Back on Boxing Day 2012 I contemplated how I was feeling about my upcoming 4th chemo, jotting down some thoughts. I now had time to elaborate a bit more on this and include an update on my fifth chemo as well. I am afraid this does not make for some light reading, but I promise and will try for something more witty, funny and lighter for the next post.
So how am I feeling? Hmmm, that is indeed a good question. Because I feel two things at the same time, and they are actually two feelings that in a way should not go together. I feel fear and I feel love, yeah strange I know.
It is Boxing Day, and tomorrow I am going in for my 4th chemo, and I don’t know why but that this 4th one really scares me. Maybe it is because they are changing medication tomorrow, apparently this one will make me less sick (well apart from the first session I have not felt nauseous at all, so not a great benefit here me thinks) but the two different chemo medications will meet in my blood stream and apparently don’t particularly like each other, so I could feel worse (massive New Year’s Eve celebration is out then). Also the new medication will come at a time where my white blood cell count is at a low, the nurses will need to give me an injection to boost my white blood cells. That is just so bloody scary, as my immune system is already weak, and as soon as someone around me is sick, I get sick too. A cold for me can easily last for up to 3 weeks… I am so sick and tired of being sick.
I think what makes me anxious is the fact that I have NO clue as to what to expect of this 4th chemo. If the side effects were the same for all chemo sessions, then at least I would be mentally and physically prepared for what awaits me, but so far my body has reacted very different to each session….
Here a little overview
First chemo (October 24th, 2012) – I felt nauseous (like someone having cleaned out my tummy with bleach), sooooo tired and I craved tubs of guacamole and sour cream. I literally could have consumed avocados in any shape or form in abundance.
Second chemo (November 14th, 2012) – nothing (apart from wanting a bit of a nap the day after chemo)
Third chemo (December 6th, 2012) – I caught a nasty cold and suffered from insomnia (side effect of the cortisone in my pre-medication, which I receive before my body is poisoned with chemo). However it might well be that the insomnia prior to chemo was related to something else as well. – it seems ironic, but I have a crush on someone, and it seems mutual, and that is wonderful, even if it is weird as we have not yet met in person. At first I kept wondering whether this really is a good time to have a crush on someone, but as Lulu said « It is the perfect time to have a crush on someone ! » and Miss MoneyPenny added « Having a crush on someone increases your endorphin levels (happy hormones) my dear, that is good for your immune system ! ». So falling in love is a good way to help me beat cancer and stay healthy, I like that new weapon in my warrior arsenal…. Bring it on!
Fourth Chemo (December 27th, 2012) – chemo itself did not have any direct sides, the side effects came with the white blood cell booster injection. As the white blood cells are produced in my bone marrow, by bones were horribly aching for 4 days – the pelvis bone pain was literally the worst.
Fifth chemo (January 17th, 2013) – Apart from feeling tired, so far no major side effects. However this has been by far the longest chemo session I have had – I arrived at the hospital at 8.30 am and did not leave until 3 pm. The whole thing left me drained, exhausted and also cold. Fortunately the nurse (actually my two favourite nurses were on duty today, so I managed to do a little happy dance) brought me a blanket. Mum, whom I was honestly so grateful to for being there with me this time, made sure that I was nicely wrapped and tucked up, held my hand and let me snooze for a bit. In the afternoon she went down to the cafeteria and brought me this lovely piece of chocolate and raspberry cake, it was just pure bliss and heaven. Honestly little things just really make the whole chemo procedure bearable. Chemo Nr. 5 changed my cravings though – it is no longer avocados, but any berry related fruit, particularly raspberries….I guess there are worse cravings to have.
The reason why the procedure takes so long is that when I first get into hospital I need to have a blood test and cardiogram done. My blood samples then get sent to the lab and it takes an hour or so before they are back, then I have to wait for the doctor to give her go ahead before the nurses can put me on the drip. Then I am getting the pre-medication (Fortecortine and Zofran), which are meant to reduce the side effects of feeling nauseous and sick. Once that is done, I get the chemo medication (Taxotere), followed by Herceptin (a monoclonal antibody medication given to patients diagnosed with HER2+ breast cancer, an aggressive form of breast cancer, to reduce the cancer cells from spreading and growing). A little note on the side here before you get all too scared about me – during surgery my doctor managed to remove the cancerous tumour. Also the the cancer had not spread to my lymph nodes (which is extremely good news). The Herceptin and chemotherapy treatment are done to make sure not a single micro cancer cell survives in my body and to avoid the cancer from reoccuring. Eventually I receive a dose of a common salt solution (solution of sodium chloride), to make sure that all the tubes are rinsed of the medication (so that I do not miss out on a single drop of drugs destined to help me get cured of my cancer).It takes about 3 hours until everything is over but as the chemo medication started to hurt the nurses had to reduce the speed at which it was administered to me, so the whole process was drawn out a bit.
One side effect, which I have had for all chemo sessions, and which I particularly dislike – is that my taste buds get completely messed up- I cannot taste food or drink properly. I mean I am a big coca-cola addict, but after chemo it just tastes flat without any bubbles; the same goes for sparkling wine (or crémant as it is called in Luxembourg). Whereas for food I prefer strongly flavoured food as it means I can taste at least something. Ffor someone who is as big as a foodie as me, this is just really sad… Even mum’s amazing mac and cheese, one of my favourite meals, just did not taste right the night after my 5th chemo. I hate this metallic taste on my mouth after chemo…
I managed to take some pictures of my chemo procedure last Thursday, just to give you an idea of what the treatment looks like.
I wonder what Chemo No.6 will have in store for me… at least I will have my chemo graduation at the end of February to look forward to.