Monday, 8 August 2011

"Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever"

Quote: Lance Armstrong.

I honestly don't think I could start this blog without describing Chemo.  We all hear things about this treatment and know of someone who has been through this terrible journey but I wanted to give some insight of my experience, thus far ... and let me say, it isn't pleasant :(

It has been exactly 5 days since I was injected with the three drugs that make up my particular Chemotherapy treatment.  The abbreviation is TAC and I will leave it at that - honestly there is no need to go into detail about the specific drugs themselves except to say you can't pronounce them and they are nasty.  

Ryan and I arrived at The Mount Hospital just after lunch last Wednesday.  My first appointment was with the Breast Cancer Clinic Trial Unit where they took my weight, blood pressure, pulse, etc.  I was offered a position on a new trial a few weeks ago and jumped at the chance.  In a nutshell, the worldwide study is trying to prove the link between seondary breast cancer and bone cancer.  In 85% of cases where there is a relapse of breast cancer, the cancer spreads to the bones.  The study I have joined requires me to take a Vitamin D & Calcium tablet every day (+ injection into stomach of trial drug directly after Chemo) as it is believed this will decrease the odds of the cancer going to the bones (God forbid it should ever come back).  The trial is a five year commitment but I feel it is very worthwhile and hope that a lot of good will come out of the findings.

My next appointment was with my oncologist, Prof Arlene Chan.  I was very happy to see her and she made me feel very at ease with the treatment I was about to undertake.  She answered my last minute questions and following this I made my way down to the Chemo day unit.  I was quite nervous but thankfully didn't have to wait long before we were ushered into a room full of leather recliner chairs.  There were approximately 15 chairs in the room but only 5 chairs were occupied.  Everyone seemed lovely and quite happy which surprised me.  In a way, I expected to walk in and want to burst into tears! The nurses were great and were very thorough describing the types of drugs they were injecting as well as describing the side effects each drug might give me in the coming days / weeks.  The whole procedure took over 3.5 hours as the drugs have to be administered via a saline solution - similar to diluting cordial with water I suppose.  We finished the session with an injection into my stomach which Ryan watched carefully as he had to do this the following day at home.  Thankfully I didn't have any immediate reactions (always a good start!) and was allowed to go home just after 6.00pm... what a day!!

I had a terrible sleep on Wednesday night, mostly due to Baylee being unwell.  Can you believe, she developed Tonsilitis!!  Just when I can't afford to get sick my little one becomes really unwell and is up several times a night - bugger :(  Thankfully Ryan took her off to see our Doctor the following morning for much needed antibiotics and I had a fairly good day.  Friday was also pretty good for most of the day and I was starting to think this was a breeze. Well, I spoke way to soon!!!

By Friday evening, I was starting to feel extremely nauseas and decided to go to bed early. Saturday morning arrived and I was feeling like death.  I honestly don't remember ever feeling so sick in all my life.  I couldn't move, in fact stayed in my pj's in bed past 11am (very unlike me!) and even when I got up Ryan had to help me to the bath as there was no way I could stand up in the shower.  I was so ill and felt so weak.  The thought of eating made me feel sick, yet the thought of not eating made me feel sick.  I was definitely feeling some of the numerous side effects of the chemo.  My teeth felt like they were going to fall out, my face was flushed and I was cold one minute and then burning up the next.  I felt incredibly tired and didn't know what to do.  Thankfully my beloved hair is still in tact although it is early days.  I have been told to expect to lose it come day 17/18 :(

Thankfully Jasmine had a sleep over at Nanna's house on Friday night and Mema and Pa's on Saturday so Ryan only had Baylee (who was still ill herself) and of course me to take care of.  He was amazing looking after me every step of the way and always making sure I was as comfortable as I could be.  Needless to say Saturday was a wipe out.  Unfortunately, Sunday was not much better.  In-fact, it was probably worse. I woke up at 3am feeling awful and ended up vomiting in the bathroom.  I couldn't sleep and the drugs didn't seem to be working too well.  Again spent most of Sunday either in bed or on the couch and remember having a cry to Ryan about how unfair this was and had a little "why me"moment.  It also dawned on me that unfortunately I will feel like this another 5 times before Christmas which I can honestly say I am dreading :(

Today was a definite improvement from the weekend although I have been battling nausea, tiredness,  aches / pains, chills and headaches for most of it.  I was supposed to meet with my support group today -  'The Young and the Breastless'!  Don't you just love the name :)  Unfortunately I didn't feel up to it and will instead go to the group meeting next month.

In the light of the terrible way I have been feeling these past couple of days, I can honestly say I couldn't have made it this far without my husband, my girls, my amazing Mum and Dad, Ryan's parents, Lizzy and her fam and all of my friends.  A highlight (amongst all the lows!) was the arrival of my Think Pink for Emma candles.  They are gorgeous and Ryan surprised me with the most beautiful milk bath surrounded by my Think Pink for Emma candles the night of my Chemo treatment and again the following night.  A special thanks must go to Ryan and my Mum & Dad; I haven't had to worry about a thing the past week.  Mum and I got to enjoy some yummy pumpkin soup today (thanks Lou!) and while Baylee was sleeping and I broke down and had a little cry with her.  At times it is just so hard to take everything in and I needed to let out some tears.

I must say, it is very hard to sit here and comprehend that in order to make myself better I have to put my body through this terrible treatment called Chemotherapy.  I just pray that the next few months absolutely fly by so I can enjoy the start of 2012 cancer free!

Chemo - Day One (Before)

Chemo - Day One (During)