Breast cancer lesson 88: Happiness is knowing the halfway point is in sight

Ok, so I may be pushing it slightly by suggesting tomorrow marks the halfway point in my chemo treatment. But, even though I have another 12 weeks (out of 18) to go (making it just a third in terms of timings) tomorrow is the third poisoning out of six. That makes it pretty special.

Being the third chemo, it also means an end to FEC and, in particular Epirubicin. No longer will I have to watch the blood red liquid being syringed slowly into my veins. No longer with I have pink pee to remind me of the poison every time I go to the loo. After tomorrow’s session, I will say goodbye to the three-drug cocktail and hello to a new challenge (Docetaxel) for round 4. While it does require me getting used to a whole new set of side effects, I like the idea of a change.

How am I feeling about going back on the steroids, the anti-sickness medication and the chemo drugs? If I’m honest, a few days ago, I was a little worried.

Cycle one had a go at my hair and showed me just how nasty mouth ulcers can be. Apart from that, however, it left me alone and reassured me that I have the strength and the positivity to get through this. I went into cycle two with a smile on my face, confident the drugs were on my side. Little did I know as I sat in the chemo chair, just how much it would test me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am one of the lucky ones. But, with its tongue and mouth ulcers, vomit, nausea, headaches, tiredness, coughing, runny nose, hot flushes and sleepless nights, chemo is no walk in the park. I am going into tomorrow with an ulcerated tongue, the end of a cough and on the back of few too many nights of broken sleep. Physically, I have been challenged and, while my body is fighting back, it is not quite as fit as I’d like it to be.

Ask me how I am feeling now, however, and I would say, I am ready (if we ignore the false start I had this morning where I misplaced my travelcard and threw my iPod in the recycling bin by mistake on the way to today’s appointments). I know, whatever goodies it has up its sleeve (or in its syringe), I can and will get through them all. I am stronger than the drugs – and I know that while they have destruction on their minds currently, they will end up making me even more so.

Plus, I have a few new tricks. The evening poisoning for cycle two caught me off guard. I met my mum at the hospital. I hurried my lunch following a rather soggy encounter with a washing machine that decided not to spin my clothes, but instead wash my floor. I wasn’t on my game and I wasn’t focused on the right opposition (my floor needed a wash anyway). Now I am.

My mum is here the night before to help me avoid any unnecessary hurrying. I have grapes in the freezer (apparently sucking on them while having chemo can help the mouth). I am ready to drink my body weight in water. I will be making my first batch of chemo cookies tonight to ward off sickness and nausea. And, I will be requesting more anti-sickness medication at tomorrow’s session with the nurse. For every side effect I know of, I have a solution. And, for every one I don’t, I have my supportive and kind mum. Quite frankly, if I were the chemo drugs, I’d be scared!

Let’s just hope I pass the blood test first thing. Wish me luck!

11 comments

  1. Hi Jackie! This is your American friend, Courtney, from North Carolina! I wanted to commend you for the fabulous updates you continue to share with all of us who are with you on this journey. Although we have never actually met, I feel like we are great friends, just from getting to know you on your blog. Your strength and positive attitude are a true inspiration and I’m sure they will carry you far on your journey. I look forward to each and every update you post and will continue to follow you in the days and months to come. Keep up the GREAT WORK and best wishes on your treatment today. You can do it!!

  2. Hi Courtney, So lovely to hear from you! Hope you are busy making lots more of your delightful PICC line covers. They are still commented on every time I take my cardigan off. I am so thankful with all these hot flushes and nobody seems to notice the line underneath. Thanks for your kind words. Halfway mark is a great feeling! Take care and keep in touch. J x

    1. Thanks Laura. That’s really kind of you. I admire you for the way your photo business is going from strength to strength. You are the perfect example of someone following their dreams. Take care, jx

  3. Jackie you are an inspiration and with that apparently after all these years away from school (well I suppose not that many!) still a multi-talented woman -such a brilliant witty and moving writer, good luck to you! My thoughts are with you xxx

    1. Thanks Karen. That’s lovely to hear. Following your Facebook, I see you are as creative as ever! I will never forget your amazing turtle for children you made in DT all those years ago. Take care, j x

  4. Hi Jackie.
    Good luck for tomorrow, you, Duncan and your parents are in my thoughts and prayers daily.
    Ver TG.

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