Cancer 101

So obviously there are no rules to cancer or the treatments that may follow. No rules. No map. No way of teaching. Nothing. And that means there is no actual way I can tell you how to deal with cancer and the treatment that comes with it. All I can do is give you an insight to the symptoms and effects I experienced with the treatment I recieved.
According to Cancer Research UK‘s website, 1 in 2 people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer durning their lifetime.
I have found that since starting my blog I have had a few people contact me on what to expect when they undergo chemotherapy. What to expect, how can they prepare themselves, etc. So below I have created a post on what to expect and what is good to know before treatment begins. Whether you are just curious, about to go through treatment yourself or know of someone that may find this helpful and you’re just doing some research, please be aware that this is what I discovered for myself, experiences vary and you may find you have more symptoms than what I did or if you are lucky, less! My experience is UK based under the care of the NHS with Intravenous Chemotherapy and External Radiotherapy. I’ve also had Internal Radiotherapy known as Brachytherapy but this is not discussed in this post. There are hundreds of varieties of chemotherapy and can be given in different forms. If you would like more of an overview of chemotherapy then click here. You can also find more indepth information here which may answer any questions you may have. The Chemotherapy drugs I have experienced are Paclitaxel, Carboplatin and Cisplatin.
Feel free to message me if I have missed something or if you want me to go into more depth in certain areas! You can also find at the bottom of this page some relavent links to previous posts I have created when undergoing treatment. If you find you want more, then I have set up an easier system where you can now look back on older posts too. Take a look under the archive, it is linked in the drop down menu above, under the heading “blog” or if you prefer click here. If you are that dedicated then Kudos! I’m grateful that I have been of some use!

 

OK, first things first, don’t believe everything you’ve heard about chemo. Some chemo’s you don’t lose your hair. My first chemo actually made me feel better and function for a few days. If you are sick or feel nauseous constantly then tell the nursing team. There’s no need to feel like that any more. They have hundreds of varieties of anti-sickness. Pills, powders, dissolvables the lot.

If you haven’t started chemo yet and have time, book a dentists appointment for a check up. I would still do it even if you’ve been there in the last couple of months. It keeps them in the loop of your condition but also they may do any work before chemo begins if it needs it. Dentist’s don’t like to touch you, unless they absolutely have to, when you’re undergoing treatment.

If it’s a long infusion, as in you’re in for the day, take a supply. Lunch will be provided for the person going through treatment but not for any others who join you for company. Take a blanket to keep warm, then you don’t have to worry about taking jumpers on and off before being hooked up to the IV. Also I found I was always on the colder side as sometimes the chemo going into me was on the cool side and that does make you cold fast.

Take snacks. I called it my junk food treat bag. Whatever you want take it. Take plenty. Eat it whenever you want too. It’s for you and the person going with you because they will need it as much as you.

Books, puzzles, TV series, movies, music, if you have the option to download and bring it with you, do it. But don’t be surprised if you don’t have the function or attention span to use any of it. I pretty much slept the whole time. But it’s there for your chemo buddy.

Don’t be proud, have a chemo buddy!! It’s easier to be with someone then on your own.

Take warm socks. If they have a grip to the base of them then you don’t have to worry about the faff of taking your shoes on and off.

If you’re in for a long infusion, and you can, ask for a port for your chemo. This is something I discovered recently and wished I asked for it for myself! They don’t tend to like to do it unless they have to, or you’re further into your chemo program. But it’s easier and kinder to you when administering the drugs. You then won’t have to be jabbed everytime to get a cannula in and worry about collapsed veins. Chemo can be harsh on the veins and can toughen them if used too often which can make it sore for you. If you don’t have a port then make sure you rotate arms each time. With a port, you just can’t get it wet but if I’m right in thinking, there’s waterproof sheaths to put over them that the nurses can supply you with.

If you take any non-prescriptive supplements talk to your oncology team to see if its OK to still take them. Some supplements can interfere with the chemo.

