Cancer Chronicles: Post 2 of 6

Chemo cycle # 2 of 8 sessions, administered every 3 weeks: 24th June, 2010 

I’m on long term sick leave from work. We were actually due to be in Canada right now but God/the universe had other plans so that got cancelled. Side effects are a little milder than before, but I’m not sleeping well at nights.  And I’m already fed up of so many hospital visits. I had to go back 2 days ago to have my blood count checked. 

Chemotherapy destroys good and bad cells, which is what causes hair loss and so many side effects. Sometimes, your blood count is so low after each cycle that you can’t even have the next scheduled dose of chemo. But I’ve been doing everything I can to boost mine. Lots of natural remedies as per Internet research – when you sift through all the junk, you find some good stuff sometimes. Maybe it’s the placebo effect. Either way, it works, so thanks Google! 

I’m good to go for round 2, so another 5 hours in the hospital. I can actually taste that red chemo liquid in my mouth as it rushes through my veins – it’s disgusting and makes me want to puke. Still, I’m grateful, because when I look around the chemo room, some people actually look like death and it makes my heart bleed. Some had no one for support but my husband has always been present.

In other news, the doctors said they found another lump on the MRI scan and wanted to do another needle biopsy to be 100% sure.  Hell to the no!!  

A biopsy is a painful procedure that I am in no hurry to repeat. They said they would not be able to do a lumpectomy (removal of the tumour and some surrounding breast tissue) with more than one tumour and that if I do not let them check, I am committing myself to a mastectomy. “Take it all off” I said, “I’m fed up of lumps.” You see, I’m no stranger to having breast tumours removed. The first time I was only 17 years old when both breasts were operated on, then again at 23, but the good thing is that both times the tumours were non-cancerous. Now you can understand a bit why I hesitated to go to the docs the third time round.

Rob, the Lead Oncologist (Onc) examined the main tumour to check progress. The shrinkage in just 3 weeks was astonishing!  I asked him if my treatment/cycles could be reduced given I was responding so well.  What they didn’t know was that I went against their advice and did alternative treatment alongside chemotherapy. They didn’t need to know. They said it could interfere with results but it’s my body, my rules and I do what my mind tells me to do. Anyway, he said they’d decide on my next round if the sessions would be reduced. I was feeling positive that they would be.

My mouth is drier than the desert. Now I can truly appreciate the importance of saliva. I’m having to rub vaseline in my mouth because this is just unbearable and the disgusting mouthwash that they prescribed is not really helping. My tongue is also decorated with huge black spots. My onc said all of that had to do with the chemo drug, which causes lack of absorption of nutrients from food. He kindly suggested that I take some high dose vitamin C, so I started the very next day, while still drinking my home-made concoctions of various vegetable juices and aloe vera and every damn thing that I heard/read was good for fighting cancer. 

I’ve also changed my diet and eating mostly plant based, but also fish. I feel okay considering the circumstances, but I also feel different. I look different and I wonder if I’ll get to see my 2 year old grow up and graduate primary, high school, uni, and all that follows. A bit out of character, I snapped at her the other day and she asked, “what’s wrong mummy?” I had to hide the tears while I mustered, “I’m sorry but I’m just really tired, my baby.” I was tired, sad and scared. And don’t ask about my sex life! I have a patient and understanding husband is all I’ll say. 

That’s it for today. Feel free to share if you think this might help/encourage someone. Ladies and gents, please go and get checked if you think you’re due for one. Early detection saves lives, so do it anyway even if you’re scared of the outcome.

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