So, we’re over halfway through the Paclitaxel … five down, four more to go (including, hurrah, birthday chemo this coming Friday… hopefully buying myself many future years!). Getting increasingly tired now, although still seeking to maintime some kind of social life…
The main side effects of this drug are in many ways better than EC (which was particularly notable for dizziness/nausea for at least the first week), are fatigue, random body aches and pains, serious indigestion, peeling mouth – lots of boring little things combined with an unhealthy dose of apathy on occasions… and other occasions boosts of inspiration! So, essentially for the last 3 weeks, here’s a photo diary … there’s other pics on my Instagram too!
Half-term, and one of my longest-term friends came to join me (I still remember the day that we sat, one seat apart, British style, in our first History A-Level session … and from that conversation developed a long-term friendship) for part of the week – very relaxing for both of us I think!
This was the week that I learnt to use patient transport – very straightforward on the way in, very delayed on the way home:
Thankful for Deirdre accompanying me again! Very relaxing company, and in conversation we covered all kinds of topics – including faith, technology and all sorts…
Week 5: A Day in the Chemo Unit
At the end of this one, can think, we’re officially on the countdown towards the end of chemo on Good Friday!! The snow created havoc for this .. my (2nd?) cousin was coming with me from Birmingham way, so that didn’t happen. My next companion then came down with a cold (and if you’ve seen Call the Midwife tonight, you’ll see why chemotherapy units are so keen to keep us immune-safe), but thankfully another friend cancelled a couple of meetings, and kept me company!
The day started early – as I needed patient transport again … so I was told to be ready for 7am, although nothing turned up til 8.10am! Was a little late for bloods, but they seem to build in a little time flexibility for this. Every 3 weeks I get to see the oncologist so have bloods done on a Wednesday, on the other weeks, I have to come in 2 hours before the chemo chair is ready and get my bloods done, to ensure that I have enough white blood cells bouncing around (I think) so can withstand the treatment. Was very amused to get 007 as my ticket number in the queue for bloods:
Slightly less amused to find that my port appears to have turned a little bit… praying it at least holds on for the rest of chemotherapy, and was expecting to keep in a little longer, but we’ll see! Anyway, with that lovely chunk of time to wait, I headed off for the refectory (rather than the M&S or WHSmith in the waiting area of the Christie), ready for a full on breakfast to see me through much of the rest of the day:
I was then joined by Naomi, and we picked up hot choc and Percy Pigs for me to take to ‘the chair’. They were just getting the chair ready, and today had a new nurse – Richard, who like all the nurses I’ve met at the Christie – very friendly and chatty – you need someone calming as you’re being plugged into receive the dose of poison! I grabbed this shot when there didn’t seem to be any patients in view, and as the drugs had finished, and I being ‘flushed’ with saline as the cold cap continued its work.
I do now know that if time’s up, I can disconnect the cold cap from the wall and let it start it’s defrost (so it’s doesn’t pull my hair out), but I can’t disconnect myself from the needle plugged into the port. It’s sometimes difficult to get hold of a nurse at the end of this process, so, as with so much of ‘the cancer journey’ it’s about trying to be patient whilst WAITING! We enjoyed varied topics of conversation, and as Richard said Naomi went above and beyond continuing the foot massage started by Fiona!
I decided not to wait around for hospital transport as I could order a cab via the Lynx App for around £10 – otherwise expect at least a 90 minute wait before something is organised. I just wanted to get home, snuggle up…
Very chilly downstairs (I like a cool house, but brrrr), so thankful for clean sheets to fall into …
Took a store of food upstairs … annoyingly first took up the tin opener and the spoon, but forgot the custard I wanted (yes, cold, yes, straight from the tin)… so wouldn’t need to move again too much!
Despite the steroids, I fell asleep around 8,30pm (maybe), and woke around 6.30am ….
Decided it was worth braving the cold for crumpets (thankfully I’ve not lost my tastebuds although that’s common with this drug)
I then made it out that evening, having slept for another 3-4 hours in the afternoon – and really enjoyed celebrating Stuart’s 50th! And if you’re wondering how my hair is holding on (even the nurses keep exclaiming at how well it’s doing… though I’m getting bald patches in my eyebrows, and definitely less eyelashes than usual … very watery eyes, hurrah).
And today, spent some lovely time with another friend … so must chill a lot more tomorrow
We keep on chugging along! Once chemo finishes, then there’ll be a 2-3 week break, then I will start radiotherapy for 3 weeks + start tamoxifen for 10 years (and I’ll also have that new kitchen installed!).
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; second edition in process) 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.