Surviving Lung Cancer Treatments
Do you think I am going to write about the side effects of chemotherapy, radiation, and immunotherapy? Nope. This has nothing to do with that. This has to do with all the other "things" that go wrong with our bodies when on any type of cancer treatment. I have been in active Lung Cancer treatment for over 5 years. Prior to my diagnosis, my only health issue was hypothyroidism. Simple fix - a pill a day.
Approximately, 6 months after beginning chemotherapy my vision seemed to change with my bifocals. I naturally made an appointment for an eye examination and was told I had early cataracts - a potential reaction from chemotherapy. This will never get better and I hope it won't get worse.
Approximately two years later I started developing digestive problems. Not nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy (although I did have this), but a constant stomach ache, bloating, excessive gas, and chronic constipation. Again, after an appointment with a gastroenterologist and a colonoscopy, nothing major was found however these digestive problems may be with me the rest of my life.
And then my knee pain started
Fast forward, two more years. I have been on immunotherapy for these two years and my only side effects are extreme fatigue for 24-36 hours (I sleep the entire time) and joint aches. Immunotherapy can cause joints to swell but this also only lasts a day or two. Until recently.
Two months ago my knees started hurting. All the time. Every step. One day the right knee is worse. The next day the left knee is worse. Days both knees hurt and I limp around and then days with very little pain. I finally decided to talk to an Orthopedic Physician to see what was going on. Once again, I was told it is from ongoing immunotherapy and degeneration in my knees has speeded up due to the treatment. My future holds a knee replacement. Once again, I am told this will not improve but I can hope it doesn't get worse.
I haven't quite wrapped my head around a major surgery to my knees when I already had to remove both left lung lobes, manage daily fatigue, and am in active cancer treatment. I will continue to monitor and track the knee pain to see if there is a pattern to when it is worse or better.
Tell your doctor everything
So the next time you have a pain here or there, my advice is: do not ignore it. I sometimes feel like a hypochondriac with these aches and pains but I have come to realize they are real and are the lasting effects of my treatment. Make sure your oncologist knows about every headache, every sneeze, every everything. It will make your day to day living much easier.
Editor’s Note: We are extremely saddened to say that on January 28, 2020, Jennifer Toth passed away. Jennifer was a passionate advocate for the Lung Cancer community. She will be deeply missed.
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