Not all chemos make you lose your hair. My first chemo I half lost it. It just thinned a lot. Second chemo I lost it all. Don’t be surprised if you find you have patches of baldness. First lot of chemo made me look like I had a monk cut! Bald on top but hair around the sides. Alternatively, your hair can go all in one go! Second lot of chemo I knew I was gonna lose it all in one go, I could feel it! No time for clippering, no preperation.

There are options to prevent hair loss like the cold cap. That’s personal if you want to use it. Depends on who you talk to on how it feels. Some don’t like it, some feel nothing of it. It basically cools the head down to keep the hair follicles cool to prevent the chemo damaging the hair follicle and prevent hair loss. Using a cold cap doesn’t always work though! My second chemo was strong and a cold cap would never have prevented me from losing my hair.

If you lose hair and want a wig you will have to pay. However if you are in hospital and have chemo when admitted (the day unit is not included) then you can get a prescription and it will be free.

All prescriptions are now free. Make sure you fill in a medical exemption certificate.

Car parking should be free when under chemo and radiotherapy… Just check with the hospital you attend…  I hope it’s not just available at my hospital!!

Eat what you want whenever you want. As my chemo was in 3 week cycles I found I didn’t eat a lot for the first week then a bit more by the second then a lot on the third to build me up for the chemo. Eat junk but also eat healthy… If you can! You may find textures and flavours change. I lost my taste buds the first week of my chemo cycle so strong flavours worked best for me. Meats and fats made me feel sick and were the kickstarter to queasiness if I ate them. By the end of chemo, once it had built up in my body the things that I found in the first week of the cycle were staying with me. So eat whatever you can and what ever you damn well please!!!

Look after your hands and feet. Neuropathy (numbness) is common in these areas during and after chemo. I still have neuropathy in the balls of my feet and I’m 7 months post chemo. It may come back but it may not. Keeping active can help. A brief short walk is good enough.

If you can, get out everyday. Even if its for 5 minutes. But be sensible. Don’t go in the rain and get wet. Avoid anyone with a cold or even a sniffle.

Listen to your body. You’re gonna feel tired. Sleep! Don’t over do it and compare it to what you used to be able to do.

Chemo brain is a thing. You may experience forgetfulness or find it hard to function or even pay attention. For a few days after chemo I zoned out on everything. I couldn’t pay attention to anything. It’s common to find you’re forgetful for weeks/months after it has all finished.

Keep your mouth healthy. If you already suffer from mouth ulcers then talk to your team. They may be able to suggest a good mouth wash that will help. Chemo can give you bad mouth ulcers. This is not something I found I suffered with myself so my experience is limited here.

Keep well moisturised. Chemo will make your skin dry and it will prevent any soreness from occurring. Don’t use perfumed moisturisers. If you are having radiotherapy too only use what they recommend. Cetraben or any similar brands that can come on prescription are fine. DON’T USE ANY OILS!!! AT ALL!!! Aveeno is a good moisturiser brand that you can pick up anywhere and can be still used if you’re undergoing radiotherapy too.

Discolouration or damage can occur to the nails. Ridges, lines, bruising or even the nail itself can fall off. Don’t be surprised if this happens. This didn’t happen to me but I found mine went very brittle. As a beauty therapist, I have had clients who have been advised by the nursing staff themselves to get their nails done. With Gels or normal nail paint is fine, but not Acrylics!! You won’t have the strength there if they’re on the weaker side, if you go for normal nail paint as to UV Gels. They advise this for one, so you don’t see the discolouration to the nail and two, so you have a bit of strength for the nail which may preserve them. Go for the darker shades if you do happen to have discolouration. You may find that still having regular manicures may not preserve the nail or you may find they drop off after treatment is complete. It takes a good 6 months for fingernails to grow from the base to the top, 12 months for toe nails, so be patient.

