Wednesday 14 March 2012

Hurrah! Cancer IS f*cking off!

Had my tumour measured yesterday and its size has reduced 25% in area since the first treatment. 

It’s gone down from 3.3 x 3.3cm to 2.8 x 2.9cm and apparently feels softer too. The Consultant says that’s about average and so seemed pleased with my progress.

I’d also been concerned that my having a sore throat this week might delay today’s second treatment but my blood test came back fine, so it’s full steam ahead. Obviously I won’t be bothering with the cold cap again. There seems little point when I’ve lost so much hair already. But, looking at the positives, that will make our visits much shorter.

I’ve also had my hair cut. My scalp was so sore and itchy that the weight of the remaining hair was really very uncomfortable. However rather than go straight in with the buzz-cut, my hairdresser opted to crop it to about 2.5cm - (and a bit longer on the top) - which is severe but rather less drastic.

I’m not naive though. My hair is still shedding, so it won’t be long until Mr P. does have to set about me with his hair clippers, but it does allow me time to get used to the idea of being completely bald. On the plus side though, my hairdresser says I have ‘a perfect occipital bone' – so you’ll all be able to see it! ;-)

I’m also hoping to get a wig today. They were supposed to have them at the hospital yesterday but they hadn’t arrived in time. So fingers crossed ...

Monday 12 March 2012

Be bold. Be bald.

I've now lost a LOT of hair. What was once a lovely full, thick head of hair is now thin and wispy with a couple of big bald patches.

It started on Friday and I've been steadily shedding since. I honestly didn't realise that it would happen so fast. It's getting everywhere.

A big group of us had gone away for a friend's Hen Party and hired a lodge down in the New Forest, so I was really glad that they'd arranged for me to have my own room. I wouldn't have wanted to share with me; I felt like a moulting Labrador. 

It was more annoying than anything but when, on Sunday morning, I lost a signicant amount in the shower and saw the extent of my baldness, I did have to potter off into the woods for a little cry.

It was good though, to have someone there who had been through it herself. Fiona got diagnosed a few years ago, when she was still in her late twenties, so has run the full gauntlet of surgery, chemo and radiotherapy.

She started losing hair within a week of her first chemo session, despite also using the cold cap, and took the bold decision just to have all her hair cut off and wear a wig. That meant she was in control.

So, I've decided that I should do the same. I've made an appointment to have it cut at 6pm tomorrow and Mr P. is going to come with me. My hairdresser works from home so it will be in private with no-one else watching.

I'm hoping to sort out a wig this week too but, in the meantime, I do have some knitted hats and scarves that I can wear.

Obviously, it's all been pretty distressing but, as I said to my friends, I'm not the first person to go through this and (sadly) I won't be the last. And who knows, when it grows back it might be curly or a different colour - it does happen. Mr P's hoping for a red-head ... but I just want to be less grey!

Friday 9 March 2012

Uh-oh. It's started.

My hair's falling out.

I guessed it would. All day yesterday my scalp felt incredibly tender at the roots of my hair.  I would say I've lost a good, full handful just washing it this morning.

Fortunately, I do have an incredibly thick mane - so there's still plenty left. For now ...

Thursday 8 March 2012

Counting down

Hello, I’m back! I’ve had a busy couple of days. 

I’m taking full advantage of my renewed energy and cheerfulness to crack on and get things done before next week’s second bout of chemo. I’d almost forgotten what it was like to feel normal!

Well, I say normal. I don’t think I’ve been this positive in quite a while. It’s a lovely feeling. And me being in a good mood, means Mr P. is in a good mood ... and that’s good news for everyone! ;-)

The only side effect still noticeable is one that didn’t actually surface until this week: the horrible taste in my mouth. They say it tastes metallic but I think it’s more rancid than that – like something has crawled into my mouth and died. :-( It really is quite foul.

Apparently it’s the chemotherapy affecting the cells in the mouth cavity, which is why your sense of taste can change too. Someone suggested wine gums to take the taste away, which are acidic, so Mr P. bought me some Haribo and they do seem to work. But, honestly, with all these sweets and chocolate, I think I might shift the cancer and give myself diabetes!

I’ve also got a big weekend planned: twenty of us are off to the New Forest tomorrow for a Hen Weekend. I may report more of our shenanigans next week but a big thank you to Gemma (Bride-to-be) and Jayne (Bridesmaid) for making special concessions for me. Very much appreciated

Monday 5 March 2012

Walking on sunshine

I am in such a good mood today. I wish I could bottle it and save it for days when I don’t feel so great.

For a start, I had seven hours unbroken sleep last night – for the first time in three weeks. I had been waking up at least two or three times a night and getting up about 6am, but this morning I woke up after 7.

My headache is also pretty much gone, and manageable, and my energy levels are right back up to where they were pre-treatment.

I’m really hoping this lasts. It would be lovely to think that I can have eight more good days before we start the cycle again.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Back in the game

I think we’re winning. I’ve gone three whole days and am practically off the painkillers. (At least, for now!)

That’s not to say that I don’t still have head or stomach twinges but they’ve gradually got less and less. Even on Friday, I was still suffering from what I can only describe as constantly feeling a bit ‘car sick’, which got worse if I moved quickly or put my head down to read. I even tried those anti-sickness wristbands but, apart from making me look like an 80s tennis player, I really didn’t see the benefit ...

I don’t really know what’s been causing this. Apparently motion sickness can be a problem with some treatments because the toxicity can affect your inner ear and therefore your balance. It might also be a result of the infection, so I’ll discuss it with the Oncologist when I see him on the 13th.

However, I am feeling better and even managed to make it out to the pub last night. It was lovely to see everyone and, across the three hours, I even managed a whole half-pint of lager ... ;-)

To be honest though, I’ve gone right off the thought of alcohol and can’t imagine that changing for the foreseeable future. In fact, I think some of my friends find this the most disturbing part of my treatment!

And today I’ve had a really, wonderfully, mundane Sunday. Did laundry, went to the supermarket, cooked a roast dinner for Mr P. - all the run-of-the-mill, boring stuff that I just didn’t feel like doing before. It’s been great.

Friday 2 March 2012

What day is it?

All the days are starting to blur. Every day feels like a Saturday ...

Fortunately though, a good number of my friends seem to work at home, on shifts, or have leave to use so I will never be short of company if I want some.

I’m also feeling MUCH better. I do still get slight stomach twinges and head pains but nothing like the horrors I experienced earlier in the week.

So it means I can actually ‘do’ stuff.  This morning I get to wait in for four hours (woo-hoo!) for my phone line to be fixed.  It had been broken for several days before I realised so apologies to anyone who thought I’d gone AWOL.

And then I’m off to lunch with Mrs M. Not seen her since before Christmas, so it will be nice to catch up.  Managed to get out yesterday too.  Met another friend for lunch and then pottered round the shops for an hour or so.

So I am getting about. My energy levels are generally good until about 4pm but then they start to fizzle and by 9.30pm I’m doing the blinky ‘I-can’t-keep-my-eyes-open’ thing.  It’s meant some adjustment in our eating times too.

I’ve also noticed that certain foods are a no-no. Bless him, Mr P. made me a really nice sweet and sour chicken the other day with the smallest amount of chilli in. It really wasn’t that hot to the taste but it really made me stomach sting – that’s how tender my insides are feeling.  So everything is still very much trial and error. 

However, I’m pleased to report that Penguin biscuits and Strawberry Split lollies hold no such hidden dangers ... ;-)