I had another good week before having chemo session 6 yesterday, which marked the end of the second cycle. I also felt the effects of my blood transfusion from last week. I had more colour in my face, I was a lot less sleepy and I was able to walk more without getting breathless. Last week, I also found out that my tumour markers dropped again to 151! The doctors are really happy with this and getting these results weekly gives me a great boost!
Last week, I was asked to take part in a segment called ‘Jewish Views’ on Spectrum radio. Clive Roslin led a conversation with Jenni Frazer (Jewish News journalist), Phil Dave (Spectrum Radio Presenter) and myself. The aim of this was to open up conversations about cancer because this is often something people find challenging to discuss. The interview gave me an opportunity to share my story and raise awareness of the BRCA gene mutation. I was also able to talk about how my diagnosis at age 27 shows that we need to be wary of statistics that suggest ovarian cancer is only a risk for women of an older age, and that women need to know about and be vigilant of the symptoms. We also spoke about the cancer journey and the importance of keeping a positive mindset. One thing for me that contributes to my positive mindset is sharing my story and raising awareness.
Recently, Finding Cyril tried to launch the #loveyourovaries campaign and I’m happy to say its started to develop some traction. So far, there have been quite a few #loveyourovaries photos being shared on Facebook and I am hoping for more. The aim of this campaign is to help women know and remember the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Here is all you need to do:
- Take a #loveyourovaries photo (see below)
- List some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer that you know of and then nominate some friends to do the same.
- I have also included the Finding Cyril text donation code FICY58 with the campaign. If you are a UK resident, send this code and an amount (e.g. £2) to 70070 to donate. All donations go to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.
- Post it on Facebook!
You can copy the text from my photo here to use on yours:
Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain, constant and increasing abdominal bloating, difficulty eating and the urge to wee more often. I know the symptoms of ovarian cancer. NAMES- Do you? What symptoms can you name? Spread awareness and show love for your ovaries with a ‘Love your ovaries photo’. If you want to donate to The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, text FICY58 £2 to 70070 to donate. findingcyril.com #FindingCyril @FindingCyril
The way I see it, every person who takes part is another person who will learn about symptoms to look out for. As I have mentioned previously in my blogs, women should not be satisfied with the diagnoses of IBS for symptoms that may be indicative of ovarian cancer. I will aim to post as many of your photos on the blog and on twitter as possible! Be sure to tweet them to @FindingCyril if you want them on the website. You can also email them to email@example.com. Here are some from last week:
So onto chemo session 6…It was so nice that sun was shining from start to finish. Once I had gone through all the usual bits and bobs, (weight, cannula, blood tests, talking to the doctor etc.) I was ready to start. This week I found out that I’m still low on potassium so I’m going to keep on with the daily potassium drinks. I also found out that I’m low on magnesium so depending on the level next week, I may start supplements for that too.
After this, my hair was prepped for the cold cap and then I had my pre-meds. Once the cap is on, a flush goes through your system for 30 minutes before the chemotherapy drug (Paciltaxel) is started. This allows the cold cap to start working before the drug does. The Paclitaxel takes one hour to go through. After this, the cap stays on for an extra hour to make sure that my scalp stays cool while the drug is still moving round my body. This is the time when I find distractions so helpful. Yesterday, it was the usual games with the inclusion of UNO. It was wonderful to have my superstar sister Tara and my wonderful friend Sophie join the usual crew. Competitive sides came to the surface and UNO is now definitely on the list for next week! And of course, I had my regular foot massage from my wonderful auntie. Yesterday’s session was much shorter than last week. This is because my treatment plan is weekly. The longer sessions are at the start of each cycle. They includes: Avastin, Carboplatin and Paclitaxel drugs. The following two sessions are shorter because I only have the Paclitaxel.
My lovely specialist nurse Jane came to see me during my session yesterday too. The moment I saw her walk through the door she made me smile. She is so comforting and I feel so lucky to have her by my side throughout this journey. We spoke briefly about what will happen at the end of cycle 3. I’ll have another CT scan and then meet my surgeon to talk about the plans for surgery. It’s good to have an idea of what’s coming up because it means I have small goals to be working towards.
I left yesterday feeling really excited that cycle 2 is complete. To be honest, I’m now just waiting in anticipation for next Monday to come round because I just want to get cycle 3 started. As more chemo drugs drip through my veins, I know that ‘Cyril’ is being hit harder. Hopefully, it won’t be long now before ‘Cyril’ looks exactly like the depiction created by my wonderful friend and fantastic artist Laura Footes.
This week I’ll be back at the Marsden again for a kidney function test. This is routine when you’re on Carboplatin. It can feel scary to be having lots of different tests as well as the chemo. However, I keep reminding myself that these help the doctors monitor everything and make sure that they are giving you exactly what you need.