Introduce yourself (Name, where you’re from) - What was your life like before undergoing chemotherapy?

My name is Angela Pohl, 47, and I live in northeast Ohio. I’m a wife and mother of 2 teens and am an avid marathon runner. 

Bring us along your journey – when were you diagnosed with cancer? What was your initial reaction?

I was diagnosed on January 4th, 2021 with stage 3 invasive ductal carcinoma. I was surprised that I could have cancer because I felt so healthy and was the fittest I’d ever been in my life. 

What was your first chemotherapy treatment like? What treatment/treatments did you or are currently undergoing?

My first chemo treatment took 8 hours. There were so many pre-meds to control potential side effects. I had 6 rounds of taxotere-carboplatin-herceptin-perjeta (TCHP) from January to the end of May. It shrank the tumor 95%. Because it was not a complete pathological response and HER2+ breast cancers are aggressive, I am currently receiving a second line of chemo treatment called Kadcyla (TDM-1).

Who did you turn to as your support system? 

Some close girlfriends started accompanying me to chemo sessions and going for walks with me. I have a lot of online support from social media communities as well.

What is something you wished you knew before starting your chemo treatment?

There are different drugs that can help with various side effects. If something isn’t working for you, let your medical team know right away instead of suffering through it. There may be other types they can try instead that might work better for you.

Have there been certain side effects that have been worse than others?

I had a lot of GI issues with TCHP chemo. Losing hair was upsetting too, even when you know it’s coming.

What are tips/tricks you have learned along the way to help with chemo side effects?

Foods and drinks that you have during your chemo sessions or generally have a lot of during your cycles may cause strong aversions once you are finished with chemo. So don’t ruin any favorites for yourself. 

Experiment a lot with different foods to see what you can tolerate or still enjoy. If you can keep up calories and protein to let your body recover faster, you’ll have more energy. If you can use some of that energy to get your body moving each day, it can help reduce other side effects and help with recovery.

Any advice for other chemo patients?

Keep a log of side effects that you experience each day and anything you tried to address them. You may see a pattern for future chemo sessions and will better know what to expect when. You can also use the log to share what you experienced with your medical team, in case there is anything they can suggest to help for next time.