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

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!

Double, double tinder and trouble; Fuck you burns and cynicism bubbles.

You know this one will probably be a fairly emotional one… For me, probably not you. It’s probably something you don’t really think about. And I’m not gonna lie… It’s a difficult one for me to write. I’ve debated HARD about whether I should post this… But I said from the start I would show all sides of cancer. The good, the bad and the ugly. No hiding, no editing, no lying.

So the strong, independent, feminist finds this tough to admit.

But sometimes I find this lonely.

And not in the sense that cancer is a lonely battlefield that you’re fighting by yourself. I mean it’s just me.

I have my family and friends that I’m forever grateful for but they’re not there when it’s dark. They all go home at the end of the day.

Now,  I’ve always been an independent woman and I’ve never found myself co-dependant on anyone and the thought of myself becoming like that terrifies me. I’d hate to be that girl.

But there are a lot of things I have noticed in this past year that if I was healthy, I would give a good “fuck you” to but I guess as it’s a sensitive spot, cancer and me, I feel like if I ever said anything it would look like an overreaction 🙄 because I have cancer.

Let’s look back on a year ago. Just over a year ago, I had a pretty healthy dating life. I’m not gonna go into the details because that’s unnecessary and I’m very aware there’s family that reads this.

I was still talking to some of these guys when I was first diagnosed back in January. Every single one of them I told the truth and gave them an “out”. All of them said the usual “I’m sorry”, “that’s shit”, blah blah blah… To be fair,  they all were pretty curious and it helped me,  I guess,  deal with it by talking about it. But they all said they wouldn’t just drop me. I mean what kind of guy would that make them?!

Now before you go off on one,  this doesn’t make me a whore. None of it was a relationship. It was dating. Going on dates, chatting, usual 20s dating crap.

Me,  being very cynical,  didn’t believe any of them. I mean if it was flipped would I want to be involved with all that… Probably not. I know… How superficial and arrogant of me.

And now? I don’t hear from a single one of them. Even guys who I knew were interested in me but it never went anywhere don’t talk to me anymore. And I don’t mean this in an arrogant way where I had hundreds of guys chasing me because that’s not the way,  but any interest has now completely dropped. I don’t even get a “hey, how are you going?” I’m not doing this post to be self centred saying that everything should be about me and everyone should ask me how I’m getting on with treatment or whatever,  I’m just explaining how hard it can be adjusting to my new life and knowing that this will be it… I’m not being all woe me, please pity me. It’s just highlighting how different my life is now. This is the reality of cancer.

To be fair, I don’t blame them. I mean who wants to deal with this. But what I do have a problem with is the lies. I gave you all an out. But none of you took it.

So here I say fuck you.

Here I say look at me and how far I’ve come. On my own.

I may always be on my own… And I find that hard to say. I may not. But let’s be realistic it takes a special kind of person to take cancer on and let’s be real… If I couldn’t find that guy before when I was healthy, what’s the chance now! 😂 Especially in this new superficial, narcissistic world of swiping left or right!

I know I wouldn’t want it… If I had the choice that is.

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.

A life of crackers and coke

Well what a week it has been… It seems a bit unreal that everything has happened in the last eight days. It has been one of the longest and saddest weeks of my life.
Exactly eight days ago I felt healthy. I thought I was in recovery, I was slowly getting my life back and adjusting to my new way of life. I was back seeing friends, working a few hours, easing myself back into the working world.

Things couldn’t be further from that now even if I tried. The few hours of work I was doing I’ve had to give up. It’s too risky being around people when I’m having chemotherapy. I’m more susceptible to infections and no offence… But people are the worst when it comes to making sure they don’t miss their appointments “oh, I’m sorry! I was on my deathbed but I just had to come in for my nail appointment” or “I feel absolutely awful but I made it… Please give me a medal and let me infect you with my gammy germs” I joke… But you don’t realise how gross people can be… Until you work with them. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job but it’s just way too risky for me. I love it but not at the risk of my health… Even more!

