Hello! It seems like forever since I was last here but I’ve reached the end of another cycle 🙌 I’m awake early with a headache and sore throat so I thought I’d sit in bed with a cuppa and update you all! It’s true what they say each cycle gets tougher and this has certainly been the case with cycle 4, the toughest yet mentally and physically but I’m over the half was point or the hump as I call it!
I had a 2 week rest period at the end of cycle 3 due to my low blood platelet count and I think that made going into cycle 4 a lot harder as my body was starting to feel a bit ‘normal’ again. Similar to previous cycles my arm was a bit paralysed for a few days but heat packs and hot water bottles certainly helped. My veins are starting to hide, took 3 attempts to get the cannula in my poor hand was very bruised! The fatigue has really hit me this time and for the first time since I’ve started chemo I’ve been having the occasional nap. Anyone that knows me knows I don’t do sitting around and I keep going but I’ve had to listen to my body as I’ve felt physically very weak, it’s hard to describe but it’s a general yucky feeling all of the time.
The side effect that has the biggest negative impact at the moment is the tummy pain and feeling bloated, my stomach is tender to touch, when I eat it hurts, when I go to the loo it hurts, it puts me off eating but I need to eat for energy but the chemo drugs make the diarrhoea worse and then I end up de-hydrated so it’s a bit of a vicious circle. My stomach sounds like a gurgling drain a lot of the time it’s quite embarrassing in a quiet room 😂 I spoke to my Oncologist about this and he said that the chemo drugs are compressing my small intestine so there is more pressure and this will cause the pains and gurgling. At least I know it’s the drugs and not an issue with my Frankenstein like insides 😂
So that’s the depressing stuff 😂 I have done some positive things this cycle too! I went with a friend to a yoga and Pilates therapy centre and I did a taster session of each and really enjoyed it, it’s something I want to incorporate more into my life now and beyond chemo my poor aching body can certainly use it as well as my mind 🙏. I had a lovely night out with a friend we went to Barnacles an amazing fish restaurant and stayed at a hotel for some r&r and we may have gate crashed a wedding reception at the hotel 🙈 but turns out my friend knew some of the guests 😂 so it was all good! Recently I had a day of self care I was sick of my hair looking drab as they generally advise against colouring during chemo due to sensitivity but I went for some highlights that avoid the scalp and had a good 3 inches chopped off the length, followed by a lash lift, brow shape and tint and red toes. It so important to take time for yourself, it did wonders for my mind and gave me a boost when I’m having a tough time accepting all the bodily changes I’ve gone through. I think we are pretty bad as a nation at putting ourselves first and it’s ok every now and then to be totally selfish and do what makes you feel good, re-charge the batteries and look after number 1.
There are 2 things I plucked up the courage to do in the last 3 weeks. Firstly I took the decision to tell the kids about my cancer. They know I’ve been poorly and have probably heard conversations and I wanted to explain it to them rather than hear it from someone else in the playground etc. I bought them each the star of hope pin page this is the symbol of the bowel cancer UK charity so they could pin them to their school bags. I explained what the badge represented and that it was important to me as mummy has Bowel cancer but that I was getting better thanks to all the medicines. They took it really well, my eldest who is nearly 9 did ask if I was dying and I immediately expelled that thought and then he said but you haven’t lost your hair! In the eyes of a near 9 year old cancer means hair loss and dying but what he can see now is that it’s treatable and mummy can still do things. I know many people might disagree with my decision to tell them as we always want to protect our children but I am always honest with my children about things that happen in life and I want them to come to me with questions and they are excited about helping me fundraise next year.
The second thing I plucked up the courage to do was to seek some counselling, this is something I probably should have done years ago due to past life events but I’ll admit I’d rather put things to go back of my mind and plough on with life, this is another thing I think we are bad at as a nation! We always say we are ‘ok’ but it’s ok not to be ok and to talk about how we feel is so important and it encourages others to do the same. I think getting diagnosed with cancer and all that uncertainty it brings about life I finally made the decision that I need to work through and process all the things that have had a profound effect on me. I got in touch with a brilliant charity called Coping with Cancer and I visited their Leicester branch. They have centres in many locations and offer support to patients and family members. Counselling, holistic therapies, yoga, workshops, drop in meets the list goes on. To anyone that is going through the cancer journey or may have finished or friends and family that need support I really recommend looking at the services they offer. I have been for an initial chat and I’m not on the waiting list.
Finally I want to dedicate this blog to the amazing Rachael Bland (bigclittleme.co.uk) many of you may have heard that the five live broadcaster died this week. Unfortunately she had an aggressive form of breast cancer diagnosed 2 years ago. This lady has done amazing things to demystify the stigma of cancer and get people talking about it through the brilliant podcasts – you, me and the big C. bbc.co.uk/youmebigc. I encourage you all to have a listen you don’t have to have had cancer or know anyone that’s had it to enjoy the pods. It’s funny, heartfelt and informative and she has left an amazing legacy! When I heard she had died it did have a profound affect on me, I cried on and off all that day, I know it sounds silly as I didn’t know her but I felt like did know her and that is testament to her and the way she was able to make people feel. Obviously it’s a subject close to me and I think when you have stared at your own mortality it gives a strength I can’t describe and I hope non of you have to face it but it’s part of my journey and im learning so much. I’ve moaned quite a lot this cycle feeling ill but the fact is I’m still here and have another shot, Rachael no longer has that option so rather than hope they stop at 6 cycles instead of 8 I’ll take whatever they give me and will be thinking of you Racheal, brave, beautiful lady.
So that’s the latest, cycle 5 on Monday on a reduced dose to try and help alleviate the side effects. See you all soon have a fab weekend!