My son Christopher

Mason on the day he was born

My daughter Georgia and her son mason

Short wig

How bad can it be ? I can cope with anything

The time until my 1st chemo passed rapidly it was only 3 weeks but the advice given to me was to build up my strength.  It was my intention not to disappoint but we do enjoy eating out and having snuggly evenings on the sofa with a bottle of wine.  Whiskey the dog enjoyed long walks and I became an established and fully fledged member of the dog park.  Where we were living at the time there was a field which was purposely made into a dog field.  You would let your dog run free.  Walking around the field only anti-clockwise with the other dog owners chatting.  I met some really lovely people on there although there was an hierarchy and your face had to fit to be accepted.  Thankfully I was ok.

The day came and I was not bothered at all.  I was looking forward to getting the first one over with then at least I would know what to expect. I mean really, how bad could it be.  Loads of people do it all the time.  The nurse came to the house and we had a chat about the proceedure and what to expect.  I had been previously given a helmet to put in the freezer.  It is a personal choice if you want to wear it whilst having your treatment they are called cold caps.   If you have your chemo in the hospital the cold cap is attached to a machine which is temperature regulated. aS my treatment was from home I had to freeze the cap in the freezer And wear it 30 mins before, during and 30 mins after.  By freezing the head it narrows the blood vessels, lessening the chemotherapy reaching the hair folicles.  It was so uncomfortable as soon as the nurse arrived I took it off.  It was only going to minimise the hair loss so instead of going completely bald I would have bald patches with random strands of hair. So my decision was easy.  The nurse was lovely.  As stated earlier in the blog, my treatment was private so consequently I was having it at home and was made to believe this was a good thing.  

The vision is clear, the nurse arrives bringing in all the equipment and setting it up beside me chatting away.  We had a long conversation about what to expect and she explained every small detail.  "Oh I'll be fine" I said "I am really resilient arent I David". The nurse glared at me and told me to prepare for it not to be pleasant .  It still didn't worry me.  I could look up the names of the drugs but I won't because I never researched anything.  I didn't want to know and didn't really care, so to me it was just a giant syringe of dark pink medicine (whenever I see rose wine now I feel sick) which was attached to a cannula.  She brought the steroid medication also but I refused to take it.  The reports of its affects worried me, so as much as they tried to talk me into it , I flatly refused. The chemo drug in the syringes are so poisonous that the nurse is not allowed to carry them with her to other appointments.  She is instructed to take the drugs from a locked fridge immediately before the consultation.  She injected some harmless dye into my vein to ensure the vein would not leak when the chemo was inserted as if it did it would cause severe burns to my arm.  What!!!  Mmm worry setting in quickly.  It was soon set up and the nurse left to return when it had been fully administered.  I felt fine.  She advised I have a lay down and rest. David made me a sandwich and went out to the shops while I had a sleep on the sofa. 

Next thing I opened my eyes to David waking me on his return.  I sat up and it hit me like a train. What was happening. I felt so dizzy but sooo very sick I had to run to the loo.  Violently vomitting does not cut it.  I just could not stop being sick.  I felt so ill.  I laid on the sofa, I laid on the floor, on the steps in the bath in bed, nothing could comfort me. It was awful but not the worst by a long shot.  It lasted 2 to 3 days.  By the 4th day I was in shock but ok.  The nurse returned to take my blood only to find my body was not replenishing the blood cells.  (The chemo kills the blood cells and your body has 3weeks to build them back up so the process can be repeated and this happens 6 times).  Consequently after each session I had an injection to stimulate my bone marrow to produce blood cells basically.

Whilst I was having my first chemo session, my sister Pauline was having her surgery.  She had a different type of cancer to myself, a more aggressive sort. Mine was a grade 2, Psulines was a grade 3 and poor Anne was a grade 4.  

Pauline and I chat almost every day, she makes me laugh.  We were chatting this morning on my way to work in Hull. I said have you anything new to tell me she replied no not really... Oh I have a fab joke " what do you call 2 theives"  I have no idea!!   "A pair of knickers! Bum bum" funny yes???

anyway, it was extremely interesting that each  hospital has different approaches to the whole thing. Bradford have a proceedure completely different to York.  We could not believe it was happening to all 3 of us.  We had each other. For poor Anne it was the worse ever.  We were there for her.  She was and still is an angel as she suffered so bad - I still can not comprehend she has gone.

In between the 1st and the 2nd chemo the inevitable happened.  I started to wake up in the morning with mountains of hair on my pillow. At first I decided to keep it to myself so as not to upset Georgia.  I stopped brushing my hair until one day I pulled out a massive bunch and thought WTF accept it so I did - my son Chris shaved the whole lot off and I went for a fitting for my first wig. My thoughts were I'm going big or go home - long brown wig for me please.  I loved it.  Over the months I tried many different wigs but my favourite was the short one, it looked most natural.  I have attached a picture.  It was fabulous not to have to worry about styling your hair. It never went flat or frizzy  but it did itch a tad.  My neighbour who was a hairdresser would cut and style them.  A good tip is to always wear a clip or a headband - it throws people off noticing it is a wig. At the time I thought they were ace but looking back at pictures they do look obvious - not so much the short one.  Back to the chemo!!!

The second chemo session was worse than the first.  The sessions are every 3 weeks. The proceedure was the same only this time I was talked into having the steroids.  The anti sickness tablets just weren't strong enough last time so had a stronger type.   Almost to the second the sickness began only this time it got worse and as I thought surely it can't get any worse, it answered "watch me!!!!!"

I rang my close friend Tracey, I paced the bedroom floor in between being sick, I knelt over the bed, I had a wet towel around my head.  Anyone who has experienced it will agree it is not a normal sick. The steroids had made it soooo much worse - in addition to the sickness I had a knuckle crunching headache.  The sickness was not triggered from my stomach, it was from my brain.  It felt like I had been spinning constantly on a fair ride for hours.  I was frightened, I did not feel in control. The vomiting proceeded to get worse.  There just was not a spit on my stomach to come up but that didn't matter.  The whole house were distressed.  The dog was crying and constantly by my side, David asked me if I could try and stop as everyone was getting really upset.  You can imagine the language that came out of my mouth at that point.  I made everyone leave me alone.  Chris, my son,  took the above picture as I wanted to remember my lowest moment to motivate me to be positive and happy in the future,   I just wanted to curl in a ball and ride it out. Then I rememberd the nurse giving me the number of the on call nurse to ring if I had any problems.   I rummaged in my notes to find it.  I was so distressed when I called, she didn't know what to say.  I couldn't cope and ended up hanging up on her - she answered the call from home obviously but there were screaming kids in the background arguing.  She asked me to repeat myself 3 times so I just hung up.  I remember seething to David "just fucking wait until I speak to Dodwell in the morning" (the oncologist)