How do you feel during chemo?

So my pink sisters, I’m halfway done with chemo! (Thank god! HUGE CLAP. SIGH OF RELIEF. Where’s the margaritas?! Just kidding… for now!) I often get asked how I feel during my rounds of chemo, so I thought this would be a great blog post. If you are undergoing chemo, your side effects could definitely be different than mine. I thought I would share what I experience and when I start to feel crappy.

For reference, there are many different chemo drugs. I am on Taxotere, Carboplatin and Herceptin. I get a round every three weeks for six rounds, a total of 18 weeks. My chemo regimen was supposed to be the typical A/C and Taxol, but my oncologist received data from a ten-year study with women who have my same type and stage of breast cancer and found that the Taxotere and Carboplatin regimen is safer for the heart and has less toxic effects on the body. So instead of 16 rounds of chemo, I only need 6. I was excited when I heard the change in my plan because this meant fewer rounds of chemo with less severe side effects. Yes please! I also receive the Herceptin infusion (which is not chemo) because I came back as HER-2 positive. I’ll also need this infusion for a year after my chemo is done, but this doesn’t have any of the chemo side effects. It should only be a half hour infusion every three weeks for a year. Also, my oncologist wanted to give me a drug called Perjeta which will help HER-2’s cousin, HER-3 from binding to cells and causing cancer to grow. This drug is usually only given in advanced stages, but my oncologist also received data that this helps with early stage as well. It definitely helps to go to a hospital that participates in all of these data studies because you definitely get the best of the best when it comes to your care plan. (*Please note that everyone is different and depending which chemo drugs you are on, you may experience some or none of the feelings I had. I’m sharing my experience just for reference. Also, I am not a medical professional and I’m just sharing the information I received from my care team.)

Chemo 3

Week 1:

  • Pre-Chemo Day: I take steroids on the day before chemo, so of course I have a ton of energy and want to eat everything in sight. This is when I load up on delicious foods because I know my taste with change in the upcoming days.
  • Chemo Monday (Day 1): Lets get this over with! My day lasts about 7 hours between getting labs drawn, meeting with my doctor and actually getting my infusion. When I get home, I usually feel good and I’m able to eat a normal meal.
  • Day 2: I usually wake up feeling tired. I take my steroids and anti-nausea medicine. The last two rounds I didn’t feel sick at all. This time, I actually got sick twice. I feel like I could sleep all day. On the night of day two, I take my Neulasta shot so I always dread doing that. Then, I treat myself when it’s over. (With chocolate pudding of course!)
  • Day 3: Eeek. I feel like I could stay in bed or sleep on the couch ALL day, so that’s usually what I do. I don’t feel like eating anything, but it’s important to have small snacks and to stay hydrated. I have a bit of bone pain from the Neulasta shot. (Taking Claritin the day before usually helps too.) I don’t feel like much of doing anything. I feel like I’m in a fog with a severe hangover with no energy. I listen to my body and take it easy, because lets be real, the sound of actually doing something is exhausting.
  • Day 4: Bone pain is a bit worse today with pain in my neck. This round I got sick on day 4, which was rare because I didn’t get sick on the first two rounds. My appetite still stinks and I don’t feel like eating anything. Nothing sounds good. Everything sounds disgusting. I could still sleep all day.
  • Day 5: This is when I start to feel a bit better. I usually get by with no naps but I definitely take it easy. A simple shower feels like it takes so much energy and I am tired. I usually get out with my mom and go for a ride somewhere because you definitely get sick of staying in a house all week!
  • Day 6: Energy is a bit better but this is when my taste starts to change. I start having an appetite, but nothing tastes the way it should. So why eat when you can’t taste anything? Blah!
  • Day 7: So metallic mouth is a thing and even water tastes disgusting. Food starts to taste worse. Energy is definitely better.

Week 2:

  • Days 8-12: Taste is awful. Water is the worst. Nothing tastes good. Energy is usually OK. I can go for quick walks without feeling so tired.
  • Days 12-14: Taste is improving. GIVE ME GOOD FOOD! Like buffalo chicken, quesadillas, pasta, veggies, anything GOOD!

Week 3:

  • Days 15-21: The last week is usually my best week. I have good energy, food tastes normal and I want to do things. I usually work out all week, do errands, and get out of the house for a bit. This is when I gain all my weight back that I lose during week 2.

Comment below and share with me how you feel! We are in this together!






8 thoughts on “How do you feel during chemo?

  1. thank you for sharing this personal journey. You are amazing!

    1. Thank you, Joanne! I’m hoping it helps others! 🙂

  2. You are an amazing young lady. I am so proud of you

  3. Life and Other Turbulence March 29, 2016 — 5:19 am

    Hi Monique, I just wanted to send you best wishes. I hate that you have to go through this at your young age…but I so admire your spirit and strength. And I know that it’s not easy to share this with the world, but I’m glad you are as I think it’s important to make others aware that cancer doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone…even a beautiful young woman like yourself. I too have HER2+ bc and started with the same two chemo drugs you’re getting now, along with Herceptin and Perjeta as well. Once you finish your 6 rounds of chemo, the herceptin by itself should be much easier in terms of side effects. There is a wonderful support group on fb for HER2 if you’ve not yet found it. Its called ‘HER 2 positive Breast Cancer Patient/Family Survivors Group’. Members from all over the world. I’ve found it to be a great resource when I was first diagnosed with HER2+ and had all kinds of questions. Sending virtual hugs to you…and hope your remaining treatment months fly by quickly and with relative ease!

    1. Hello and thank you for the nice comments! I hope you are doing well and kicking cancer’s butt! I’m so happy you are done with chemo. I cannot wait to be done and I have 2 more treatments left. How are you feeling? Also, thank you for sending me that resource. I’ll definitely have to check it out. Stay strong! xo

  4. Life and Other Turbulence March 29, 2016 — 11:47 pm

    I’m feeling quite well, thanks! I work 4 days a week and play golf with my friends almost every week as well. Keeping active and very very busy is just good for my soul. Soon you’ll be back to your life without all these visits to the infusion suite, your side effects will dissipate and then fade away to a distant memory. I know that your life perspective will forever be altered having endured cancer, as no one comes away unaffected…right? But when your treatments end, don’t dwell on anything but the road ahead. Can’t change what was, can’t predict what will gotta just keep on keepin’ on! In the fall of 2013, I wrote a blog post that I titled ‘Don’t Look Back’ (about my cancer diagnosis way back in 2004). I ended it with these thoughts…and maybe they will resonate with you too:

    ‘Sometimes the most unexpected journeys teach you the most profound lessons. For example, if you simply keep your eyes on the horizon you can travel just one day at a time. By doing so, statistics on travel time become irrelevant because the only timeline you’re on is the one you choose to manage. The horizon is always there…just waiting for you to arrive, no matter how long the journey. Don’t look back and most certainly don’t look down.’

    Hang in there, Monique…you’re almost done with the toughest part of the treatment plan. Much brighter days are ahead for you! xo

    1. You are amazing! Thank you so much for the positive thoughts! I’ve been reading your blog and I love it! I’m definitely looking forward and waiting for brighter days to come. 🙂

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