I start chemotherapy on 23 Jan. I’ll have 12 weeks of treatment – four cycles, each lasting for 3 weeks. The first day of the cycle the chemo will be done intravenously, and that takes 8 hours for it to be administered. One week later, I go back and I get chemo in tablet form. After that it’s two weeks of nothing and then it starts all over again. Once I finish my 12 weeks, then I’ll start radiotherapy. But I’m not sure what that part of my treatment looks like yet.
When I first met my oncologist last Monday I was really frightened.
I arrived at the clinic alone, Andy was on his way from work and I’d just gotten there a bit earlier than he did. There were quite a few people there who were very obviously chemo patients. One woman really struck me. She had no eyebrows and just a few patches of hair. But it was the fact that she was pregnant – like at least 8 months – that got me. I kept staring at her wondering how the heck they administer her treatment without harming the baby. Anyway, I was sitting there looking around this very busy clinic filled with cancer patients, TV screens on the walls with things like, “understanding skin cancer” and “have you noticed a lump in your neck?” along with advertising their services. I became a bit overwhelmed and couldn’t help but think, “what am I doing here, omg I can’t believe I am here”
I’ve fully accepted my situation, but I still get overwhelmed with it at times. It’s just so weird that this is actually my life right now. Andy showed up and I instantly became very tearful because I was afraid. I was scared of what I’d be told. How long would my treatment be? What will my side effects be? How successful did they think it would be? Looking at everyone around me in the waiting area just knocked me on the floor – I just imagined myself in their shoes in just a matter of weeks. Soon I would show up for my treatment looking just like them. Soon someone would come in, look at me and feel frightened just like I did. I may have accepted my situation, but it doesn’t mean I don’t become really frightened and/or upset at times. I haven’t accepted it with open arms, welcoming it into my life. I’ve greeted it with more of a punch in the nose, WTF are you doing here, and I’m screaming at it to get out.
But when I finally met my oncologist, Dr Dionysis Papadatos-Pastos, the first thing he spoke about was my surgery and asked how I was feeling. Then he said, “Well, now that we’ve taken the cancer out of you, we need to give that cancer the smallest possible chance of returning and that’s what this next stage of treatment is for”. Both my lung consultant and my surgeon, have said, “we’ve taken out everything we can see, but based on how your cancer has spread, it’s very likely there’s still cancer in your body. So now we need to kill those cells to prevent them from metastasising and to stop further tumours from developing”
Now I know they are all saying the same thing, but it was hearing those words, “we’ve taken the cancer out of you” which made such a big difference for some reason. I walked out of there 100x lighter on my feet.
They gave me a list of side effects for chemo and they are pretty brutal. I’m really not looking forward to the nausea. That’s one thing I don’t handle well. I can take the pain, I don’t like it and once it’s gone that memory stays with me for awhile, but nausea? UGH Dizziness and nausea are two things I hate and don’t handle well. One good thing is that I guess only a small percentage of people have hair loss as a side effect with the particular chemo I am going to have. So fingers crossed that I won’t be in that small percentage.
For now I’m feeling pretty good. I’m very loopy from all of the meds I am still on – last night I could REALLY feel that. I went to choir practice and did find it a bit difficult to be surrounded by so many people, it was very overwhelming and I didn’t feel like my brain was working right. It was hard to have a conversation because I feel like my head is about 5-10 seconds behind everyone else. It’s taking me slightly longer to process both what’s being said and then how to respond. I mostly just wanted to respond with BLURG. Regardless, at the moment I’m feeling very “I GOT THIS”, so I’m going to hang onto it for awhile.