I last wrote on Christmas Eve, about the fact that treatment means I’m shuffled on my sofa post #Chemo2 rather than spending it with family..
This round of chemotherapy has been different from the first. The new drug given for anti-nausea, plus taking steroids a whole load earlier, plus I think my body accepting that sleeping when/whenever it wants is the ‘easiest’ way to get through all of this meant that I pretty much stopped feeling sick by Christmas Day, which was excellent! I snuggled up for the day, Facetimed a few friends and family, opened my presents, a couple of friends visited, and another friend brought round Christmas Dinner, which I managed half of (inc pigs in blankets of course!). Boxing Day very similar …
We then were clearly onto the next set of symptoms – I guess all the little hairs are going from ears/nose, and the lining has been stripped from my mouth. Sore throat continued to get worse, tongue turned white, and dry cough developed (neighbour said could hear it through the wall). By Friday called Chemo Line again, and was requested to be checked over by the GP, who said not infected, but to take bacterial spray for throat, and Daktarin to turn my tongue pink again. Amoxicillin added to the list in case things got worse over ‘the holiday weekend’, and by Saturday morning, serious ear pain had kicked in. I enjoyed Saturday despite this, as a friend from Winchester popped past en route to northern NYEve celebrations, and my cousin and hub drove up from Birmingham for a chilled afternoon – we meandered round the local village (Pokemon chasing still), ate some food, caught up. Nice. By evening was onto the chemo line again re ear pain, and recommended to take the antibiotics, so now I’m sat on the sofa – feeling somewhat better today after knocking self out with more sleeping tablets. Such a druggie I’ve become … but honestly, if there’s a way to get through all this with less suffering, let’s take the marvels that modern medicine offers.
And yes, I think my hair seems to be holding onto my head at the moment…
Looking Back on 2017
Who knew when I headed into 2017, that at the end of August I would be diagnosed with breast cancer. I went into the year feeling thankful that I was through my probation year in my job, in a permanent full-time academic job for the first time, into the first full year in my own home, getting on with gradually doing up the house, and working on my Keep Calm and Carry On book for the Imperial War Museum. I knew I was really tired, but even checking in with the Dr early in the year ‘it’s just your lifestyle’. Well, you know me, I love achieving things, and I enjoy being involved in things, but still, I found a way to say No a little more, and was increasing the activity in my life with cycling to/from work, hiking (slowly) at the weekends, walking miles for Pokemon, and rejoining the gym in August (they thankfully cancelled everything on diagnosis).
Everything turned on its head with that diagnosis in August, and it’s since that point that Instagram has selected my ‘best 9’ from the year (based on engagement), to include:
- TV appearance on BBC News North-West whilst on antibiotics for post-surgery wound infection
- Cutting hair from bob to pixie pre-chemo, so any hair loss will be less stressful
- One of many bunches of flowers – these from the previous owners of my house
- A whole page in the Daily Express on my new book
- Scans showing that there is no cancer left in my body – chemo is about mopping up free random cells
- My new book arrived in the post
- At #PremDac17, surrounded by both of the books I’ve written
- I think that may have been managing to have a shower and sit upright post-surgery
- Montage of wigs I tried out ‘going wild’!
So, another reminder that those weird spammy PM (personal messages) about what colour underwear your wearing, etc. don’t work for me – please share something useful like these lemons:
New Year’s Eve
I love this little video, which probably sums up my New Year’s Eve, which can also be summed up by:
But that’s OK. I think my ‘phrase to live by’ over the last few weeks has become ‘it is what it is’. My favourite way to spend NYEve is with friends, at a houseparty, enjoying chat, food, a badly sung Auld Lang Syne, and then zooming off around 12.30pm to sleep… this evening, because I’m still in the lowest immune point in the chemo cycle, friends can’t guarantee bug-free, we’ll put their port on hold, and do it another time! May even get the opportunity to watch a friend get married via livestreaming … And this made me giggle … which of these ‘dogs’ sums up your NYE?
If I’m feeling up for it, can have a bit of fizz/bucks fizz … we’ll see if want tonight or save for later…
Going into 2018
I also love this that popped up in my Facebook timeline today:
As treatment continues, hopefully to finish around May, there’s “only” one more of this first drug to go. Every treatment is a step closer to achieving the ‘new normal’, and I’m praying for a healthier and happier 2018 for many of us … but continuing to count the #silverlinings, including modern medicine, friends and family online and offline, managing to find a way to continue working so not lost huge chunks of pay (so far), a warm roof over my head (even if it does need loads more done to it, I completed my bedroom 2 weeks before diagnosis), social media, Netflix, and the prayers, thoughts and gifts of those around me (another blog giving tips of what’s good for these). God Bless Us, Every One.
Dr Bex Lewis is passionate about helping people engage with the digital world in a positive way, where she has more than 20 years’ experience. She is Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing at Manchester Metropolitan University and Visiting Research Fellow at St John’s College, Durham University, with a particular interest in digital culture, persuasion and attitudinal change, especially how this affects the third sector, including faith organisations, and, after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2017, has started to research social media and cancer. Trained as a mass communications historian, she has written the original history of the poster Keep Calm and Carry On: The Truth Behind the Poster (Imperial War Museum, 2017), drawing upon her PhD research. She is Director of social media consultancy Digital Fingerprint, and author of Raising Children in a Digital Age: Enjoying the Best, Avoiding the Worst (Lion Hudson, 2014) as well as a number of book chapters, and regularly judges digital awards. She has a strong media presence, with her expertise featured in a wide range of publications and programmes, including national, international and specialist TV, radio and press, and can be found all over social media, typically as @drbexl.