In June & July 2022, Jeff had his 4, 5 and 6th chemo treatments. The cumulative affect he experienced was a daily occurrence. It wasn’t just the fatigue, skin sensitivity, and nausea, this was a mental toll as well. The feeling of just wanting it to be over, tired of being tired, the 2 days every 21 days of IV injections, medications, the days when he wanted so much to do more, but would hit a wall. He took one medication in particular prednisone, boy you could set a watch to what day his mood would swing, it was typically day 7-10 after his chemo treatment. We had a code name for that as well, “Feeling Evil today”, it wasn’t at anyone, or anything really in particular, just an overwhelming feeling of frustration and anger that would appear. I remember one day we were talking, and he said “what the hell, why do I keep feeling this way?” and I said, “it’s the prednisone”, Jeff said “nah, really?”, Yup, I proceeded to show him in our notebook, after every single treatment, around day 7 to 10, Jeff would have his Evil Days. It was yet another side effect of the medication and something we became aware of and that he would just need time to himself.
This was normal, along with everything else he was experiencing during his treatments, not that that would make him feel any better about it all. Normal is such a strange word to use in the midst of cancer treatments. What you’re feeling and experiencing is normal, this and that side effect is normal, wow jeff you look normal. On the outside, aside from hair loss, Jeff did look normal, but he wasn’t normal, not at all! Friends and family would say, you look good Jeff, wow you are doing so well with your treatments. I agree, he did cope well throughout the treatments, however internally it was a battle. Jeff has always had strength, and endurance, but the treatments were eroding that, with every injection, pill, and test result, he was exhausted, both mentally & physically. Logically we knew that all the treatments were working, the test results reflected that. However, there were days when the uncertainty of it all would overtake, the fear of the unknown, the what are the long-term effects? Will it all work? It was hard for him, and I would try everything to help him through those down days, maybe some Doritos would help? For me, I experienced a range of emotions. I too felt helpless some days, sure I was keeping it all together on the outside, caregiving, organizing appointments etc., basically going through the motions each day. I felt like I was a plane in a holding pattern, waiting for the okay to land. I had for the most part pressed pause on my work, and focused purely on anything and anyone other than myself. If I could keep busy, taking care of it all, then that would make everything better, or even normal. It was my way of coping, of trying to control the outcome. These thoughts and questions are all relatable to what we were both experiencing, but nothing about this felt normal. I guess really, it is like that saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. This goes for anyone, going through any difficult time in their life, they may look or act normal, but you just never know what they are battling.
When the 6th and Final chemo treatment was over, it was somewhat of a relief. We did it! The biopsy, Port, 6 full rounds of chemo, 6 rounds of bloodwork and tests, and a Pet Scan, no more travelling into Guadalajara for chemo treatments every 21 days, CHECK, a reduction in some of the medications, CHECK, no more evil days for Jeff, CHECK! but wait, there’s more …Radiation Treatment?