That’s All Folks… Chemo Done.

Well, that’s it done. My final chemo session was on September 11th and I’m simply over the moon! That’s all folks; that’s all. There’s still more to come, to get rid of this naughty tumour, but having the chemotherapy out of the way is such a massive weight off my shoulders. I can now move forward without dreading every third week of treatment. Also, the weekly visits to the hospital to have my PICC Line cleaned are no longer needed because they removed it on the same day… My body can start its recovery process and I can once again take a soak in the tub. Hurrah!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve noticed that the treatment has really been taking its toll. Aside from all the usual side effects, my legs have been feeling really weak, and the slightest gradient in a road has me huffing and puffing and struggling to walk. I’ve lost feeling in the ends of some of my fingers, and most of my nails are tender to touch and continuously hurt. I’m finding it totally impossible to open lots of things, and boy is that tough, as my appetite has gone through the roof and much food needs to be opened!

Life is not at all unbearable, but it has all sort of crept up on me and I dare say it will take a while for me to get back to normal. I’ve heard that fingernails can drop off up to eight weeks after the final treatment (chemo just keeps giving), but in my case it seems to have worked a treat so far, so I’m not going to grumble. *grumbles *

Chemo Nails

I’m also currently suffering badly with dry eye – another side effect of the treatment, which isn’t helped by the fact that my eyelashes haven’t grown back yet. My eyes are continuously streaming and as a result, the skin under them is not in great condition. I’ve taken to walking around with a pocket full of cotton buds to dab the tears away with, but my lids still get wet and crusty, which makes it hard to blink comfortably. It’s another one of those strong looks that I’m channelling as well as I can.

My hair started to grow back a month or so ago, and I decided to shave it off again the other day. On the advice of a few other cancer patients and my hairdresser, Alex took a razer to it and got rid. The sides were growing back much faster than the top fluff, and shaving it all off after the last chemo is said to help the re-growth. I wasn’t too upset when I lost my hair at the start, but now my body feels like it’s falling apart, I actually can’t wait for it to grow back. I’m now at a point where I really feel like a cancer patient, and there doesn’t seem to be much I can do do glam it up. Luckily every day I get a step closer to the end goal.

Next up, I’ve got my Lumpectomy (October 9th), but before that I’ve got about a zillion other appointments at the hospital. They apparently haven’t seen enough of my lovely face – MRI’s, ultrasounds and God knows what else… I literally can’t keep track and am hoping I don’t miss any of them with this chemo brain of mine!

The good news is that I’m off on my Willow Special Day on Monday. We’re heading to St Mawes to stay in a lovely hotel by the sea. I’m hoping I’ve got my taste back by then because I could really do with a gin or three.

Until next time x

Alex was quite ill in bed on the day of my last chemo, but he arranged this little surprise for me the day after. It’s only a bloomin’ flamingo balloon!

That's all Folks

As you can see, Betsy is still living the dream whilst I spend quite a lot of my time in bed!

Chihuahua Love

 

 

 

 

It’s the Chemo Countdown

The countdown is on people; the countdown is on! It’s only nine days to go until my last chemotherapy treatment and I couldn’t be happier. It’s not often you see me excited about something, but let me tell you… I’m really effing EXCITED!

Oddly, it’s not the chemo ending that I’m looking forward to the most. It’s the hospital visits and the constant hanging around in the waiting rooms that have got me down for so long. I’m one step closer to having a little more freedom to live my life my own way again and the great news is that my body has responded really well to the treatment. This naughty tumour has shrunk to practically nothing. Hurrah!

Don’t get me wrong, there is still a lot more for me to get through. Up next after the final chemo, is my lumpectomy operation. I’ve been told that they will be injecting me with a blue dye and I’ll look a little Avatar-esque for a while. Alex is on strict instructions to get that photo of me even if I’m sleeping and high on meds, just so I can share it with you all. I mean, it’s not often you can capture that selfie! I’m also told that I’m going to have a wire (marker) hanging out of my boob for 24 hours beforehand. I might spare you that image. Gawd… the things I’ve had to go through!

From there, if all goes well and the cancer hasn’t spread to my lymph nodes, I think they will leave me alone for 6-8 weeks to allow my body to recover before moving on to radiotherapy. This is going to be pretty tough for me as it requires daily trips to St. Thomas’ Hospital, for four-and-a-half weeks. It apparently really zaps your energy and I’m pretty tired at the best of times. My main concern is that I need to be able to continue working throughout, but it’s for this very reason that Alex kindly sold my computer and invested in a smaller and lighter version. Now I can work on the move without moaning about carrying a bag of bricks. It’ll be alright, I’m sure.

After the radiotherapy, I’ll be given tablets to take for two years. I have no idea what that’s all about, but we’ll learn more about it when we get to it, shall we class?! It’ll also take some time for my body and brain to get back to it’s usual working order from there, but who cares… the main thing here is that I’ve (just about) beaten this sucker and hopefully it will never return.

