Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Cancer Treatment - the things they don't tell you about chemo

Right so you're here, in the gang no one wants to be in, let alone someone of your age, I'm guessing that you're friends are either settling down, getting married or having babies, whatever they're doing it couldn't be any further from where you are right now. This is shit, I get it, but hopefully, just hopefully I can shed a light on some of the things the hospital don't tell you..... Deep breath girls...some of its not pleasant....

May as well start with chemo...

Hairloss and sickness -this is what you've been told to expect? We wish. We wish this was the worse part... Sorry girls

Manky bloody mouth- you need difflam, You probably won't automatically get this prescribed this but it is THE ONLY thing that sort of worked for me, oh and salt water, which isn't as bad as it seems, as you will have ZERO taste.

Do not wait until you start feeling ill, have aches or pains-start taking pain relief ASAP and do not stop. Don't be fooled that you actually feel ok, that's just the meds doing what they need to, and you don't need pain on top of everything else -DONT BE A HERO.

For anyone in Tax or having filgrastim injections you may need to speak to your
Oncogist about increasing the pain relief, I was told to expect "a little bit of discomfort" in my pelvis, hips and back. By cycle 3 I was lying in a hot bath with a bottle of oramorph -don't be afraid to ask for something stronger.

Yes your hair will fall out, maybe not as dramatic as you see on TV but it will
come fairly quickly, and it's a massive pain in the arse, it gets EVERYWHERE, in the bed, all over the carpet, in your food and in you drinks. Then there's the pain of your hair follicles clinging onto any last hope they may have, and yes you guessed it, this is rather uncomfortable. Think tying your hair up tight all day and then letting it down, remember that feeling? Well that's what your head feels like 24/7 after the first chemo. If you are told like I was "ooh don't shave it, it'll be painful" the chances are that they 1)don't have cancer 2)have never had cancer and 3)haven't got a bloody clue what they're talking about. Shave shave shave, that's my advice, yes you look like a prat (or your boyfriend in my case) but once it's done it's done, it's actually fricken bloody fabulous if your in the menopause and you can literally have a 3 minute shower -and loosing hair means loosing hair -EVERYWHERE!! Probably the one bonus of this, throw those raizors away -you won't be needing them. Oh and don't panic if your nose feels slightly weird -that's your nose hair falling out - can be quite cold...

GO TO THE DENTIST before you start treatment as you can't have any dental work whilst on chemo. I didn't, (I'd been 5 months before as I always do) but no one told me to go get checked, and to be honest going to the bloody dentist was the last thing I was thinking about. I wish I had thought about it, my god, there are no words. Two weeks after my first chemo I had the mother of all tooth infections, it makes me shiver thinking about it, I even contemplated pulling the dam thing out. And so I was given codeine (and then constipation) anti-biotics and my 2nd chemo was delayed for a week, oh and I was walking around the streets at 4am like a crazy lady.... Please, go to the dentist!!

Paint your nails. Apparently UV light does something to your nails and teamed with chemo means that you could loose your nails. So painting them a dark colour is meant to help prevent it. In my blonde mind I thought that this was a good excuse to have gel nails. gel nails where you have to use UV light.... But in my defence I only did this whilst on FEC, once on Tax I just painted them black/dark red etc and I didn't loose any! Well I lost my big toe nail but that's because I decided to go to my cousins wedding in stupidly high stiletto's.... Don't do that, it's not big and it's not clever.... Oh and as with anything related to chemo, there's the pain, similar to trapping your nails (and toe nails) in a door......

Eating and drinking can be quite tricky, but do not eat anything that you usually love because you will never ever want to eat it again. For me it's Greys Herbel Tablets, they were my all time favourites, now they taste like chemo, urgh, oh and summer fruit squash, I can't even have it in the house. Actually this can be said for smells ie don't wear a perfume you like either...

Save you veins. Keep hydrated, especially when having bloods or anything to do with sticking a needle into your vein, the more you drink the juicier your veins will be and therefore easier to gain access. Oh and get some hand warmers or heated mittens, or just sit on your hand to warm those bad boys up, because let's face it, no one wants a needle in their foot....

