I saw this today, and it led me to reflect on life a year on from completing treatment. The neuropathy mentioned in the article is what led me to stopping the paclitaxel part of my treatment. The neuropathical symptoms developed gradually from my first cycle of combined chemo. My fingertips first became numb, but feeling returned within about 8 days. I count myself fortunate that I told my Oncologist about this as it meant she reduced my next dose and enquired about it at my next appointment. When I reported, after cycle three, that I had tried to stand up but had fallen over as I could not feel the soles of my feet, she immediately stopped the paclitaxel.
The 4th of August marked a year since my last chemo. I reckon I'm as much over it all physically as I will ever be. I do still have enduring effects from my surgery and chemo. I have proved I can improve my fitness and stamina this summer. I had a lovely unconsciously active holiday and have reaped the rewards in terms of strength and stamina. So what has remained affected?
The neuropathy still affects nerve endings in my bowel, my fingers and the soles of my feet. The effect on my bowel is to affect sensation, it is very easy to become constipated unless I eat industrial quantities of fibre. Easily overcome but occasionally people look in askance at the number of dried apricots and prunes I can consume seemingly without side effects!
Fortunately the effects on my fingers does not prevent me sewing or making my pictures. However I often discover I have repeatedly stabbed myself without always knowing I have done so. My feet are often painful, the tingling of almost perpetual pins and needles often makes walking uncomfortable and sensible shoes a necessity. I have also been left with such bad 'restless legs syndrome' that both arms and legs are 'restless'.
I take gabapentin for the restless legs, and have been taking amitriptyline for fibromyalgia for several years. I believe that these both mitigate the effects of my neuropathy so that I am happily more free from pain than I might be.
I am and always will be extremely grateful for surviving. I am and, for the forseeable future will, live life to the full. I will also however always be living with the after effects of my treatment.
It does not end with that last chemo.