Chemo#3

I have a confession to make. The last two blog posts have been written under the influence. I didn’t realise it but both times I was on a steroid high. Chemo#1 and chemo#2 have gone something like this…

Tuesday – Have chemo along with a load of steroids to help my body cope with the toxic side effects. Tuesday night – Insomnia.

Wednesday – Feel so energetic that I go for a little run. I know. A run – the day after chemo! Wednesday night – Horrific nightmares followed by insomnia.

Thursday – Feel miserable.

Thursday night – Sleep returns to normal.

Friday – Wake up feeling like me. No high, no low, no desire to do any running.

On Wednesdays I felt amazing and was bursting with energy. The real problem was with that awful Thursday comedown. Both times it’s hit me hard and I have months of treatment to go. I couldn’t work out what was happening until I mentioned my mood swings to a doctor.

If I really needed to have so many steroids then I’d just deal with it but why put up with something that can be changed?

Red band spells steroid danger

Before I started chemo#3 I asked if I could get the moody drugs reduced. It caused a bit of a kafuffle. Not many people opt for this. Steroids are used to reduce this risk of your body from having a bad reaction to chemo; like that patient did last week. Apparently it’s rare but a really bad reaction can be deadly. Cutting back on the steroids was a gamble although the doctor on the ward preferred to call it a calculated risk.

I knew that my body copes well with chemo. Oh yes, it’s one of my hidden talents. But I still wasn’t sure and neither were the medical staff. In the end we agreed that I’d have half the usual steroids and be closely monitored.

If something scary is going to happen it will do so in the first 15 minutes or so. I wanted to be awake to watch and worry however like before, the chemo cocktail put me straight to sleep. I didn’t even have time to take my wig off. I was relieved to have my friend, Chantal the flower girl at my side.

So what happened? Nothing. I was totally fine and slept all the way through the critical period and beyond. I’m still writing this after all!

It was quite stressful though. Not exactly what you need. I’m trying hard not to turn chemo into a big deal. I want it to be just part of weekly life.

As I’m keeping everything normal I offered to work an early morning shift before chemo in the afternoon. Getting up at 4.30am wasn’t great. But that was the whole point. I was playing mind games with myself and it worked. My brain was more annoyed about the stupidly early hour rather than the prospect of chemo.

It was a busy morning at work doing live TV reports and interviews for the BBC News Channel. I didn’t have time to think about my impending trip to the chemo cocktail bar.

I can see why my consultants have encouraged me to continue to work if I’m able to. The morning made me realise more than ever just how important it is to do the things you really enjoy. It gives you a sense of purpose that you’ll never get from a trip to hospital.

Also work is a big part of my identity. I may have cancer but that doesn’t define who I am. Being active is another part of my identity which has nothing to do with the disease. Earlier I went out for some exercise. I used to be very sporty and I’m keen to get fit again. Playing netball again is on my List for Living which I’m still working on.

I think that I’m now having much less of a steroid rush. The insomnia wasn’t so bad last night. The steroid highs made me feel like I had boundless energy. Today I managed to jog for two and half minutes with great difficulty. It’s good not to feel so hyper but just happy, tired and rubbish at running again.

13 thoughts on “Chemo#3

  1. Keep up the good work Helen hope things work out for you. I am so glad your lovely friend goes with you.

  2. Good on you for taking matters into your own hands. I’m glad you’re managing well with the reduction in steroids. AND it’s so lovely to see that photograph of you working. Keep on making yourself happy, and if it’s doing great work – then yay! (Pretty blue coat, by the way)

  3. I know that steroid mania well and initially I quite enjoyed the boost in energy but by the end of the chemo I really did not like the madness of it. Just too much. I am pleased to hear that they have reduced your dose and that no reactions occurred. It reminds you, as if you needed reminding, how really toxic Chemo is and also how utterly amazing our bodies are at dealing with these bombardments. I am just coming up to 3 weeks since my last and final chemo so will be interested to see how I feel as my treatments were every 3 weeks. Unchartered territory!! Keep strong, including those all important crying sessions previously referred to!!!!

  4. I cut my steroid use in half after my first treatment and never again had that “crash” that was so miserable the first round. I’m not sure of the dose I was given pre-chemo, but I had to take it orally for 3 days afterwards. I’m glad your docs listened to you and let you experiment a bit with dosage :)

  5. I’m sure you’re right to try and keep chemo & cancer in its place, as it were. I suppose, like bomb threats, they can’t be ignored but if they have us changing everything we do, they’re winning. And I’ve never come across anyone in whom the Blitz spirit is stronger! Great that you’re back at work. i saw you there the other day but you were in the middle of something, so was I, next time i’ll say a proper hello. Goodness, I used to have lots of steroids for asthma but I guess they must be a different kind, I never got an up – or a down! Looking out for you on News Channel. xx

  6. Looking great there, Helen! Glad to see you are still wearing bright, beautiful colors! Such a lovely contrast to London weather.

    I think it is awesome you are able to listen to your body and fine tune everything to the sound of it. :)

    Hugs and kisses!

  7. So glad to hear that your doctor listened to your concerns and agreed to reduce the steroids. I guess they err on the side of caution and only change the dose after consulting with you.

    Take care, hope to see you on early news in future.

  8. I used to take steroids for crohns disease but im now banned from them. They send me totally and utterly loop de loopy! so i think did the right thing only you know how horrendous they can make you feel. good for you going to work as well. will be keeping up with your blog to see how you are getting on. much love x

  9. When my husband was having treatment for cancer of the tongue he had that steriod rush. Came home from hospital and was out the next morning at 6.00 a.m. using a powerful petrol strimmer and cutting the grass. Our garden has never looked so good!!! He could’nt sit down for 5 minutes, was as high as a kite and worked like a dog for two days and nights. The children and myself breathed a sigh of relief when he eventually fell asleep, as did our neighbours, who I have to say were very understanding about having their weekends ruined by a maniac with a lawnmower!! We could’nt keep up with him. Good for you for taking matters into your own hands. Best wishes.

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