My Chemo Skincare

With one more chemo to go (tomorrow – YAY!), I thought I’d share some of the products that I’ve been using throughout my treatment. To be honest, my chemo skincare hasn’t been that far off from my usual routine, which is a definitely a good thing because it has been an expensive enough business having breast cancer, as it is.  I try to stick to products that aren’t too harsh and as someone with dry/normal skin, I spend a lot of time trying to hydrate it.

No one really went into too much detail about how my skin would react to chemotherapy at the hospital, which I’m guessing is because every case is totally different. I was just told to protect myself from the sun, which is never too much of a problem in the UK, and definitely not a problem when you spend a great deal of your time recovering in bed after each treatment. I was also told to drink a lot of water, so have upped my game in that department, as I massively failed to do so before.

After my first two sessions of EC chemotherapy, things were bad. My skin totally dried out and on a few occasions my face flared up with a really nasty rash. The doctor prescribed me with hydrocortisone cream, but there was no way I was using that for more than a few days. Combined with antihistamines, it did the trick, but as a skin-thinning product, I decided it wasn’t one that I wanted to use regularly. I was already seeing a lot more fine lines appearing on my face, as well as some weird markings around my lower cheek area, so thinning things out was certainly not an option… eek, no thank you!

As time has progressed and each session has passed, I’ve found that my skin has been plumper (the water?) and I’ve lost the redness that I used to have before chemo. After the first two chemo treatments, things calmed down and my skin is actually a whole lot softer than ever before. Personally, I put this down to a combination of the products that I’m using and the amount of water I’m drinking. I have been straying a lot from my wheat-free diet, due to the effects chemo has been having on my taste, and my skin doesn’t seem to be reacting quite as badly as it used to. Always a bright side to everything, I suppose!

Chemo Skincare products

From left to right:

My shower gel of choice is by Caudalie and is bit of an investment, coming in at around £9. I picked mine up in Paris, where it was a fair bit cheaper, but I’d say it’s worth the money, as it’s free from all nasties and has lasted well. It also smells amazing! I’ve been lucky enough to have absolutely no problems with dry skin on my body during chemo and think that the combination of this and Garnier’s Body Lotion Repair has really helped to keep my skin in good condition. Unfortunately the body lotion didn’t make into the pics because someone (Alex) has knocked it behind my drawers and I can’t reach it! #PICCLineproblems

I use the Superfacialist Rose Intense Moisture Mask a few times a week and absolutely love it. It really hydrates my skin and I’d definitely recommend it to those looking for softer skin. The rose scent isn’t my favourite, but overall this has got to be one of my most preferred hydrating masks so far.

My day starts and finishes with a hot cloth cleanse – The Superdrug Vitamin E Cleanser is great value for money and really makes my skin feel nice and soft. I’ve tried a lot of more expensive versions and this has exactly the same results. Why spend more?!

 

Chemo suncream

These three products are ones that I’ve used on and off throughout my treatment…

The BIODERMA Photoderm MAX Cream SPF 50+ is one of a few sun creams that I bought for my face. It has proved to the best, as it didn’t go all bitty like the others and dried into my face quickly ready for make up application. It doesn’t clog up my pores or feel heavy on the skin as some sun creams can do.

Another one from Super Facialist – This is my second tube of the Vitamin C+ Glow Boost Skin Serum. My skin just soaks it up before I add my moisturiser. It brightens, softens and smells divine. I usually wait for Boots to reduce it, or offer some sort of offer on the Una Brennan Super Facialist products… I mean, who doesn’t love a deal!

I actually bought the La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Soothing Repairing Balm for my naughty boob, ahead of my scheduled radiotherapy sessions, but started to use a little on my face when my skin was really suffering. I found it really helped with the intense dryness, after a few days. It is a really heavy cream, so I like to rotate it with other moisturisers, but it does work wonders, which I’m sure my boob will be glad to know ;)

 

Chemo Skincare

Bioderma Sensibio H2O – Micelle Solution
Every scrap of make-up must come off! I bought this tiny bottle for travelling, but have been through quite a few large ones now, too. I generally pick them up when I’m in Paris, to save money. It’s definitely one of the best at taking off the day’s dirt, but I always cleanse afterwards as well.

