Sunday, 24 January 2010

too busy for this cancer lark!

Had the third chemo session on Wednesday last which went better than the previous one I thought. Just got the hang of all this when it's time to change - the next three sessions are the T part of the FEC-T treatment which is apparently less sicky and nauseous and more limb-achey and tiredness orientated. Lost my enthusiasm for the steroids now so I'm hoping I can come off them for this next lot as they were mainly used to control sickness. Could do with looking less moon-faced and perhaps even losing a bit of weight...

The great thing has been feeling like once the few days of post-chemo are over I am able to get back to some of the stuff I was doing after I left work and before I was so rudely interrupted by all this. That happened last time and I feel this week is going to be the same again hopefully, so have been ploughing through some of my backlogs, thinking about how to earn a crust sometime in the not too distant future when this is all over and even looking at courses I might do - food policy is taking my fancy at the moment (anything to do with food really is no surprise!).

The next things to consider, which I need to find out about, are the possibility of them "switching off" my ovaries to reduce the hormonal stimulus to the cancer and what the radiotherapy will entail (apart from having to go every single day to Sutton for several weeks!). I think fatigue figures fairly large for that stage too. So I am feeling a lot brighter than I was at New Year, will be investigating a few things at the Breast Cancer Haven in Fulham but am otherwise settling into a bit of a "sod-off cancer I was busy doing something else" resentment patch. Which is feeling rather healthy to me!

The other thing I will be following up is the post-surgery stuff. That's because it really is still quite weird, this artificial breast thing. For all I am genuinely amazed and grateful to have a reconstruction that (most importantly) makes me look the same as before to the world at large, even to the extent of enabling me to wear clothes that show a normal cleavage, it is still not a real breast and takes a bit of getting used to in some ways. For example coughing feels really annoyingly tight across where I really am behind the implant; sometimes when I move I can see where the breast tissue has gone from and it really is skin flat to me around the implant; the fact that I have a faint "ghost nerve" sensation in my back where the muscle flap came from if I touch the reconstructed area. All very weird. Not complaining, merely observing...would still recommend having it done at the same time as the mastectomy, as the benefits far outweigh all the above.

And I'm well up for coffee/lunch or visits as normal now till the next session - will be out with both Jil and Karen for coffees next week and had a lovely flying visit from my bros and sister-in-law this morning. All very enjoyable and keeps me pecker up! Next chemo scheduled for Feb 10 so anytime before then is fine.

Monday, 11 January 2010

midway through the good bit

Feeling very well apart from a stinking cold which I am hoping to shift but is taking a long time going. And that despite all those injections to up my blood count. It's very strange knowing you have a cold that could turn into something serious - like the strangeness of so many of these not normal things. I have to keep taking my temperature to make sure it doesn't go up to 38 - once it hits that I have to check into hospital for a 5-day sojourn being intravenously fed antibiotics. Not that I've got any kind of temperature at all at the moment, but it's odd to have to tread on egg-shells so. Guess that's what life is like for so many people - allergies, hyperglycaemia etc.

One interesting thing I learned last chemo session which I forgot to mention is that chemotherapy has increasingly been used over the last ten years for a number of non-cancer conditions, e.g. arthritis and rheumatism. Now there's something I didn't know. Did anyone else out there?

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

retail therapy.

Decided that's my form of cure for feeling down. So Mike, the all-time king of shopping properly with females, and I, went to M&S to spend my voucher from the Pelham parents and another amount I had for clothes. I am now kitted out with a lovely few warming items that are attractive at the same time as cladding my steroid-adjusted bodyweight and hey presto! feeling better already. So thank you again you guys for the voucher, it has worked its magic, and you may now catch sight of me through the beautiful snow sporting a John Lennon cap over my wig. Looks more fetching than I ever used to. Oh and I've accepted I need a new television so we looked at those too.

Well the interesting bit to report is that I am now proudly capable of injecting myself. They sent me away with 5 injection kits that I have to administer to bolster my blood count so that I don't slip in the three-week cycle (apparently the annihiliation of the cancer cells takes 3 weeks so the next chemo ideally should follow straight on). Never had a problem with injections at all but the idea of doing it to yourself is supremely counter-intuitive to me. The nurse explained how to do it and that all I had to do was pinch an inch on the stomach to inject (as if I'd be able to find a spare inch anywhere on my body without going on a high-fat crash diet!). So I did it on Sunday for the first time and amazingly couldn't feel a thing. Astonishingly simple. Hope it doesn't give me any ideas for future highs after the treatment! Only joking.