You are probably going find everyone has an opinion on what you should try to do to beat cancer. Juicing, going organic, turmuric, cannabis oil, aloe vera. All of these I’ve been told to try by others (who have not had cancer). Take it with a pinch of salt. Whatever you do though DO NOT TRY ANYTHING WITHOUT TALKING TO YOUR ONCOLOGY TEAM. A lot of these things can interfere with chemo and can actually compromise you. Although you’ve probably heard “chemo is a poision” there’s a reason it’s the number 1 go to drug still. Most of these “remedies” are still very much unknown and media stories don’t help. If you dig deeper you’ll find they’ve actually had chemo at some point or surgery along the way.

If you have radiotherapy in the stomach region, be careful of heartburn. The second lot of radiotherapy I had gave me odd bout’s of sickness. I found avoiding oily foods helped. Take anti-sickness if you find it but also tell your doctor. They may put you on a stomach settler to help and prevent. My dad also read of a story of someone who had radiotherapy near his head. He had a mouthful of metal filings and radiotherapy heated these up and gave him bad mouth sores! Again talk to your Radiotherapy team if you have the old style metal filings because they may be able to change them for the more modern filings before treatment begins. It could be a case that it doesnt matter, if your radiotherapy sessions are short and few then it may not be a problem. Each radiotherapy program is different. My first lot of radiotherapy was 15 minutes each appointment for 36 sessions as where my second lot of radiotherapy was no more than 3 minutes and I had 12 sessions there.

Same goes, if in chemo or radiotherapy you get an upset stomach, there are pills to help.

Some anti-sickness pills can be steroids or they may provide you with steroids before your chemo infusion. This can cause the usual steroid symptoms. Added weight, restless leg syndrome, a boost in energy for periods of time… usually at inapropriate times like 3am!

Phew… Ok, I think that is everything that I can think of. If I remember anything else then I’ll add it on. You can also check out some of my older posts that I created when going through treatment. Take a look back on those, if they don’t help then feel free to drop me a message! There are loads of different ways cancer can be treated, so please dont be alarmed if I haven’t talked about any experiences you have had or can’t find the information you are looking for. For any other treatments then please take a look here.

A life of crackers and coke

Hair today, gone tomorrow

When in doubt just add hairspray!

When you become a real life zombie

Chemo 21 and counting… 

Chemo: it’s not me, it’s you!

Baby, it’s just never gonna happen

When the cancer clock keeps on ticking

Cancer…
Cancer…
Cancer…
It doesn’t get better the more you say it does it. Damn.

I’m in this bloody lingering place of limbo again 🙄 I feel so useless. I feel forgotten.

All I’m doing is waiting until they can scan me again in a couple of months. When you’re going through treatment you feel so awful physically but you feel good (or at least I did) mentally because you know something is being done.

I’m waiting on fate to give me some luck now. It’s out of my hands. Fate has not given me much luck previously. Fate is a bitch.

My story isn’t so juicy when you’re waiting so you tend to lose a lot of interest from followers. I’m not at the start of diagnosis where it’s a shock to everyone and I’m not dying right now so there’s just no juicy gossip to pass on. I’m stagnant with my diagnosis at the minute.

I’ve taken to reading a lot of cancer stories in the newspapers lately. It’s probably because they catch you with the title “woman, 22, survives cancer against all odds” or “man survives cancer by eating lemons”. They like to draw you in with the catchy and unbelievable titles 😂 …and man alive… Am I gullible. But to be fair once the cancer train has hit you its hard to pass over these stories.

You have to go careful when reading these stories in the media. I feel like everyday I am coming across some natural remedy that will beat cancer. Some story of some person who was on deaths door and took this magical natural remedy for a period of time and boom! They’re cleared! It’s so hard not to get wrapped up in it all and believe this magical cure can work because sometimes they give you false hope. I’m not feeling hopeless at the minute but I’m feeling realistic. I believe some of these stories are true but I’m also aware on how rare they are. I’m not opposed to trying some new found hippie dippie cure if it works I would try absolutely anything to survive this. I’m very much aware of my internal ticking clock that cancer is now dominating. Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock…

I’m not going to tell you what hippie dippie remedies I’m trying because I don’t know if it’ll work and I don’t want to give others false hope. I’m also doing it for other reasons too that aren’t just related to cancer.

