I’m Grateful for My Eyelashes

Friday 18th March

I’m thankful every day I wake up with my eyelashes. I know that’s vain and arguably the least of my worries but it’s great that I can still put mascara on and I don’t look so hideous. I’ve now got spots on my head which is really attractive, as you can imagine, and I’m thrilled about. Although I’m Mrs Baldy, I have some very short spiky strands of hair which oddly ‘hurt’. It’s quite bizarre, and if I lay on my pillow in the wrong position it’s really sore. How odd is that? Normal apparently but really weird!!

I’m a million miles an hour usually and feel like a snail with a hangover.

It’s Friday and having felt back to me yesterday, I now find myself at the doctors as my backside is bleeding again. Yes, I know it’s gross and really you didn’t need to know, but this is all part and parcel of the joys of chemo, cancer and generally having a broken body! I’m also back at the hospital later on for an MRI scan. They still haven’t quite determined what the “hot spot” is on my pelvis. Naturally, I’m praying that it’s nothing.

As I’ve mentioned I’d decided that for the second spa treatment I was going to see more people. I purposely avoided everyone the first time but it was so mind-numbingly boring that I think I need to get people round. Even if they just talk about themselves for a couple of hours the time will pass quicker AND I’ll have something to talk about… if I can remember any of it. It really is simply THE most boring experience I’ve ever endured. And the lack of energy has been weird for me. I’m a million miles an hour usually and feel like a snail with a hangover. My sense of humour and personality seem to vacate and I just flatline/exist for the time it takes the chemical warfare to get through my system. I can barely even muster up the energy to think about what I want to eat. But I know I must eat because it gives me energy. Which reminds me, I’ve done nothing but crave sugar which is bizarre because I don’t usually have a sweet tooth. I’m more of a savoury girl. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many chocolate bars, biscuits and cakes in my house EVER. Maybe it’s my body saying it needs more energy… well, that’s my excuse.

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Tuesday 22nd March

OK so we’re on day 5 post chemo, it’s March 22nd. I’m WAY too scared to tempt fate BUT I feel fine; bit sick, bit tired, the joys of a metallic mouth but I’m nowhere near as bad as I was the first or second time. I’m wondering if they’ve given me a bloody placebo… I doubt it, I’m not sure that would be something they’d do, but I do I feel fab. I’ve been up, showered, Bob on every day, I even walked the dog for half an hour today. But it’s with trepidation that I view this; I just don’t want to be disappointed or dead on my feet tomorrow.

This is definitely a life-changing experience and without doubt one that I very much needed.

I’ve had visitors galore, though. I know it sounds bad but I’ve booked them in for 2-hour slots. They arrive, I manage to make them tea or coffee, we chat, they leave and I don’t remember a thing they’ve said. I’m beginning to find this rather amusing – I’ve even told them all “I’ve no chance of remembering but please carry on regardless.” I find that I repeat myself constantly and am still forgetting words. Oh, the joy of chemo brain.

What is strange is that I don’t have any negative feelings at all at the moment. I feel like I’m clearing out some much overdue mental debris… but without actually doing anything. This is definitely a life-changing experience and without doubt one that I very much needed.

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This week has been something else. I’ve felt great. I spent Thursday at the seaside with a mate and it was fab. I’m convinced this cancer thing for me is about sorting things out, giving myself some headspace to work out what’s important and what’s not. I feel so calm. I feel so at peace with myself and I’m still grateful every day for my eyelashes. It’s such a weird thing to be grateful for but every morning I look in the mirror and say thank you.

Monday 28th March

Ten days post chemo and its March 28th, a perfect day to complete a 35-mile walk – arguably crazy but I’ve had the best chemo session ever. I’ve not felt particularly ill… nausea isn’t too bad. I’ve experienced the usual clogging up of my internals and I do feel more tired than I normally would do but honestly, it was a breeze in comparison to last time. It was a great day.

I literally had candlesticks at one point when I bent down to stretch my back out. 10/10 on the embarrassment scale.

Even though it chucked it down and we took a few wrong turns, we completed it within nine hours. It was a HUGE challenge with or without having chemo in your system but I did it. I did, however, seem to mislay my personality at about hour six and was virtually mute by the end.

My feet hurt, my brain had flatlined and all I could think about was BED. On the way round though, I can’t tell you how much I’d sniffed and how much my nose kept leaking… never experienced anything like that before. After I’d dribbled my way through 3 packets of tissues, I ended up having to ‘cuff’ it. Not a ladylike thing to do nor something I’ve ever done before but needs must at the end of the day. I literally had candlesticks at one point when I bent down to stretch my back out. 10/10 on the embarrassment scale. This has never happened to me before I just couldn’t quite work it out.

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The funniest moment though was in work on Wednesday. We’d started having a conversation about cancer and chemo, etc., and one of my team asked me whether I’d lost my ear hair because her grandad had. I did explain that females generally speaking don’t suffer from ear hairs. She then started talking about his nose and how that had gone too. I couldn’t stop laughing – not at her grandad but that’s clearly what had happened to me, wasn’t it? My nose hairs have vacated, hence the dribbly nose. The things they don’t tell you!!