Hand Chemistry:
This is a new purchase that I’ve been using for just over a week now. I’m suffering with sore fingernails and am almost certain I’ll lose them, thanks to the Docetaxel chemo treatment I’m on. Since being diagnosed, I’ve been pretty persistent with my moisturising routine, as I was told that if you stimulate the nail area it helps prevent nail loss. Although this product is more expensive than many of the creams out there, I’ve noticed a difference in just a week. My hands have transformed and are really smooth… my nails however, may not be so lucky!

Cold-Pressed Almond Oil:
I love this product. Aside from being really cheap (£1.69), it can be used for a range of things. When I had hair, I’d run it through the ends a few times a week before bed. Now I’ve lost my hair, I rub it all over my head when my skin feels rough. It really helps! I also use a few drops on my face, a few times a week when I’m not using any other oils. It doesn’t clog the pours if you use just a little, but be careful not to over do it. I‘ve also been known to treat the dog with a little Almond fur-pampering session ;)

Vichy Noraderm Night Cream:
This is a night cream aimed at people with a lot of spots/acne. That’s not me (at the moment), but I purchased this at the start of my chemotherapy treatment and have been using it since. Perhaps another reason why my skin hasn’t been looking too bad lately. It’s got great reviews elsewhere online so if you are suffering with spots, then maybe give it a go. Used alongside an oil, it didn’t dry out my skin as some acne treatments can.

Dr Nick Lowe – Supercharged Day Cream:
I generally rotate day creams, because my drawer is so full of products and I usually lose them for a few days here and there… A girl needs a back up, until it resurfaces again! This cream is again, pretty lightweight and contains SPF. Oddly though, it seems to have disappeared from online shopping stores as have all Dr Lowe products. I’m assuming he is no longer trading, but currently can’t find any news that confirms this.

Olay Regenerist Eye Cream:
I’m never too convinced by eye creams, but am really struggling with ‘dry eye’ at the moment – a side effect of the chemo, which isn’t helped by the fact that I have currently have barely any eyelashes. My eyes are streaming constantly and my under eye area is starting to look a little worse for wear. Eye cream to go under my make-up is a must at the moment, so I’m testing this one out for now. It’s pretty hard to say if it’s doing it’s job, but I’m sticking with it.

 

Chemo nail protection

OnicoLife Drops for chemo nails:
I’ve been using these drops since day one of chemo and my nails are suffering pretty badly now on my Docetaxel treatment. It feels as though I may lose a few, but I’ll keep you posted, as they are still there and it could just be that this product saves the day. The drops are said to help prevent, brittle or tender nails, nail ridges, split nails and yellowed or blackened nails. Mine haven’t really discoloured and seem to be as strong as they were before, so it must be doing something. I do however, have funny markings on most of my fingernails and that has got worse over my last few treatments. I have opted to cover them with nail varnish when I go out at this stage so as not to gross anyone out. I’d rather let my nails breathe when I’m at home though, so will continue to use the drops as much as possible.

Cien Hand Gel:
A cheap and cheerful Lidl must, for those having chemo or not. Best to keep the germs at bay – especially if you continue to work in clubs with over a thousand party people!

Best Serum

Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair
Alex’s mum kindly gave me this as she didn’t get on with it. I’ve been loving using it in the mornings, rather than at night, as I find it helps provides a great base under my make-up. It leaves my skin lovely and smooth ready for the day. It does need a little time to sink in though, which is probably why it’s a night serum and not a day one. I’ve generally got the time though!

Best Natural deodorant

Keep It Kind Missy Roll-On Deodorant
Last, but not least. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I immediately wanted to move from the deodorant that I was using, as it contained aluminium. I wanted a more natural product, however after trying a few, none of them really did the trick. This Missy Deodorant, however, has been great. No whiffy pits – It does the job and is reasonably priced as well.

My Chemo Skincare

So, there you have it –  This is only a little of my collection, but some of the products that have helped me through… We don’t really talk much about my beauty addiction out loud in this house. We just hide it all away and hope for the best!

