Today marks 4 weeks since my operation. Things have moved pretty fast and it can often be a lot to take in and process. The grade of your cancer, were any lymph nodes affected, what is the best treatment for these results and what does it all mean.
I had my first chemotherapy last Thursday 25th January 2018. I am now day 6 post cycle 1.
What is chemotherapy? – in a nutshell it is a concoction of toxic drugs (or sometimes just one drug on its own) which destroys the cancer cells – but it also destroys the good cells causing a whole host of possible side effects. Chemo affects everyone differently even if they are on the same drugs. Some people breeze through and can wonder what all the fuss is about – others are very sick with lots of side effects and some just get by. There is no right way or wrong way to deal with chemo. Listen to your body – if you feel well do something you like – if you don’t feel well- don’t do anything. Does this sound like I am belittling what chemo is? Not at all – we all have our coping mechanisms – and this is mine.
What does chemo mean to me? – I am having a treatment called FEC-T. Quite apt really as I have nicknamed it Feck!! I have previously mentioned that I will lose my hair due to ‘my old friend’ and this is still posing very traumatic for me. Yes I know it will grow back, Yes I know it is only temporary but to me it is such a visual thing and I am struggling. You can hide the loss of a breast and no one would know what you are going through and yes whilst you can wear a wig and trendy bandanas or turbans – everyone knows – everyone sees – and then they stop seeing me for who I really am and see me as a cancer patient.
When should I notice? – The chemo works fairly quickly so I should start to notice some hair loss after day 18 (day 14 first time round) and usually by the second cycle is it virtually gone. First time round my hair started growing back after about 3 months but both my chemo regimes cause hair loss so I am looking at no hair for the full time of my treatment.
How do I feel after day 6? – Physically – I am doing well. Thank god for my PICC line because I didn’t have to go through the finding of a vein etc. which was always difficult for me first time round. I came home with a concoction of drugs – anti sickness tablets, steroids, tablets incase I got constipated, mouth wash incase my mouth gets sore and a load of others. I took the tablets that ‘I had to take’ and thankfully I did not and still don’t feel sick or have been sick.
Mentally – well that’s another story! I am still very positive and I know I will beat it again but my mood has been really low. Why? – I really don’t know that answer. I am very tired which is probably because I have not been sleeping very well since my op (4hrs max) but I’m sure its also due to the chemo and my processing of my new schedule for the next 6 months. Yesterday (Tuesday) was a really good day – I felt like the old Ali – so here’s to moving forward.
Extras! – An extra addition this time is that for 7 days after each chemo I need to self administer an injection into my tummy which helps to boost my immune system. I was told I would have an injection but not that I had to give it to myself! I watched a DVD and came home with 7 pre-filled syringes. I really didn’t know if I could do this myself. I am such a cry baby and I really hate needles and have to look away – So – I hear you say – this is day 6 – what’s the update?!
Thank god for my youngest daughter who is just amazing. She has injected me every day and whilst I know it is a lot to put on her and she finds it a bit freaky injecting her mum I couldn’t do it without her.
Finally – I have chosen my wig with the help of my eldest daughter and my husband. Well – I think they probably chose it although I do agree with their choice! When I said earlier about wigs and people knowing, that is not necessarily the case as my wig looks super – it looks natural and not like a wig at all, it moves naturally and very similar to my style now. I am actually quite looking forward to wearing it for the first time. But – it is the way it makes me feel – I know – my friends know – why is this so hard to come to terms with?