There are a multitude of side effects to deal with during chemo.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll show you some of what Hannah has had to cope with.
We expected the hair loss, she lasted almost 3 weeks of chemo with her mousy brown hair, before she started shedding. It was just a few strands at first, then as each day passed, you could see a patch of hair on the sheets, where her head had been. One morning when she woke up with it in her mouth, we decided to take it into our own hands, we asked the nurses if they had anything we could use to shave her head. They came back with hair clippers, I soothed Hannah, whilst Joseph got to work shaving her head.
The vomiting, was pretty much every day during the intensive stages, chemo made her feel sick and her stomach was having difficulty digesting properly. We had to give her feeds through an NG tube at an extremely slow rate. Each day we slowly increased her feed rate and if she vomited we had to hold off for an hour and try again at the previous rate. When she was trying to eat normally, the tiniest morsel of food, could make her vomit and throw up everything she’d been able to eat. We became used to cleaning up sick and checking her temperature just to make sure it wasn’t an infection. There were times, when she vomited so violently that the NG tube was pushed out of her mouth, this became extremely distressing for her.
Hannah had diarrhoea for the majority of her intensive treatment, she had to be moved into a side room for most of the time, it was likely due to chemo, but they couldn’t risk her being around other children on the ward, in case she had a virus. This was also toxic, and we had to wear gloves whilst changing her nappy. At first, she just had a regular nappy rash due to the diarrhoea, but it just kept getting worse, no matter what ointments were prescribed. It eventually got so bad, it looked like she had a flesh-eating virus, we had to use a wound gel and dressings to keep it stable. Once she was in the maintenance stage, the nappy rash calmed down, until it disappeared completely.
In my next post, I will discuss rashes and low immunity.