Thursday 12 April 2012

Better out than in!

It wasn’t only outside that the dark clouds descended this week. I’ve been in a very strange mood. Very unsettled.

This has been my ‘bad’ week. I was really very unwell on Monday and Tuesday and sadly had to cancel my appointment to go to the Maggie’s Centre as I couldn’t face leaving the house, let alone brave the tube into Hammersmith for a two-hour workshop.  (Although I will try to get a place on the next one)

And so I stayed at home and felt sorry for myself. I couldn’t even sit and read or watch a film; the pain behind my eyes (like a migraine) and the constant feeling of nausea was so completely distracting that the only thing to try and do was sleep. Out of sheer, bloody, boredom. 

However, one TV programme that I did manage to watch was BBC2’s Horizon documentary on The Royal Marsden: ‘Defeating Cancer’. It was really very good. It profiled all the new technologies that they are piloting: robotic surgery, laser radiotherapy and targeted new drugs for people for whom all other options have been exhausted. The guys at the ‘Marsden, (and the Institute of Cancer Research), clearly know their onions and it was interesting to see where I will be going in May.

Fortunately I woke up on Wednesday feeling a bit better and even felt sociable enough for a friend to pop round for a cup of tea and a chat. I also had a little look on some of the various cancer research/support websites to see if there was anything that I, or any of my friends, could get involved in to help raise money.

Clearly I won’t be doing any sponsored runs anytime soon(!) but I did spot the 5km Wild Flower Walk in Syon Park in Isleworth, which is really very close by. You don’t have to get sponsorship (unless you want to), just donate and take part – so I’m trying to encourage a few of my friends to consider coming along.

Strangely – or not, really, when you think about it – the documentary, websites etc. must have triggered something in me and yesterday evening I just completely lost it. My mood had already made the evening a bit tense but I just started crying and couldn’t stop. It was a proper, full-on, sob-fest.

Poor Mr. P didn’t know what to do. He thought it was something he’d said or done and, of course, it was neither.  Just the sheer enormity of “everything” had got on top of me: seeing myself every day with no hair and knowing that in just a few weeks my eyebrows and lashes will be gone too; not having the full use of my arm because of the damage to my veins; planning my life around treatment dates and recovery cycles and not being able to take part in things that I really love and enjoy.  Never mind physically, it can spiritually and emotionally break you.

As I said to Mr P, I’ve been so busy just getting on with it, that I’ve not really had a chance to consider how I feel about it.  “And how do you feel about it?” he said. And so I was honest:  
- I want to go back to before Christmas
- I want it to all go away
- I don’t want to have cancer ...

So that’s that. I guess it’s good to get these things off your chest ... pardon the pun.

Anyway, the fact is that we are where we are. So I do need to man-up and get on with it. I found an excellent blog today by a Baptist Minister in Scotland. For any atheists or non-Christians reading, please don’t worry, it’s not a religious or spiritual blog but a really frank and useful account of her neoadjuvant (i.e. pre-surgery) FEC-T chemotherapy treatment.

In particular, she talks about phlebitis (inflamed veins) and says that she was told to use her arm as much as possible to avoid permanent damage, like when you have a sprain. She also talks about the ‘heightened senses’ on FEC - when even just to watch TV is too much sensory input and normal smells and tastes, particularly sharp or citrus ones – (like cigarette smoke or aftershave, in my case – sorry, Mr.P!) - can drive you to distraction.

It’s also given me an insight of what to expect next from the Docetaxel (or Taxotere). It certainly doesn’t sound like it will be a walk in the park, far from it, but forewarned is forearmed as they say. So I’ll put down the tissues and put my metaphorical tin-hat back on.  I’ve still got a fight on my hands and while I can allow myself a moment of weakness, I really don’t have time to wallow!


  1. its great that you have been so positive, but also perfectly normal ( and allowed) for you to have a good cry and feel crap about the situation because lets face it, it is a shit and cruel disease. have a good cry/shout/scream it will release all anger and sadness, take a day off from the bravery and come out fighting another day.

  2. Jane said it all.........