Apologies for the radio silence over the last few weeks. Mainly it has been due to the fact that I’ve had hardly any appointments and have been resting up and healing, which doesn’t exactly make for exciting blog content! The visits to hospital have started to come in thick and fast again over the last week though, so the cancer merry-go-round is starting up again…
First, a surgery update. I’m five weeks post-op now and feeling pretty much back to my normal self. We’ve been to a couple of concerts, had a weekend away (in Wales, so not too far, but still gorgeous) and had friends round for tea and shenanigans. I’ve had a ton of visitors, all who bring food (my kind of friends) or gifts, and I’m doing everyday things again. I can even sleep on my side now, which is kind of a big deal. In fact, last week when I first rolled over and it didn’t pull or hurt, the grin on my face was ridiculous. Small pleasures, hey? Oh, and I can stretch too! Not a full, arms in the air, arched back stretch, but a decent one. The first couple of weeks after surgery I would wake up and my body would do a tiny little kitten stretch, completely involuntarily, and it drove me mad, especially when hubs started to sing R Kelly lyrics at me…’My mind’s tellin’ me no…’. Those who grew up in a certain era, you get the picture!
Basically, I’ve healed ridiculously well. My wounds were pretty much closed after week two and I’ve been lucky enough to have no complications with them. The suture lines are neat and I’ve been massaging my scars and putting Bio-Oil out of business. I’m really glad I went on a little health kick before surgery and kept exercising, though not as much as usual. It definitely helped me recover very quickly. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my down days, where I’ve been fed up, cried, felt like I was looking at Frankenstein’s monster in the mirror, but I HAVE TO stay positive. I have to thank whichever God is looking out for me that I’m alive, that I caught the bugger early and that the rest is now maintenance.
Which brings me to the next step.
Because I’ve healed so well, chemo is right up there on the agenda. In fact, I start it two weeks today, on June 1st. I’m pooing my pants, for want of a more sophisticated phrase. It’s an eighteen week process, where the chemo itself is once every three weeks, which is called a cycle. So, six cycles all together, one drug during the first three cycles and a second drug for the final three. My oncologist (cancer specialist) has warned me that I might feel crappy for the days following the infusion (sounds like a fancy cocktail-is really not) and my immune system is going to be blown to smithereens. She is hopeful that I will deal with it well, though I did wonder if she says that to everyone! The middle week will be the one where I’m most vulnerable to bugs and infections and by the third week I’ll be feeling okay again, just in time to go back and get blasted again. Yay! I will get sore gums and ulcers and my hair might fall out – I say might because I’m going to try the cold cap, so there is a 50/50 chance I will keep it. I will be tired. I will probably be sick. But I have to do it, because if I don’t then the cancer might come back, somewhere else, potentially somewhere worse. And I do not like the idea of a death sentence hanging over my head, thank you very much.
The cycles will be finished by the start of October, when I plan to get very drunk and eat all the things I’m not allowed to have during chemo (sushi is one – grapefruit is another?!) Then, once my body has recovered from that, I’ll be having a month of radiation. EVERY DAY, apart from weekends. The good thing about that is I will be able to drive myself and it’s relatively quick with few side effects. I’ll look into it more when the time comes, as my head is pretty full at the minute.
Weirdly, I feel better now I know it’s starting. A couple of weeks ago, I was looking through my hospital paperwork for something and found the information leaflets for the chemotherapy drugs I’ll be taking (Taxotere and Epirubicin for those who are curious/in the know) and I burst into tears.The fear of the unknown is awful and I came downstairs to my husband, asking him hadn’t I already been through enough with surgery. I am scared, but I want the first one out of the way so I know what I’m dealing with, then I can form a plan to deal with it. So, that’s how I’ve been keeping positive; I’ve been making plans. I have a chemo checklist of things which I’ve been ordering, for instance, all of the toiletries I will use once it starts are paraben free and I will only drink water that has been filtered. I’ve started something called the Miracle Morning where I will take time to meditate, focus on my goals for the day and exercise first thing in the morning. I’ve even started writing again. Plus, I entered the ballot for the London Marathon – wish me luck!
Oh, and I’ve booked a hair cut. I’m going for a longish bob (which I last had at the age of eighteen) and am going to donate the part I cut off to The Little Princess Trust, who make wigs for children having chemo. I can’t think of anything better to do with it. So, if you see me around a week on Saturday and I have short hair, please tell me how fabulous I look, even if I really look like I’m about to go and sing a solo with the church choir.
In retrospect, looking back over what I’ve just written, some of these things may sound vain or silly, but it’s helping me cope. Knowing I’ll have a gentle shampoo that might stop some hair falling out keeps me positive. Ordering face cream that will stop me from looking like I’m a ninety year old bald man is pretty nice, too. So, please don’t read it as vanity. Read it as trying to keep hold of a normal life, and remember that I have to look at myself every day.
Before I go, I want to do a couple of shout outs. I have a friend who I’ve known for a VERY long time, but who I don’t see that often. She lives abroad and we’ve formed different friendship groups as the years have gone by. I met her and another old friend two weeks ago and she gave me a card, filled with donations from people, some of whom I haven’t seen in years. She had set up a ‘secret group’ to fund me getting a decent wig, should all of my hair decide it’s had enough. It was so overwhelming that I haven’t gotten around to saying thank you to everyone who contributed – it’s a very strange feeling to be on the other side of fundraising – so THANK YOU to Katrina’s secret wig gang. The fact that you are even thinking of me is very humbling and I feel very blessed. Thank you.
The second one is to my lovely work colleagues. I was visited by the lovely Lucy, present genius, last week and they had bought me a beauty set that has been specially formulated for people having chemotherapy. It’s gorgeous. If you know anyone in the same situation as me and you’d like to get them something to ease them through it, have a look for Defiant Beauty online – I was over the moon with it. Thanks BGSB, I miss you guys!
Last one now – promise. My gorgeous family and friends, I love you. Thanks for cooking Sunday dinner, visiting me with food and flowers, watching movies with me and texting to check how I’m doing, even when you’ve got your own stuff going on, like giving birth. You’re all wonderful. Thanks most of all to my hubby, for putting up with me, for making endless cups of tea and learning how to use the oven 😉 For telling me I’ll be fine and for wishing you could protect me from it all. You are the best and, despite cancer, I know I’m a very, very lucky woman.
If you’re still with me through the vom-fest above, wow, well done you! I’ll post again soon now things are rolling. Just a reminder about RACE FOR LIFE to people who have been asking – if you want to register for the 5k on Sunday 17th July, if you do it through the link below you’ll automatically be entered into my group, so we can all run (walk, hobble, etc.) together.