Thursday, 16 April 2015

Chemotherapy Tales - Cycle 1

Chemo Day - 27th March 2015

So the saga continues, I never thought I’d be going through this really, but the day finally arrived which I had been dreading; I was nervous but sucked it up and took it like a man woman and had to remember that this was just a precautionary measure.

Adjuvant chemo: Chemo used after surgery to remove the cancer is known as adjuvant chemo. It can help keep the cancer from coming back later and has been shown to help people with stage II and stage III colon cancer and rectal cancer live longer. It is given after all visible cancer has been removed to lower the chance that it will come back. It works by killing the small number of cancer cells that may have been left behind at surgery because they were too small to see. Adjuvant chemo is also aimed at killing cancer cells that might have escaped from the main tumor and settled in other parts of the body (but are too small to see on imaging tests).
Hubby and I woke up in good spirits as usually, don’t know what I’d do without his positive vibe and loving nature. We arrived at the hospital on time and waited to be seen, I felt like I had entered into the twilight light zone. Lol

It was all a bit daunting but I kept smiling as hubby and I cracked jokes to each other. I sat myself down in a big arm chair next to an IV machine, it was an open plan area and there were a few people already waiting to have their chemo infusion. I waited for a bit as they didn't have my notes. The chemotherapy nurse eventually received my notes and we did a pre-assessment, spoke through all the lovely side effects that may or may not happen – e.g. pins and needles in hands and feet, sickness, diarrhoea, tiredness, rashes - the list went on. He also mentioned that I would need to be careful about eating out e.g. takeaways (due to hygiene), seafood and blue cheese (due to the bacteria) and also try not to come into contact with people who had coughs/colds. 

Any who after all the ins and outs I signed my consent form, the nurse then looked at my hand to see if I had any juicy veins he could stick a needle in, unfortunately my veins were rather small so a heated pad was placed on my hand/forearm before the intravenous needle could be inserted. First up were some fluids, then anti-sickness, steroids which work with the anti-sickness and then the bad boy chemo drug Oxalipatin, we were in there for about five hours, having hubby around made it easier. My arm started to feel numb and quite painful, so I was given a heated pad, which helped a little bit.

During my infusion I was given a coarse of chemotherapy tablets to take away with me which needed to be taken at home over the next 14 days - 3 x 500mg & 1 x 150mg of Capecitabine (twice a day), anti-sickness tablets to be taken three times a day over 5 days, steroid tablets to be taken once a day over two days and a box of tablets for diarrhoea just in case. (TMI - too much information) Sorry!  Jeez this will be the most prescription drugs I’ve taken in my life, but it’s all for the greater good. I also received a information sheet with numbers to call in case I felt unwell as Capaecitabine reduces the white blood cells, which will make me more likely to get an infection. It all seemed a little scary. 

When my infusion had finished I was advised not to talk when I left the hospital building until I got into the car as the cold air would cause my throat to go into spasm, so I didn’t talk until I got home.


That day I experienced the following symptoms - when my hands came into contact with anything cold e.g. cutlery, taps, stainless steel door handles and cold water, it would cause tingling, numbness and even stiffness, even being outside in the cold was a problem, so brought some cotton gloves to wear around the house. My left arm was still sensitive to touch and very painful from the infusion being pumped into my vein, so kept my arm warm by using a hot water bottle. 

The next day Hubby was buying a car so we went to view it, it was a cold day and we were standing around for a while looking over the car, having a test drive etc... as you do. Hubby decided that he wanted the car, I left him to sign the paperwork, got into my car drove off happily listening to the radio, a song was playing which I liked so started singing, well that didn't quite happen because my lips started to stiffen up and my singing became distorted, I felt like and looked like a fish. (who needs botox... Lol) I did laugh to myself, it was hilarious, I just kept on trying to sing anyway. (silly woman) 

Some days I would feel so tired, on a couple of occasions while at work i fell asleep, my manager/colleagues were very supportive & caring and allowed me to go home to rest. All my symptoms mentioned ceased a few days before my 14 days of taking the tablets were due to end. All in all it hasn't been too bad considering, and it’s only for six months. Cycle 1 finished on 10th April, and was so glad for the rest period, Cycle 2 will commence on Friday 17th April 2015.

The oncologist did mention that the more of the drug you have in your system the worse the symptoms can get, I'm hoping and praying this will not be the case for me. Staying positive all the way whatever happens.

I'm now back in gym and really grateful and loving the fact that I'm feeling like me again, my fitness levels are improving daily, which is great too. I have also signed up for the 10k Race for Life which is taking place on Sat 27th June 2015 for Cancer Research so if your feeling generous then your more than welcome to make donation by clicking the link. :-) 

Thanks to all my friends and readers who have sent me well wishes, it really means a lot. 

Big Love

Bei x


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