Until next time x

SHARE:
Comments Off on My Chemo Skincare

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

A Rant About My Chemo Care

Oops! Another month has gone by and I’ve been a naughty blogger because I haven’t been back to fill you in on all the news. Since my last update, I’ve actually been pretty busy and the time between my last chemo and tomorrow’s session has dragged a bit. I’m just willing the days to fly by and can’t wait for my final treatment on September 11th – then it’s onto the op and radiotherapy. Hurrah!

I was thinking about what I’ve disliked the most about this whole cancer process (prepare for the rant) and it may surprise you to know that it’s hasn’t been the treatment and the side effects themselves. As difficult as they have all been, the thing that has been the hardest for me is actually the standard of care I have received from many of the chemo nurses and hospital staff where I’m being treated… and let’s not forget the time I have had to spend in the waiting rooms!

Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t all been doom and gloom on the care front. When I was first diagnosed, I was really chuffed with my initial oncologist and the attention I received from my breast care nurse, however after my first treatment, things rapidly went downhill. I’ve been having an appointment every three weeks for a little catch up before each chemotherapy session and have so far seen a total of FIVE oncologists. A few have been good and others not so – you get that, but when you’ve been sat in a waiting room for two to three hours, it would be really bloomin’ helpful if they gave you test results without just presuming you know them already, and if they actually knew more about your case, including how far in you are with your treatment. Grrr.

Aside from seeing the oncologists and a few other appointments here and there, I go into hospital every week to have my PICC line flushed and its dressing changed (a process that should take 10-15 minutes). There have only been a handful of occasions where I’ve got out in forty five minutes and all the rest have been over hour-long waits, followed by the actual clean – I appreciate things do run behind from time-to-time, but I’ve been doing a lot of observing in those waiting rooms and I’m pretty sure things could move a little faster, to say the least.

The times I’ve struggled the most with my appointments (and the hospital waiting rooms) has been when I’m in recovery, directly after chemo. There is no special treatment, even if you did have chemo four or five days before – you just sit there in the waiting room with everyone else, counting down the minutes until you can get back home and crawl into bed.

I’m not sure if I’m just one of those patients who blend into the background, but I can’t remember a time when a chemo nurse has asked me how I am, or how my last treatment affected me. There’s no chit-chat; no time to make you feel special. To me it just seems they hook you up and carry on dashing around looking busy, even if the room only has a few patients in it. I’m most disgruntled by the amount of staff that don’t even say hello to me after seeing me for months and on many occasions. It’s like I’m just another file in their system.

I’ve overheard that the nurses don’t get paid overtime in my hospital, the pay is not anything it should be and that they have to spend far too much time entering data into a computer system that doesn’t work very well, but the way I’m being ignored is just not on. I haven’t even seen my main breast care nurse for a good few months and the other one doesn’t even know who I am. It just really angers me because I also see lots of other patients being treated this way and many of them are elderly. Luckily for them, they tend to find that time useful for a little nap. Me, not so much… Some of us are trying to carry on working through this cancer lark because they can’t claim any benefits at all (and to keep themselves sane).

… and breathe.

Anyway, it will all be over soon! I’m going to leave this one there and will hopefully be back soon with a more cheerful post. I just need to get through the last two, and hope that my brain unscrambles itself soon after as writing doesn’t come so easily to me these days. #chemobrain

Until next time x

Here’s s pic of me after I had my eyebrows tattooed in Paris… I’ll blog about the whole process once I get back from my next trip… Yes, I have to return and get them touched up!

Eyebrow Tattoo

My hair has been growing back for a few weeks now. Hurrah! I was expecting not to get any back until chemo was over, but apparently it’s normal on the medication I’m on. Nothing like a head start ;)

Chemo Hairgrowth

Last, but not least. Alex managed to raise £1,126.50 for Macmillan, by taking part in Brave the Shave. Sadly his sister lost her battle to cancer just before we left for Paris. She fought a good fight over many years, but sadly lost. I didn’t know her as well as I would have liked, but we all know the Parsons family are a lovely bunch. Rest in peace xxx

Brave The Shave

 

 

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

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