I seem to have found a bit of a flaw in writing a blog with all the highs and lows of my cancer story – writing about the bad times is not so easy when you are actually going through them – even opening my laptop is too much effort! So apologies for the radio silence, and worrying some of you (thank you so much for checking up on me), but the last couple of weeks have been a bit of a rollercoaster and I just haven’t felt like writing, or doing much of anything for that matter. Feeling much more like me again now (not sure that’s a good thing – more of me can be too much!!) so here is a, ‘long’ round up of what’s been going on…
Monday 10th September – 5th chemo session
Following my blood test on Saturday, I knew there was a question as to whether they would still give me the chemo and I would have to have another blood test before they decided. As this was the first time with the different drugs, the nurses had warned that it would be a long day as they would be administering the drugs slower than normal in case of any allergic reactions, so a 9am appointment was booked. So me being me, and I still blame you Allison, Big G and I arrived at hospital just after half 8, because of course it takes almost an hour to do 11 miles. Once the day room opened at 9, I was told to go into one of the bays – er but they told me last week I would have to be in a side room on my own because of the shingles. Well this sent everyone into a bit of a panic – they really didn’t want me to have the new chemo in a side room as I wouldn’t have someone with me all the time – well apart from Big G but clearly he isn’t medically trained, nor does he look good in a nurses outfit! So a call went in to my consultant who insisted it went ahead as planned. I couldn’t decide if I felt like royalty, or a leper, when I noticed that they had assigned the toilet opposite my room for my use only! The blood test came back ok, so the drugs were sent for but it was after 1pm before the treatment started. Big G had just come off a night shift so was shattered but he watched me like a hawk in case of any reaction – such a star. Everything went to plan, no reaction (yet), and finally we left just after 6pm, loaded up with the usual ten tonne of medication – plus a few extras…
During the chat with the consultant he mentioned something about an injection to help build up my white blood cells because he was concerned that the shingles could become infected. So there was me thinking this was something the nurse would give me before leaving the hospital… oh no, what he meant was 5, yes 5 bloody injections that had to start from the next day. And who was going to give these injections? Me? Not on your nelly – but up steps Big G who said he would be fine to do them – only problem was he was only going to be able to do the first one so my Mum would have to do the rest. Practice makes perfect so they say… the nurse produces a ‘fake stomach’ patch for him to practice on! And I’m feeling totally ok with the whole idea because I have absolutely no fear of needles at all!!!
However… (Tuesday 11th) The injections had to be given after 5pm so just after I sit on the sofa, stomach exposed with Big G cleaning the designated area with the antiseptic wipe. He seems calm, although a little hesitant – I, apparently, am not so calm – at this point I went into major melt down and burst into tears! Not a chance in hell was he coming anywhere near with me that needle! The nurse had told me if I needed to go to the day unit to have it done, this would have to be done just before 5pm so I was too late for that. Big G phoned the doctors surgery to see if anyone could do it there – nope! So an emergency message went through to one of my ex (hairdressing) clients, and friend, who works at the surgery to see if she was able to come to my rescue, which she did without hesitation – big massive thank you again Jo, and especially for making me laugh through the tears by asking me if I wanted the injection in the top, or bottom, roll of fat… charming! My amazing Mum did the last one, and although I was incredibly nervous about a non-professional doing it, she did it without fuss and I wouldn’t hesitate letting her do it again, although hopefully it won’t be a regular occurrence!
A few tears this evening as early the next morning Big G was heading off to Zante, for a week, for his niece’s wedding. Also, he needed to go and spend some time with Kirstie, his daughter, who is off to Oz for 18 months. He was really struggling with the idea of leaving me while going through this ordeal but I insisted that he had to go and assured him I would tell him if I needed him to come home at any point (slight lie as you’ll see later!), but I knew I would be fine with L and K, and the rest of my family and friends around me… who are all amazing.
Thur 13th –
Mum came with me to see my consultant – a regular appointment, which happens every 4 weeks. Although this isn’t usually much more than a check in to see how things are going, this time I had a few questions. Warning – men this is about women ‘stuff’ if you want to skip the rest of this paragraph!! As part of my treatment I will have hormone therapy to bring on the menopause. This is because the type of breast cancer I have is hormone fed, and only affects pre-menopausal women and this will help prevent it coming back. But the chemo is already affecting my cycle and I’ve been having a period every other week. For those of you who know me well, you know how much I suffer and so this was one thing I could do without. So I mentioned this and he said we could stop the periods with an injection every three months – well up for that, now just hoping it works!!
As I only have 3 chemo sessions left (can’t quite believe that), I was curious as to when they would start thinking about surgery. He said they will do another scan and then we could talk about what surgery they are likely to do when I see him next but it will probably happen about 4 weeks after the last chemo session. All being well, if no delays, my last session will be on 12th Nov, which means surgery is likely to be mid Dec. Although not ideal, I will just have to get myself organised for Christmas, and then let it all happen around me, which will be a bit tough being as though I’m a ‘little’ bit of a control freak but pj’s and Christmas films sound good recuperation tactics!
