Complications with Chemo and How to Overcome Them

Headshot Photo of Ovarian Cancer Survivor Debbie and her Care Partner Monty

In 2013, after less than a year of marriage, Debbie was diagnosed with Stage 1C ovarian cancer. Both Debbie and her husband, Monty, struggled, but found their way through the support of the ovarian cancer community. That encouraged them to become advocates themselves. They’ve dedicated their lives to raising awareness for their Teal Women and Men.

Why Chemo Didn’t Stop Me

After my surgeries, I was blessed that no more cancer was found. Unfortunately, two days later, my hot flashes started and hello menopause!

I started chemo four weeks after surgery. I was scheduled to have chemo twice every three weeks. I had to have another surgery to get an IV and an intraperitoneal (IP) port. If it would give me a better chance for no future recurrence, Monty and I were all for it!

After six cycles of chemo, I was done. I did lose my hair, but I made the decision to get rid of my hair on my terms. My mom battled cancer, and I remember the day they woke up to a bed full of hair. Mom and Dad cried on the deck as he shaved her head. I wanted to be in control of when my hair came off. Cancer seemed to be in control of everything else.

I had my family gather on that same deck for my Haircut Party. My nieces and stepdaughters laughed as they made crazy designs in my hair. I was so proud that I made a potentially traumatic experience into a positive one.

I also struggled with nausea and fatigue. I had the foresight to ask for a dietician consult because I wanted to know how to eat to help with fatigue.

However, know that there are a lot of complications that are not discussed or talked about. These often show up after chemo is over. Things like weight gain that keeps going (some for me was due to menopause), neuropathy, brain fog, muscle pain, coordination issues, worsening eyesight, sexual issues, depression, and frustration.

Everyone has different experiences, but it’s important that you talk to your doctor about everything you experience. That has been key to my success. That and having Monty as a great support. When my fatigue and brain fog were severe, he would help out around the house and take care of things, like bills, that I just couldn’t keep up with. I don’t know what I would have done without his support.

So when it comes to dealing with chemo, it’s important to speak up about everything you feel and don’t be afraid to lean on your loved ones. They’re there to support you and they’ll be happy to do it!