It turns out that Number 6, my final chemo, packed a punch that I wasn’t expecting. Having decided that the 5th cycle was quite possibly the easiest one up to that point, I assumed I had the upper hand.
I was wrong.
Side effects kicked in much sooner than previous treatments. My tastebuds were affected pretty much immediately and an upset stomach landed with a vengeance within a couple of days. I was exhausted through lack of food and sleep, queasy and fed up! However I clung onto the hope that since things had kicked off earlier they would dissipate sooner. That made perfect sense to me.
I was wrong.
In fact Number 6 has been a slog. Not only have I felt rough most of the time I found myself at the hospital pretty much daily for the first 10 days. The final chemo triggered lots of appointments – scans, consultants, tests and more consultants. 6 appointments in 7 days across 4 different hospitals while dealing with Number 6’s pummelling was tough.
Eating was a massive chore this time – pretty much from the start. It has been difficult every time but Number 6 really didn’t want me to eat. I lost 10 pounds in 10 days. Now secretly I was quite happy with the weight loss – I could stand to lose it. I had found a rare silver lining. All I had to do was keep it off and I would be exactly where I wanted to be weight wise. I thought that would work.
I was wrong.
As my tastebuds slowly regenerated I began eating again. Just a little. But a little was all it took for me to find those lost pounds again. I just can’t catch a break 😂😂😂
A few days ago I had my first Herceptin injection. These will continue until early next year. I wasn’t worried at all about this – I’ve been having Herceptin intravenously alongside my chemo for almost 4 months so I knew I wouldn’t suffer any adverse reactions. But what I didn’t know was quite how painful the injection would be. Even when the nurse warned me that it would sting (chronic understatement) I’m looking at her with my “I’ve been through chemo do you really think a little injection will phase me” face and she’s looking back with her “you’ll learn the hard way” face. So with my jeans round my ankles and my thigh positioned for the jab, I just knew it would be fine.
I was wrong. Again.
I’m no wuss. At least not now. I’ve been through too much to think twice about injections. But this HURT. For a minute-ish, maybe a minute and a half (yes I KNOW that it’s not that long but, trust me, it felt way longer), the drug is injected into my thigh and it feels like a bee is stinging me from the inside. I’m biting my lip. Trying to be brave. Reminding myself that I’ve given birth and this is JUST AN INJECTION. Reminding myself this is definitely worth it. Reminding myself that friends spent 24 hours climbing the 3 peaks with barely any food and even less sleep (now that is pain!) the weekend before. THIS IS NOTHING. Just as I’m believing I’ve got this and surely it’s nearly over, the sting intensifies and I yelp. Really??? She removes the needle from my leg and as quickly as the pain hit it’s gone. I silently acknowledge how wrong I was (yes I know I’m making a habit of being wrong) while the lovely nurse oozes sympathy and smugness in equal measure. It’s over. For another 3 weeks 😱😱😱
I’d be lying if I said I was totally back to normal now. I’m still having the occasional upset stomach almost 4 weeks on. I’m now also anaemic (Number 6 trying to have the last laugh) so that has been dragging me down a little. But plenty of steak and broccoli will fix that I’m sure 😊.
Before you start feeling too sorry for me it’s really not been all bad. I wasn’t going to let Number 6 beat me so when I’ve felt well I’ve taken advantage of it. I’m way too determined (my family use the word stubborn but I think they’re being a bit harsh!) to let a tough chemo cycle stop me. So I’ve managed a couple of trips to London, a trip to Snowden to support my 3 peaks friends, worked for the last 2 weeks (in between hospital appointments and upset stomachs) and managed half a dozen nights out catching up with friends over food and drink (some of which I could even taste! Bonus!). And I’m now feeling good again.
So stuff you, Number 6. You gave it your best shot but you just weren’t man enough.