Thursday, 27 September 2012

Update

So this week has been all about getting strong for chemo #5.

Came out of hospital to some lovely flowers from Amanda & Paul:

 
Felt well enough to go to work on Friday & it was great to go back in & get a sense of normality.

Sunday was Amanda's birthday meal at The Bull & I wore Erika, still not 100% convinced it doesn't look like dolly's hair tbh!

When we were there Amanda gave me my amazing quilt that she's been handmaking for me over the last month. It's Cath Kidston style, snuggley & absolutely fantastic :) Thank you Amanda :) xxx

 


Monday-Wednesday I went to work which was busy & fairly tiring - used lots of spoons! Saw Michelle on Tuesday night which was fun, good girlie night!

Today I went to St Luke's & had a blood test ready for chemo #5 tomorrow. I really hate blood tests! Never liked them but now my veins are becoming pretty hard so this time it blimmin hurt! We had a bit of a delay to see the BC nurse but as we had to wait, it meant my blood test results were back & the BC nurse said they were really good, better than last time even, so chemo tomorrow is a go.

Big thank you to Sandra for my Sanctuary Spa Treats gift set, I'm saving this for my achey bone time next week after T:

 
Also received a v colourful postcard from my ever thoughtful friend Hannah who has sent me a card ahead of every chemo I've had, thanks Han:



Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A Very Long Walk

This Saturday night, my lovely friend Kate is taking part in Shine London 2012 walking 26.2 miles to raise funds for Cancer Research.
 
She has already raised a fantastic amount of £1,792 but any donations you can give to make this fab amount even more amazing would be massively appreciated.
 
 
Please use this link to sponsor her: http://www.justgiving.com/KateSmith2012 



Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Home Sweet Home

My goodness it's lovely to be home. Slept so well in my own bed last night, no dip in the mattress, comfy pillows & no cannula in the arm :) Feel totally overwhelmed & a bit in shock by it all to be honest but I'm so happy to be back with my boys!



The stay in hospital now I look back on it was actually okay. I was treated very well, had my own room (due to risk of infection) & was allowed (limited) visitors outside of visiting hours. What wasn't nice was being away from my family, being isolated & not knowing what was actually wrong with me. The food was also mank & I've lost almost 2kg in the time I was in hospital. The chemo nurses won't be pleased about that so will have to try and put some back on. That's harder said than done though because firstly everything tastes metallic & cardboardy & secondly, although I don't feel nauseous any more; the T has made the inside of my mouth & throat peel so it feels permanently like I have bits in my throat which in turn makes me feel sick.

One thing I was worried about after having all the drugs in hospital was that it would delay my chemo but Rob contacted Guildford & they said "don't worry, this happens all the time (that's pretty scary!) so chemo will go ahead as normal". That means #5 is next Friday & then there should be just one left!

Photo of my cards:

 
Thank You Michelle, Granny Clarice, Sandra & family, Caroline & Mo, Robbie, Lesley & Katie & my Buying Buddies :)

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Dorothy

In the words of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz:


Neutrophils back up, temperature normal, no more poorly tummy = I'm home! 

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Cross Everything

Fingers crossed I can escape tomorrow! Temperature back to normal, heart-rate still slightly high but not enough to be worrying & tummy okay too. As long as bloodwork results are positive when they take them tomorrow I'll be a free woman :)

Fingers crossed, thumbs held, toes crossed too!

My balloon from Michelle:

Friday, 14 September 2012

Dumbledore is Wise

Hospital Morning #1

Blogging this post from my hospital bed.

After being told I was being admitted, I got moved to the Ardingly Ward. I was put in a room to the side on my own & was eventually brought some food (6 hours after first having requested something to eat!). Rob left & I had a bit of a boo as just felt so overwhelmed by everything.

Had yet more antibiotics & fluids administered & then Michelle turned up for a quick visit. Whilst she was here I got moved to a more 'sealed' room. We worked out how to use the TV, find it pretty cheeky that you have to pay even to watch regular telly.

After Michelle left I had yet more fluids that took until about 02:45 to finish dripping through. With the canula in my arm, feeling totally overwhelmed by everything & just generally stressed, it was really hard to sleep; I think I got 3 hours in all.

Got woken at 06:30 for more antibiotics & asked for a shower about 08:30. Got brought my menu for the day & picked my options cod & potatoes and then quiche & salad for dinner. Was hoping I'd be out today and not have to choose but I guess that means I won't be..... :(

Blood nurse came in and tried to take my bloods in my arm where I had FEC but the veins are so hard they wouldn't bleed so she had to take them from my hand - yuk. Come on bloods, please be back up!

