Getting Chemo - A Caregiver's Point of View
Last updated: April 2023
Taking chemo is a horrible thing, especially when you have to watch your child go through it. Crystal, my daughter, was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma when she was 25 and she had to do 12 rounds of chemo in order to be cured. Each round was given in two week intervals. In Crystal’s case, she had one good week and one bad week after a chemo treatment. During her bad week, she spent most of her time in bed. For the first two to three days, she didn’t get out of bed at all except to use the bathroom. She got fevers and had to go to the emergency room several times, and she became extremely dehydrated. At the end of her treatments, she had to get IV fluids along with her chemo and then, many times, had to go back to the hospital the next day to get more IV fluid. The good news about this was that the extra fluid helped her to feel better. Usually, on the way to get a hydration treatment, Crystal was groggy and not feeling so well. After hydration treatment, she perked up a bit.
From appetite changes to constipation
Crystal became constipated, lost her appetite, and ate very little. She lost weight, and she lost a lot of her energy. She got migraine-like headaches and had to stay in a dark room. We kept the noise level down as much as possible. These symptoms were always worse the first week after treatment.
She was given a ton of extra medicine to combat all of her symptoms, but all I could think was, what was this doing to her liver? The great thing about Crystal is she is a fighter. On her good weeks, she always tried to do something fun. By the fifth day after chemo, Crystal was able to get up and start spending time out of her room with us. Although she was still weak, by day six and seven, she was able to go out and do things. Each week, she tried to plan something with family or a friend. She wanted to continue to live her life and not let cancer take any more of it than she was forced to give. I give her a lot of credit for having this type of attitude.
Sometimes a hug is the best medicine
The point of this post is to let other parents know that going through this is going to be tough, really tough. You will have to watch your child suffer through the treatments and side effects, and all you can do is sit by and watch. Of course, you’ll be there to call the doctor and take them for their treatments and emergency room visits, but you will still feel so helpless. They will have to fight and get through this, mostly on their own. Just be there and listen. One piece of advice I can give you is to give your child hugs. Crystal told me once - ‘All I need is a hug’. I’m not the most affectionate person and felt awful that with everything I was trying to do, all she wanted was a hug. Sometimes, it’s just the little things that can help someone through a tough time.
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