On Monday 26th September, I was back at the Marsden to complete cycle four of my chemo! I went through all of the regular checks and this week both my veins and blood behaved for the nurse!
Last week had been a tricky one for me and it felt like everything got on top of me. I had quite a lot of new back pain. When it started it automatically sent me into a panic and I started thinking the worst. It was helpful to see my consultant and specialist nurse on Monday who were both able to put my mind at ease and reassure me that the back pain was nothing to worry about. When they see that I am in a panic, they just seem know what to do and say to help me get myself back into the positive mindset that it so important during this journey. My medical team at the Marsden is simply amazing. They always consider recovery from a holistic approach, focusing their efforts on helping you to heal physically, mentally and emotionally.
My chemo this week went smoothly but it was a much longer day than anticipated and I didn’t end up leaving the chemo ward until 7:30pm! This was because I needed to have another blood transfusion (my 4th one so far) as I was low on iron again, which is a common side effect of chemo. Whenever I have them, I’m always reminded about the importance and gift of giving blood. I will be forever thankful to the donors who have given the blood that I’ve received because it has supported my body in its fight against ‘Cyril’ when it needed that extra help. Having the blood transfusions has made me wish that I had thought more about donating blood in the past. However, what I can do in the present is promote a local charity called the ‘Joely Bear Appeal,’ who organise and run blood drives. On 27th November, they will be running two drives; one at Edgware Community Hospital (8:20am – 16:30pm) and the other at Borehamwood & Elstree Synagogue (9:15am – 12:15am & 14:00pm – 16:30pm). Check out http://www.joelybear.org.uk/2016_11_Mitzvah_Day.html for further information.
Back to my chemo – as it was a long day on the ward, the games and my trusty mindfulness colouring book (which was a perfect gift from the staff at school) were well used. I also taught my aunt how to play the board game ‘Words With Friends.’ She was new to it so I was happily winning the game until my sister came to join us after work. I suggested that she join my aunt’s team to help her along but soon learnt the error of my decision when I ended up losing by a catastrophic amount of points!
We got home much later than usual which meant my evening chemo day routine was quite rushed. I ate dinner and washed my hair, which I always do on a Monday after chemo. This is because Paxman (the company who make the scalp cooling machines) suggest you wash out the conditioner that goes on before the cooling cap as soon as you can. My relaxation part of the evening was my catch up on Home and Away and Neighbours (I can’t miss an episode!). And I even treated myself to some of my large supply of amazing chocolate sent to me from all the way from New Zealand. Thank you to my cousins Rebecca, Ollie, Sophia and India-Rose for these!
On Tuesday 27th September, I got good news about my tumour markers, which have come down again this week! However, I did have to fit in a GP visit this week because my left ear has been causing me quite a lot of discomfort. My chemo doctor wanted me to have them checked because one of the chemo drugs that I’m on (Carboplatin) can cause tinnitus. My ears will continue to be monitored and if necessary I might need to see an ENT specialist at the Marsden. This brings me back to what I said earlier about how wonderful and reassuring my medical team is. The close monitoring and amazing speed at which issues are investigated and plans put in place makes me feel so safe.
Wednesday 28th was also a good day. I has my first ever Reiki therapy session at Chai Cancer Care. It was so relaxing and I found myself very quickly falling into a deep sleep. I felt so calm after the session and was able to spend time in the quiet room with my music and colouring book – it lives in my bag these days! I love spending time at Chai and the support they are providing me is also nothing short of amazing.
Something that is also keeping me positive this week is my plans for an event that Finding Cyril will be running in November called BRCAfast (more information to follow). My close friend Debbie came up with the great name for it and it is wonderful to see it all gradually come to fruition. All proceeds will be going to the Royal Marsden. My fundraising for the Royal Marsden has and will continue to be an important factor in helping me to keep in my positive mindset through treatment. Knowing that I am giving back to a hospital that has and always will have a very special place in my heart brings me a lot of comfort. Keep an eye out for more information about the event…
So, is this week shaping up to be better than last week? Definitely yes! Do I feel less anxiety that I felt last week? Yes again. Will this week continue this way? Well I hope so, but I just don’t know. I’m just taking each day as it comes because I have to, and I keep reminding myself that I’ll find ways to deal with whatever comes, even if it doesn’t always seem that way at the time. As Vivien Greene says, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass…It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”