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I am 45 years old, Married to Sean for nearly 20 years and have 3 lovely children Hope is 16, Jack is 12 and Joe is 6.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

The Only Way is Up

In the words of Yazz and the Plastic Population (yes it'll bring back memories for many of us 90s teenagers!) That is the mantra for this weekend. Sung many times whilst blasting out on 12" and LP, then CD and now of course via many other means not least YouTube

Whilst I find writing this blog cathartic and it being a good way to keep everyone updated, it is also an opportunity to give people a true snapshot of what's it's really like to live with a cancer diagnosis and for this week the fall out from the treatment. Maybe it'll help others, as they'll know they're not alone in their feelings, experiences or needs.

Not only do we know that cancer will affect us differently as individuals but so will the drugs. Those to treat the cancer and those to try and counteract the effects aforementioned's a minefield. So despite both having breast cancer and the same chemotherapy drugs, my Chemo Buddie Sally and I are suffering (and I have never used this word lightly or inappropriately but it is MOST apt now) the fall out now. Different parts of our bodies are being affected. She has a hideous sore throat. I don't. Despite me never wanting her to go through this EVER again I do feel it so helpful that she understands the score exactly. We can just 'be' with each other, whether it's good or bad. 

It's interesting, because despite both of us going through it before, you do forget. Not the sheer intensity of the experience, nor the feelings at the time of it being never-ending. But the specifics; for example; which day was the worst following chemo? The sheer amount of tablets to take day in day out and MUCH more. The memories had even faded as to how absolutely RUBBISH you end up feeling. I was swiftly reminded of this on Friday evening whilst sprawled on the bathroom floor not knowing whether to sit on the loo or stick my head down it. It all came flooding back. 

I know Sal won't mind me sharing this text I received from her yesterday "I'm absolutely shattered, still in PJs and cannot get off sofa. Throat is red raw hence the codeine. Achey bones. Brain fog. Had forgotten how awful this is"

Another legend who helped remind me yesterday of some specifics from 25 years ago was Ainsley. We have been friends for 37 years, since Primary School. Her and her 'Team' of Fiona, Rachel and Esther, quite simply I believe, kept me alive during my treatments in 1992 and 1993, whilst I was receiving them in Birmingham, where they were studying at University. 

I spent many days as an inpatient and there wasn't a day when one of them didn't come. Some days they came twice and Ainsley virtually never missed a day! She became an expert at sticking up the 10 000 cards that arrived (and moving them every weekend when they shut half the ward down!) not to mention fetching and disposing of grey bowls - sick ones and bed pans. Quite literally the nurses didn't have enough time to do this and there would have be MANY more spillages and accidents without #TeamVicki. They also became experts at programming the drips (well pushing numerous buttons until they stopped bleeping!). None of this is an exaggeration, all will and can confirm and those like Dad, who witnessed it too and also did the same. I'm convinced him and Mum couldn't have left me for a minute if it wasn't for #TeamVicki. Whereas it enabled them to go back to the Wirral at times to try and create some semblance of normality for my 15 year old brother in his GCSE years and to go to work and do ordinary things like sleep in their own beds and just buy and cook food. 

Ainsley was straight on the text yesterday morning reminding me (I know she won't mind me sharing) 

"Hey Vic, hang in there xxx Remember it being horrific a few days in but it does pass so hold onto that. Thinking of u lots xxx"

"Memories do fade, but you've always been stronger than u know. U kept yourself going & we just helped out - u can do this again. I always remember it being really hard on the 3rd day after any of ur chemo treatments so guess it's just part of the cycle. U were always much better the following day so today will hopefully be a bit easier. Hang in there, u can do this xxx"

I just remember the whole 6 months as a blur of constant vomiting, nausea and other symptoms. I wasn't alone then and I'm not now but the reminders do help. As a friend said yesterday when I was telling her about this exchange she said "We all need an Ainsley in our lives." We sure do!

One of the chemotherapy drugs Docetaxel is renowned for causing bone and joint pains. In order to try and stop your white blood cell count dropping too low post chemo you have 5 days of G-CSF injections to try and counteract this 
Thankfully another friend, Nicola, who is a nurse has been a star and coming Daily to do this. She has seen me from Day 1 quite chirpy having been to work, to being on the couch and today in bed. We will recognise this cycle next time I have no doubt. Having someone do these important tasks for you without fuss and doing so with good grace is absolutely invaluable. 

I haven't managed to get on top of the bone pain very well (stupidly trying to avoid the codeine for the first 2 days!) then being so sick I couldn't keep meds down. I won't make that mistake again! No medals for bravery in this situation!! 

Nor was the nausea and vomiting kept in check, as I didn't have what I needed at home. When a medic suggests going into hospital, as happened last year with my ankle, and it feels a relief, you know the time's right to do as you're told!

I was correct again and Hickman is proving my new best mate! Bloods from and fluids and drugs into him were easy. Had injections in both arms and oral drugs too. I'm thankful that we have the 24hr service where they'll throw everything they have at you to help get on top of things. Usual niggles with delays, paperwork, nothing gf in sight and pharmacy but my Sister in Law kept them in check and on track, tip top treatment yet again Chez Bexley. Shame it was 8 hours on a trolley but makes me appreciate my big comfy bed all the more :-) 

The fabulous meals, gifts, flowers, taxiing and sleep overs, ginger tea and various other supplies are still flooding in and we couldn't be more appreciative or grateful. It REALLY is making life easier and more manageable for all of us. 

After a shocking 48 hours I now feel better prepared to deal with the fall out from Cycle 2. It won't be easier, it may even be worse but forewarned is forearmed. I now have 3 different lots of anti sickness meds in my possession which I can space out through the day and night after I finish treatment next time. 

I have hit rock bottom and the only way from onwards from here is to begin the ascent. 

Sent from my iPhone

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