainly not criticize. After all, mad's comments were not aggressive or argumentative....they were meant to educate. At least that's the way I read them. In fact, all of these comments seem to educate their readers.
Good luck to you all and God bless you!

geecheeriverman 07/23/14 - 06:06 am

What an uplifting article. Wonderfully written. God speed. Prayers going out for you.

corgimom 07/23/14 - 03:28 pm
I think that people talk

I think that people talk about something until they have fully processed it and come to terms with it. That is mad consumer's way of handling it, and nobody should ever be afraid of the truth.

I come from a time when cancer was whispered about, and nobody wanted to talk about it.

I think that mad consumer has been through Hell on Earth, and his experiences should be given the same consideration as anybody else's.

I have never known anybody that has had chemo that just breezed through it and then when it ended, just picked up and carried on as if nothing ever happened. Maybe Glynn will be different, and I hope so. But I think that what mad consumer says is true, that there are post-chemo effects, and maybe, just maybe, his post will help other people.

Mad consumer, I will be praying for you, I hope that you will recover, and reclaim your life with a minimum of lasting problems.

When people are in pain and suffering, they need to talk about it, or else they'll go crazy. Try having a little compassion for someone enduring a terrible ordeal, because mad consumer obviously is.

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