Eventually got my shower at 11:15 and am now just settled on the bed, think I'll try and have a quick doze :)

Update: Here's a pic of my lunch..... Not had Smash mashed potatoes in years (they're still rank!)

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Hello A&E

I'm currently in A&E in Haywards Heath as after a morning of being sick, having an upset tummy & a temperature we thought I should get checked out.

Got admitted quickly as when you're on chemo you have a sort of fast track card. They took my temperature which had gone back to normal, my bloods, my blood pressure & my heart rate. My blood pressure was normal but my heart rate was fast and after a few hours of waiting it turns out I was neutropenic. Which basically means I have very low white bloods cells and therefore no immune system. This means I'm going to be admitted to hospital for at least an overnight stay :(

Here's a pic of me in an A&E waiting room looking less than wonderful!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Tropic Skincare

A few weeks ago I noticed that my skin was getting very dry so I started looking for products that would be natural and nourishing.

I remembered from following Lord Sugar on Twitter that he worked with a lady that was in the Apprentice called Susan Ma who had set up her own natural skincare company called Tropic. I found Tropic Skincare on the internet and the products looked amazing. The trouble with chemo is you never know how your skin is going to react to certain products so through their contact form I sent them a brief message with a link to this blog explaining that I was undergoing chemotherapy and was looking for a few samples to try.

A day later I had a personal email back from Susan saying that they would be delighted to send me some samples to try and asked for my home address.

As you can tell from earlier blog posts from this week I've had a pretty rough time on T, so when I got home from the doctors today and saw a box outside the front door I was pretty buoyed. I got inside and opened the box, expecting to see a couple of sachets of products, so when I pulled out 3 full size products and a personal letter I was pretty blown away.

Tropic kindly sent me the following products:

So far I've only smelt them (rather than used them) and they smell delicious, really citrus based and fresh which is just the kind of scent you need when undergoing chemo. Anything oily or chemically would just make you feel nauseous. I'm really excited to use them (I'll let you know what I think!).

Thank you very much Tropic!

Tu Me Manques

Things I miss (in no particular order):

  • Gin
  • Prawns
  • Swimming
  • Halloumi
  • Hair related things
  • Spontaneity
  • Pimms
  • DBD (days before diagnosis)
  • Holidays - Supposed to be in Spain in the moment - boo :(
  • Serrano and Parma ham
  • Normal taste buds!
  • Calamari
  • Walking without feeling like I'm 100 years old
  • Pâté
I will keep adding to this throughout the journey....


Can't wait until November when I can have a Things I've Missed mass-fest!

Bye Bye You Biting Beastie

Dear Mosquito,
I hope you enjoyed biting me last night because I think now you've got my chemo blood in you you've probably bitten your last victim!
Die you mofo!
Best Wishes,
Jo



The Tax Truck

Well this is utterly shite. The Tax truck has run me over, reversed & run me over again. I'm 29 but every aching bone in my body makes me feel like I'm 100 :( It hurts to turn over in bed, to walk to the toilet, to even type this blog post :(

Docetaxel (aka Tax or T) affects your bones making them ache like anything. Because your WBC count is even lower on T than FEC you need to have granocyte injections in your tummy. These stimulate WBC production & this causes even more bone & joint pain. Monday night was horrendous, I was hallucinating half the night, I vaguely remember dreams about selling my pain?! When I started this journey Rob bought me a heated blanket which I had yet to use, but yesterday it was wonderful.

Another SE of the dreaded T is losing your taste buds :( My tongue is fat & gross, covered in white fur & everything tastes cardboardy & flabby. I can just about taste pineapple ice lollies so you'd think we have shares in Del Monte given the amount in our freezer.



Other SEs I've found so far are ridiculously dry skin (my hands are peeling) & very sore nails.

I can't wait for the T to be over!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Stress

What an eventful weekend.... After the T chemo on Friday, we got told I would have a District Nurse come out on Sunday to give me a granocyte injection in my tummy to help stimulate white blood cell production. I was worried that as it was due to be on a
Sunday it wouldn't be organised properly and my fears proved right...

On Saturday we hadn't heard from the DNs so rung the number to find it was a Monday-Friday number, useful! Rob became the superhero and got us an appointment with a doctors that afternoon who had to sign off a form for the DNs to be authorised to come and give me the jabs. The doc thinks Guildford faxed the forms to the DNs on Friday evening who would have been closed by the time they got the forms, helpful!