My body has aged. I don’t know how old my body is now but it’s certainly not the nearly 30 year old I am. It’s probably at least doubled in age. I wake up in the mornings unable to move my hands straight away. There are pains in my knuckles. It takes me a good couple of hours to loosen up in the mornings and feel like I can start the day. My knees at the end of the day ache. Like deep down in the bone hurt. Bending to sit hurts and getting up and down off the floor now means I make those old people noises I never did before. If I’m really tired they sometimes give way and I get a bit unstable with my balance.

These hippie dippie natural treatments that you hear about will never be researched further if they do work. Drug companies can’t patent a natural formula so it’s not profitable for them. It’s all to do with politics. But I’m also aware that if it did get to a serious stage where I’ve exhausted all medical treatment options I will never be offered a clinical trial. My cancer is just too rare. Clinical trials are for the “popular” cancers.

I am doing my own thing. I do my bit of research and I choose my own path. I’m not shunning medical treatment. Please don’t interpret this into something else. I’ve finished my treatment so it will not affect any medication or treatment plan. I just feel like I’m waiting on something that’s out of my hands and I want to take back control.

If I have to go back onto treatment then I will talk to my consultant or I will stop what I am doing if I am advised to. I still have my faith in my medical team. I just feel like because I’m not dying right now I’m not important to them. Which is great! It is! I’ve come to the other side that I thought I’d never reach but I’m also in no man’s land.

Its hard being left with your own thoughts. Your mind can be so torturous sometimes.

On a happier note, I went to a wedding on the weekend. My best friend of 19 years… Yes, Emily… That is correct, 19 years! Got married! I was super excited for the weekend not only for her but for me too! When she first planned her wedding I could not give any solid answer to her RSVP because I didn’t think I’d be well enough. At the start of her engagement it was hard for me to see 7 days ahead let alone 8 months! Wow… 8 months. Look how far I’ve come! 8 months ago I had just been told my cancer had gone metastatic and I went back on an immediate chemo plan.

So with all these wobbly moments where I feel lost, forgotten and unknown I just need to remember how far I’ve come. How much stronger I am physically and mentally now.

Sunshine, blue skies and 3 more months

Sunshine and blue skies gets the best of us out of funky moods. I hope you all have a lovely weekend! Roll on the spring and summer! ✌🏻

Don’t be a dick to cancer prevention

Now I’m not someone who usually preaches to others on how they should live their lives but I came across something this week that just staggered me.
Women getting smear tests is at a new 20 year low 😱

Are some women just stupid? Or ignorant? With an “it’ll-never-happen-to-me” attitude.

Jo’s cervical cancer trust is doing a #smearforsmear campaign to promote the importance of gynae health. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of gynae health.

https://www.jostrust.org.uk/

beautyplus_20180125164427_save1244872153.jpg
My #smearforsmear – jumper an unintentional match! 😂

KNOW YOUR VAGINA!!!

As a beauty therapist, I can’t tell you the amount of bikini waxes I’ve done over the years. Hundreds. Maybe even thousands. You’ll make yourself look pretty but you won’t make sure your foo foo is in top notch condition?

That’s just stupid. You spend longer on my beauty couch then you actually do getting a smear test.

Well what’s the point in a pretty foo foo if you’re not gonna look after the whole of your body.

Now you may think I’m being over dramatic here when I say the whole of your body but that’s what it is. I had a gynaecological cancer but it’s now in my lungs. Chemo affects your whole body, Radiotherapy irritates your stomach, bowel, bladder. Would you rather that than 5 minutes in the doctors office?

Take it from someone who’s done a smear test. It’s simple. You go in, you drop your panties, nurse does their thing and boom. You’re done. It’s important. That’s it.

Now these days I’m a realist… You may not take my advice. And you may not care about my story and how my life has changed from cancer and that’s fine. It’s your choice. But you’re stupid if you ignore booking in for your test. It doesn’t bother me if you do it or not.

