After the first round of chemotherapy for my stage 3B lung cancer, I went home feeling OK.
I had taken steroid pills the prior day and that morning. My drug cocktail at the oncology treatment center also contained IV steroids. Those energizing drugs were known to hold off the nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and devastating fatigue of my chemotherapy, and they did — for four days.
The final set of pills, the day after treatment, kept me functioning for a little longer. That Monday night, however, the full force of the chemo hit me, and I felt sick — sicker than I had felt in my entire life. Maybe chemo would do me in. I was scared that I wouldn’t make it.
Anxiety gripped me as I called the oncology office first thing Tuesday morning. I was able to get an appointment to see the doctor later that day. The movement of the car and my sense of nausea as my husband drove toward the oncologist’s office caused me to vomit before we arrived at the cancer center. I clung to my husband, enabling me to walk the short distance from the parking lot to the medical building.
The medical assistant took my vital signs, and all were fine. However, I weighed only 103 pounds, despite my height of 5 feet. 6 inches. One of my oncologist’s associates examined me more thoroughly and diagnosed me with dehydration.
“Drink more fluids,” he said. “You are fine. All your symptoms are normal.”
Astonished to hear that, I felt a bit embarrassed, but trusted the doctor, and appreciated that I was not nearly as ill as I thought I might be.
Riding northward back toward my home, I knew I would get through that first round of chemotherapy. Drinking water, even sip by sip, was a priority, as was eating simple and bland food which my stomach could tolerate.
I remembered the nutritional supplement, strawberry-flavored Boost, which I had tried in the oncology treatment area. Strangely it had tasted good. Nothing I normally liked tasted good then, why shouldn’t some things that I normally disliked be appealing, even enjoyable? Never having eaten strawberry ice cream, never having desired a milk shake, I started regularly drinking and enjoying strawberry Boost, and eventually was consuming three bottles per day.
Feeling stronger a few days later, I wandered through the produce department of my supermarket, before zeroing in on potatoes. I bought three, promising myself to eat at least two of them that day. Within two hours, I microwaved one of them, sliced it open lengthwise and sprinkled shredded mozzarella cheese over the steaming potato. As soon as it cooled, I devoured it, enjoying every bite.
I started to eat five to six microwaved baked potatoes per day, with mild melted cheese, chopped meat and canned vegetables. They tasted good, filled me up, and I gained weight. Those potatoes became something special to me. They symbolized that I could actually get well.
Before long, at the grocery store, I found myself preparing to purchase up to twenty of the individually plastic wrapped covered spuds. As time went on, I felt more comfortable explaining to the cashier that I was eating a lot of potatoes because I was on chemotherapy than I would have keeping my medical circumstances private.
I spent a lot of time in the TV room; one day I had been there since getting out of bed that morning two hours earlier. Walking into the kitchen, I cut the cooked, baked potato in half, and put mild cheddar on it, then waited while the hot potato melted the cheese. I topped potato and cheese with chopped green beans, then chicken. After carrying it back to the TV room, I ate it. It was thoroughly delicious.
Eating each cheesy baked potato meal gave me the energy to prepare the next. There was nothing magical about my potato diet, however as I ate one after another, I thought about how I would become a survivor in the future.
Typically, I drank strawberry Boost for snacks between meals.
Chemotherapy was very hard on me, but my body tolerated my two lung surgeries, radiation therapy, and immunotherapy much better. Looking back at the baked potatoes and strawberry Boost I consumed, now almost five years later, I realize the significance of my decision to take control of my health and wellness early in my cancer journey, and three months ago, on June 14, 2023, I was official designated cured of lung cancer.
This post was written and submitted by a CURE reader. The article reflects the views the author and not of CURE®. This is also not supposed to be intended as medical advice.
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