Aside from my last chemo session, I’ll also be having my PICC line removed on the same day. You don’t know quite how much I’ve missed taking baths, especially with all these aching muscles and bones! Roll on September 11th…

Anyway, just thought I’d check in to tell you that I’m full of joy that chemo is coming to an end.

Until next time – Go check yourself x

I know I’m not leaving the planet in a spaceship or anything, but this is my song choice for today’s post ;)

Game changer…

Shiny New Macbook

I Get Knocked Down (But I Get Up Again) – Chemo 3

I went into chemo round three with much smugness on Friday 29th May. Having been prescribed the ‘wonder drug’ for sickness (Emend) that I’d been told would make the world of difference, I thought this one would be a breeze. How wrong I was! On the previous two occasions, chemo knocked me sideways, from about two hours after the treatment, until three days later. This time round, I was feeling ropey before I even got up from my chair. Say what?! Gah, this was not the plan, Stan… This was not the plan.

Nausea had hit me before I got out of the ward, so the nurse sent me on my way with some of those lovely-looking cardboard sick bowls… Who says you don’t get anything free gifts from the NHS, eh? They’re still sitting on my bathroom floor right now. Fancy!

The tablets did in fact work because I didn’t actually vomit, but that evening, I had such severe stomach cramps Alex had to call the chemo ward. We were talking a nine out of ten on the pain scale people. I wasn’t just whingeing for the sake of it. I was in real agony. When I heard the word A&E being bounced around, during Alex’s phone call, I was in a mad panic about how I was actually going to be able to drag my sorry butt out of the bed and into the car. Thankfully, the trip was avoided because I didn’t have that all important fever that I’m meant to be watching out for, and at some point I must have just passed out for the night. Phew.

Anyway, eight days of recovery time for this one, so it goes down as the worst yet, but I’m over it now and am really looking forward to my two weeks of better health. It’s quite an odd thing to get excited about really, but those two weeks out of every three are such a highlight that I find myself enjoying a lot more than I ever usually would. I’m particularly happy that my birthday falls tomorrow when I hope to be feeling in tip-top condition.

The really good news is that my boob lump has shrunk, so the treatment is working. It’s a regular occurrence for tumours to shrink to nothing early in the treatment process, but alas, you must still plough on with the chemo and see through all of the sessions before your operation. I’m not sure if I have previously mentioned that I’m having a lumpectomy, rather than a mastectomy – I’m happy not to be losing my boob right away, but if the margins aren’t good after the lumpectomy, I may need the full chop. Then, the question is, do I go for one or two? Jeez, what a thing to have to think about!

I’m actually quite surprised by how many people opt to have mastectomies instead of a lumpectomy for ‘peace of mind’, but each to their own, I guess. From the research I have done, lumpectomies and mastectomies have similar results with regards to the cancer returning, but a lot of women believe that the latter is a safer option. Obviously each case is different. Anyway, I’m going to take my chances and keep what’s rightly mine for as long as I can. Even if my left boob is a traitor, I’m not one to hold a grudge!

I hope to do something or have something other to talk about other than my illness before I blog next time. I do hate to bore you with all the same details, but until next time let me leave you with the gifts that chemo has given me for my 30 (something) birthday…

Things that chemo did to me this/last month.
Stomach cramps.
Tired, oh, so tired.
Horrible taste in my mouth – mainly in the evenings.
Tiny bumps on my tongue, that went away quickly.
Twitchy boob – Which is a good sign, but weird.
I have a hardened vein in my arm – from my first chemo session before the PICC line. It hurts. Ouch.
My eyelashes are slowly falling out, which is a nightmare with hay fever, let me tell you.
Watery eyes – separate from the hay fever watery eyes. Thanks for that.
I have no nose hairs left. How can I tell? Drip. Drip.
My eyebrows are thinning dramatically. – Nooooo! This is the one I have been dreading… How will people know when I am cross?! I have a plan though and will let you know about it soon.
Some of my hair tufts are slowly growing – I’ll need to shave it again, but I quite like knowing it’s there.
I’m cold ALL of the time – the hottest day of the year and I had a jumper on. I’m sitting with a hot water bottle right this second when it’s 20 degrees. Brrr.
It has given me the munchies – I’m grazing all day long, but luckily I’m not gaining any weight… Yet.
I’m craving chips and crisps ALL of the time – I’m not meant to eat potatoes, so this has been a tricky one.

And that’s all really…  I’ve heard worse ;)

In other news…

You need to get your chops around these Vietnamese spring rolls with crispy tofu with a side of
Stir-fried Chinese Cabbage

Vietnamese spring rolls with crispy tofu

We popped into Ms Cupcake in Brixton to grab some vegan/gluten free treats last weekend. A little market research as I bought the cookbook the other week. Our cupcakes were tad bit on the dry side, but they still tasted pretty good for vegan alternatives. They really need to make more of the store though. Definitely due a spruce up!

