About a week and a half after my second round of Adriamycin, I had a very scary wake-up call. Although one of the side effects of one of my nausea medications was appetite stimulation, I was still not very good at eating the way I should. I just didn’t have a desire to eat. I wasn’t hungry. This is pretty common for patients going through chemotherapy. I wasn’t concerned with it, not thinking of the extra needs of my body as a result of my treatments; after all, I wasn’t a big eater before getting cancer. That is, until the day I experienced the nasty result of not eating.

My friend, daughter, and I went out to dinner that night. I hadn’t really eaten all day, just a snack at lunch; nothing substantial. I started getting hungry about 4, but knowing we were going out to eat, I decided to wait so I would eat more of my dinner instead of wasting food. We sat down at our table and ordered drinks, then I decided to use the restroom. Fortunately, my daughter did not need to go this time. I wasn’t feeling quite right, but went on my own anyway. As I was washing my hands, I felt light-headed. The next thing I knew, I was on the floor, waking up, with a large gash in my hand. One of the restaurant employees was standing over me. She had notified a female member of management of the situation, who also came in to check on me. They stayed with me until I felt steady enough to stand up, then they walked me to my table and made sure I made it back okay.  I was thankful for such considerate staff. My friend was concerned and asked if we needed to leave, but I assured him I was fine, and that the most important thing was for me to eat. We finished our meal, then he gently escorted me to our car.  

Life has a funny way to teaching us lessons sometimes, and this was one I heard loud and clear. I realized I wasn’t superwoman, and couldn’t act like one either. I was growing a bit weaker with each passing week, and I realized I had to take better care of myself if I was going to get through this treatment. I became more diligent about taking my multivitamins, and began snacking with my midmorning and midafternoon medication dosages. I didn’t really want to eat, but I knew I had to. This was the only fainting spell I had, so I know I did the right thing. This change also stopped the weight loss and helped me to maintain my current weight, which any cancer patient can tell you is very important.

The hardest part was learning, and accepting, my limitations. I’ve never been too good at accepting that I couldn’t do something. That is just the way I was raised, but the wake-up call made me realize I did have limitations that I would have to accept, they were part of this journey. I could embrace them and comply, or I could fight them and speed up the deterioration process. The choice was mine.