A Curious Case of Chemotherapy No.2

 

It’s the first month of 2019, and this year’s very first snow has dropped all over the streets tonight. Watching the snowfall in the garden reminded me of the early months of 2018, where I started the Chemotherapy. So here I am, continuing on my unfinished story of Chemotherapy.

 

Little did I know about the side effects of Paclitaxel, but soon I got to experience them all together.

IMG_3696The day after my first chemotherapy & Herceptin, I had extremely hot red cheeks that lasted a couple of days. Also muscles and joints started aching, especially around my pelvis and down to the legs. I had acknowledged that the physical trauma from the past traffic accident would become worse as a part of chemotherapy side effects before it happened; so it wasn’t much of a surprise. In addition, I felt fragile probably due to the immunity gone down. Though, I was relieved that the symptoms of Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome had improved a lot.
One of the things that I really really struggled with was the fact that I was NO LONGER capable of many things. Being physically unable/restricted led me into some sort of a spiral of negative emotions. I was sad. I was lonely. I thought, nobody truly understood nor wanted to know about the pain. There were a lot of tears and sleepless nights, because of physical pain as well as emotional pain.

 

On Valentine’s day I started losing hair.

I had been checking if I was losing hair during every shower since the first chemotherapy, and the moment arrived at last. I went through my hair with fingers, and unlike the past couple of weeks, clumps of hair fell out in my hands. The scalp became really sore too, as if someone was pulling my hair out. My hair slowly but continuously fell out over the next few months until all of it was gone, along with the facial & body hair.

 

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There were quite a lot of odd/one-off side effects along the way as well.

One night after the chemotherapy, my face went all yellow and my heart felt funny. My suspects were Jaundice and Angina by the symptoms. Much later on the course I had diarrhoea with severe tummy aches and got spots on my face; those random side effects threw me off indeed. Though, I never lost my appetite, which I am grateful for.

Another thing that I struggled with was what happened during the chemotherapy. The chemosuite is absolutely chockablock, I never saw a nurse that wasn’t running around in the suite. Sadly there were always too many patients waiting for their chemotherapy to be done. So a delay by hours was the norm. When I got to eventually receive the medication, I sometimes needed replacing the canula multiple times due to the old one not working or pausing the machine because I had bad reactions.

 

As I got weaker and sadder with chemotherapy,

I became to get angry often with people around me. Their encouragements sounded like empty promises, giving me false hope. I felt like nobody actually knew anything.  I was utterly miserable. I grew sick and tired of endless visits to the hospital and hours of waiting for something that was causing me all sorts of pain. Some days I stayed in the hospital from 8am to 5pm, where I got upset beyond containable.

 

In all this, I only managed to stay sane thanks to those who kept showing their love to me.

There were times that I flashed at Dan for something that wasn’t his fault. There were times that I woke him up in the middle of the night because I was in pain, or simply couldn’t sleep. There were times that Dan gave up on his own desires and plans for me. Without him, I would have been much much worse off.

Also I am really blessed to have friends and family close and far, who helped me through out this dark tunnel of Chemo. I cannot thank them enough for their words, presents and prayers.

Lastly I cannot imagine how I would have passed everyday without my dear dog, Maple. She got me out EVERY DAY without a fail. There were a number of days when I seriously didn’t want to get out of bed, yet I did get out of bed and house. All for Maple’s daily walks- and some fresh air. And most times, I felt so much better out walking.

 

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After 12 weeks on and off medication due to my immunity issue, my oncologist decided that the chemotherapy was doing more harm than good. So my chemotherapy journey ended in May.

Though I am still receiving Herceptin, with the last one coming up on 25th of January. So the other half of the cancer treatment journey still continues.

 

Breast-cancer-ribbon-coloring-sheet-clipartThanks for reading my blog,
and I hope this raises awareness of breast cancer in young women.

If you would like to help more people beat cancer sooner, please click this pink ribbon! It will lead you to Cancer Research UK website 🙂

I will see you in my next blog.

Bless you all!

H xx

A Curious Case of Chemotherapy No.1

For the last few months I have been putting it off to write about chemotherapy. It is mainly because writing about it brings up the unpleasant memories of the side effects. I had put everything about chemotherapy in a box, covered the lid, put a pad lock on and pushed it into a far corner of my mind palace.

Perhaps, however, now is the time to open up this curious case of chemotherapy I went through.

The beginning of the case goes all the way back to the first consultation with my oncologist in January 2018.

 

indiikid curious case of chemotherapy 1

 

Dan and I were in the consultation room listening to the doctor on his plan for me. His plan was a little different from what I had heard from my friends; I would receive a milder version of chemotherapy every week, instead of once every three weeks. And there would be another, rather main treatment called Herceptin. It would be injected in my thigh once every three weeks.

The reason I am receiving Herceptin as my main treatment is because I have HER2 and oestrogen positive breast cancer.

For those who are interested in HER2 and Herceptin, I have a brief explanation taken from Cancer Research UK;

Some breast and stomach cancers have large amounts of human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2). They are called HER2 positive cancers. HER2 makes the cancer cells grow and divide.

Herceptin is a treatment for cancers that have large amounts of a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), such as early breast cancer, advanced breast cancer & advanced stomach cancer
(https://www.cancerresearchuk.org/about-cancer/cancer-in-general/treatment/cancer-drugs/drugs/trastuzumab)

didyouknow2

Giving me a list of the potential side effects, my oncologist told me that most patients had not lost their hair with Paclitaxel: the type of chemotherapy I would receive. So I was quite hopeful then…. or optimistic.

