Side Effects

Michelle T
3 min readJan 19, 2023

It has been over a week since my first treatment of Enhertu and I’m still not quite 100%. This past weekend was particularly rough, with me having very little energy and a lot of tears. Part of the issue, I think, was my heart medication which was lowering my blood pressure a bit too much and causing me to feel even more fatigued. We adjusted the dosage and I’m hoping it still does its thing (regulate my heartbeat) while not zapping me of all motivation.

I’m not exactly sure if what I’m experiencing is nausea as I am able to eat pretty easily. I can only describe it as being very aware of my stomach. Like before my diagnosis and all the stuff after, I was not too focused on what my body was doing. Things would hurt or ache or twinge and then they’d go away without me worrying too much about them. My stomach sometimes acted up, but that was usually due to bad choices on my part (bourbon on an empty belly being the most egregious offense). Now as I sit here I am acutely aware of my body, her functions, just about every muscle, bone, and nerve ending. I often wish doctors could remote into our bodies like the IT guy does when trying to figure out what’s going on with your computer. They could feel what you’re feeling, rather than rely on your ability to find the words. For as much as I love writing, I often struggle to describe how I’m feeling. “That hurts” can cover a variety of sins — does it ache, does it throb, does it stab? So, I like the idea of leaving the subjective description out of it. Instead, let your doctor swish around in your brain for a bit and really feel what’s going on. One of my favorite quotes is from To Kill a Mockingbird where Atticus admonishes Scout that you can’t really understand another person until you climb into their skin and walk around. This ability could solve a lot of problems now that I think about it but since some people are just incapable of considering other people’s viewpoints (see: state of the world), I’m going to limit my application of this to how it could immensely help me at the moment. My doctor could tell me whether my stomach is just nerves or a result of the meds and then it could be more easily treated and managed. Instead I have to try and find words to describe a feeling that is not easy to put into helpful words. The one word that I come back to is “heavy,” which is dramatic but not all that helpful to my doctor. i feel like i’m carrying a load too heavy for my frame. I feel weighed down by worry, by fatigue, by anxiety. I feel like i’m moving through molasses, having to push extra hard to take each step, complete each task, get through each day. The toll that this illness is taking on my physical and mental health is real and overwhelming and I’m still trying to find my footing after so many challenges these past few months. I’m hoping and praying my body will adjust, the cancer will slow the fuck down, and I can feel a bit lighter as a result.

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Michelle T

Sometimes funny lawyer-writer person battling breast cancer in NYC