The steroid Dexamethasone was prescribed as part of my treatment in Stage Six for several reasons. Steroids are known to reduce inflammation and soften tumors. This was critical since my tumors had grown and everything in my abdomen was so hard that there was not enough flexibility and ease for regular bowel movements or simple life functioning. By reducing inflammation and softening my tumors, this treatment created more space in my body, which allowed for pain-free bowel movements, as well as reduced overall pain.

The steroid also increased my appetite, which is a common side effect, and I gained ten pounds in a matter of weeks—though some of it turned out to be water weight. I felt hunger, and food tasted good for the first time in close to a year.

The main side effect I had from the steroid was water retention, most of it in my calves and feet. My feet became so swollen that none of my shoes fit. In order to keep the swelling under control, I had to have my legs in an elevated position, which meant I spent the majority of my time in bed. Though swelling in the calves and feet may seem like a minor symptom—and in some ways it is—it limited my lifestyle enormously by confining me to bed. I thus chose to discontinue the steroids after a month. I did lose some of the benefits I had gained when I went off the steroids, but if a treatment keeps me from fully living when I am otherwise able, then the cost for me is too high.


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