Finally got a call on Sunday morning and the DN came over about midday to show how to do the injection.

Amazingly, Rob who hates injections, asked to learn how to do them so we don't have to faff in the future. So in the end Rob ended up actually giving me the injection (& will give me subsequent ones!) - My brave hero.

Feel pretty annoyed that we had to do all the chasing for this. When there is that much stress in the first place, the last thing you need is more!

The SEs of the injections are bone pain a bit like flu. I feel a little achey today but is a little like the calm before the storm as I feel like I'm waiting for worse to hit. We'll see.....

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Chemo #4

Had Chemo #4 yesterday, 2 chemo sessions left!!!

Turned up to Guildford slightly early for our 10am, appointment and managed to get a space in the chemo carpark which was a good start. Checked in and was shown to the waiting room, evetually got seen 2 hours later, bloody hell, waiting rooms are hideous places!

It took the nurse a while to find a vein & in the end they found one on the edge of my wrist. Yuk!

The total infusion time took about 2 hours, after which we went to get my enormous bag of medicines from the pharmacy.

Have a new nighttime routine of moisturising, putting on cuticle cream, nail strengthener, hand cream and foot cream and then putting on gloves and socks. This is because T can affect your nails and skin so I need to be extra vigilant around this. On Thursday Rob kindly (& brilliantly) painted my nails a dark purple colour as they can be affected by UV and could fall off :s so by painting them the dark colour, the idea is to protect them from the sun.

Woken up this morning (& sorry if this is gross) but I've already managed to poop! On the last 3 FECs it took me 4 days to go so for me this is a mighty victory!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Benefit Bonanza

Got home from first (blimmin awful) T session to an absolutely amaze-balls Benefit gift set :) Thank you so much Chelle :)

 
 
Update: So I've spoken to the lovely Chelle about this and it turns out that she contacted Benefit HQ and told them about me and this blog. Chelle always looks beautiful and loves Benefit make-up more than anything and thought that me getting something that she loves so much would cheer me up. She originally contacted them about their eyebrow kit as she knows I'm currently losing mine. But Benefit ended up sending the amazing pack above to her for me. The picture above isn't really that clear so here's what's treasures I got:

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Next Chapter

Went to the new hospital yesterday, St Luke's Cancer Centre (hereafter CC) in Guildford. The hospital seems good (it's a dedicated CC for the South-East) but annoyingly it's an 100 mile round trip. 100 miles is okay(ish) whilst it's for chemo but when it comes to radiotherapy, I'll have to do that trip every single day (time off at weekends for good behaviour!) for a minimum of 3 weeks :S Could be as many as 7!

We have a CC parking permit because otherwise it would cost £4 an hour (!!) to park in the main area but helpfully the CC carpark is tiny.... Luckily there's a Tesco nearby so we can park there for 3 hours without stress.

The chemo nurses there seem nice and they explained a bit more to me about how the T part would affect me. It sounds scary but I'll deal with it. I feel fairly prepared with painkillers, various medications, moisturiser, nail strengthener, dark nail varnish, fruit, prune juice and everything left over from FEC.

Soon I'm going to be rattling as I need to take 8 steroids today in prep for tomorrow, then have the chemo and 8 more steroids on Friday and then 8 more steroids on Saturday - blimey!

Tonight I'm off to my Young Women's group at the Olive Centre, we're chatting to someone from My New Hair so that should be interesting, I have a few things to ask so I'll report back later :)

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Got Spoons?

When I was getting frustrated with feeling okay some days and crappy on other days, I came across this article written by Christine Miserandino called The Spoon Theory which is a pretty good way of explaining things - please take a few minutes to have a read through and hopefully you'll understand my energy rollercoaster a little more. There will be days when I can say yes to things, but for me it comes at a price (I have to use spoons!)

Digging deeper I found a page on FB as well, seems The Spoon Theory is pretty well known.


So, if I give you one of my spoons, consider yourself special :)

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Happy Birthday Sarah

Today was Sarah's 30th Birthday and she had a fab village fête in her and Dave's garden where she raised around £100 for charity. I was brave & wore Erika, got lots of compliments for it :) I did feel kinda paranoid & like everyone was looking at it but I'm proud of myself for giving her her first 'proper' outing. Thanks for a fab day Sarah :)

Photo courtesy of Steve Pratt
Also, as I hadn't seen Kelly since my birthday(!) she gave me my fab pressies, an Ipad cover and this funky Border Terrier Doormat :) Thank you Kelly