You can take the alternative instead if you ignore that reminder from the NHS or those silly little niggles that you never had before…

5+ Dr’s prodding and poking your vagina, putting fingers up your butt, operating with countless doctors and students getting a good view of you in all your glory when you’re knocked out! Yeah you might not know what they get up to and you may prefer it that way but you know more people have seen your down stairs in a week than ever before.

Case studies are done on your vagina. You’re now a student GP’s case that he talks about and learned from because you’re so “rare”.

No for me, I’m not your usual case. Not all symptoms of vaginal cancer related to me. The most obvious was the heavy bleeding. And I don’t mean just a heavy period. Big big clots the size of your palm. But I knew something wasn’t right.

So I went to my doctors. Now don’t get me wrong if something is not right you may have to fight. Don’t ever give up if you think something is not normal. December 11th was my first port of call to the doctors. January 10th was my official cancer diagnosis.

Doctors and nurses don’t care what you look like. Hairy, bald, clean, smelly, fat, thin, big or small. It’s all in their job. They signed up for it and they knew what they got themselves in for. It’s all in your head so get over it, buck up and get yourself booked in.

If there’s one thing you do today it is book in for your smear (if you’re a girl obviously, otherwise go tell a girl to do it 😉). And tell your friends to do it too. Pass the message on.

Oh also, donate blood when you can too!! I’m not asking for too much am I? 😂 Give blood!

Donate Blood

If you fancy a read and are actually concerned about your vaginal health, check out eve appeal they’re a charity that promotes the importance of gynae health and offers support and advice to those in need ❤️

The Eve Appeal

Not cancerous enough

It’s been a week of mixed emotions this week. So I received my phone call from my consultant for the next plan of action and I can’t say I was best pleased with the plan.
And strangely enough I surprise myself by saying this.

So the right lung where the bigger tumor is will be treated with radiotherapy. This will begin this week and I’ll have 12 sessions. 12 sessions seem like a piece of cake after my 36 sessions last year!

And the left lung? Well they’re just going to leave it.

Apparently chemo has worked too well. I’ve been told I shouldn’t have improved so much between the scan after chemo 3 and the scan after chemo 6. They generally don’t see any difference between the 2 scans so to find it’s shrunk again means I don’t fit into the normal cancer category… Again.

So basically the left lung doesn’t show a distinctive enough tumor. Which is great! Hooray! I’ve kinda beat cancer!

But because the left side is so small they can’t really target it with radiotherapy… So now it’s too small.

They’ve decided to just leave it to see what happens.

Hence why my mixed emotions. I’ve been conditioned so much through treatment that treatment is good, treatment is important that it seems impossible for me to see this in a good way.

I feel like they’re leaving me to walk this dangerous tightrope of life and cancer. I mean the growths to the lungs occurred within 3 months then doubled in size within a month. This is a serious cancer they are dealing with. This is my life!

I trust my consultant and the work she’s done for me but I couldn’t help but cry when she told me that she’s not going to treat the left side. And never in a million years did I think I’d be crying over the thought of not having treatment!! Maybe I shouldn’t have bitched so much about chemo! It obviously worked too well!!

Chemo: it’s not me, it’s you!

I’ve had enough. It’s taking its toll. It’s slowly sucking the life of who I am out of me.
Oh how over dramatic you may think but so very true.
Chemo 6/6… The devil. I am finally… Thank fuck… Done with you.

Its been a while since my last post. It’s all starting to take its toll and it’s hard for me to find the energy from within to concentrate on posts. So I’ve finally had my last chemo. It was delayed by a week due to my blood count being too low and dropping. I’ve had that the last few sessions but the bloods always rose when they tested it again. This time the chemo has finally shown its affects. I had a feeling this was going to happen.

After chemo 5 it took me much longer than normal to recover. I suffered quite badly with sickness and picked up a stomach bug (not the pooping kind, 😂 the awful cramps and can’t keep food down kind) from somewhere too. Scared my dad half to death by passing out and just generally felt like death warmed up for longer than necessary.

