I haven’t paid attention to the old blog for a little while! But here is where we are at my dear friends. I have avoided writing because I absolutely, categorically, unquestionably have not wanted to do chemotherapy. Like at all. Whatsoever. I could write a really long, intricate and comprehensive list about all the things I would rather do; That would be fun! It would be easy! But I wont. I have said to my cousin Kristy lots of times, ‘I actually just don’t want to do chemo. Like at all.’ Those exact words. She always responded with a ‘duh’, or ‘Ali, no one actually wants to do chemo’.
One of my fantastic friends named Francesca Farthing (great alliteration there, what a coincidence she is a qualified English Teacher) told me about her birthday party coming up, a few weeks ago, to which I gave a ‘see how I’ll go’ response, as it was planned for the day after my first chemo session. She said ‘Well, I’m sick of this already, it’s not all about you’, or something along those lines. Oh we like to laugh Franny and I.
Anyway, more about not wanting to do chemo. I didn’t want to do chemo… That’s basically it. There isn’t actually that much more to it. I really dislike being sick; I am not a good patient. I like doing things and stuff too much; everybody knows that when you’re sick, you can’t do as many things and stuff.
But I did it. I got in there and gave it a go. I had my first session on Friday the 16th of May. It was actually quicker and easier than I thought it would be! An hour and a half of being injected with that beautiful, colourful liquid that will rid my body of any excess, unnoticed nasties. The nurses were so kind and friendly. Sat and chatted to Mum and I, which is what I like. One even gave me a referral to her yoga friend. After the IV, they send you home with a few things to help you out, I had to take steroids for 2 days and had some anti nausea stuff too.
When they say everyone reacts differently to chemo, so they can’t guarantee any symptoms, they really mean it. I was told lots of things to prepare for. Nausea, vomiting perhaps, fatigue and other fantastic things to look forward to. I don’t really think words can prepare you for what it actually feels like though, well, in my personal experience anyway. Some people have actually said that it’s not that bad either; I think because I am young and fit, I was not expecting the worst.
I was told that it would be a few days until the side effects started to kick in, but within hours I was affected. I was just really, really tired. On Saturday I was still tired, but being me, I thought nothing makes you feel better than a bit of exercise, so I walked to the Glenbrook markets with my Canadian Amour. Lucky her buff as hubby picked us up, because I don’t think I would have made it home!
I became even more fatigued on Saturday afternoon, it was a big effort to get off the couch. I had a lot of difficulty sleeping because of the steroids, too. By a lot, I actually mean from Saturday morning until Monday night, I did not sleep a wink. My body was completely exhausted, I barely had the energy to sit up and drink a glass of water (Mum actually went out and bought me a camel backpack so I can drink water from the tube laying down! What a gem). So even though I was exhausted, I felt like my whole body was buzzing, because of the steroids. I don’t mean to be dramatic, but I understand why the Chinese use sleep deprivation as a form of torture. It was a horrid few days and it was scary. Because it was my first bout of chemo, I didn’t know if I would feel like that the whole time or if I might start to feel better. When you are in that place, it’s so hard to see a way out. It was a very brief and quick glimpse at the dark side (I hate Star Wars) and it was horrendous. Mum went to see Heather (my GP) for me on Monday and got me some sleeping tablets and more anti nausea medication. Oh the nausea! I haven’t spoken about the nausea yet. Oh em gee sooooo fun! People had told me I would probably lose my taste a bit and get a metallic flavour in my mouth constantly. What happened was the exact opposite – everything was intensified times a kazatillion (that is way, way more than a trillion). My sense of smell was so strong and every scent was making me feel so nauseas; we had to remove every candle, flower, soap, anything that remotely smelt like anything from my immediate vicinity. I have been juicing (all the cool kids do it) and I’d have to hold my nose to drink the juice and then have the glass immediately removed! Such a fuss pot, right? Luckily I had Mum, Dad and Nikki able to take a day off work each to stay home and look after me, as I just couldn’t do anything.
It was about Thursday night that I started to feel a bit more energetic. I was able to eat more and was feeling better, I think because I was able to sleep properly. Well actually who knows, maybe it was the chemo, maybe it was the steroids making me ill. Now we know how my body reacts, next round I envision it to definitely be easier because I will have stronger anti-nausea medication and sleeping tablets.
It’s now 12 days since the first chemo round and I am feeling pretty well =). I feel so grateful for my health now; I am so lucky I’ve got so many people throwing their love at me to look after and support me. Well done, team. I’ve totally got my movement back after surgery too. The worst while recovering from surgery was not being able to shower properly; I couldn’t raise my arms above my head and I was covered in dressings that weren’t allowed to get wet so could only shower properly from the waist down. I had to wash my face over the basin. I know it sounds like really small, insignificant things, but when you don’t get to do them every day you really notice it. All I wanted to do was stand under the shower and let all my hair and face be covered in flowing water, but I couldn’t! So I guess practicing gratitude for what I did have was something more ideal to focus on, being, the flowing, hot water on my lower half, haha! The fact that I had flowing, hot water at all. Being able to do all this, independently, without help.
Now I no longer have dressings on and I’ve got my movement back, I can raise my hands above my head so high I can touch the sun. It’s really, really hot. I can bend and lean and push and pull and not have any pain. I can’t really lie on my front yet though. But I can drive again! Oh I can drive everywhere and anywhere I want. I drove over a rainbow yesterday, big bend in the middle, it was so damn colourful (may or may not have been Mario Kart).
Now I’m feeling better, not reacting to smells and have more energy, I have been getting out and about. I’ve stopped reading and investigating cancer and diet to the extent that I was and am letting myself relax. It’s been so much information to take in! Anyway, it’s probably better that we don’t spend so much time focusing on what we’re dying of and try and discover what we’re living for. Of course it’s not going to be a smooth journey over the next year, but it’s so great I’ve been given my health back. There is a song by a girl named Brooke Fraser called ‘Albertine’, you should go and watch the video on youtube and listen to the lyrics. She has one line that says
‘Now that I have seen, I am responsible. Faith without deeds is dead’.
I’ve seen the other side now and I know what it’s like! I guess the experience is just that – an experience, so now I’ve got the responsibility of helping other people that are going to go through it.
PS – thanks to everyone that has written to me on my blog and emails and messages of love and support. I absolutely love hearing from everyone! Xx