Cancer Blog - Episode 28 : My First Chemos


For those of you who have been following my story, you’ll know that chemo has been a long time coming. I was due to start chemo back in May for breast cancer, but 2 days before the first treatment I received the news that I also had cervical cancer. Unrelated, but just as deadly, if not more. Many scans and appointments followed, during which my two oncologists devised a treatment plan which would do all it could to fix the breast cancer, but in which the cervical cancer, as the active cancer, would very much be treated as the priority.


The lumpectomy I had in March had been extremely successful, and my breast oncologist was confident that I had been effectively cured of breast cancer on the operating table. The planned chemo and radiotherapy that had been scheduled were a belt and braces approach to killing any rogue breast cancer cells that were still floating around. In addition, I would be taking oral chemotherapy tablets for 5, possibly 10 years to stop the hormone-receptive cancer cells from re-growing. He told me not to be concerned about not having the breast chemo. I am concerned, still, I admit that, but I can only accept the advice of the experts around me.


So things switched up a bit from that point and the focus of everyone's attention was the cervical cancer. I was going to have a different type of treatment of this one - chemo radiation - which is daily doses of radiotherapy, with chemo once a week. The two treatments work together to weaken and destroy the cancer cells. But only for some sorts of cancer. Chemo isn’t just chemo, it seems, there are many different types and doses, for the many different types and stages of cancer. Who knew? And the chemo that I'm having won't treat any breast cancer cells, only the cervical ones. It really is quite the dark art.


I had my first chemo last week and it was OK. Just OK. I've had 7 rounds of radiotherapy now too, and the side effects are starting to kick in. It's not nice. I have permanent diarrhoea, pelvic pain, piles that have now started to bleed, and a whole host of other things which are lining up to whack me. I fall aleep about 5 times a day, everything smells weird, I despise the smell of the body lotion I have to slap on twice a day, and I feel permanently greasy and queasy. I'm grumpy, irritable, tired and fed up. I get hot flushes day and night, tingly legs, aches and pains, I'm not allowed to have nice hot baths to make it better. I live at the hospital and lovely as the NHS people are, I'm sick of it.


So, I have a choice. I can be a sad sack and moan about it, or I can suck it up and find the joy in there somewhere, however well hidden it may be. Guess which one I'm going for?


Finding the joy

I tried blogging about chemo last week but didnt have the energy. This week, as I head in for round 2, you lot are coming with me. I'm going to attempt a kind of live blog style thingummy. Are you ready? Let's go.


Today we have a hectic schedule. First off an appointment with my oncologost, then onto chemo, then radiotherapy after that.


Oncology

I'm currently sat in outpatients waiting to see the onco, trying to think of intelligent questions to ask her, instead of "why does everything smell of cornsh pasties?" And "my arse hurts" (which isn't a question, but is still a pressing medical matter). Mr G has a theory that the cornish pasty thing is the smell of my tumour being nuked, but I'm reluctant to agree. Mainly because that means I can never eat a cornish pasty again and also because that means I smell of cornish pasty, not the rest of the world. This is unacceptable.


Incidentally Mr G is not with me today, perhaps a blessing in disguise given the pasty convo, because he's been told to self-isolate. He's fuming about it because it means he cant watch the England match at the pub, but also because of some innate sense of british anger at the universe. We're carrying a lot of angst at the moment, so he's entitled I guess.


Anyways the waiting room is sadly empty of character today, apart from the comedy consultant calling an absent Emily to her appointment, looking behind chairs and posters for her. He's now calling for anyone who fancies pretending to be Emily. A middle aged man is looking tempted, but in the end he bottles it. Comedy consultant leaves, clearly disappointed.


My consultant comes out and calls a lady in, so I figure I have at least 10 minutes. My current bowel situation is, shall we say, unpredictable, so I debate whether or not I have time to nip to the toilet for a quick