Chemo 6 has pretty much been the same. With a good 3 hours of last night throwing up 10/11 times hurling nothing but bile and generally wishing it would stop I’ve reached my limit. I mean… Not my limit limit as in treatment… Just my limit with chemo. I fucking hate it. I hate the incapacity I seem to have as a human being. For crying out loud who cries because they put their t-shirt on the wrong way this morning? I am emotionally and physically exhausted.

The one amazing thing I have to be thankful for to is to the nurses up at the Churchill hospital for being so accommodating to me. As chemo was meant to finish by the end of November it meant I had the whole of December free of treatment… Well technically I have a scan on the 28th but I’m not counting that. Being delayed an extra week they pacified me with my request and set me up for the 30th instead of the 1st 😇 it may seem silly to you because I still feel rubbish for the first part of December but these days there’s not a lot to look forward to so let me have my silly moment 😂

dav
That’s it… I’m DONE!

Chemo 21 and counting… 

I’m writing this one from the hospital today. It’s my chemo day. Session 5/6… Well technically I think it’s chemo number 14 altogether. 14… That’s crazy. And that’s 14 sessions not 14 chemos because if you want to get technical with how many actual chemotherapy treatments, as in chemo drugs, it’s 21… I think.

It’s stupid. You would have thought the amount of treatments I’ve had would be engrained in me. But it’s not. It all blurs into one now. I feel like I am here so frequently every session becomes the same. I’ve nearly spent a whole year in this state now… A whole fucking year. What a waste.

I’m finding it all pretty mentally draining now. I’m fine in myself 90% of the time but it can get to Wednesday/Thursday before chemo and it’s like a dark cloud engulfs me. I know what’s coming.

The day of chemo, driving into the hospital, I mentally feel like I’m a petulant 3 year old being dragged in kicking and screaming. On the outside I’m cool and calm taking it all in my stride. But inside… It’s a whole different story. I don’t want to be here anymore. Don’t make me do this. Please.

Its stupid really. I have to have this. Chemo is making me better in the long run. But I can’t tell you how hard it is for me to not cry and say no to something that in the long run will make me better but for the short term make me feel so fucking awful.

I think I’ve just reached my limit. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up or anything and I’m no way near that point yet but I’m just sick and tired of being pricked and poked and scanned and tested.

They took an x-ray of my chest today. Nothings wrong but my consultant just wants to see how things are going. This is to prepare me for the next round of treatment after chemo.

The x-ray will only give a brush over view. It won’t highlight in detail the tumors. But I guess it gives my consultant a bit more of a guide. Apparently I can’t have a PET/CT scan until 6 weeks after my last chemotherapy session. So I guess any scan won’t happen until the new year. At least I’ll have December and Christmas free of all this shit.

Ah man… What a long day. My neutrophils were low today. Which are to do with my white blood cells and how you fight infections with your white blood cells. They like them to be 1.5 and over but blood tests showed they were below at 0.85 so I didn’t actually start chemo til after 2pm… I’ve been at the hospital since 8am 🙄😩 but at least I had it.

Fed up of waiting, I can’t say I was in a great place this morning. You can probably tell from above. I just wanted to go home. But at least I had it. If I didn’t it would have been delayed to next week and that would have just been a faff.

I really think my new puppa Hugo has helped me. It may be coincidental but it’s the first chemo I’ve had that hasn’t made me feel lousy afterwards. I’m tired but that’s pretty normal. Let’s hope for a better weekend. 

The happy pessimist

I got some good news for once this week. Chemo is working! My scan from last week has shown an excellent response. The chemo has reduced the size of the tumors and one is barely visible. With this news it will mean that I will continue with the rest of my planned chemotherapy treatments.

I should be happy, right?

And I’m pleased. I am. But I can’t exactly say I’m over the moon, bouncing from room to room, can’t stop smiling happy. And why you ask?

Because this isn’t the end.

Yes, it’s a good result. But how long for?

I told you last time, after the devastating results from my 3 month post treatment scan it’ll shit on any other happy news in the future. And it really has.