Wednesday 30th March

It’s Wednesday 30 March. It’s the treatment halfway point and I’ve been for an ultrasound today after three sessions of chemo. I don’t really know what I expected. In fact, I just rocked up without really thinking about the appointment at all. I seriously cannot tell you just how I struggled to keep the tears back when they told me its shrunk by half. I’m literally delighted. I didn’t think it would be such great news. Halfway, half the size… thoroughly delighted. I feel like celebrating with a cup of tea.

How life has changed.

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The Final Spa Treatment

Friday May 27th

Friday May 27th and I’m so done, in every single way. I had my last spa session yesterday, just nine days or so to get through. I’m currently sat in bed after a long sleep and I feel OK this morning. I’ve got a collection of visitors to keep me entertained again today. I’m delighted to say that this session was just one cannula and they took their time to shove the chemicals in. So now I’ve just got to batten down the hatches have lots of sleep and take care of myself.

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One thing you don’t think about is your veins. I know that’s weird, isn’t it? But you don’t and I cannot tell you how sore they become. Certain parts of your arms become so sensitive to touch because I’m guessing they’ve been so badly damaged throughout the excessive chemical warfare they’ve had to cope with. I’ve been to a therapist and had a couple of oncology qualified massages – which by the way have been fabulous. They exist so don’t miss out on some real spa treatments. Go and find someone who’s qualified to deliver, it really does help. The only issue is when they massage your arms – I kept forgetting to tell her just how much it hurt and it’s a weird pain – a bit like toothache – hard to describe but excruciating just the same.

Thursday 2nd June

I’m free – June 2nd Karen and I jet off to Spain – I know really I shouldn’t be going anywhere I’m not even a full week after the last chemo but as I said I’m at maximum coping capacity with all of this and I just need to believe and feel like it’s over. So a holiday seems like a great way to do that. Sadly however my emotions aren’t exactly playing ball and I’ve done nothing but cry since I got to the airport. Now please don’t misunderstand me, my kids have been absolutely amazing as have my friends, but this has been a battle. MY BATTLE. And whilst I might not want to moan about it continuously it has taken its toll on me.

I hadn’t actually mentioned this little jaunt to Spain to the clinical staff or the consultant. I just didn’t want to be told I couldn’t go.

I just need some time out to get over what’s happened. On the huge positive I’m a whole stone lighter and feel psychically great. I don’t think I’ve been on holiday feeling slim in years so that’s a huge positive…just better make sure I don’t eat too much whilst I’m away. I’ve packed my trainers and hope to walk 7-8 miles a day. I need the training for the 46-mile trek I’m doing at the end of the month. So I need to do it for that, but it also gives me headspace.

3 June

It’s been a great remedy to clear away all the horror of this. I hadn’t actually mentioned this little jaunt to Spain to the clinical staff or the consultant. I just didn’t want to be told I couldn’t go. I’ve not even bothered finding out if I can get insurance. I mean, what’s the point? I’m sure I’ll be fine and to be honest for four days what could go wrong? Famous last words I hear you say, but thankfully everything was fine.

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The time away was just what I needed, although I spent the first two days crying. Poor Karen, I’m not sure she knew what to do with me. I’d like to blame the FEC but in truth, I think I needed to just get it all out of my system. I’ve realised that my coping strategy is about ploughing through with utter positivity and then when it’s over I have an enormous meltdown. Thinking back, this is how I’ve dealt with virtually every horror story I’ve had to go through. Who cares? It works for me. Healthy or not, it’s the way I’m built and I’m not going to give myself grief for it either. So I’ve cried for two days – so what? Although I should have bought some shares in Kleenex first, I think…

Monday 13th June

So here we are, June 13th and that’s it, chemo done. In my view, the biggest horror is over. Now for the good bits: my brand new boobs and the radiotherapy.

I saw the surgeon last week and we’ve sorted out my new boobs. I can’t tell you how pleased I am about that. Mine currently weigh-in at a large 36F and whilst I do have some beautiful underwear, I’ve had to spend a fortune from specialist shops, so I’ve requested a pair of double Ds. I noticed that you can virtually get anything in a D cup and I’m a bird that likes choices. I was unaware that they do your poorly boob first then after the radiotherapy they wait six months. Apparently, the radiotherapy not only burns your beautiful new boob but it can take six months for it to get back to normal. But you know what? I don’t really care. I’m better off than many women who lose their boobs, so for me I’ve just got to have some patience…another skill I’m embracing.

Sunday 31st July

It’s the 31st July and I’m mindful that I’ve neglected my blog updates for some time. For that, I apologise but I’ve been busy getting on with my life; holidays, trips away going to see my friends, and completing the 46-mile walk. The best bit is that we came 14th place out of 280. Not bad for a cancer-ridden chemotherapied bird!!!

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