It is hard to believe that finally, the days have arrived in this countdown to finishing my last Herceptin. On Thursday I will have my last Herceptin cycle and from that day onwards, I will be focused on recovery and re-starting life on a different basis.
Lots going on
I remember this ‘end of treatment’ time before. It seems so exciting that I have finished. But at the same time, it is a challenging time in that I don’t feel completely well yet. And I now have to adjust my thoughts from hospital visits to no hospital visits and re-orient my brain from ‘healing cancer’ to ‘recovering from treatments’. The other challenge is to learn to live as if I won’t have cancer again knowing full well I just might. I know everyone might die at any point so I am not unique in this but recovering from a life threatening illness certainly clears the mind about the reality of the life cycle.
Overall I am doing okay but still have a lot of headaches and migraines. I usually wake up feeling a bit hung over (and I don’t drink). So I want to improve my health and increase my energy levels a bit more before launching myself into new work projects. It will take around three months before all the Herceptin medication leaves my body. So in some ways, it might be best for me to just start work next year and fully rest, recover and celebrate this year.
On 2 August, I will be interviewed before and during my Herceptin treatment by Sandra from Tagata Pasifika. My Oncology appointment will also be filmed. The objectives of doing this interview are to talk about BC Nirvana, talk about my experience of bc x 2 and ultimately I hope that by seeing me and the inside of the chemo day ward, that people will feel less fear of a bc diagnosis. At the moment, we can not prevent all bc but we can diagnose early bc rather than late bc. So hopefully that will be of help to others. It is possible that my friends Moera, Anne and Kylie may be interviewed as well and my friend Gill will be there as a support person. I will keep you posted.
It is great that the hospital has been so welcoming about the film crew :). So I will meet the Tagata Pasifika team at 10am and my appointment with Dr Kate Gregory, Oncologist will be 10.30am. If all goes to plan, I’ll have my Herceptin straight after that from 11-12. The hospital will hopefully arrange a private room for me so that other patients will not be disturbed.
So it is an auspicious end to bc treatment. After that, my Mum is coming in and a few of us will go and have a celebration lunch.
Thanks everyone for your support ! 🙂 And thanks for my wonderful health team including Dr Kate Gregory, Dr Christine Mouat, Dr Annie Fullarton the chemo day ward nurses and my GP Dr Susanna Kent. These women have all saved my life.
Here are a few points about what is going well, what has been challenging and what has helped me:
What is going well
- My energy levels are reasonable but I still find I need a good rest each day.
- My skin and hair are looking good.
- I’m starting to think about part time work and have an option ahead of me.
- I’m planning moving house and looking forward to creating a new nest.
- I’ve been cycling or going for walks just about every day (sometimes even when it’s raining).
- I haven’t had any bugs or flus for two months!
- I have a girls’ weekend planned in Hamner Springs ten days after my final Herceptin to celebrate. I’m also thinking about doing a holiday in a few months – just so that I end the year on a high.
- Acupuncture has been great for all of these things. I have also been going to the chiropractor weekly.
- I have a great group of supportive friends and family. I am very lucky.
What has been challenging
- A bit of flatness and anxiety about finishing treatment and how life might be in the future (will it involve bc again?).
- Difficulty relaxing as I seem to have so much on my mind – when there isn’t that much going on at present.
- Sometimes a few migraines a week and lots of headaches on the days without migraines.
What has helped me
- Not scheduling too many appointments a day e.g. one or two at the most. With more than that, I seem to get anxiety and headaches.
- Lots of rest and sleeping usually eight hours at a minimum each night and often 12 hours for a few days after Herceptin.
- Regular health appointments e.g. chiropractor, acupuncture etc.
- Planning fun things with friends – even going to a movie now and then.
- Writing about my day before I go to bed – what went well and what I’m grateful for.
- Meditating each day.
- Cycling, walking or other exercise daily, particular going outside and in nature e.g. the beach.
- Just focusing on how I feel today and not over-planning the future.
- Seeing cancer recovery as a job and not jumping back to work too soon.
- At the same time, planning my post-cancer lifestyle as a less stressful lifestyle than the pre-cancer lifestyle.
- Art therapy.
What has helped you move on from bc? What tips and hints do you have?