For the first time in months I woke up without a nose bleed. It’s a sign that my chemo-cation is coming to an end.

It hasn’t been a typical holiday although I’ve mostly just done a whole load of nothing. As I recover from my anti-cancer treatment, the hardest thing to deal with is the tiredness.

It’s been a few weeks since I finished my chemo, since then I’ve mostly slept or sat in a comfy chair but my favourite place to be is outside lying on the grass with the sun on my face. A soft fabric hat protects my thinning hair (more of that later.) Sasha the dog likes to sit next to me. I ask her why when I’ll stop being ridiculously exhausted. She has no answer.

Some of the side effects are easing. So, my moon-face seems to be deflating. But others are actually getting worse. My feet are so swollen that wearing shoes is painful. My toe nails and one finger nail appear like they’ve been dipped in acid.

My eyebrows and eyelashes are growing back but the hair on my head is falling out. And I mean seriously coming out. Towards the end of the chemo cocktail sessions my hair had started to grow. Now that it’s falling out in handfuls it seems so cruel. It’s difficult to stop myself constantly checking but each time I’m rewarded with a load of my hair between my fingers. I reckon that I’m going to need my wigs for longer than I thought.

Compared to what I went through during my treatment, both the hair loss and tiredness seem much harsher. It’s meant that my chemo holiday has been tough however there was one amazing afternoon when I got away from it all.

A couple of weeks ago I went to a Buckingham Palace garden party. As you do! Along with several thousand smartly dressed people, I had afternoon tea with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

My fug of fatigue was gone, it felt as if I’d woken up and for a few hours I was back to my old self. I think it was down to being part of something so special.

During my chemo-cation I also had a trip to Accident and Emergency. Not quite so pleasant. Last Wednesday I caught an infection and my temperature started to rise. As this happened before I knew not wait too long before going to hospital. When we arrived my temperature was bad but not critical. We sat and waited to be seen by a doctor.

Over the next hour I felt increasingly ill. During that time we were joined on the hard metal seats by five other patients. Separately they hobbled in and bizarrely everyone seemed to have twisted an ankle.

My temperature wandered into the danger zone. I was eventually given a bed in the emergency ward. By that point my blood pressure had dropped and my heart rate was worrying.

After some treatment and a night at the hospital, my immune system was back in charge. After the battering that it has taken recently, I was so pleased that it was able to fight back. It was only when I’d properly woken up that I realised I was staying in yet another room without a view.

I was able to leave hospital the next day but the infection took its toll and made me even more shattered. Ugggh.

Finally, life is now returning to normal and I worked at the weekend. At the end of my shift I felt like I’d done a massive work-out at the gym. I had no energy left. Not just my legs, but also my arms really ached. This was a different kind of tiredness. It comes from deciding that the chemo holiday can’t go on forever and pushing myself to do more.

Considering my diagnosis – this is a luxury. I’ll never beat the cancer but I can enjoy the time when I feel good and I’m not having treatment. I’m more than happy to have this sort of exhaustion as it shows that after 17 sessions of toxic chemicals I’m slowly starting to feel better.

10 thoughts on “Chemo-cationed

  1. Looking Stunning at The Palace may I say Helen! I think you are fantastic and such an inspiration! I look forward to your posts bless you – Keep going you are doing Great! Izzy XX

  2. You look fab for the Palace! Keep smiling and keep strong xxx I wish you could come and stay with me to report on our revolution here in Turkey! :)

  3. Well Helen, you still look amazing even if you don’t feel it. Remember 2 years ago you wore flip flops for the day and hurt your feet? Maybe now they’ll help you if your shoes are hurting. Thinking of you x
    Ps is the hat you are wearing one of my creations? Need anymore?

  4. How amazing that you were able to have tea with the Queen. That’s quite something, isn’t it? :) I’m sorry you are fatigues and dealing with side-effects. If your chemo vacation is coming to an end, how long do they expect the next round of treatments to last? ~Catherine

  5. You’re doing so well my lovely. It’s such weird time… I remember well the feeling of euphoria that chemo was over being tainted by the cruel side effects that insisted on continuing to rear their unwelcome ugly heads!! I had the swollen feet and ankles and nothing offered relief. But it did eventually ease up and my feet are back to normal size now :-)
    I’m so sorry to hear that you’re continuing to lose your hair. When I was fresh out of chemo and still feeling crap, I kept reminding myself that if the chemo was still making me feel rubbish, it was also still killing cancer cells. It’s a bugger that it kills everything; good and bad, but if its still making you lose your hair, then it’s still zapping all those cancer nasties. And that can only be a good thing, right?!
    Stay strong, brave girl. Thinking of you lots

    Anouska xx

  6. You look truly beautiful for your day at the Palace. You would never guess that you were suffering with such terrible side effects. And how happy you look!!! Wonderful. Sasha looking good too. Best wishes.

  7. My thoughts are with you Helen.. I went through the same as you when I had my treatment for breast cancer and because of the infections I was taken off the chemo as the doctor told me that it was killing me off.. That was 10 years ago now and I vowed to never having treatment again..Having said that I now feel that I could do it again sinc e reading about you Helen..You are an inspiration to everyone who might find themselves in the same situation, I thank you for making me realise that however long we have left we owe it to ourselves to keep on fighting, may God bless you Helen Fawkes. Denise Smalley.

  8. You look right royal in that picture, Helen; I’d rather have your face smiling at me from the magazines on the newsagent’s shelf than any of the current over-exposed Royals. I’ve been catching up on your blog & continue to be knocked sideways by the way you just look everything that happens to you straight in the eye and then relate it all in perfect, unfussy prose. I hope your side-effects beat a hasty retreat and you get some of your energy back. Though, quite frankly, what you get done even while in the pits of chemo puts the rest of us to shame. Well, me anyway!

  9. You look wonderful!!! And, I agree with everyone else that you are an inspiration. Keep up the good attitude. God bless you.
    Karen Ingalls

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