January 9th was the 2 year anniversary of my last chemo treatment. You would think two years out, I wouldn’t still be feeling the effects of said chemo, but unfortunately, cancer patients feel the impacts of their chemo for many years… even for their whole lives. The list of long term side effects includes dental and vision problems, digestion issues, fatigue, bone and nerve problems, hormone issues, and even secondary cancers.
For me, initially it was the hormone issues that troubled me. Luckily, those have been addressed through herbal hormones. My memory issues were there from the get-go (they don’t call it chemo brain for nothing), and those linger. I do my best to address to support my memory issues by writing everything down. I’ve got lists everywhere! My vision has deteriorated and I have trouble with motor skills at times. I find myself dropping things on a regular basis, and I am always sure to hang on to the railing going up / down stairs because I don’t trust myself.
The thing that has been really giving me some grief of late is related to what I’ll call “food sensitivities”. I’ve done some research on the Internet and discovered that it isn’t unusual for cancer patients (specifically those who undergo chemo) to develop food allergies. I didn’t feel like I was “allergic”to anything per se, but maybe that may indeed be it.
While I do eat very cleanly, and a whole food plant based diet, occasionally I will indulge in some wine and maybe even something sweet. I have found that each time I do this, I feel like total crap the next day. It doesn’t have to be a lot. Even one glass of wine will result in a wicked headache and an upset stomach. And lately, sugar has become an even bigger culprit.
Last night, I wanted a snack and I ate a big (store bought) blueberry muffin. Within about 30 minutes, I was feeling lightheaded and nauseous. I sat down for a bit, but the feeling wouldn’t pass. I spent about the next hour in the bathroom vomiting. As soon as my stomach was empty, I was fine…. feeling great today unless you count sore abdominal muscles. This was the most extreme reaction I have had but it was certainly a reminder that I need to be more diligent about avoiding sweets (and alcohol), but man, sometimes you just want a little bit!!
All things considered, I am extremely grateful that my lingering side effects aren’t more severe. But they are a daily reminder of cancer, chemo and radiation.
Tonight’s dinner: Oh She Glows “Broccoli & Cashew Cheese-Quinoa Burrito” (<–This version has a few modifications which are noted.) This is not a recipe that caught my eye when I first read the cookbook. But I happened to read someone else’s blog where they raved about this particular recipe so I decided to try it. And it was delicious! I think the cashew cheese really makes the dish, but there are lots of healthy and yummy ingredients… broccoli, sun dried tomatoes, quinoa… It was something unique and we would definitely make it again. Everyone seemed to enjoy it! (I just wish I would remember to take photos!!)
IMDb: Side Effects (2005)