I’m pleased. I am. And I’m happy for my family and friends that they’re finally hearing something good… But it is definitely shadowed by the fact that this isn’t it. Even if it clears up after all of the chemotherapy and whatever treatment follows after, it won’t be the end.

It will most likely come back. It might not be straight away. It could be 5 months, a year, 5 years, 10 years or more but it will at some point return.

Until they figure out a way to completely eradicate it from my lymph or blood… Wherever it is travelling from, its not over.

I’m OK with this. I’d rather it wasn’t this way but I’ve accepted my fate in life. I’m still positive about my diagnosis. Don’t misconceive what I am saying. Just because the news before shat on every other bit of goodness now or in the future, I am still positive about my treatment. I feel good in myself and I won’t let that stop me from living how I want to live.

Its just… I don’t know… The big fat elephant in the room that’s staring me in the face is still there. So I’m happy but I feel like I can’t truly be 100% happy because before I know it the rug will be pulled from beneath my feet again and I’ll be back to square one. And it’ll crush me.

But worst of all, it’ll crush the people I love.

I hate that this now makes me look at the other side of life. The more pessimistic side… That’s not me. But I have no choice. I have to be realistic.

So this week I am happy. But probably not as happy as I would have been this time last year had I received good news. Because although I am happy, any big fat sunny happiness I have now gets shadowed by the dark and ugly side of cancer. And forever will be no matter how small it may become in the future years… It’ll always be there in the background waiting to pop back up and ruin everything all over again.

On another note, apparently I have shingles! 🙄 I’m an anomaly again as I don’t have the “normal” symptoms. Just a rash on my back, other than that I feel pretty normal… Considering.

It shouldn’t interfere with my chemo on Friday thank goodness but bloody hell… Can’t catch a break at the minute! 😂

When you become a real life zombie

I think this one will be about how chemo makes me feel. It’s a difficult one to explain but also it might be something that not everyone feels when they have chemo. This is my reaction to the drug. And it’s difficult to explain when the effects have worn off because I try my hardest to remember how it makes me feel but at the time that’s all I feel but when I’m better I forget. Sounds crazy, right! But everything is so easily forgotten when you feel better.

So there is a thing called chemo brain. And I guess that is what I’m suffering with at the end of the day but that’s not really what I thought it would be called. Chemo brain sounds like you’re forgetful or it affects your mental ability… And I guess in a way it does. But my experience is nothing to what I imagined.

So the day of chemo my reactions are all pretty immediate. I generally get a huge dose of antihistamines, which is basically a syringe full of Pirton. This is to help my body cope with the chemo paclitaxel… You know, first time anaphylaxis. This prevents any reactions occurring but it also makes me very very drowsy. So pretty much for the day of chemo I’m in and out of sleep. It’s a great way of killing an 8 hour day but it still drags… And my poor mum still has to suffer through it along with me.

One of the first things to change with chemo is my taste. This doesn’t normally last. Just for 4-5 days. I’m not sure how I can explain it, it’s like I’ve got wax in my mouth or my mouth is all cotton wool like, I can’t taste flavours as well, and things aren’t as appealing. I struggle to eat meat at this point coz the texture of it can be very off putting.

Followed closely from the tastelessness is the nausea. This is probably a big factor to the chemo reactions. As I suffer with nausea this means that my appetite reduces. It’s tough to find what I fancy to eat and I try so hard to eat what’s good for me. I have 4/5 different types of anti-nausea pills which help combat any actual sickness but it makes my mouth even more woolly and changes tastes even more.

Chemo affects you mentally too. I go very spaced out for a few days. I find it better on these days when people don’t talk to me. It sounds so silly but I find it so hard to concentrate on texts and function on what I should be saying. It sounds so crazy, right! It’s like there’s a massive fog over my brain that prevents me from focusing properly on what I should be doing. I zone out easily. I literally become some sort of chemo zombie. I don’t just think it’s in my head though. It weirdly affects my eye sight. Not in an awful way and it only lasts for about 3/4 days after and then I’m fine I just get this ring of haze around my sight and this makes focusing difficult. It’s like my brain just gives up trying to focus on what I should be doing.

