Remember the blog post where I wrote to my body and I asked it to consider healing so that I’d be able to have children one day? Well, I imagined at the time of writing that post that I would be in my thirties. Perhaps I’d one day get a period pain, which might possibly be followed by a period. I just assumed I’d have to be very patient and allow my body to heal at it’s own rate. I’ve spent hours wondering about the future. Will I meet someone and have the sort of relationship I want? Would they want children? What if I can’t have children? When do you bring that topic up? It all went through my mind and it continues to. My mind needs to slow down.
The first time I met my Oncologist her first words after introductions and going over the basics she said, “There’s a risk you’ll be left infertile because of the treatment you’ll have”. I cried, I cried big ugly sobs and had snot everywhere. That hit me more than being told “You have cancer” – even now looking back I’m still surprised at my reaction. I’d never been the type to swoon over babies or dream about having my own. Somewhere deep down though I think I liked the idea of having maybe one or two. It just wasn’t on the agenda at that time though. I wasn’t supposed to have to think about it for at least another five years (I’d love to know where my scheduling came from…)
The options were explained. I could harvest my eggs, take my eggs and my boyfriend’s sperm – let nature do its thing, and then freeze the cells ready for the future. Oh and I could have my ovaries “hitched” up. I didn’t really think much of it at first. It wasn’t until a couple of days later I panicked. I then got angry. I was single and twenty-seven. I was annoyed that if I had had a boyfriend I could have potentially created a baby with him for the future. That’s a lot of pressure on a relationship at the best of times – but doing that because of cancer, well I was relieved to be single and to be able to cross out that option. I wasn’t able to harvest eggs because I hadn’t had a period for months. They were willing to sit and wait, and give me some sort of boost to encourage egg production. I didn’t like the idea of waiting though and wasn’t keen on getting six months down the line and still no period with the cancer doing whatever it felt like. I crossed that option out too. So I could have my ovaries hitched up apparently. All new to me. It was explained and sounded quite simple. It was via keyhole surgery and I was in for just one night. The following evening I was sat in the pub, in a morphine haze red raw from the itching, clutching my stomach every time my friend Mike made me laugh. I asked my Oncologist and the Fertility expert if women have gone on to have children via this route and they said it has been a successful method. I was happy with this and decided if it’s meant to be, it’ll happen. At least I’d had an option.
The ovaries were moved higher up with some stitches so they were out of the way during my radiotherapy treatment. It wouldn’t cause any issues and they could continue working perfectly well from their new position. Part of me often wondered just how exact the radiotherapy was. The team that would lay me down, line my arse up and zap me every morning full of radiation was doing their job. They were thorough. They were at times a bit anal… Thank God they were though. I was fortunate to not experience too much discomfort externally. I didn’t suffer the burnt skin that some patients experience. My side effects were more internal. I hurt a lot. I felt like a horse had repeatedly kicked me in the right and left bum cheek and right at the bottom of my spine. Sometimes I couldn’t sit down. There was the upset stomach too. Oh and the one I guess I’d not really thought about too much. I’d be warned about hair loss due to chemo, but I’d somehow failed to take in that radiotherapy zaps cells – healthy cells too. So it went through my pelvis destroying whatever it found including pubic hair. I remember the first time I realised what was going on. I called for the nurse. She assured me it was “normal” and eventually I got my head round it. When I was feeling more positive I was able to have a giggle about it and remark on how much money I was saving suddenly not needing to pay for hair removal etc. I even announced, “My pubic hair is falling out” to my mum as she walked through the door one evening for visiting hours. Her face was a picture. “Lovely, Hannah” – I excitedly said “Just goes to show how powerful that stuff is.”
Writing this I am fully aware I am over sharing. TMI, perhaps? Probably. But, there might be someone wondering what happens to their nether regions during radiotherapy because they might be about to go through it. There’s some stuff I won’t discuss. I sometimes feel like I say too much, but there’s plenty I won’t write. Some things just aren’t for the blog.
So I’d started to accept that perhaps the radiotherapy had destroyed me internally but had also successfully zapped the 5cm long monster. I was imagining that my ovaries had got caught in the cross fire and were inside me grumbling that they’d been moved about, stitched to a bit of tissue taking them out of their comfort zone and still managed to get zapped.
Tuesday night though I got quite a shock. Overshare moment…
I was bleeding. It was a period. It was like being fifteen again and getting my first period. I knew what it was but at the same time wondered what it was. I thought I’d hurt myself…or something was wrong. Looking back though I’d become incredibly bloated days before. Ridiculously bloated. I looked pregnant. I was achey and my back was sore, everything was tender. I’m used to hurting though. I never had an actual cramp so there wasn’t really even a warning sign it was coming.
It’s now Thursday and it’s still here. I’m also so incredibly hormonal I don’t know what to do with myself.
I’ve cried today over the following:
- Jacket potato being cooked instead of cous cous
- A friend smoking around me and making me smell of smoke
- My sore throat
- Listening to music on the train
- Reading a tweet
- Talking to someone online and them going offline without saying “laters”
- The idea of not being home before it gets dark
It infuriates me that I’ve allowed things like that to upset me. I have a constant frown. I have shouted, snapped, cried, sulked and moaned my way through today. Yesterday wasn’t quite so bad. Then I have a moment of calm and I appreciate it. I’m deliriously happy that I have my period. I hurt and ache and I am horrible – yay!!! It means things might be working again. So I’ve taken myself off to my bedroom where I will just stay put until the evilness disappears. I can’t subject my family to anymore of this behaviour. I think we’re all a little horrified at how I am behaving considering I’ve dealt with far worse than period pains and mood swings this year. I can’t do a thing about it though. It’s like I’ve been overtaken. I’m just glad I can see what’s happening and why. As much as I dislike it though, I have made a note in my calendar because next month I’ll be waiting for it.
So, I’m going to sit back and eat my maltesers with a big frown on my face – because right now, I’m experiencing a typical period that has been absent for well over a year. It feels great.