Chemo #1

Memory is a power thing. Sometimes it’s the ability to forget that’s just as important as the stuff you remember. This is my fourth course of chemotherapy. Or to put it another way last Tuesday I had my 30th session! That seems like more than enough toxic drugs for one lifetime. Clearly not for me.

It all started off in a familiar way. I had a small operation to have a new PICC line put into my arm. Just like I had last time, the PICC allows blood to be taken out and drugs to go in without having to bother my rubbish veins with a needle.

It’s hard to describe what happens without being too gruesome. Basically a good vein was selected and after some local anaesthetic, a cut was made in my arm. The same vein was used as before so a tiny scar marked the spot. A thin, flexible cable went into my arm and into the vein. I’d forgotten how it was going to hurt.

The chemo itself was just the same as always. For my fellow cancer fighters who may be interested, this time I’m on taxol and carboplatin. New for this season is the red coloured modesty bag to cover the plastic pouch of chemicals.

The medicine that always makes me sleepy, knocked me out for chunks of the afternoon. Despite this I realised that I hadn’t remembered how the hours really drag while attached to the IV machine as litres of liquid are pumped into your veins. As it’s one session every three weeks, it’s a long day of drugs.

Checking out the glass with a chemo cocktail

But it wasn’t all dozing and dragging the drip to the loo. I had a visit from my friend Chantal, the flower girl and fellow glass blower. She’d gone and collected our work that we did because of my List for Living. Still bubble wrapped, she carefully placed my five pieces of glass on the bedside table. Wow I was blown away – I was really liked how they’d turned out! Also it was so good have something lovely there that wasn’t connected to my stupid disease.

Once the drip was done and the glass was packed up, I wasn’t too ill In fact, I felt good, really good. Filled with happiness. I felt like me on a very good day. Oh yes – there’s that steroid high again. It was a brilliant surprise.

What came next hasn’t been so pleasant. Chronic sickness has now been joined by fatigue, dizziness and joint pain. Uggggggh I hate it so much. I’m glad that I’d forgotten just how dreadful chemo makes you feel. At least I still have a couple more weeks before I have another toxic cocktail.

21 thoughts on “Chemo #1

  1. Can’t begin to imagine what you’re going through but if positive vibes are any use, consider them being sent by the bucket load.

  2. I for one am very impressed with your beautiful glass!! What an achievement. You look really happy with your pieces, as you should be. Well done!!! Happy happy thoughts and best wishes for the coming weeks being sent your way. One happy thought worth sharing, a friend’s dog had puppies on Saturday night – 9 Golden Doodles. Beautiful.

  3. the glass and you look fab. boy, wish i there and we could wile away hours, you trying to figure out my garbled language.

    • Yes that would have been brilliant if you could have been there! Oh I think I can understand you quite well :) Thanks I had a lot of help.

  4. The glass looks wonderful! So nice to see something happy even though you likely had a tough day.You are in my thoughts and prayers across the pond. Your bravery and strength is an inspiration.

  5. Hi Helen
    your glass blowing is awesome! looks like you have been doing it for years. Is a visit to Australia on your bucket list??? Cheers Ed

  6. Once again, I must compliment you on your beautifully written blog. The subject material may be disheartening at times, but I find your narratives to be riveting and inspiring. Those of us with cancer – no matter the variety or the treatments – are all nodding our heads, as are friends and family, I’m sure.

    PS – I’m in love with the glass. I’ve tried ceramics, and my pieces were all very chunky and organic. Hmmm… maybe a nice little kiln WILL fit in my cellar…..

  7. WOW, the glass is amazing, so elegant and sophisticated. Those pieces would sell for a pretty price in the shops, very impressive. I tried a pottery class once and produced a couple of monstrosities; started with something simple – an ashtray and then onto something that was supposed to resemble a vase.

    You are in my thoughts as always X

  8. that glass ware looks really super and you dont look too bad yourself

  9. Really like the large coloured piece of glass. It’s hard to believe you did all that on your first attempt. Well done!

    I guess, like a lot of people who read this blog, I’m a total stranger to you – but have came across your blog for one reason or another. I, like many others I bet, won’t comment normally , but just stay in the wings and read. I thought I’d break my silence on this occasion to let you that we’re all rooting for you Helen and send positivity and every good wish your way.

  10. Good morning Helen,

    Found your blog through the BBC website, you have a lovely way of describing what must be an extremely tough experience.
    Lots of positive thoughts coming your way, keep going with the living list, No51 walk to the top of the Transporter Bridge in Middlesbrough!? Take care.

  11. Helen, I live in Rome, do come and stay when you decide to see the ruins, but it may be raining! Enjoy living and i hope you complete your list.

    • Dear Helen, I was reading your article on the BBC Magazine. You are an inspiration, thank you so much! I live in Rome too and I’d like to help you to realise point “Explore Rome’s ancient ruins” on your list. Please don’t hesitate to contact me, when you come to Rome.

  12. what a brave lady! I read that one of your wishes on the bucket list is to own a dog: you could contact The Cinnamon Trust. They are a brill organisation who look after dogs from people who are no longer able to care for them or no longer here and would be able to find you one Good luck

  13. Hello Helen and I can only say wow what an extremely personal blog, and it kind of puts my own health battles with a twenty year long chronic thyroid condition into perspective. Basically I have been told by various specialists that in October/November 1993 I had viral thyroiditis during a bout of influenza, which caused a biochemical episode of thyrotoxicosis followed by transient hypothyroidism, chronic pain and/or fatigue. Unfortunately due to prolonged medical investigations I was not diagnosed with the thyroid issue until May 2002 by which time I was to say the least fairly unwell, but I now have it sort of under control with a great deal of medication, strict diet, a lot of exercising, relaxation, planning, pacing and rest. I guess it sounds odd but I often spend time in the countryside watching the wildlife, and if you ever fancied watching buzzards in Leicestershire then let me know? Beyond that much strength to you over the coming time and enjoy yourself whatever you end up doing on your list. Regards Chris.

  14. Beautiful glass, well done! And a monster hug from me, just wish I could wave a magic wand for you.

  15. Hello. I’ve read an article about you on BBC and it lead me there. What strikes me most is your strength and sort of invincibility. I try to put myself in your shoes and it instantly seems as if the party’s over. But your courage and actions prove the opposite. Which is admirable. Which I came here to thank you for.

    Best wishes, from Belarus.

  16. I just think you are an amazing woman Helen…….so inspirational and you write so beautifully about something that is so awful and hideous. You and all other cancer sufferers are in my thoughts and prayers.

  17. Hi Helen, as the other ladies that live in Rome I am there too, we just wait for you to come over to show you around I am even studying archaeology ! I have started after my chemo treatement as I have decided not to put aside things I like. Starting the chemo again is awful, as you say you forget (or at least put aside) all the bad memories but you also learned to cope with all bad side effects and overcome the negative. It is hard, I wish so much you should not go through it but we must fight as much as we can. Keep strong all my prayers are for you. cheers Rosa Maria

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