(May 19, 2012)
SO IS chemotherapy a bit like having a hangover, as I confidently predicted in my blog back in February?
Er…no. And that’s the reason why I haven’t updated with any rants for quite a while. I haven’t felt well enough and I’ve been trying to lead a normal life so I haven’t wanted to spend much time thinking or writing about being ill.
Apparently, when you have cancer, you’re supposed to discover all sorts of things about yourself, like you want to give up your job and work in an orphanage in Romania or something. I can’t say I’ve been afflicted by that sort of selfless nonsense, but I did decide to get red hair, so now I look like I did when I was about 12, but with false eyelashes.
I don’t have the greatest outlook, to be frank, a 50% chance of surviving five years, according to the Nottingham Prognostic Indicator, which is a pretty annoying statistic, but one which I’m going to defy, in the same way I did when my oncologist (Dr Andy) said he didn’t think I would be able to work through the treatment.
There are new drugs coming along all the time and I’m confident that my charmed life will continue for many years to come.
I’m now two thirds of the way through a dose intense treatment which means I’ve already had one complete course of epirubicin and cyclophosphamide in half the usual time, and I’ve had one double dose of docetaxel (Taxotere). Just two more to go, thank God, and then I get a month off before three weeks of radiotherapy. After that I get a wonder drug called Arimidex indefinitely and a reconstruction op.
There are very good reasons why people having chemotherapy gloss over the details, because nobody would ever have it if they realised how nasty the treatment was and how it wrecks your body and mind. Over the four treatments to date, there has only been one where I’ve not needed hospital intervention for side effects, including agonising pain in my bones which made me wish I were dead.
Last week I had four hospital visits in five days, including one on a bank holiday. On a brighter note, I’ve surprised myself and Nurse Julia by being able to do seven jabs of Filgrastim which will stop me getting a life threatening infection.
But I wouldn’t turn the clock back, because whatever the eventual outcome, I’ve discovered just how kind people can be, particularly when they’ve had massive upset in their own lives, are busy or stressed with work.
Day in, day out, for nearly five months, I’ve been getting emails, texts, Facebook messages, phone calls and tweets from friends in the Yorkshire Evening Post and Yorkshire Post newsroom, and those I worked on newspapers with years ago, as well as lovely people I’ve known since our children were at school together and former classmates from Prince Henry’s Grammar School in Evesham.
I honestly didn’t realise I had so many friends and this is my chance to say thanks to the very special people whose kindness has touched my heart.