So I had chemotherapy last Wednesday. Yep… Very long and boring day. I’ll be getting 2 types of chemo,  paclitaxel and carboplatin. They’re both chemos I’ve had before. Back in February just after I was first diagnosed they put me on an emergency chemo program to get treatment started. Treatment didn’t go well… My first session I went into an anaphylactic shock. It was awful. Basically my body shut down because of the drugs. It’s pretty common apparently when administering paclitaxel, it’s a 50-50 on if your body will accept the drug or reject it. After a massive dose of adrenaline they counteracted the reaction and I was back to normal. They decided, for that day, not to give me paclitaxel and just gave me carboplatin. The following week I had both again just this time the paclitaxel was administered slowly so my body could adjust to it. Hence why chemo is an all day event.

So Wednesday I was up bright and early to be ready to start treatment at 9am. I’m having chemo every 21 days this time round. At the start of the year it was an emergency program to get things started and chemo was weekly with the drugs being weaker. I was actually one of the lucky few before when chemo actually made me feel better. I would have a couple of days after where I could go out and see people.

I don’t think I’ll be so lucky this time round.

Chemo made me pretty tired afterwards. Even though I slept a majority of the day I was up there for over 8 hours. I can’t keep my attention to anything so reading, watching TV, colouring in books or whatever doesn’t help. All I seem to do is sleep.

The days after made me extremely nauseous. I have anti sickness pills that stop me from actually being sick but the queasiness is always there. When you’re queasy you just don’t want to eat… Which is the worst when you’ve got the biggest battle of your life on your hands ahead. Anything I do manage to eat goes straight through me… Sorry for being so graphic 😂 but this is the reality of it. So with the weekend of feeling grotty, not eating much and not keeping much in its obvious that I’m gonna drop weight.

So this week I’m trying my hardest to eat more meals a day and snack hard. But it’s not easy… My tastes have already changed. Things I liked before I can’t touch. Flavours aren’t the same and it’s difficult to figure out what I actually fancy.

People have been really sweet before and given me advice of diets I should try to help bring my body back into balance which has been incredibly thoughtful and I’ve been so grateful but I kid you not… If anyone suggested things this week I probably would have snapped 🙈 I feel awful for saying that because I know they’re only trying to help but honestly if there was a way, I’m pretty sure I would have tried it. And to be quite frank, I couldn’t give a fuck anymore! I know! I’m sorry!! But for 29 years I have eaten so healthily. Probably better than you! Home grown veg, the right balance of protein, carbs and greens. I’ve been good! And look where it fucking got me! So screw it. I’m eating what I damn well please.

You’re probably thinking I’m sat here eating gateaux and sundaes with ridiculous amounts of saturated fats, refined sugars and numerous E numbers… I wish. Nope, just good old Jacobs crackers and a can of coke. My good old go to buddies that seem to be my safety net foods.

I expect, as I go further into the program it’ll get worse. But let’s look on the positive side for once. That’s one treatment down. Just another 5 to go… 💪🏻👊🏻

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chemo session 1 of 6 ✌🏻

Sometimes superheroes need support too

I’m a bit more rational this week. Last week was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster from finding out the status of my cancer and joining a support group, I felt like I’d been dragged through the ringer emotionally by the end of it.

So yes, last week I bit the bullet and joined a cancer support group. I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty reluctant to begin with. Most people will probably wonder why because surely it’s a natural part of life to ask for help and support at difficult times. But for me, I can’t really say I saw it that way. I saw it as something weak and even more isolating by just highlighting everything about you and that it’s for people with cancer. I don’t want it to be anymore obvious in my life! I don’t know why I care about what people think or their judgement towards it, because I don’t normally give a hoot what people think of me… I guess cancer, for me, is a bit of a sore spot. Yes, it makes me different but I don’t want to be seen weaker for it. People say “you’re so strong it’s amazing what you’re going through!” and it’s true, I am! Haha. But cancer does make you weaker. You’re tired more. Your bones ache. You’ve got a long list of medications that you can’t say the names but you know that they help you function. You have to have your “emergency” pack of stuff wherever you go;

  • Sick bag: ✔️ check
  • Anti-sickness pills: ✔️ check
  • Anti-poop pills: ✔️ check
  • Tissues: ✔️ check
  • Wet wipes: ✔️ check
  • mints: ✔️ check

And believe me, these emergency pack supplies are not just random items! They’re items I wish I had on me at some point. Driving down the A34 at night, throwing up on yourself because there’s nowhere to pull in and you have nothing in your bag to use, you’re not gonna chunder in your amazing new hat you’ve just bought, you’ll just wish you had that sick bag! The anti-poop pills are probably a bit if over caution because I don’t have any juicy story where I actually shit myself! I have managed to maintain that small, and only bit of dignity. I guess that is my constant fear of being that person though… Because at the hospital I’ve seen it happen to other people… And it’s not fucking funny then.