Taking steroids after midday should be made illegal. How anyone can take these for "fun" is beyond me. Take them as early as you can. Put a reminder in your phone, write it down and stick it to the fridge, tell your husband/partner whoever you have to, to make sure you don't forget to take them. Do not take your steroids late at night. Well you can if you want to stay awake all night, climbing the walls, eating everything in sight and well, generally acting like a maniac, steroids are not fun, and they most certainly don't make you look cool. Steroid moon face is inevitable, there's no way around it, just try not to punch anyone who tells you that your face isn't massive... They're obviously lying, (and probably laughing at you), hello "Roid Rage"

Weakened bladder. This was 100% NEVER explained to me. And so teamed with sleeping pills and pain meds, I'm sorry girls, this puts you at a high risk of wetting the bed. Highly embarrassing and no talking your way out of it or blaming anyone else... I guess you have to weigh up the pros and cons, I love to sleep, I'd sleep all day if I could, I love a nap, a Sunday snooze, afternoon nap, post meal snooze, disco nap, rainy day sleepy time, duvet sofa days, I even take a pillow with me in the car. But thanks to cancer this all came to an end. Sleep became something I used to do, along with a huge list of things that cancer took from me. So when my doctor suggested something to help me sleep I could have kissed him. So what do you do? Sleep like a baby and risk peeing the bed? Or stay awake all night, every night and think about nothing but cancer for hours on end, oh and cry. So I choose to wet the bed, there I've said it. The hospital won't tell you this but it's honestly one of the most embarrassing things that's ever happened to me, and trust me, I do a lot of stupid things. The first time it happened I burst into tears, I was absolutely mortified, I'd never even farted in front of my boyfriend Arron, I don't think there was anything he could say so he just laughed. I don't think he finds it as funny anymore, well actually I think he's just used to it now bless him. Sexy isn't it? I think he's rather happy that I can no longer wear my onsie to bed, that is a massive no no - way too much work trying to get that off in a hurry, but so are play suits, and they're so pretty (sad face). A positive I guess is that you get the bed to yourself when you go away with friends (thanks 7 Bitches) -no one wants to share with piss pants.... It's a tricky choice but I'd take sleep everyday, I'm just not allowed to cock my leg over Arron when I sleep anymore....unless he's in the bad books....mmwwhahaha 

Zoladex - the massive eye-watering monthly implant that turns off those bastard ovaries that contributed in trying to kill you. Firstly it's not an injection, well it is, but it's an implant with a massive bloody needle that you have to have for 5 years, 10 if you're "lucky." Whilst knowing that your ovaries are shut down is nice, menopause at any age let alone early 30's is not. I find that week 4 is my worst week, hot flush central, raging hormones, spots and achy body.... Sadly because this is a chemically induced menopause I don't think that the side effects ever go (cheers cancer). So if like me you go through menopause with your mom chances are that she will be symptom free a long time before you are.... To be honest I've not really tried alternative medicine but I do have a silk pillow case and a chillow pillow, they go everywhere with me, oh and also my fan -animal print of course!

Tax mental breakdown - tax chemo is bad-ass. It's harsh. It attacks your entire body, mainly your bones, but you can take meds for that, nothing can prepare you for turning into a mental person. That's the only way I can describe it, at the time I couldn't see it, "luckily" (there's that word again) a couple of my gang members just happened to be bat s**t crazy at the same time and we put two and two together. Again, this was not explained.... So a fair few arguments and smashed plates later I could laugh about it.... Just prepare yourself if your anything like us you'll be crying well sobbing like a teenager because your friend hasn't replied to your text message and so obviously it's because she doesn't like you.......

Chemo brain or as I put it down to blondeness aka "Aimee-isms." First thing do not panic you don't have dementia,so when you realise that your empty plate is in the fridge and the butter and marmite are in the sink this is completely normal. Also repeating yourself time and time again is to be expected. On occasion this can be advantageous as you do genuinely forget things, now if that's things you didn't necessarily want to do or go it's not your fault it's chemo. Don't be alarmed when you're telling a fantastic hilarious story and you forget what your saying halfway through a sentence this does not mean that the cancer has spread to your brain you have chemo fog. And for all the haters out there it's listed on the Macmillan webpage so it's real.

Obsessive buying - i'm not sure this counts as a side effect but it seems to happen to everybody I've spoken to who is going through chemo. The fact of the matter is that you can't stop buying things. You have a lot of time of time on your hands but fear not for the times when you can't leave the house there is the Internet. No I'm not condoning buying shed loads of things but if you need new shoes then you need new shoes, I'm also not condoning lying but if you were to wear your new shoes outside just to mark the bottom then technically they're not new and you've worn them once, chemo brain can also play a big part in this "side effect" as you may not even remember buying them… 

So before this turns into a degree dissertation I will leave you with a list of programs that got me through my summer

Breaking bad 
Orange is the new black 
Grays anatomy
Peaky blinders
EX on the beach
Mob wives
Downton Abbey
Keeping up with the Kardashians

Happy viewing xx

Oh and PS you WILL get through it, as tough as it may seem now, milk it for all its worth!! This was me Xmas day -23 days after my 8th and final chemo - bald and bloated as you like but I had THE BESTIST Xmas ever and was able to eat, drink and defo be merry....

And 9 months on I feel like this.....

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