Keep calm and carry on regardless?


I finally started chemotherapy 10 days ago. I ended up calling my chemo unit almost everyday because I had an array of problems: I had such an intense nausea and headache when standing up that I could not get out of bed, I developed ulcers in my throat making it difficult to swallow and thus eat, I developed heart problems (I woke up with chest pains and a heart rate of 120), eyesight problems and my mastectomy wound started leaking a thick yellow liquid which I did not know if it was pus. Plus, I had unusual spikes in temperature everyday (once I woke up with a temperature of 37.3- my usual morning temperature is 36.7 tops). 

Much to my surprise, I was shamed by a nurse for calling almost everyday to ask for help. She said it was a sign of someone who is an overworrier and began asking me invasive and intimate questions about my personal life. From her perspective, it seems, it is very unusual for a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy to worry about unpleasant side effects and wish to have them checked or addressed.

I believe that if there is ever a time when people feel afraid, anxious and with a tendency to worry is when they have recently been diagnosed with cancer and are undergoing chemotherapy, especially when you face some unpleasant side effects from it. 

But you heard it here first, ladies: unless you have a cavalier attitude towards your health and could not really care whether you lived or died, suffered or not you are clearly not normal!

May I ask whether any of you have encountered a situation like this? And are you always keeping calm and carrying on, regardless of what happens to you, as this nurse envisaged that normal patients due?

I imagine that the truth is somewhere in the middle - ie you are a bit of a worrier but the nurse could have been more sympathetic to you. 

I wonder whether you weren’t told about the side effects, because most of those seem pretty much standard for chemo  - I don’t really think a rise in temperature rise of .6 could be described as a “spike”. Perhaps if you’d telephoned about the genuinely concerning problems (like the wound leakage) and not the run of the mill nausea and slight temperature rise you would have had a better response.

I don’t want to come over as unsympathetic as the nurse was but I do wonder whether you might benefit from counselling as you do seem rather over anxious to me.

Anyway, all the best for the rest of your chemo.