Chemo survival

You’ll have your weight and bloods tested before each cycle. Be prepared to be refused treatment at some point – your bloods may drop below the minimum threshold.

Many of us struggle at some point during their chemo cycle. I suffered after cycle #5: I couldn’t get my temperature under control, phoned the helpline, and was admitted to A and E for 5 hours. It’s a shock when it happens to you – I felt really vulnerable for the first time.

chemo_snakes

After my dip, my Folfox dose was slightly reduced for the remainder of my treatment.

Staging

After my scans, I waited a week to meet the consultant. This was probably the hardest time of all. 

When you meet with the team for the first time, you won’t remember important details, so give that job to someone else.

You’re waiting to hear how bad things are – will you survive or not, and what are your chances of survival? The details will get lost in your emotions. Everything may make sense at the time, but you’re bound to forget shortly after, as you’re still processing.

STAGING: THE LEAGUE OF FEAR
Two of the most commonly used staging systems are a numbered staging system and the TNM staging system. See the MacMillan site for more.new_staging

 

Round #2

SURGERY
I had my tumour removed after my radiotherapy treatment. You’re fast-tracked through the treatment, so there’s not much time to process at each stage.

knife

As Jeremy Hunt is Minister for Health, I named my tumour after him. Jeremy has been cut from my body and donated to science. I can think of no better tribute to the Rt Hon member for South West Surrey.

surgery
Guest artist (Lali)

RECOVERY
It took 8 days before I could eat again, and 10 days before I was discharged. Hospital food isn’t the most appealing, but the first taste of dry white bread and marmalade was sensational. My digestion has changed hugely since – to begin with, I couldn’t tolerate high fibre. I avoid rich food even now.

The future

The future is uncertain.

I’ve put this together as a way of sharing and remembering. Sharing with those that know me, and with others going through something similar. Remembering because it’s hard to keep track of all the changes that have taken place.

It’s also difficult to get your head round the fact that you really have been through every procedure, and it wasn’t just a bad dream. And a reminder, if one is needed, that we can’t expect life just to carry on as normal. There will be surprises, and not all of them welcome.

blake_uncertain

Ileostomy: a bag on my belly

I have an ileostomy. When the surgeon removed the damaged part of my colon, he had to leave it to heal for a while. The ileostomy bypasses the affected area.

ileostomy
the bag

LIVING WITH A BAG ON THE BELLY
Life with a bag is OK. I have to empty it regularly, sometimes 8 or 10 times a day. It leaves a bulge on my waistline, and it sometimes peeks out when it’s curious.

EATING HABITS
I’ve had to change my diet since the start of treatment. I also have to eat more, because I don’t absorb everything at present.

IRRITATION
I have to protect the stoma, which is the little stump of colon that sticks out, from being hurt from things like when I squat while gardening. I haven’t done much, so it’s not been a major problem. The seatbelt in the car can irritate the stoma, so I protect it with a jumper.