Enjoy the snow! With the exception of people freezing or having nasty accidents, I think it's a damn fine thing - just think of it as Nature's way of saying stuff you humans, remember where on the planet's pecking order you stand and adjust properly by building a snowman.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

hello again!

It's difficult this blog, cos sometimes I don't feel like putting things when I'm feeling less cheerful. So I'm forcing myself to today.

Chemo 2 has been a little better than chemo 1 in that I managed to avoid being sick, but I have still experienced a fair bit of nausea. Less energy than last time which the wonderful steroids have not managed to avert in the kickass way they did before but I think they still help. I also had pain in the vein when they were injecting the poison this time which was unpleasant but stopped as soon as the session was over thank goodness.

I think I feel decidedly less cheerful with the advent of 2010. I think this is because the shock of it all does bring the upside of a certain amount of novelty value with it initially, and I have meant it every time I have said this or that aspect of it is interesting because it's true. Again, similarities with pregnancy.

Except when you go through your second pregnancy you are more familiar with it, it has less novelty value or interest except insofar as it differs from last time and you are aware of the up-coming less nice bits, as well as the longer-lasting after-effects. So whilst 2009 saw me through the op, recovering from the op and doing chemo for the first time (interesting), I now feel like I'm on a downward drag for the next 7 months of treatment which is tiring and boring. So I will have to hope that the effects of the chemo and radio remain broadly this manageable to allow me to insist on a great list of wonderful things that I want to enjoy. And the really bad thing I am feeling is that at the end of the treatment you don't get a nice plump baby to enjoy as consolation for all that weariness you've endured, or even a certificate to say you've passed, because you haven't. All you've done actually is been treated for a nasty disease in the best way possible to try and prevent its recurrence, but you'll never know until and unless it does. And then you'll only know that it hasn't. Negative? GOOD! I refer you to an excellent article in today's on-line Guardian

I think it was the hair what done it a bit. A word of advice to anyone awaiting their hair loss - give yourself time to prepare yourself for how you want to manage it and then actually BE prepared! (I wasn't and I rushed it too). So there I was thinking Anne-Marie's sterling work on my new hairstyle, which everyone but Gabriel seemed to prefer, was beginning to take a bigger hit than just a bad hair day and wondering if it was fair to moult all over John's house then Julie's and Adrian's house over Xmas and how irritating finding hairs in my mouth was getting, and I decided I should just go for it on Xmas Eve. This wasn't mere impatience but I genuinely wasn't sure if it might start really dropping in clumps and thought I wouldn't like to be away from home managing that. So I took myself upstairs, stood in the bath and calmly started tearing my hair out.

Now that is weird! You just get a clump, pull, and most of it obligingly comes away in your hand with no pain or resistance. (I'm still in interesting at this point and the gradual denuding of my head is not a great shock, although strange). I then have the dilemma of the hair that doesn't come out (a mere smattering, admittedly, but one that anyone with a sense of lawn management knows won't shave well), and duly call upon the talents of my wonderful unfazed fabulous Lucy who happily sets about snipping it all off for me up to the scalp with no apparent repulsion or horror whatsoever. Whadda gal! Potential hairdresser?

But I haven't practiced my scarf-tying, got anything more than Jennifer's two lovely caps and one hat that I've managed to buy nor, most importantly, got my wig cut to a shape that is less like Geraldine McQueen. (Been told that's nonsense by the way, and Julie says the wig shows off highlights to die for). So now I have a bewildering array of odd looks (including now my natural one which I haven't got used to) and new management of heat control which keeps changing all the time meaning my headgear has to keep changing all the time, and - a stronger Samson reaction than I ever realised I had. It's not about looks (not mainly that is) but it is most definitely a power thing. It's another thing gone, another part of you that has to change to a ridiculous extent, and although I'm happy not to look as good as Gail Porter and delighted to think I look better than Jade Goody, I don't really like it. And I'm disappointed to say I'm self-conscious about it even in front of Mike, because it isn't how you should look. Not really.

So there it is. I plan to persuade Anne-Marie to come scarf and banadana shopping with me if she gets the time. Might as well use the occasion to try out a few alternatives :-~