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Cancer: The Ups And Downs Of Chemotherapy
I'd read all the pamphlets the Oncology team had given me but I was still unsure of what was going to happen.
My specialist had warned me that "we're going to fill you full of all three strains of Chemotherapy, to the maximum allowed dosage" but apart from a lot of sitting around, drinking coffee and putting on over three kilos in fluid weight, it all went very smoothly on the day.
They then hooked me up to a very clever little vacuum pump full of a chemical called 5FU (also a type of Chemotherapy) and sent me home saying "see you Saturday to get it changed!" And that was that! I was expecting to feel absolutely lousy, but by the time I got home I commented to Kirsty that I was feeling fine, just a little tired and bloated.
"And I stayed feeling fine, until Sunday evening when the Chemo finally hit my tumour; it swelled up and everything went horribly wrong!"
Kirsty and another friend Taz had been over on Sunday and both had commented that I wasn't quite myself. By that evening, my temperature had gone past 37.5 degrees and my head was beginning to hurt like crazy. With a great deal of concern from my friends I was driven over to Northampton Hospital.
Although I'd spent the entire journey saying "oh don't fuss, I'll be fine", I was feeling dizzy when I arrived at the Talbot Butler ward and was immediately admitted into a bay. I'd been having heart palpitations on the way over so they hooked me up to an ECG to check my heart was working correctly.
At that point I started throwing up, then I nearly fainted. Oh boy ... was I glad to be in hospital, despite my moaning! They put a Cannula in and started infusing me with Saline and Potassium to rehydrate me.
The next day, my specialist said that the tumour had swollen up because it had started to absorb the Chemotherapy and that had thrown my system out of balance. It explained all the head pain I had and I was prescribed as much Morphine as I needed whilst I was there! He said I could go home once the 5FU infusion had finished then ordered me to have the rest of the week off to relax.
As my tumour was still swollen and reacting to the Chemo I was given lots of funky hospital drugs to take home and by the end of the week I was feeling much better, albeit very bored and was pleased to get back to work the following Monday.
Apart from that little blip and the enforced RnR, I've been fine ever since, except from being tired a lot of the time. Many common symptoms such as nausea and spending aeons on the toilet never manifested, but the one symptom of Chemotherapy that I have really been dreading - hair loss - has started in earnest this week.
I love my hair and like nothing more than to run my fingers through it. I guess it's a comfort thing for me, but every time I do now, out come handfuls of the stuff and it's really upsetting. Yes, Northampton Oncology have furnished me with a lovely wig that looks like my own hair after spending an expensive afternoon in a salon, but still ...
"The realisation that I have to get my beautiful locks shaved off this week brings me to tears!"
But I'd rather be in 'cause' and in control than feeling helpless and living in 'effect'. Remember, I don't class myself as a sufferer or a victim - this is just an illness I have - so making the decision to have my head shaved will stop the heartache of watching it fall out, bit by bit.
It's been an interesting journey so far. Most of it I was expecting, some of it I wasn't! A couple of days in hospital and some enforced RnR really helped get over feeling ill but I was very glad to get back to work. I'm deeply sad about my hair loss though.
My second cycle of Chemotherapy starts next Monday! Just want to get on with it now ...
Love, light and logic ...
PS ... The lymph node in my neck, that swelled up as a first indication that I had cancer, has now shrunk down to about a tenth the size. I'm taking that as a positive sign that the Chemotherapy is working!
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About Steffi Lewis ...