Chemo Round One
It’s Sunday evening. I’m hanging out with Stef on our back porch and enjoying a gorgeous sunset.
We’re pretty much wrapped on chemo round one. We travel back to Jacksonville and start round 2 on Wednesday.
Thank you for allowing me to vent and heal while I’m on this journey. I find that writing and vlogging about this chapter in my life is very therapeutic. I hope by sharing this journey it somehow brings someone comfort or peace while they go through their own trials.
I’ve been asked quite a few questions lately, many of these questions I’ve asked myself. Here are some of the common questions tossed my way:
What is Chemotherapy?
According to the Mayo clinic (my hospital) Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in your body.
Chemotherapy is most often used to treat cancer, since cancer cells grow and multiply much more quickly than most cells in the body.
Chemotherapy is basically a series of meds, often referred to as a cocktail, that kills all fast growing cells in the body. Good and bad.
Does Chemo Hurt?
Yes and no. It’s not what I expected at all. I basically sat in a hospital bed for 8 hours as they fed various meds into my body. The actual process was easy up until the very end of the day. At some point my body became saturated and wanted no more. I started sweating and getting super hot. I started to have a panic attack. I thought I was going to vomit and die. Of course this was all remedied within minutes because my team at Mayo are legit cancer fighting ninjas.
Day 2 and 3 of chemo I just felt like garbage. Lots of pain from my cancer and no real appetite. Mind you during day 2 and 3 I have a pump running meds into my body 24/7.
After my 3 days of chemo, I generally felt like crap. It was difficult to text, chat, Skype, blog, edit etc. starting the evening of day 3, I’d spend every night vomiting like crazy. All night long. I could barely walk from the pain of vomiting for 6-8 hours. Yes I’m on pain meds and anti nausea meds but they aren’t working. Part of the process is dialing this in to meet my needs and kill my cancer. The team at Mayo is adding more meds and changing the amounts of others.
Real Talk: I’ve never cried or screamed ever in my life like I have in the last week. Crying isn’t the right word. Weeping maybe? What’s the correct word for sadness from such a place of pain and sorrow, so deep I’ve no real way to describe it? I was overcome by a wash of tears and screaming every time the pain would go from bad to worse. Imagine vomiting all night and then spending the rest of the day screaming from the pain. That was the reoccurring hell that was my first week of chemo.
Let me give you a little baseline when it comes to me and pain. I’ve been in severe pain for my entire life, truly as long as I can remember. I have a high tolerance for pain and it takes a lot to bring me down. Chemo pain is worse than all of my other pain in life combined.
Do You Worry?
I suffer from anxiety and stress. I tend to live on the more panicky side in general. Not by choice, I do what I can to reduce stress but I’m generally hanging out in the worried column. When it comes to cancer the worries come from every direction. Fear of the unknown. I was way more scared of chemo than I should have been. I made it up to be this burning, flaming fire that coursed through my veins. It wasn’t like that. For the most part I slept during chemo. Every time I’ve been congested or had a headache or anything was out of the ordinary I would freak out. This is it. I’m done. It’s over.
I worry about a lot of things. I worry about chemo and what it’s doing to me. I worry about my cancer and what it’s doing to Stef. I worry about medical bills. I worry about my job. I worry about leaving Stef with a mess. I worry about wasting my life, not accomplishing my goals. I want to leave an impact, not a mess.
Stefanie and I both work for the biggest entertainment company in the world. For me this is a dream gig. Working for a company that has been so crucial, so influential to both my personal and professional lives. Now the company, like most, is shut down. No projects. No work. I’m worried sick about no income and no work in the foreseeable future. I worry that I’ve lost my dream job working with truly incredible humans. I’m worried that I’m wracking up massive bills with no way of chipping away at them.
(Anyone out there looking for someone to edit video or do graphics, maybe cut your vlog for you? Hit me up. I need the work! Not joking. If you have work, I have medical bills to pay.)
Yes, the answer is I worry. Hellaworry. WorrySaurus. Worry is me.
What are the Side Effects of Chemo?
I’m told this is different for everyone. For me there are a handful of really wild side effects. Sensitivity to cold is a major thing. A cold soda can, an ice cube, even slightly below room temp water will send electric-like shocks through my body. This may be a tad bit of an overshare, but the toilet seat is so cold that it actually hurts. I suffer from such bouts of cold that it actually becomes painful.
Another issue for me is vomiting. Uncontrollable, long time, painful vomiting. I’m barely eating as it is, so 90% of my vomiting is dry heaving and pain. I vomit every single day. The pain from vomiting is out of control.
I hate to be gross here but the meds cause major diarrhea, which for me causes more vomiting. So that’s a fun loop.
Fatigue is an issue, this is coupled with pain that can lead to depression. Working out, getting oxygen and fighting the fatigue is crucial. I’ve been trying to force myself to edit, write blogs, work out, etc. It’s easy to be tired. Especially when you’re up all night vomiting instead of sleeping.
Positivity is Key? You’ve Got to Be Kidding Me.
Kind of strange, but I’ve heard this quite a bit. People who believe being positive is a load of garbage. If you’ve ever seen our travel show, you know that Stef and I believe in seeking out the positive in every situation. We believe in light and love. Before the cancer journey, Stef and I had already been through some incredibly tough times and decided to try to be positive every day instead of being victims or living in the past.
When I was first diagnosed with cancer and my world was flipped upside down I became incredibly depressed. It was super easy to let go and embrace the darkness. Terrible thoughts creep in about just how easy it would be to take away all my pain right now. Instantly. Feelings of being alone. Feelings of my faith being tested. Feelings of the absence of all that is good in the world. I felt like I was watching my life from a third party perspective. I was just there. No joy. No love. Nothing.
I’m here to tell you that positivity IS key. It’s critical to maintain a positive outlook or it will all fall apart. I was just talking with Stef this morning. From today forward, there are no longer any bad days. We can be sad. We can have a moment. But we cannot chalk up entire days as bad days. We can have a bad moment but must make the most and best out of every single second that we have. Remember what they used to tell you in little league? Walk it off.
Ever since Stefanie and I have adopted the no bad day rule, stress has minimized. We make more time for each other. Hugs are minutes now instead of seconds. We’re learning to be grateful for every minute that we have with each other.
Accessing the Port.
Sounds like something nautical right? I wish. Perhaps something your IT department has to do. Nope. This is a device that they surgically install into your body so that you can draw blood, run an IV and meds, etc. without having to poke my veins each time. Well I’m here to say that it is super convenient having port access. In order to access the port, someone has to brush up on their Jack the Ripper skills and get stabby with it. No joke, my initial reaction was to grab the dude who just stabbed me and toss him around the room like a rag doll. It was THAT shocking. Thankfully they make numbing cream for this nonsense and the next round will be less shocking.
Next Up? Round 2.
This pretty much sums up round 1 of my chemo. We’ll be back in Jacksonville at the Mayo clinic for round 2 of my chemotherapy starting on Wednesday.
Want to help?
Want to help me fight stage four pancreatic cancer? We have a GoFundMe campaign, here is the link:
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Want to send a gift, card or letter? Thank you! Here is our mailing address:
Sean and Stefanie Mullen
P.O. Box 770335
Winter Garden, FL 34777
Thank you to all of the Youtube creators and fans and friends from around the world who have sent messages, shared our journey and donated to the fight. THANK YOU to everyone in our lives. We will beat this thanks to your love and support!