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 😂

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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 power of puppy cuddles and good brows

I like an easy life these days. Since losing my hair the care for my appearance has dropped a fair bit. I’m not self conscious about my looks or anything,  I’m just not bothered by how people perceive me. From someone who was heavily involved in the beauty industry and had a fairly structured skincare routine from the age of 12 I’ve surprised myself.
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This is me au naturel! Sneaking in cuddles with my new puppa Hugo 😁

I haven’t quite lost all my eyebrows and eyelashes but they’ve massively dropped out. When I’m without make up,  I’m fairly featureless. So without hair and pretty much no eyelashes and eyebrows,  I thought I’d give a few easy products a go!

Before all this cancer drama,  I would say I filled in my eyebrows fairly heavily… Even though I probably didn’t need to. So to find a product that makes my life so much easier without going into the dramatic side of permanent make up makes me scream with delight.

Maybelline’s tattoo brow is a gel like brow product that tints your brows and the surrounding skin.

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I’ve used light brown. I would have normally gone for dark brown but having no hair, I’ve toned down the colour for a more subtle appearance

You apply the gel and leave it on for 20 minutes for an all day wear. Now the best bit that makes my simple easy life all the more better is that if you leave the product on for 2-3 hours it can last up to 3 days!! 🤗

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The colour is harsh but this is just the guide colour! I promise!
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After a couple of hours I peel it off. Go with the hair so you don’t pull any hairs out. Don’t worry it’s very gentle, it doesn’t hurt.

I find as my skin care routine is pretty shocking these days and you’re lucky if you catch me on a day that I shower, I find that the gel tattoo can last me up to 5 days.

Thankfully being a beauty therapist, getting the brow shape matching doesn’t take too much time. However if you’re new to any kind of brow product or don’t feel too confident it’s probably best to practice with a normal brow powder or pencil first. The gel is pretty forgiving in removal if it’s wet and you remove it straight away but if you leave it to set, then it will stain the skin beneath and you’ll be left with that error unless you scrub a fair bit.

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YAY! The brows are back in a nice subtle shade

I tried the new fad of magnetic eyelashes too. They’re an “easier” alternative to strip lashes that use glue. With my eyelashes quite sparse and thin I thought strip lashes would preserve those that I have left as I won’t be aggravating the area like I would if I used mascara and the whole removal process with it. I’m shit with the normal glue strip lashes so the magnetic lashes sounded right up my street!

Well… That one wasn’t such a great one. They ended up making me look like a toy doll. And not in a good way. They stuck on pretty well but they were too straight and unnatural against the lash line and I looked like a twat.

So I’ll keep with my new fave product for brows but that’ll probably be as far as I’ll go.

In other news… Last last week was a pretty rough week! From having shingles, then chemo,  I got a cold straight on top of it all. I have to say it is the absolute WORST I have ever felt during all of this. It is the first time I can say that I actually didn’t want to get out of bed. I pride myself on the the fact that I’ve never moped about and always kept somewhat of a routine. The only reason I did actually get out if bed was because I had a doctors appointment to see how my shingles was going 🙄

Thankfully after some strong pills and a lot of rest and relaxation I’m almost back to normal.

I’ve had a little help in my recovery this week too…

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Meet my new puppa Hugo! 🤗

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.