Even though this isn't our first trip to the chemo rodeo, I'm still not used to all of the effects chemo treatments hammers on my wife. On the plus side (yes, there's actually a plus side if you chose to look at it that way), chemo means also getting infused with steroids, something they give with different chemo treatments to lessen the body's reaction to a pretty objectionable class of drugs. The day of and usually a day or two after means a significant amount of added energy for my wife. It's kind of a physical and mental upper, allowing her to get projects done she just didn't feel up to starting or finishing previously. I like to say, "make sure it's a 3 day or less project, hun" so she doesn't run out of energy before getting the project complete. My wife works amazingly hard under normal conditions. Pump steroids into her and she looks like Ben Johnson racing around the track at a superhuman pace faster than everyone else.
But there's of course the down side too. My friend Dan recently asked me to describe chemo. I used a quote from the book So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish (from the Hitchhiker Guide To The Gallery fame.) In that book someone (I forget who) asks what the secret to learning to fly is, and the answer that came back was something like, "try to throw yourself against the ground as hard as you can... and miss." That's chemo.
Chemo drugs in general disrupt cell division during the metabolic process. Different chemos disrupt cells at different points in the process. The only problem is it disrupts all cells in the body, killing good and cancerous cells. My wife describes it as "feeling like I'm being poisoned" and there's a whole lot of truth to that. Just enough poison such that the treatment doesn't kill the patient.
So you can imaging the downsides. Yes, there's hair loss (a relatively low severity issues given how sexy my wife looks bald), nausea (though that hasn't been bad for her at all), and a big drop in the immunity system's ability to fight infection. I think the worst of these is how it robs my wife of her energy, the fuels that let her live life to its fullest, doing the things she enjoys most. And who knows what longer term damage occur from the chemo. That's something you just can't find any answers to and you still probably wouldn't have a choice other than to not do any treatment at all.
Each chemo treatment's effect is cumulative, making you more tired, etc. It's also hard to tell day-to-day, and often, minute-to-minute how she'll be feeling from the chemo treatments. One of the thing's I've had to adjust to being totally flexible. Plans to go to a movie might get nixed 5 minutes before you head out the door. Or a trip down the street might turn into a solo trip, or a run to get dinner. Trips out of town, or things that require a reservation, are most often what's in jeopardy. You just have to be ready to change plans, and sometimes postpone things until a later time or another day/weekend.
I guess the most important thing to remember is that it's not you or your wife, it's the impact of the chemo. None of us want to sit through a movie or go out when staying at home on the coach feels bad enough. Just remember not to be too tied to your plans, be flexible, and most importantly, remember to tell your wife you love her. Changing plans is part of loving her.