Chemo#13

I quite like Mondays. It’s the start of my super short week. I’m now so incredibly tired that my week only lasts for two days. Basically I feel sort of normal on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then the treatment begins again. Weekly chemo feels relentless. I’m spending most of my time in bed. I just want it to end. Last week it nearly did.

A couple of days before I was due to have chemo#13 I thought something I hadn’t thought before. For a few brief moments I decided that I didn’t want to continue.

I felt so ill and frustrated by the horribleness of it all. It’s not just the toxic drugs that are so awful but all the other stuff too. Last week I spent around 12 hours over three days at hospital with scheduled appointments, procedures and tests.

When I woke up the next day after the wobble, my symptoms seemed to have faded a little. I wasn’t so exhausted and I knew that really didn’t want to end it early. Even so I came up with a list of pros and cons. I realised that there is only one thing that matters, it’s first on the list and outweighs everything else.

CHEMO PROS

*It’s hopefully helping me to live longer

*Chemo makes me feel that I’m doing something to fight the cancer

*Somehow it makes my skin glow. I know this is totally ridiculous but everyone tells me that I look really well when I actually feel so ill…

CHEMO CONS

*Extreme fatigue, most days I’m close to collapsing

*Lots of random pain all over my body, especially in areas that I’ve had surgery

*Fingernails and toe nails hurt and feel like they’re going to fall off

*Fingertips are a bit numb, meaning I’m clumsier than normal

*Painful pins and needles in my feet and hands

*Breathlessness, I can’t really walk and talk

*Painful to walk and I can’t exercise like I used to

*It’s making my hair fall out

*My eyes are watery and sticky as I only have a few eyelashes are left

*Constant bleeding nose

*Comprised immune system and I could end up dangerously ill if I get an infection

*Steroid induced mood swings

*Insomnia

*Disgusting taste in my mouth

*Dizzy spells

*Bloating

*Always starving thanks to steroids

*Chemo weight gain

*Mouth ulcers and sensitive teeth

Now that’s some list. The treatment is truly horrific. You need to be totally convinced this is what you want. I am but it doesn’t stop me from sometimes pretending that it’s not happening.

Before chemo#13 started there were lots of things I had to do at hospital. They required me and mum to navigate the confusing corridors which link the mass of buildings together. On our way back to the ward we made a break for freedom!

Instead of following the signs we left the hospital for an outdoor detour. The morning sun warmed my skin and I felt amazing. For a moment I wasn’t a patient. I was someone out for a walk with their mum, trying to convince us both that we weren’t lost.

As we weren’t that lost, it was soon back to reality. It was the first time I’d faced the toxic drugs after questioning whether I wanted to carry on. As I was hooked up to the drip I knew I wanted to continue.

Some people have been in touch with me on the blog to say that their elderly relatives are refusing to have anymore chemo and they don’t know what to do. I can only really talk from my own experience.

For me the most important thing is being able to have a good quality of life. Aside from the cancer, I’m a fit and healthy 41 year old. I feel very resilient. Despite the long list of chemo cons, I’m lucky that my body is capable of withstanding the treatment and I’m coping well. However, I know that I’ll probably need more and more evil chemo cocktails after this course finishes and in the future I may feel differently. There may come a point when I decide that I’ve really had enough.

This is such a personal decision. I’m convinced that I’m doing the right thing. I feel that I have so much to live for. Whatever it takes, I’m going to make it through the remaining five sessions of chemo.

Chemo#6

Despite a busted thumb, Chantal, my friend the flower girl, offered to drive me to hospital in her van. Although she looked like she was the one who needed treatment and not me. Chantal apparently dislocated her thumb while doing some extreme gardening. Who knew that potting a plant could be so dangerous!

Before chemo we met for lunch at a local pub. There we spotted something unusual on the menu – homemade tonic water infusions. They were kept behind the bar in giant coloured glass bottles with labels written in biro. Designed to be served with gin, the tonic had been infused with things like celery and lemon, cucumber and mint, green tea and pickled ginger.

Tempting as a G and homemade T sounded; I knew that my body would soon be awash with poison so thought it best not to try one. What I didn’t realise is that it wouldn’t be long before I’d get my very own infusion.

It’s been another tough week with plenty of side effects. An almost constant nose bleed, mouth ulcers and a sore throat. Oh and of course, tiredness. A few days ago I felt so shattered that I wasn’t sure if I could make it out of the living room to bed. I desperately wanted to lie down but I feared that if I stood up I’d collapse. Thankfully I did make it to bed without any drama.

An afternoon of deep sleep later and I was feeling better. I didn’t think much more of it. I try not to dwell on the awful stuff. I’m glad that I still have options even if that means a bit of pain and getting through lots of bloody tissues.

There are some side effects that are easier to hide. My hair is just about starting to fall out, again but because the chemo is weekly I shouldn’t lose it all at once. While I still have some left I’m enjoying not wearing a wig every day. My hair is super short hair and when it’s cold outside I cover up with a hat. Even when there’s a beautiful blue sky.

As the chemo cocktail bar is well heated and then some, I left my hat in Chantal’s flower van. Before the treatment can start your blood is tested to check how your body is coping. I was told that I was well enough to continue but I’m low on magnesium. Ahh, that makes sense. It explains all the fatigue.

As always I was hooked up to a drip and promptly went straight to sleep. I woke up just as the chemo finished and was given another bag of clear liquid. This was a magnesium infusion. It wasn’t in a fancy coloured bottle or quite as nice as a proper drink but hopefully the effect of this hospital tonic should give me a boost that lasts for days.

Now that chemo#6 is over it means that I’m one third of the way through my treatment which is brilliant. I now know that I’m pretty much able to deal with the cancer-killing drugs. It feels like the right time to start focusing on the future. However long that may be.

So I’m finally finishing my List for Living. I reckon that I’ll do a post on my new list towards the end of next week. In the meantime I’m looking for some examples of inspiring bucket lists. If you’ve seen any great ones I’d love you to leave a comment for me. Thanks x