Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Just as nasty...

Yup, Chemotherapy is nasty. The last few days have been unpleasant. Not unbearable but definitely unpleasant. I was not sick, so that was a needless fear. I was, however, plagued by joint pain that could develop in a millisecond and last hours, bizarrely jumping from random joint to random joint. The extremely effective steroids and anti-emetics (antisickness drugs) caused my digestive system to slam on the brakes completely for 3 days. I'm still trying to persuade it to work again - oh for a proper poo! I spent Sunday in a sleepy blur, I literally could not keep my eyes open for more than a few minutes at a time. This was not due to any medicine I took, just the chemo. Today, Tuesday, I am feeling brighter but still very tired. I have managed a few household jobs and took the DVD's back to the library, but had to rest between each activity. I am not even going to attempt to imagine how I will cope with the rest of my chemo sessions. I am simply going to take it all one day at a time...that is all I can do.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

One down...

At last, Chemo Day 1 has arrived. We arrived at the Centenary Wing, a little early, and parked in the dedicated spaces. We collected the parking permit then headed upstairs to the Treatment area. It is a large airy room with blue recliner chairs around the perimeter and two cubicles with beds in them. Radio 2 plays gently in the background. It is VERY busy, the consequence of a bank holiday tomorrow. Next week they have to fit five days of treatments into three days. I'm glad I'm not in then. After a wait of about half an hour, my cannula (needle in hand) was put in and a cocktail of medicines to stop allergic reactions to the chemo drugs was administered. They were antihistamines, steroids, tummy medicine, anti-sickness and fluids. I felt very strange for a few minutes as everything spread round my body, a bit dizzy and lightheaded. The WRVS are brilliant and bring tea and coffee round and deliver us a sandwich at lunchtime. I will take some decaff with me next time. Next came the paclitaxel ( very strong chemo) this is put through the drip slowly over three hours. The worst side effect during this time was an itchy throat, causing a lot of coughing and throat clearing (probably not helped by dry sandwiches). I drank lots of water and had to take Percy (the drip stand) for many walks so I could go for a wee!
After three hours, my line was flushed (salty water put through needle) and I had a little rest then the next lot of chemo was started. This is a metal based chemo drug called carboplatin. This went in over 45 minutes. I got a nasty dry mouth sensation, although my mouth was not that dry. This will evidently give me a strong metallic taste in my mouth cumulatively over the sessions.
Finally my line was flushed again and my needle was taken out - I was free to go home.
I left with a green carrier bag full of medicines for the side effects, two sorts anti-sickness (strong and weak), two sorts mouthwash; one daily, one for when it get sore, and lastly laxatives! This is accompanied by a card with when and how to take/use it all. My appointments for next time have all been made - my blood tests will determine if I have it.
Was it easier than I feared? Yes, it was. I had feared feeling sick while tethered to a drip. Will next time be easier? Yes, because I know what to expect. However, the side effects I have yet to experience may well cause some trepidation as we get next session just as we start feeling better.
The next stage of exterminating those pesky cells has begun. This lady is fighting all she can but, as my husband said in pirate talk,
"The sea be calm but the wench be slightly polluted. It be the cream 'O' the rapy"

Monday, 18 April 2011

You guys are awesome...

Richard and I went to watch the London Marathon and support those running for Ovarian Cancer Action. This is a small charity raising funds for research and awareness of the disease. I have signed up as a Voice, I shall speak and write to raise awareness of this type of cancer.
Back to the Marathon, what a humbling experience. Even when I was well I could not have even walked 26 miles. Yet, thousands selflessly put themselves through what looked like agony to raise money for people like me. The beautiful weather made it a pleasant experience cheering on the runners, but made the running/walking extra hard work.I did not recognise any celebrities but enjoyed the efforts of the runners who had dressed up, especially Superman who made an amazing time. I was not able to manage to watch everyone pass by, my body gave up on me and I got too sore to stand any longer. Given how busy it was we had a really smooth journey by tube back to our car.
I have always enjoyed watching the Marathon on TV. Some of the efforts of the runners gave me goosebumps and a few tears. None of this prepared me for the amazing atmosphere at the event and the sheer determination and tenacity of the runners. To everyone who ran/walked/hobbled round the course - thank you. To everyone who sponsored those who ran - thank you. You people are wonderful.

Friday, 15 April 2011

I am a very proud Mummy...

Yesterday, I went to my daughter's wedding. She and her fiance had organised the whole event. As things have happened it was a very good thing I was not organising anything. We had a wonderful day, my daughter looked like the princess she always wanted to be and I was able to help her get ready. My granddaughter aged 19 months, as expected, slightly stole the show, in her role as flowergirl. I had the chance to catch up with friends and family, and meet my new family too. The most significant outcome of my daughter's marriage though, was the change in the relationship between her father and me. Since we divorced, things had been very strained, but since I fell ill, old hurts have been put in the past, and yesterday we were able to talk. During the father of the bride speech, he publicly acknowledged our joint success in raising such a lovely young woman. It is not putting it too strongly to say that a part of my life was given back to me. The newly weds also blessed me by giving me a bouquet, after they had thanked the other parents, the in-laws and father and step-mum for their help and support. I was tearful to say the least.

I hope beyond all hopes, that after my chemo, I will be in and stay in full remission from my cancer. However, should things not happen that way, I know in my heart I am lucky that I have seen both my children marry, I have one grandchild and another on the way. I have an absolutely amazing husband who loves me totally unconditionally. Whatever happens I am a lucky, lucky lady...

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Next Steps...

I went for my pre-chemo assessment, at Kettering, this afternoon. Having felt quite blase about it all for the last couple of weeks, reality hit hard today. Brave left the building and a full blown scared and crying episode moved in. The chemo nurse said she would have been more worried if I had not cried. I heard little I had not heard before, but said in small chunks, with plenty of time for questions etc. The room in which I will receive my treatment is bright and sunny, not too hospitally. No tv, but radio is playing. We are encouraged to take entertainment with us, so ipod, books etc will be packed, as I shall be there for a minimum of 5 hours each visit. We were given all the emergency phone numbers we hope we will NOT need to ring, but out of hours care is provided in Northampton so we will need to keep the cars fuelled up. If I should need in-patient treatment I will have to go to Northampton. I feel quite fragile again now - I have had to face the fact I have cancer full on again, it has been easy to pretend otherwise during my convalescence from surgery. It seems such a bitch that I'm just feeling better and I'm now going to be, as my chemo nurse said, ' being filled with poison', and am very likely to feel like absolute rubbish. Still we discussed the hair loss, and strategies to deal with the practical bits of going bald over 3 days, and managed to have a laugh! I am very glad I am not a vain person, because the treats in store would really challenge a person who enjoyed external gorgeousness. My bald, spotty, puffy, sore and grumpy exterior will hide my totally gorgeous inside, so you will all have to use your imaginations...