I become a ghost to any social media and friends seem to know they won’t get a lot out of me on those days.

It all sounds so awful what I have to deal with when you say it out loud but you just have to deal with it. This is my life. If I want to be better then I have to deal with these after effects.

I have to apologise in advance for this post too. I’m still very foggy headed this morning so this post has taken me longer than usual to write and I’m sorry if it drags off in weird directions or doesn’t make much sense! It’s a real life struggle for me this zombie brain thing but it’s easier to explain when you’re actually mulling yourself through it then if I write it in a few days time when it’s a distant memory.

When narcissism is replaced with blissful oblivion

I’m in a really good place right now. I’m not sure what made me turn this corner and see things differently and I can’t tell you the secret on how I did it. It’s just something I’ve noticed in myself in the last few weeks. It’s probably my I-don’t-give-a-fuck-attitude but I don’t think it’s all that.

There’s just contentment. Weird I know in the state my life is in right now. I don’t know how I can explain it… Cancer is very much still in the forefront of my mind 24/7 but I’m not letting it rule my life. I mean obviously it does, but I guess I’m less bothered about it? Oh gosh, this is hard to write… I mean I’m bothered by the status of which direction it’s taking me in my life but I’m dealing with it.

I guess there is no word that exists for how I feel. Because any positive word detracts from what is going on and I’m still very much involved with it all. Positive words make it seem OK and makes it minor but this cancer isn’t minor. It’s a huge, horrible thing going on. It’s up all in my life saying “look at me!”.
Negative words make it all sad and worse than it is. I mean it’s bad… The worst it could be, but if I let that rule my life then I wouldn’t be the person that I am.

It seems strange, but I think my turning point was when I lost my hair. There was something very liberating about it. I really couldn’t give two shits about what people think when they see me. If you knew me a couple of years ago, you would have known I wouldn’t have gone to the supermarket without even doing my make up! 🙈 I look back on that now and think how shallow?! But then I think it was a time where my biggest dilemma in life was deciding what my plans were for the weekend… Oh how nice it would be to be back there. Narcissism and all.

When I’m out and about I’m very much aware on how people look at me. And to be fair their reactions surprised me. Most people didn’t care. They didn’t do a double take. They didn’t stare. They just went about their normal business.
To be honest though, I only go out when I’m well so they may look at me like I’ve just decided to shave my head. It seems to be a popular thing at the moment.

I say most people because I have seen people stare at me. And weirdly enough it’s the older generation and they’re in no way subtle about it. They literally stop dead still, stand and stare. And they don’t even look away when I catch them doing it! 😂 I don’t let them get away with it (that’s the best bit about having cancer, you really don’t give a shit) I’m not sure why the older generation are so obvious. Because those who know me, know subtly is lost on me so they really could get away with it if they’re discreet. I’m not sure what they’re seeing… Maybe I’ll ask next time I catch them staring. A walking time bomb… Cancer… Or just a fashion statement? I’m just not sure.

Now the weather is getting colder I’ve had to buy a hat so I blend in better with everyone else. I don’t care about blending in, but it’s freaking cold when you have no hair!! I’ve also gotta be sensible about these things. I can’t risk getting a cold for how I look for the sake of being defiantly different.

I’m playing the big fun game of waiting again. I don’t really know what’s going on until I’ve had my 3rd round of chemotherapy and they can scan me again to see what the cancer is doing. I’m not so bothered that I’m playing the waiting game this time round. Last time it was torture. The not knowing. But this time… I’m in this blissful place of oblivion. I guess you could say it’s a form of denial. But lately after every waiting game I play I seem to get bad news. So yes, maybe it’s a form of self preservation but I feel good in myself and how I feel, so this waiting game at the moment I am fine with. And I can play it a lot longer if it means I don’t have to find out the outcome. But that will never happen. I will find out my fate eventually no matter how much I mentally scream and cover my ears.