The reality star tells PEOPLE about her difficult chemotherapy treatment and how her family helped her through it
“I had my official last chemo treatment,” says Arnold, 39. “And while I’m hesitant to say I’m cancer-free – maybe that’s common for people who have had cancer – I’m doing great. Everything is moving in the right direction. I am very excited.”
“It actually got harder as more time went on,” Arnold says. “Some weeks were more difficult than others with different side effects. I had a lot of fatigue and nausea and some days it just felt like my hands and feet were very heavy.”
Arnold’s road to recovery has had its rocky moments. She was diagnosed with stage 3 choriocarcinoma, a rare cancer that occurred after she had a failed pregnancy. After surgery to remove a mass in her uterus, she developed pneumonia. Her doctors worked to get her chemotherapy dosage levels correct for a person of her size – Arnold has skeletal dysplasia, a bone-growth disorder that causes dwarfism – to battle tumors in her lungs.
Now that she’s in remission, her blood count will be monitored weekly initially to ensure that her cancer does not return. After several months, those tests will happen monthly and eventually yearly. Because around 85 percent of recurrences happen in the first 18 months after chemo, Arnold says she will be monitored closely by her doctor.
She says she was able to get through her hardest days of intense treatment with the help of husband Bill Klein, 39, and by watching her two children running around the house.
“Bill knows when I’m not doing well and he takes such good care of me,” she says. “That was huge. That and enjoying watching my children play was a huge uplifting part of my treatment. With kids running around, you don’t have much time to feel sorry for yourself.”
Though Arnold has not returned to work full time at Texas Children’s Hospital, where she is a neonatologist, she says she’s ready to ease back into her normal routine.
“Sometimes I get a little winded when I walk around more and I have that fuzzy chemo brain at times, but I am very excited and happy to be where I am right now,” she says. “I want to get stuff done. I am anxious to get back to my normal self.”