So the support group, I did see it as another form of weakness, judge me all you like for thinking that way because that’s what I thought. I like to be independent and strong and only need the basics. When my mum first suggested the group to me I wanted to cry. I wasn’t a depressive about this, was I? I’ve been doing OK! Why do I need to go to a group and chat about my feelings? The self preservation side of me doesn’t want to make new cancer friends… What happens in a few years time if I’m still going to the groups and I find I’m going to funeral after funeral?

So I sat on it for a few months and just thought about it. I kept going backwards and forwards driving myself crazy just thinking about it.

Because with all of the negative sides, I kept thinking what if I could help someone else? Just because I’m doing so well in my self mentally, doesn’t mean someone else is. That was a strong factor for me. It kind of counteracted all the negative points for me.

So on Saturday, I thought screw it, I’m gonna go. So I did. I went to a cancer support group called Shine. They help cancer sufferers and survivors in their 20s, 30s and 40s. They meet each month doing different activities on a casual basis. So this month we met in a pub and just sat chatting and drinking all afternoon. There was none of this ponce of “Hi, I’m Amanda and I have cancer…” sort of crap. I mean, yeah, being the newbie they wanna know your story, but you get a story back in return so you’re not the only one on show! And my god… I tell you, some other people’s stories are just so heartbreaking… Man alive, does it put life into perspective. It’s in no way all doom and gloom. It’s a support network. These people are there for each other in ways that friends and family just can’t… They can relate.

I really wish it wasn’t called a support group though… Because still, in my mind, it sounds weak. But these people aren’t weak. They’re superheroes… So this week, I went to a cancer superhero group.

See! Sounds much better, right?

Waiting, Wishing, Hoping… The results are in!

Waiting…
Waiting…
Waiting…
That’s all my life consists of at the moment.
Waiting…
Wishing…
Hoping…
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The Wait

Cancer results week: The most anticipated post to date yet, I expect. I’m not nervous of the results because whatever it will be will be… (Que sera, sera?) Haha. There’s nothing I can do to change it but it makes me anxious.

Its funny, it’s not the cancer that can send your mind crazy: The fact that you’ve got it, that it makes you think of your mortality or even that it changes everything in your life. It’s the waiting.

You’ve got cancer. Wait. We need to put a program in place for treatment. Wait. Chemotherapy starts. Wait. Radiotherapy starts. Wait wait wait. Scan. Wait. Brachytherapy. Wait. Scan. Wait. Scan. Wait. Treatment finishes. Wait wait wait wait wait. Scan wait wait… Meet your consultant… Shit… I’m waiting.

The Results

It has not been a good week this week. My results were great! 10cm mass? Obliterated! My lymph nodes are looking good, there’s slight scarring where the tumor was but all that was bad is now good in the gynae department! Woohoo!

But…

There is a suspicious area on my lung… What? I like my lungs. I need my lungs. My lungs are pretty fucking important! They’ve been pretty bloody reliable for 29 years so far! Don’t start this shit now!

I’ve been told I have a “fluffy” area on one of my lungs. It doesn’t have much density to it yet so they can’t do a biopsy. It’s only 9mm in size so it’s nothing to be too worried about. It could be an infection. It could be cancer.

They’re treating it as an infection for the time being so they’ve put me on some pretty strong antibiotics. They don’t think it is an infection though.

There’s nothing they can do whilst it’s so small and “fluffy”. So I’m back to waiting.

After the course of antibiotics, they’ll scan me again at the end of the month but I won’t see my consultant again until the start of August. So I’m back to the old game of waiting…

Waiting…

Wishing…

Hoping…

The time loop

The worst bit of all this cancer malarkey is your life gets put on hold. Cancer becomes your life. I’ve tried hard to not let it define me but it’s pretty fucking hard when that’s all that you’re faced with day in day out.

It’s exciting times at the moment with friends. I’m at that age where everything is happening. New homes bought, engagements, weddings, babies, new relationships, career changes, all exciting things. And I am happy and excited for all of them, I really am. But it’s difficult.

