I’ve been putting off writing this next update for the past few days because recently I have not felt like myself at all, not even a little bit. Funnily enough, having chemotherapy isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Tuesday the 24th I was admitted back onto the ward for my 3rd dose of poison; luckily my bone marrow decided to recover just in time for me to avoid a bone marrow biopsy, something I really did not want to happen, but because it took nearly 7 weeks for me to recover since the last cycle, my consultants decided to dose-reduce this latest one by 25% – the goal here is to cause as much damage as possible to the cancer, but still leave me able to recover afterwards. There was a slight SNAFU with pharmacy not reducing the dose on some of the chemo which meant that it was delayed a further day, but come Thursday 26th I was back on track and hooked up.
Having already had this cycle of chemo once before, called R-IVAC, I knew what I was getting myself into, I knew exactly how it was going to make me feel, but it didn’t make it any less abhorrent. Even thinking about it now, writing this, makes me feel nauseous. There really is no way to describe how you can taste the chemicals from the inside of you while they’re being pumped in at speed, and for me, the nausea is the worst side effect by far. I couldn’t think about food, couldn’t smell it, or see it, let alone eat it. But on the plus side, I managed to eat small things here and there between the bouts of nausea and vomiting (8 times, personal record), and I only lost 3kg over the week (cue the dieticians panicking though).
Just to keep things interesting I decided to throw in a couple of temperature spikes up to 39°C which were most likely caused by one of the drugs, but when you’re undergoing chemotherapy there are no chances taken so I got to enjoy 5 days of IV antibiotics alongside chemotherapy. Such fun.
My mental state of mind was very turbulent this time. I’m not sure if it was caused by the drugs, I know they can cause mood swings and confusion, but I felt pretty down and anxious. I wanted people to visit me, and then as soon as they arrived I just wanted them to leave. I didn’t want the fussing and the attention, which I know is only out of love, but my whole world was that one room and the drugs and me feeling awful, and the last thing I wanted to do was talk about it more when people asked how I was.
It’s been just over 4 months now since I was diagnosed and I’ve totally had enough. I don’t want any of this any more. I’m sick of feeling ill, I’m sick of looking ill, I’m sick of the attention and the appointments, and the check-ups. I have one more cycle of chemo and then that will have been the 4. Then I’ll have an agonising wait to look forward to before they repeat the PET scan and I get the verdict. Speaking of PET scans, I don’t think I ever posted the images from the first one, before treatment had started, and now is as good a time as any.
So, both images are cross-sections, the left image shows my chest, the right shows my abdomen. In the left image, you can see my spine towards the bottom, my sternum at the top, and my lungs are those big black voids. The big, glowing mass that pretty much reached from sternum to spine? That’s the tumour that was taking up most of the space in my mediastinum. The right image shows my abdomen, again you can see my spine at the bottom, and the sides of my pelvis, and a big ol’ glowing tumour. The repeat PET scan, which will happen sometime in October, should hopefully be as dull as dishwater. No glowing at all. That’s what we’re aiming for.