It’s my last chemo. In total this is number 78. What a terrifying achievement. It’s both ridiculous and amazing that I’ve had so many of the toxic cocktails. They’ve made me horrifically ill and but also they kept me alive.
It’s been around 14 years since I was first diagnosed but it’s been in the last four years that I’ve had most of the chemo.
As you know I travel a long distance by train from my home in the Cotswolds to London for treatment. I quite enjoy the journey. It’s also easier to be ill on a train than in someone else’s car! Looking out at the countryside also helps to put things into perspective.
The landscape looks so very beautiful. When you’re aware that your life maybe limited, things take on a new meaning. On these train journeys, when I look out the window, the colour of the land and the sky seem to be more vivid. Somehow much brighter. Like it’s being filtered though some kid of photo app. Or maybe I’m just noticing more especially after being cooped up at home most days. Whatever it is I’m glad that soon I won’t be having make this trip to get a big dose of toxic drugs.
This is just so hard. The tiredness is relentless. There’s only a couple of weeks to go but there are times when I feel like giving up. But I’m not and I won’t. I know there isn’t really an option so I just have to somehow get through chemo no 77 and 78 and the debilitating side effects.
As I’m constantly shattered my goal most days is just to have a shower. Having a shower AND washing my hair – now that is a big achievement. I was warned about being totally exhausted but I didn’t think it would be this bad. Perhaps I did but I didn’t want to believe it. If I fully appreciated how awful it would be, then I might not be doing this all again.
A while ago I had an enforced week off from chemo and it was brilliant. It really helped my immune system to recover from all the evil chemo cocktails. Mentally it was great to have a break from the seemingly never-ending treatment. It also enabled me to remember what it’s like to feel well and realise that this chemo will come to an end.
Another reason that it can’t be over quick enough is that my hair is starting to fall out. I was told that my hair would thin but I wouldn’t go bald. I suppose thats what’s happening now.
There are noticeably more hairs on my pillow but I’m not too worried. After having my hair fall out three times, I know that what’s going on should not alarm me. It’s not coming out in handfuls. But even so, I don’t like it. I just try to ignore it, safe in the knowledge that I still have lots of hair.
One thing that’s me helped each week has been a random act of kindness. Back in April I wrote about how fizzy sweets really helped. My anti-cancer drugs are very toxic because they are made from heavy metal and this gives you a horrible taste in your mouth.
A couple of days after that blog post, my friend Keith sent me a load of different fizzy sweets in an old fashioned sweet shop jar. I got the surprise parcel one night after a long day on a drip. I’ve been taking a bag of them with me on each trip to hospital. Cola bottles and fizzy fruit balls are the best. They really do the trick. But they are extra special to me as it was such a lovely gesture.
Now the sweets have almost gone and I have just two more chemos to go. The sight of the almost empty jar makes me very happy that the treatment will soon be over.
No 29) Travel on a steam train
I love a good train journey. It’s not that I’m a train spotter! I just like traveling on railways. It’s a good job as it’s part of my chemo commute – it’s how I get to hospital each week. I’ve always thought steam trains looked so romantic and I’ve wanted to go on one for ages. And so I did just that!
A while ago the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway held a ‘Wartime in the Cotswolds’ weekend. Visitors were asked to dress up as if they were from the 1940s. Luke and I joined in too. There were people in allied uniforms, as well as civvies and the odd spiv with a suitcase. Each station along the route was decorated and there was live music too. It really did feel like you were back in the era of the steam train.
It was so special to be chugging through the Cotswold countryside. The steam clouds from the locomotive created shadows which followed us in the fields next to the track. The trains were packed but Luke and I managed to get seats in a first class carriage. We shared the luxury with a nurse and solider in authentic vintage costumes. The seats were very comfy and there was even a dimmer switch for the light!
We did this a couple of months ago but tiredness has meant I hadn’t got round to blogging about it. A lovely week off treatment plus a steroid high when the chemo mini-break was over has helped to get this written.
This was a perfect item to tick off from my List for Living while going through chemo. It required very little effort but it managed to transport us back to a different age. So much of my time is spent on the sofa while this meant that instead of watching something, I was actually able to experience it.