Ms Cupcake

Just reminded me of the old days…

 

Until next time x

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

Last Thursday, I went for the chop and had my hair cut short, ready for the expected hair loss from my first chemo session. I’m currently on a treatment called Epirubicin Cyclophosphamide chemotherepy (eh? EC to most), and a quick Google search reveals that people’s hair often starts shedding from around day fourteen. I probably should have done it sooner because on day eighteen, Alex was given the task of shaving off his hair-obsessed financé’s barnet, to a number one all over. The stress was very evident on his face, let me tell you.

Oddly, both the cutting and shaving experiences were surprisingly easy for me to handle. There were no tears and actually, there was much laughter! I liked the short style because it was nice a change that I probably never would have braved before. The shave was an easy enough step as well – The thought of waking up with a pillowcase covered in hair, or it just randomly falling out all over the place, was a big no-no for me. Luckily, I didn’t have the weird shaped head that I was expecting to find under my hair. It’s definitely not the best look I’ve had, but it’s looking like it won’t be around for long either. I’ve now got tiny little hairs falling out, and I have a feeling that after tomorrow’s shower, it will all be gone. C’est la vie, that’s cancer for you!

Hair today, gone tomorrow…

Chemo Hair Cut

Hair Today Gone Tomorrow

I’m pretty new to this selfie business and obviously Betsy is a pro…

Chemo Hair

 

Left Boob and Right Arm Challenge

This morning I was challenged with the feat of keeping my left boob and my right arm dry in the bath. The left boob and right arm challenge – A tricky task, let me tell you. I was told by the boob team that I wasn’t to shower, but shortly after was told by the PICC line team that I couldn’t bath… Hmm, what’s a girl to do? These are just the everyday comedy tasks that I have found myself facing since I was diagnosed with cancer… “Don’t get this wet or it will get infected” – “Don’t go out between these dates because you are more likely to pick up infection”… Yeah, yeah. Whatever!

Yesterday, I spent a good chunk of my day at the hospital, having another biopsy, followed by a second attempt at my PICC line insertion. First up, at 9am (progress on last weeks 7.45am appointment), the dreaded biopsy on the new lump that they have discovered. I was hoping that I wouldn’t get Dr. Arrogant, but in he strolled, in all his “this won’t hurt as much as the biopsy” glory… He shot me with the biopsy gun twice and then did me the courtesy of asking if I could cope with a third shot, which was thoughtful. I was in and out in no time at all. Turns out, that he’s pretty good at that part of the job. It was much less painful than the very first procedure and I’ve had no pain whatsoever since… Just another whopping bruise to add to my collection. Marvellous. I’ll allow Dr Arrogant to shoot me in the boob anytime he likes, if it’s going to be that easy!

Next up, my PICC line insertion. We found ourselves waiting around for an hour and a half for this, due to a lack of communication amongst the hospital team. It didn’t bother me one bit though, as I was chilled as a mofo, after popping a Lorazepam earlier in the morning. Waiting around has never been so easy! Having a PICC line inserted is a very slow process, mainly due to the extensive setting up process, making sure everything is sterile around the patient. However, with a different nurse this time round, they managed to find a vein relatively quickly, and it all went quite smoothly. Hurrah! They then sent me off for a quick X-ray to check the tube was not heading towards my throat or anything nasty like that… Eek!

PICC-Line

As easy as it was to get it in this time, the PICC line was pretty sore afterwards, and it still is now. I’ve been told that it will take a good few weeks before it starts to feel less painful… No one had thought to warn me about this before I had it done. Cheers guys! Anyway, it’s there now, and it really will help having it – The fewer needles, the better if you ask me. It should speed my chemo sessions up a little bit and generally make life a whole lot easier at the hospital.

My new best friend…

Picc Line Arm

This Summer’s new look…

Left Boob and Right Arm Challenge

I get the results of my biopsy next Wednesday and have been told there is a 98% chance that it will be benign. Here’s hoping. Before then, I’ve booked to get my hair cut quite a bit shorter, in preparation for its departure from my lumpy scalp… Yup, I ended up getting a rash both on my face and in my head, after the chemo, so was given hydrocortisone and antihistamines to clear it up. They seem to have been effective after just one day, so things are looking up. I just don’t want to be a spotty, bald-headed sight for sore eyes, so it’s a race against time to get rid of it all completely. Other than that I’ve been feeling pretty good. Just killing time until my next chemo session next Friday.

I’m waiting for a proper cover to arrive so I can shower and bath with a little more ease, but this morning I had to get busy with a roll of cling film and a tea towel. Did the job.

PICC line Bath

Oh, and If you were wondering, I sent Alex off to do a few chores this time round. No one needs to hit the ground twice in such a short space of time ;)

Until next time x