It’s amazing but I don’t feel glad that it’s over yet. I’m still a bit drugged up and feeling chemo-d. I’m sure I will in about a week’s time.
It was quite a special chemo day. Though I wasn’t looking forward to it; in fact, I started feeling nauseous the night before and before I got to the hospital (all nerves!).
Mum and I drove into Wellington, picking up hot drinks (to help the veins cooperate). We picked up a friend from work and then went in to the Blood and Cancer Centre.
I went over to a chair, and waited for the nurse to insert a cannula (to have a blood test first). Normal blood tests are a nightmare for me as the veins in my arms simply hide. It is not fun playing hide and seek with needles and veins. But the vein on the back of my left hand is solid and used for a blood test plus inserting the chemo drugs.
After the blood test, the nurse connected up some saline by IV, then Herceptin. I then walked over with my IV pole and Herceptin to meet with the Oncologist.
I met with the Oncologist Kate and went through side effects from last time and my list of concerns.
- Good news, I had a bone scan this week and I even though I have osteopenia (one step from osteoporosis), my bones have increased density since the last scan two years ago. N.B. As the first breast cancer was estrogen positive (fed by estrogen), I have had to take hormone therapy to reduce estrogen in my body for the last four years. This has reduced my bone health to that of a woman two to three decades older than me. In a month’s time, I will start taking another hormone therapy which will again reduce my estrogen levels. Kate also suggested ways to help with the side effects of the next hormonal therapy which I will start taking in about a month.
- The Oncologist suggested that I take another time of steroidal nasal spray to help with the nose issue. It has been a right pain and only lessened a couple of days before the chemo.
- Kate said my skin would sort itself out in a month and gave me my schedule for medications over the next week. I have done a chart now to help me with my medications as it is hard to remember what to take and when.
- From day one of chemo, there is Losec half an hour before breakfast to help with indigestion. With breakfast, I take two anti-nausea tablets plus an anti-histamine. I then use the nasal sprays plus eye drops. I take benefibre and kiwicrush to help with digestion plus before sleep, take ¼ of an anti-psychotic pill, an anti-anxiety pill plus anti-nausea and eye drops. After Day four, I stop taking the anti-nausea, anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medications! Though last chemo, I needed the anti-nausea tablets a couple days longer.
When I went back to my chair, sitting there was Mum, my sister in law Nicky, my friend and Father John Rae. Father John is a Catholic priest who is known for miraculous healing (he had been visiting another ill friend and popped in to the hospital on the way back). I am not Catholic but it is very calming being with him and there has been some documented cases of healing through him.
I took another anti-nausea medication and then the CMF chemo was administered. I had a dull headache so took headache medication plus the nose issue came up again. After the chemo and for two days after, I felt woozy and it was hard to walk in a straight line.
I then did a mandala as the colouring in relaxes me during chemo and we had some excellent magazines, hot drinks, snacks and ginger biscuits (thanks Nicky).
One of the Cancer Society volunteers talked to me about my website and was very encouraging.
So around 3ish, I headed home. Just relaxed and went to bed very early.
I have felt quite quiet and slow since then…but within a week, I will be feeling a lot better.
What has helped:
- Communication from friends and family. Thank you!!
- Lots of sleep, including afternoon naps
- Drinking the mandatory 2 litres a day
- The support of everyone around me
- Reducing stress as much as possible and trying only to have positivity around me (e.g. cutting back on the news, too much info from my work, negative stories etc.)
- The new support group I have from the Cancer Society Living Well programme
- Generosity of people. I had a few gifts recently e.g. from Pink Pilates
- Taking time to recuperate, not rushing around.
- Eating well and doing exercise (walking in my case)
- I did some sale shopping and found an excellent $5 T-shirt
- Doing a chart of my medications with timing.
- Not driving much at all.
- Keeping a notebook just for side effects, questions and conversations with the Oncologist and Oncology nurse.
So….within a few days, I will feel like celebrating. Two friends are coming to stay next weekend so that will be fun.