The main side effects this time, apart from feeling generally bleugh and knackered, were a sore mouth and all food tasting disgusting – sort of metally. As you can imagine this slightly took away the enjoyment of the Indian and Chinese we had for Kieron and Connor’s birthday. Although, funnily enough, it hasn’t stopped me eating as I am constantly trying to find something that tastes just a little bit nice! Double antibiotics also gave me the runs for over a week… sorry tmi again!
Monday 17th –
When I need to take paracetamol for a headache, I have to take my temperature first. This is in case the headache is an indicator of an infection and taking pills would bring my temperature down, therefore missing the early signs of infection which can be very dangerous… leading to sepsis. Now I don’t always follow this advice but at 2am Monday morning, after feeling (and apparently looking) very rough all day Sunday, I woke up with a banging headache and thought I should probably take my temp. This has to sit between 35.5 and 37.5 and anything either side of that I have to phone the hospital. So I took it four times because it was reading 37.6 and 37.7 and then I reluctantly made the call – off to A&E. So I woke Kieron up, and off we went (via the petrol station – lesson learned hopefully – don’t leave your car with less than 10 miles fuel in it when there is a chance of having to do a hospital run in the middle of the night).
Due to the shingles, we were told to sit next to the door away from everyone else. Luckily we only had to wait about 10 minutes before we were called through and I finally ended up in an examination room where the ambulances bring people in. Firstly they took bloods, bottles of bloods… not little test tubes… and my god it hurt, to the point that Kieron told me I was doing well and looked very proud of me! I mentioned this to one of the oncology nurses I saw later in the day and she said “It’s because they use knitting needles”! But then I guess when you are taking so much blood you don’t want to use a tiny needle or you’d be there ages. He then inserted a cannula and I had fluids, paracetamol and antibiotics (to fight any possible infection as soon as possible). At 5am a doctor told me they were keeping me in for at least 12 hours. This came as a bit of a shock as I was expecting a shot of antibiotics and to be sent home – I’ll expect different if it happens again! At 7.30am I was moved to an assessment ward, which was a hive of activity all day, so no sleep for me, but at least there was plenty to keep me entertained.
During the day I had a chest x-ray and had to give a urine sample and they kept talking about me going home soon. Bryony, my sister, works next to the hospital so had offered to come and pick me up. As I didn’t know what was happening she phoned the ward to see how long I would be. Imagine her surprise when they said they were transferring me to a ward and I was staying in overnight… ‘Shit’ she thought – ‘She doesn’t know that so now I’m going to have to tell her’! Luckily for Bry, the same time she was on the phone, the porter, who had taken me to the x-ray, came over and started putting the sides up on my bed and picked my bags up. “Er, where are we going?” “To the pub” he said, “No point as wine tastes disgusting” was my reply – still thinking he’s joking about moving me. “It’s not about the taste, it’s about the effect,” he said. “But seriously, where are we going?” – then the nurse arrived to say I had to stay in! That’s when the confusion started – the doctor on the ward wasn’t expecting me and didn’t really know why I was there but said I’d definitely be staying in, then he said I might not have to, then I would. To cut a long story short, they eventually set me free at about 7pm and I couldn’t run out of there fast enough – well I walked quite slowly as don’t seem to be able to do anything very fast as the moment but you get my gist!
I didn’t tell Big G about my little ‘trip’ to the hospital, even though I’d promised I would, as I knew I was fine and didn’t want him to cut his holiday short – but I was fully prepared to feel the wrath of his anger later – luckily he was so relieved to be home that he didn’t tell me off too much!
Thursday 20th –
On Wednesday I noticed a weird red patch on my wrist where my cannula had been for my last chemo – 9 days before. As I was going up to the hospital for a scan and mammogram (so the consultants could start thinking about what surgery they would be doing), I called into the day unit for them to have a look at it! Not sure anyone really knew what had caused it other than some sort of delayed reaction to the chemo. So they drew around the patch and called for the clinical photographer to take photos of it! So who knew there was such a thing? He said they take photos of anything needed in the hospital, from births to deaths and everything in between, including when someone chops their hand off with a chain saw! A doctor also had a look and requested I go back on Monday so she could have another look. By Monday it was a lot redder, a bit sore and itchy, so another photo and a referral to ‘plastics’. I’m not sure why, and stupidly I didn’t ask, but I’m hoping they will throw in a free face-lift when I go!
So then we go off to the Breast imaging department and have a mammogram first – really not the most pleasant experience… for me or the poor lady who has to get my boob in the right position for it to be squashed to about an inch! Then the scan… last time I had one the tumour has shrunk to about half the size… this time – NO tumour!! I’m sorry, can I just clarify that… yes, the tumour has gone!! OMG, that’s incredible. I knew this was a possibility, which is why they fitted a clip in the middle of it so they would know where to operate, but it was still amazing news – the chemo is working and worth all of the crapiness I feel! This news won’t change the ‘plan’ – I will still have surgery (not sure what yet until I see the consultant again in a couple of weeks), and I will still have the remaining 3 sessions of chemo, and all the other treatment the surgery, but it can only mean that things are going in the right direction – up yours cancer!!
This week has been a good week, as I’ve felt a lot better and able to catch up with a few people. My next chemo session is on Monday (1st Oct) and hoping not to have any issues this time – haha very wishful thinking I’m sure but you never know!
Sorry for the long post – I will try not to leave it so long next time!