You can’t help looking at your own life. My life is on hold at the moment. And that makes me sad. I don’t see my future at the moment, for the first time ever I really don’t. And I don’t mean it in a morbid way, like I’m not gonna be here to see it. Because I’ve never felt that and I still don’t. I just don’t see the next step. I’m just frozen in this fucked up time loop of waiting.

Stolen happy moments

I’ve found this week pretty hard. Not just for myself but for others too. I feel like this amazing and incredible thing has happened. But it’s been shat upon by this stupid “fluffy” mass that may or may not be something. It’s not just a step back for me but for my family and friends. I don’t like to upset people and this is upsetting people all around me.

If it turns out to be an infection then it’s just stolen my happy moment. Next month with my consultant will be just a relief. My happy-thank-fuck moment will have been snubbed out. If it turns out to be cancer then it’ll just be another game of treatment and waiting with the repetitive bore that comes along with it. And when I do beat it the next time, it will just be a relief. I’ll be happy, but probably not as happy and as excited as I would have been this week.

A scrambled mess of prosecco and overthinking

It’s been a weird few days. A bit of an emotional roller-coaster of ups and downs. It has been a week of cuddling babies, turning 29, popping prosecco and partying with the most awesomest of awesome friends that have helped me through the last few months… Although if you asked them they wouldn’t say that. They think they haven’t done enough or anything at all that deem them awesome but they honestly really have.

Even just a ‘hey, how are you?’ when the world around you has turned into an unstable mess can mean the world. You may read this with skepticism and think how? But there were days that I would struggle to even think about getting out of bed, let alone actually do it. So a ‘hey, how are you?’ can really go far. It gives purpose. It gives hope. It gives you a reason.

Now, I’m not gonna lie to you, there have been many times those ‘hey, how are you?’s went unanswered… Why? Well when your arse has been ripped raw from being burned from radiotherapy and you struggle to climb in and out of a car to go everyday to the place that’ll make you better, but you know in the short term will make you worse, you do get a bit wrapped up in your own self-absorbed world. Please don’t pity me or my arse rubbed raw story. Haha. It’s all better now and you would never even know. 😉 however, I may look at our pothole filled roads in a whole new light!

Now, I’m not randomly going up to strangers and cuddling babies, you don’t have to worry about my sanity quite yet. Haha. But I’m finding that I’m of that “age” now where babies, engagements and weddings are becoming a frequent occurrence. Having one of these factors of mine altered, and I say altered because it’s still possible, remember! I’ve started to question aspects of my life. Nothing is ever going to change what has happened but I think it’s healthy to look at things differently. But it’s another “why me?” 😫 kind of moment, unfortunately, because say for example, I did decide to foster or adopt, every aspect of my life will be under analysis. And that’s fine, I don’t have anything to hide, as you already can tell! But it wouldn’t have been this way if I was 16 and pregnant… Damn it!

I received a very generous message this week from a friend and her situation with cancer. I won’t go into the details because it’s not my story to tell but you just don’t realise or appreciate how many people cancer hits. I always knew that she was attacked with the nasty little bugger that is cancer before I even met her, but I can’t help but wonder if she had enough ‘hey, how are you?’s I know her story was before I even knew her but I certainly know I didn’t give enough ‘hey, how are you?’s after. Because although my cancer story will soon be behind me… It never really will be fully gone from my life. That little bugger will always be niggling at the back of my mind.

Every cancer story is personal and different. You could find you have exactly the same cancer as me but that doesn’t mean the situation is the same… Or the treatment for that matter. In my radiotherapy days, as you’re up at the hospital 5 days of the week for it, you start seeing the same people up there. And slowly, as treatment goes on and on and on, you never see them again. You think “they’ve made it!” like it’s some sort of game and that they’ve reached the top level. It’s weird seeing these people everyday at the worst moment of both of your lives, never to see each other again or to never know what happened to them…

There have not been many days where I have been caught up in my emotions and been pleading the “why me?” card but this last week has most definitely and unfortunately been one of those weeks that I have found the most trying. Damn me and my overthinking brain!

 

Some pictures of me and my awesome friends. I wish I took more pictures! Me and my prosecco filled self didn’t even think to capture this day more! 🍾