Saturday, 26 May 2018

FEC T. One down, five to go.

''What did you do on the bank holiday?''
''Oh, I spent it on the chemo ward.''
And this bank holiday?
Same again!

I had so many preconceptions, yet little idea of what it would actually entail.

My first reaction to the initial cancer diagnosis was sheer terror.
Am I going to die?
People die of cancer!

Followed swiftly by 
''If I don't have to have chemo I'll be okay, it can't be that bad if I don't have chemo.''
''I can't go bald, I can't cope with bald, everyone'll know I've got cancer, I'll look ill!''

I'm having chemo.
And my hair is starting to shed.

Strangely enough, I feel quite calm about the whole thing.
Having a plan in place, a timetable of treatment, is a huge help.
It's the not knowing, the endless waiting for results, that causes the most stress.
As soon as I learned that my sentinel lymph node had tested positive for cancer I knew that chemo was going to be offered.
And that was when an inner calmness just seemed to kick in.

Chemo is doable.
It's not easy, and I'm sure it'll get harder as time goes by, but with two good weeks out of every three, I can cope with that!
Gentle exercise and fresh air is key.
And sunny weather.
My veggie patch has never had so much attention!

Entering the chemo ward for the first treatment was emotional.
I felt I was signing the death warrant on my hair with the first red syringe.
I cried a few silent tears.

Two hours later I was leaving the ward, no more tears and armed with a bag of medication and the dreaded box of seven syringes, along with a shiny yellow sharps container.
The only instructions I had received for self injecting were 
''grab a piece of tummy fat with one hand and inject with the other'' 
I was apprehensive.

Google brought up some dubious sites, but I figured it out and the thought was worse than the reality.
And they worked...I had more energy than before chemo!

The mouth ulcers, now they were painful.
I wasn't expecting the mouth ulcers.
But Difflam mouthwash eventually worked its magic there.

And then there's the hugely emotive issue of the hair.
The oncologist had told me I'd be bald by my next session.

Day 11 and it started to shed.
Just the odd strand here and there, but a definite loosening.
Every morning I check my pillow, expecting to see large chunks of hair that have migrated from my head.
The hairbrush collects so much I'm surprised to still have a covering.
It's resiliant, and to the outside world my hair looks no different, but I can feel that it's thinner.

Today is day 19, and the shedding has picked up the pace at an alarming rate.
I'm having to wrap orders wearing a hairnet.
A headband in the wind.
And this morning I was picking stray hairs out of a tea cup.

I want to prove the oncologist wrong and still have a covering on Monday.
I'll be happy if my hair is still there on Monday.
But I think I'll be bald within a week.

Bald is going to be emotional.
While I still have hair it's a bit of an abstract concept.

The wig voucher is still sitting in an envelope, unused.
I'm not sure I want a wig.
I've seen some lovely wigs, but what I want is my own hair, and not an imitation.

I can't get my head around wigs, so will probably stick with an extensive selection of headwear, but never say never!
I'm sure by the end of chemo I'll be sick of scarves and ready to embrace a wig whilst my eagerly anticipated and frustratingly slow growing new hair is bedding in.

Two days until chemo number two.

My favourite hat by

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Still Me.

18th January 2018.

A date that will be forever etched in my mind.
The date of my first national screening mammogram.

I remember the morning vividly - crisp, cold and sunny.
My only concern?
That I must be officially old to have received that particular invitation through the post!

Fast forward three and a half months and I am sitting here, two surgeries later and twenty lymph nodes lighter, contemplating the start of chemotherapy in thirteen days time.
It's a scary step into the unknown.

My world has been spun on its axle and breast cancer has appeared out of nowhere.
Small and early, but grade 3.

Each set of results was an emotional body blow.
Words like lymph nodes and oestrogen and calcifications acquired a whole new significance.
FEC T has become shorthand for my weapon of choice to obliterate any rogue cells still lurking around.
Cancer has suddenly become very real but I won't let it define me.

Still me.