I HAVE FINISHED CHEMO
I have returned from the hospital and completed 6 cycles of FEC chemotherapy and didn't even come close to wetting myself today!(read the end of the previous post).This is because I thought I was having an internal scan today and not an external one, so I'm a complete numpty and got my wires crossed. I could have saved the anxiety and slept well last night.
I attended radiotherapy at 9am and then returned back to the hospital at 13:30 - its been a long day and I'm pooped. BUT I'VE FINISHED.
I managed the first 4 cycles at 100% dose (I swear I don't know how)and then #5 and #6 on a 75% reduced dose.
Did you know there are 50 different types of chemotherapy drugs?
It has been the longest 6 months EVER, starting with the diagnosis on the last day of September 2013, fertility treatment in November 2013 and 5 months from December to date attending the Lingen Davies Centre for a cocktail of nastiness. The 9 days in hospital with bilateral pneumonia exacerbated the process and has prolonged and delayed treatment by 4 weeks.
When I was in hospital and moved onto the respiratory ward, I met a 45 year old woman who had been to her doctors for 18 months complaining of problems with her chest/lungs. The day before I became her next door neighbour and partner in crime, she was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. We talked and the only advice I gave her was to "kick its butt and never give up, stay positive, because as soon as you mentally give up, your body will too". She was making a bucket list and looking to go abroad, which she had only done once before on the tobacco run in the back of a van (this made me laugh).I was really looking forward to catching up with her at the Severn Hospice. Sadly she didn't manage to travel abroad.There is always someone worse off than yourself:(
Which brings me to Stephen Sutton. I am getting choked up @emotional wreck. There aren't anymore words that haven't been written Stephen. You are an inspiration.
|I forgot this when I went onto the ward, my memory is crap.|
The 15th of May 2014 marks the end of the last cycle and I told my employer that I'd be back to work on the 19th of May (a little over ambitious). After a referral to Occupational Health I was advised to consider going back end of June/July. I was told that most people in my situation she had seen have had at least a year off work and she said that they had not got through as much as I had. She said that I shouldn't push myself and that radiotherapy can be both mentally and physically exhausting. In fairness most people do say radiotherapy is exhausting and again this could be because of the accumulation of chemotherapy drugs and being zapped daily. The other issue is driving longer distances as my seatbelt will cut straight across the targeted area which will already be sore.
I certainly won't miss peeing red or being so constipated I've been seriously close to passing out.
I can start living my life outside of `chemo' cycles and be able to go out without checking dates and the calender. I can return the yellow sharps box back to the hospital.I no longer need to keep Filgrastim in the fridge (after this week) or expect my husband to inject me take steroids which make you feel Urgh.
I hope that someday I will no longer feel sick when associating certain foods with chemotherapy. I hope to be able to drink tea again or eat casserole without gagging.
I look forward to not having my bloods taken or having a cannula fitted. I have developed an unhealthy fear of having a cannula inserted. I have to continue to remember never to have injections or bloods from my right arm or a tattoo due to the increase of lymphodema. And avoid any scratches, burns or cuts to my right arm/hand.
I have to accept that the chemotherapy may/will/more than likely force my body into an early menopause and that maybe the hot flushes are not down to the steroids. I'd like to think it won't happen at 39 BUT my breast cancer nurse said it would happen and she also said I would lose my hair (so who am I to argue?). I'm armed and ready and bought a kitsch hand held fan.
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I am a Chemo Ninja.So goodbye Mr Chemo, no christmas card for you this year and hello Mr Rads.
My oncologist told me that I am having daily general radiotherapy around the right breast area for 3 weeks (Monday to Friday) and then a further 1.5 daily targeted treatment to the scar line (this is called a booster). I start on the 19th of May (exactly three weeks after my last cycle as planned). I've been given my schedule but only shows a months worth of dates, so I need to get some clarification to whether its actually 4 weeks or 4 and half.
So at 9am this morning I discussed the next steps in the process and skin care. I was advised to wear loose clothing, something that's easy to take off, no deodorant and use aqueous cream. I explained that my mum had given me an aloe vera plant, so I would also be using it due to its natural soothing content. The girl looked puzzled and rushed off to speak to the radiologist because she wasn't sure if I could use it. She came back and said "can you bring it in with you". I replied "It's a plant, you want me to bring a plant in?".
Even more confused she went in search of the radiologist one more time and returned, saying that people in Australia are given individual aloe vera plants as part of their treatment.
I was measured up for the radiotherapy beam and had to contort my body into a strange position in the CT scanner, with my arms in raised handles. I haven't read Fifty Shades of Grey, but I can but imagine, this being from a S&M scene, which of course I shared with the girls sorting me out! I am now a proud owner of two small black NHS tattooed dots,so that the beam can hit the target area every time without any deviation.
Love Tam x
You may have wondered why some people are hooked up to infusion machines all day at the chemotherapy day centre and others have their chemo drugs syringed into the cannula. This is because people are having a reduced dosage of chemotherapy drugs which are infused with saline and are drip fed through over a period of hours/day. The treatment recommended for breast cancer is more aggressive and not diluted so it is directly administered by the nurse.
I have spoken with my Breast Cancer Nurse this morning (BCN). She's advised me that she was not happy about the timeline I'd proposed to return to work and she would write a letter to support this. BLAH blah blah .... She also said that I may need to rethink booking a holiday after treatment as she said I really won't have the energy to do much (so Crete, Kefalonia, Sardinia or Portugal are on the back burner for a while, thinking more long weekend in wales, possibly with our new dog by then).
She said people are emotionally screwed when treatment comes to an end and have time to think about what they've been through and worry about it coming back. I want to return to work and unfortunately money does not grow on trees. I feel the chat with Occupational Health and the proposed implementation of the phased return to work on reduced hours is ideal and sensible and do able. I can't let cancer rule my life anymore, it's taken up a lot of my time. It sucks, it's shit, address it and move on. I may have a blip further done the line, whether it be recurrence of the little shit, or that my head may explode. I'll deal with it. As I said onwards and upwards. In the last couple of weeks I've even relaxed about hoovering/cleaning and my husband is right there are more important things in life than having an OCD wife who likes the property to be clean.
After all I am here x
If it had not been for early detection, particularly on an aggressive grade 3 cancer it may have been a completely story.
So go on your buggers, go and check your wobbly bits, it may save your life