Wednesday 18th September would have been my daddy’s 85th birthday and on Thursday 19th September I would have been 14 years clear from my first cancer in 2005. There is a lot I could say about both of these facts but in a nutshell I was a daddy’s girl and I miss him every single day. The last thing my daddy said to me was not long after my final chemo and radiotherapy session. He said to me ‘Ali I am so proud of you’. I will never forget this and this still makes me cry 14 years later. My only regret is that I lived so far away from my family – them in Northern Ireland and me here in Bristol. What do I want to say about my previous cancers? Nothing really except they helped shaped me to be who I am today and the fight, determination and positivity I have now is only stronger.
Since having my first chemo I have generally been okay and have continued to work and coach gymnastics. I have suffered from some side effects but thankfully they have been manageable. I haven’t had any sickness or diarrhoea and this is great as it means that generally I have been able to carry on with my daily life without too much difficulty. The main side effects I have had are headaches, sore mouth and mouth ulcers, sore throat, very sore nose, cold/flu like symptoms, dry skin on my hands, general aches and pains and tiredness – god am I exhausted – pretty much all of the time! But the biggest side effect for me is my hair loss.
I started noticing my hair was beginning to come out last Tuesday – two weeks after my first chemo. I knew it was going to happen and it’s not like it’s the first time! But nevertheless it is upsetting and this morning in the shower it looked like I had furry gloves on!! I did have a little cry as to me this is the visual reminder to everyone that I have Cancer. My daughter says ‘Mum you rock the egg head’! and I have been told I have a lovely shaped head and tiny ears!! So I suppose that is a benefit!! At the moment it looks much thinner but there are no patches, but I don’t think it will be long before I shave it off. On the plus side I have bought some lovely new turbans and I have lots of colours to match my outfits!! You know me – I have to be matching!! So another week on I just couldn’t stand it any longer. I looked like a grizzly bear in the shower and my hair was just flying around me everywhere. My hair had no colour, no shine and looked dead – which it is – was – so I got Neil to shave it all off on Saturday. A lot of it just came out in his hands so it was better that it was done now rather than leaving it to continue to fall out around me.
And so I am bald again. (Not great photos (they are selfies!!) but you get the idea!)
As I got ready for my second treatment the nurse didn’t use any Emla cream and I didn’t really think anything of it until she put the needle into my chest!! Bloody hell did it hurt! She then apologised and said that she thought I had to decided not to use it as some people say it makes no difference – well firstly I didn’t have any cream to use and secondly I don’t know who these ‘people’ are, as it hurt!! And I have quite a high pain threshold!! But I now have cream for next time!! The rest was quite easy with no issues and only took 4 hours this time.
When I had my cancer treatment in 2005 and 2017 I sailed through with no side effects and felt generally really well apart from being tired. This time I am still doing well and generally feeling well but I am suffering with some side effects. Thankfully they are mostly manageable and they seem to effect me the second day after my treatment. I am incredibly tired, with a headache, flu/cold symptoms, a really sore nose, sore throat and muscle aches and pains. After the first round I seemed to feel a bit better after about a week so I will see how long they last this time. I am taking lots of pain killers which don’t completely work but they take the edge of. My muscle pain is worse in my legs and seems to be worse at night, sometimes it makes me feel like I don’t know what to do with them!! Perhaps having the cross trainer might help. Having a headache constantly does wear you down, especially when pain killers don’t really work. And generally it’s a feeling of I can’t be bothered to do anything, talk to anyone, or go anywhere. It is pretty shite because I don’t feel great, I’m in pain, I’m not going to lie but I’m not complaining as I know there are people out there suffering so much worse than me, so you just have to smile and get on when you can – and if you need to rest – then rest when you can. So Friday’s are not great for me at the moment, but we shall see how things go.
So I’m off to bed and of to work tomorrow in one of my turbans. I’m wearing blue so it will be a blue one to coordinate! I will keep you all posted as to how things are going.
‘look at how far you’ve come …. and then keep going.’