Going Through Chemotherapy Treatment for Lupus

Yesterday was a relatively good day. I had just finished a three-day stint of IV steroids and anti-inflammatory medications for a surprise lupus flare bought on by my second dose of Rituximab. I was feeling pretty good walking into my oncologist’s office for my third round of this miracle chemo drug, which until today I had believed was a piece of cake and working. I was not expecting my oncologist to pull me into a room for a surprise visit to run labs and see how I was feeling that morning. I was pretty naive when I told him that I felt better and had more energy. My body laughed internally as I told him this, I am sure of it.

selfie of a woman with text saying 'I am raising awareness for lupus awareness month'

I sat in that oh-so-comfortable recliner and settled in for my six-hour infusion with my fuzzy socks and my blanket. I got out my laptop and let them wire me up for treatment. Once they accessed my port through a catheter – which is also not just for cancer – the infusion itself was not that bad. If we are being honest, my first two infusions were fairly easy as well, including the fallout on the night of treatment, but this infusion was brutal by the time night came around and I was home with no medical professional to rely on.

7:00 p.m. rolled around and I was struck with the worst nausea, the kind that just makes your entire body shake even though you aren’t the slightest bit cold. Instead, you are racked with this immense heat spreading from your belly out to your toes and fingertips. I didn’t know a hot flash could make me shiver as if I was in negative degree water, yet I could not relieve the pressure because I had not been able to eat for hours. Pain racked my body to the equivalent of a World War II battlefield. My body was literally fighting the medication for the ability to continue to destroy itself and I had never felt more betrayed in my life. All I wanted in that moment was to not exist and fall into my sheets until I became one with my memory foam mattress – anything to distract me from the agony I was in. I was jaw locked for most of the three hours it took me to finally let sleep take me.

Today I was able to get out of bed, but I was so tired from the battle I fought all night to not give in or go to the nearest ER for treatment. Being chronically ill is a struggle I face every day and yesterday it won. Today I fought. Today I won. Chemo saves my life, but I have to fight to let it work. Chemo: it’s not just for cancer.

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