Think back to a hangover? Now times it by 10. Extreme dry mouth, fatigue, sickness, your body tingles in places you didn’t even know could tingle (especially my fingertips, wow) and the aches and pains are unbelievable to the point I lie on my bed weeping like a puppy because I guess it makes me feel better. However you can feed a hangover with say a good Chinese? A dirty kebab? Nope! Not me, my lovely mum decided to take up smoothie making (green ones) they were revolting but I’ll give it to her they did perk me up, whilst gagging over a vomit bowl.
My first cycle of chemotherapy I had as an inpatient at Jimmy’s (St James Hospital Leeds) which is where I receive my treatment on the Young Adults Cancer Ward, (I now receive my other cycles as an outpatient). Me and Mum (for those of you who don’t know my mum she’s called Janis and she’s the most amazing human being on this planet) stayed four days Friday-Tuesday. I was that unwell my consultant wanted to ‘keep an eye on me’ yet I’d been walking around like an 80 year old for months not even able to walk up stairs without being out of breathe, my grandma had more energy than me and she’s 90! Mum stayed with me the whole time there was NO WAY she was leaving my side bless her. She slept on a settee bed for four nights whilst I was in the electric hospital bed folding myself up and down, I had to amuse myself somehow.
Friday, Connor and Dad had been with us all day and that’s when reality hit when they left this was really happening, I was so overwhelmed, I was sat in Leeds hospital with my mum on a cancer ward. I have cancer? I said to my mum whilst hysterically crying I couldn’t believe it. You never really think of this side of things all the appointments, the chemo, the reality and impact it has on an individual’s life. That’s until it happens to you personally.
We laughed, we cried, we watched crap on TV (well mum called Love Island the Reunion crap, can you believe it?), we got woke up at 1am, 4am and 6am, for blood test, observations, chest x-rays, you name it we had it. I was bruised on every arm and hand every time the nurse came in with the dreaded needle and blood bottles I would cry before she even put it in, what a wimp! Thank god I now have a Picc line, Pepper the Picc I call him! But what an experience it was, in the end I think we called it a mini break as it felt like we were on holiday, a strange holiday.
Sunday night approached and my heart rate was through the roof again, 150bpm, so I had to have fluids pushed into my quite quickly to bring it down, which thankfully it did, I also spiked a temperature due to a slight chest infection… great! The consultant came into see me and said it was now up in the air if chemo was to go ahead Monday I looked at my mum and broke down crying, I wanted this chemo and I wanted it tomorrow.
Monday morning I woke up tired as hell and very anxious, I was praying for my heart rate to be down and my temperature to be normal. It was observation time and thank god they were in range, my consultant came in and it was good news (obviously I didn’t know the effects of chemo at this point), it was going ahead. I shouted to my lovely nurse; get me hooked up and get that poison pumping in me!
R-CHOP, would you like mash and carrots with that? (yes please haha) just kidding this is my current chemotherapy regime given to me every 3 weeks:
H- Doxorubicin (Hydroxydaunomycin)
O- Vincristine (Oncovin)
P- Prednisolone (Steroids)
It’s a really long process as the first bag ‘Rituximab’ takes a good two hours to go through as you can have a reaction to it, my observations have to be taken every 15 minutes then the rate is turned up if I’m feeling ok. After this the rest of the chemo is pushed through manually by the lovely nurse due to my weight, I’ve always been a skinny one. Little to mine and my mums knowledge we thought the flushes and Rituximab was chemo done so you can imagine our faces when the nurses walked into my room with four HUGE syringes and two more small IV bags, jeez! 4 and a half hours later my first cycle was done all I was thinking was work your magic now chemo!
To say we stayed 4 days it actually went surprisingly quick. Finally we was home, I felt great! I could breathe and I was bouncing due to all the steroids I’d had, I could have probably gone to Blue Bar on a wild one until I bit into a coffee Revel and all my jaw began to tingle. ‘What the hell was that’ I shouted to my Mum and Connor in the front room, ‘my jaw, my jaw its tingling’ they both looked at me with fear, is this normal? We don’t know.
The next morning I woke and what I can only explain it was like I’d had 40 straight vodkas, I was pale white, I couldn’t move and all my energy had been taken out of me, I honestly thought this is the end, what is happening to me, I grabbed Connors hands and pleaded to him to give me some energy.
Fatigue is something I’ve really struggled to deal with throughout all my cycles so far as usually I’m like a whippet, always on the go and NEVER still. So to go from being on the go to not being able to even stand and brush my own teeth or dry myself after a shower was a massive shock. My body is working so hard even when I’m relaxing, I need to cut myself some slack sometimes but I’m pretty stubborn.
Then came the back pain I seriously thought I’d had four rounds with AJ, my back felt broken I was crying in pain to my mum when she woke me with breakfast and pills. I remember thinking when will this end? Will I always feel like this? Well the answer is no, I’m on my third cycle of chemo and let me tell you, you get stronger each time. Yes I still get every symptom, my taste buds go for a week and half, my fingers tingle and my Dad rubs my back every night (class A back rub he calls it) but I deal with them so much better now I know what to expect and just keep reminding myself It will be worth it in the end when you have kicked big C in the ass!
Now the good days definitely out weigh the bad days, when its my good weeks my bad week after chemo is a distant memory. That’s until my bail is up and I’m back hooked up ready to do it all over again.