In early February I had my first chemotherapy session.

If I am being absolutely honest with you, I was half anxious and half excited about getting chemotherapy. Mainly because I thought it would be a special experience, something new and challenging; and I would be able to relate to more people around me.

I would be able to understand, what it’s like to have gone through chemotherapy.

 

 

With those emotions hidden inside me,

IMG_3696I successfully managed the first dose of Paclitaxel. It was far more manageable thanks to Dan sitting next to me for the whole time. The nurses let your partner stay with you on your first chemotherapy session- which I found very helpful.

After receiving the Herceptin & Paclitaxel, I became really tired to the level that I couldn’t even sit up on the sofa. I felt so weak, lethargic and too tired to eat or drink. Interestingly, however, I did not feel any side effect; perhaps because I was already in pain with Ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome from egg retrieval.

For the next two weeks, I managed two more sessions of chemotherapy, which marked the first quarter of my chemo journey. Sadly, the “no side effect” trend did not last long.

 

Breast-cancer-ribbon-coloring-sheet-clipartThanks for reading my blog,
and I hope this raises awareness of breast cancer in young women.

If you would like to help more people beat cancer sooner, please click this pink ribbon! It will lead you to Cancer Research UK website 🙂

I will see you in my next blog.

Bless you all!

H xx

 

Two Weeks of Hormones, Needles and Morning Drives

Hello lovely people, it has been a while since my last post due to ongoing chemotherapy and all that jazz. As it’s finished, however, I would like to share something that happened just before the chemotherapy.

It all happened quite quickly. It was busy, intense, and exhausting… but worth the stress.

This is about my egg freezing episode.

 

On a Wednesday in early February, I was told that I would be receiving chemotherapy; so I gave the fertility clinic a call on a thursday afternoon. Whilst arranging a date and time for the first appointment, the nurse surprisingly told me that I had to start the process right away on that day.

Normally you would start the egg freezing process on the second day of your cycle. Amazingly, the day I called the clinic was the second day of my cycle. I guess it worked out well?!

Everything got urgent, all the sudden. The clinic was 90 minutes away, and they were closing at 1600hrs. I only had just enough time to make it there.

I made a quick and urgent phone call to Dan, saying we needed to leave very soon. Thankfully he managed to take some time off work; so after 15 minutes, we were on the road to the clinic.

 

 

Roughly 90 minutes later we sat in a consultation room with a nurse, who was explaining the egg freezing process. Quite overwhelming. There would be multiple self-injections, pills and visits to the clinic.  We came back home with three bags full of things. Moreover, we had to read through and sign on the terms and conditions forms in the evening. Wow!

Since then we made a visit to the clinic every other morning.

Most appointments were at 8am, which meant early starts for both of us. Every appointment included two things: a blood test and ultra sound scan of ovaries.

Every evening I had to give myself with injection and take two pills.

With eggs growing, I was given 2 more different types of injections to continue till the very last stage. These include this final injection to prevent the ovulation, which should be injected 48 hours before the egg collection. Due to the hormonal changes I was experiencing Pre Menstrual Symptoms like mood swings. Somehow it was becoming more and more difficult to deal with.

 

To end my misery, on the 14th day of the process, I got my eggs harvested and frozen.

It was a quick process; it all happened before I had my lunch. Then the next day I made the last visit to the clinic for a blood test to see if my hormone level was becoming normal.

It was only two weeks but felt much longer, I was really fed up with the morning drives and blood tests. Dan was very tired from driving for 3 hours or longer every other morning.

We were happy that it was all done and dusted.

 

However, that really wasn’t the end of it.

 

Two days after the egg retrieval, I started feeling a little odd. My belly was the biggest I had seen in all my life and it felt like there was a big water balloon inside. Also I was short of breath just walking upstairs, I felt bloated, dizzy and tired, and sometimes my eyes went blurry.

First I was a little panicked, thinking something went wrong. However, it really affected my emotional stability. I was upset, frustrated and miserable.

So, with great urgency, I called the fertility clinic and asked the nurse about what on earth was happening to my body. “Nothing to worry about,” the nurse replied. According to her, these symptoms normally appear when you have more than 25 eggs retrieved; which I did not. They had not told me in advance in order not to set unnecessary fear and worries in my mind.

 

“…Oh, ok. How long does it take for me to go back to normal?”

Full two weeks was all it took for me to start feeling normal. Though I started receiving chemotherapy at the end of the second week of these post egg retrieval symptoms, which was not great.

 

So what did I gained out of this ordeal? Security.

Security that, even if I become menopausal, I could still have a baby with the frozen eggs. With NHS funding it 100% to keep the eggs for the next 10 years, I could stop worrying about my fertility for once and get on with what was ahead of me… The chemo therapy and following cancer treatments.

Despite all the misery that it brought, I am glad I have gone through the process. Though, I have to say this isn’t for everybody. The consultant told me that some ladies had not chosen to go through it because they had been already quite overwhelmed by the whole cancer business.

I hope this post gives you a rough idea about the whole egg freezing process, and what to expect of it. (Though I feel guilty of having a massive rant!!!)

 

Breast-cancer-ribbon-coloring-sheet-clipartThanks for reading my blog,
and I hope this raises awareness of breast cancer in young women.

If you would like to help more people beat cancer sooner, please click this pink ribbon! It will lead you to Cancer Research UK website 🙂

I will see you in my next blog.

Bless you all!

H xx