By Abigail Seaberg
Chemotherapy can be a long and extremely trying time for cancer patients. FOX59 Anchor Lindy Thackston recently opened up about her experience with chemotherapy for colorectal cancer and explained why she had to end the treatment early in a recent episode of her podcast, “Life with Lindy.”
Thackston was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer in May 2020. She began treatment with four surgeries and 15 rounds of chemo pills and radiation. Thackston’s “clean-up chemo,” as she calls it, was supposed to be 12 rounds of IV chemotherapy through her chest port every 2 weeks. Symptoms of the chemotherapy began with extreme fatigue and nausea, then progressed to neuropathy (weakness, numbness or pain from nerve damage) in her hands and feet. She also began to have trouble eating because everything tasted spicy, and, on top of it all, she had consistent gastrointestinal issues.
Due to the increasing severity of her side-effects, Thackston’s doctor had her take a month break from chemo around round 5. After her much-needed break, they restarted chemo, but, unfortunately, side-effects were worsening and accumulating. She said they tried everything to help ease her pain.
“We’re talking Fentanyl patches and all the medicine you can imagine,” Thackston said. “None of it helped the pain I was having.”
She considered stopping treatment at round eight, but decided to push through with a new dosage reduced to a third of the original amount. From there, she took it one treatment at a time.
“I did round 8, it was hard but doable,” Thackston said. “I did round 9, it was pure torture… I did round 10, it was the same. So, that’s why we called it.”
The decision to end her treatment early was a tough one. Luckily, Thackston felt very reassured of her decision after a talk with her doctor.
“It really comes down to, down the road, if it were to come back, would I be upset with myself for finishing chemo early?” Thackston said. “And no, I wouldn’t at this point… [My doctor] stopped me in the hallway after my appointment and said many people don’t make it as far as I did, not to feel like I’m quitting. And that really helped me to hear that.”
Confident in her decision, Thackston is looking ahead.
“I plan to take about a month to heal from chemo side effects and get myself together… and then get back to the @fox59 morning show, which I’ve missed so much,” Thackston wrote on Instagram on April 12. “Fingers crossed I’ll feel well enough to do @indianapolismotorspeedway PA for the #Indy500.”
Unfortunately, Thackston had to deal with a setback mere days later with a surprise gall bladder surgery, but her positive attitude has seemingly only flourished since.
“I am extremely sore from surgery,” Thackston said in her podcast. “But I’m excited because I think I’m gonna feel so much better soon coming out of this.”
Colorectal cancer – like any cancer – presents its own unique challenges for patients on the road to recovery. But Dr. Heather Yeo, a surgical oncologist and colorectal surgeon at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center, wants to remind people how far the treatment of this disease has come.
“One of the most exciting things about my job is that we’ve made a lot of progress on treatment options,” Dr. Yeo says in a previous interview with SurvivorNet. “However, patients are still — while they’re living longer, they are still living with colon cancer, and so I think it’s really important that we talk about how some of the things in your life affect you.”
Dr. Yeo also wants people to know how important colorectal screenings can be. In fact, she says most colorectal cancers can be prevented early with screening.
“In the United States, on a national level, colorectal cancer has been decreasing for the last 20 years,” Dr. Yeo explains. “And much of that is thought to be directly due to screening for colon cancer.”