My last blog post was very different to my usual posts. I’ve read it back to myself a few times since posting it and now I feel quite disconnected from that post, almost feels like I didn’t write it.
It’s almost three weeks since my last dose of chemotherapy and I feel like me again. I’m fully aware that will all change once I’ve had my next dose which is on Thursday, but for now I’m enjoying feeling human and not being quite so angry. I’m actually rather happy.
The last three weeks have been emotional, and at one point my emotions were taken to the extreme due to my hormones. Yep, even during this cancer bullish*t I have to deal with hormones too. Not just normal hormones though – I’m talking hormones on steroids. To protect my ovaries during chemotherapy I have an implant called Zoladex (Goserelin) put under my skin every twenty eight days. It basically switches everything off and takes me into early menopause at the age of 29. Nice. I was kindly warned by my Gynaecologist that I’d probably experience a mega period very shortly, which would probably be my last one for a while. I’m guessing because it was my last, my body decided it would go all out and make a real thing of it. Sending me into what can only be described as emotional hell. I can honestly say the week before and during my period (which has now thankfully finished) Mark (boyfriend), family, friends and actually anyone who had the misfortune of having to talk to me or see me frankly deserves a medal. I was vile.
I did wonder if I would ever feel like me again. Then it happened. Friday 6 July I woke up and I felt like me again. The frown that had actually been hurting my face had gone and suddenly my face felt relaxed. I woke up and wanted to apologise to my boyfriend and tell him to ignore the last twenty four hours. If I could do a Men in Black thing and erase his memory I would.
Gradually I noticed my energy levels improve, my appetite return, my eye sight started to improve, the nausea eased and I wanted to get out of bed. I went for short walks and even put my make up on. I was over the worst of it, and finally felt ready to make some plans. I don’t like making plans at the best of times – they always seem to go wrong or some twit cancels at the last minute, so making plans when I’m going through chemotherapy becomes quite an ordeal. This is probably because the last time I had treatment nothing went to plan. The treatment and surgery especially. In fact everything my Oncologist told me – the exact opposite happened. Eventually I gave up making plans because I knew I’d have to cancel them and I was getting used to updating my Facebook status to “back in hospital AGAIN’ – so this time round I’m really quite nervous about putting things in the diary.
I’m nervous of what this chemo will do to me. Until I’ve done a couple of rounds I’m not going to know what to really expect. Everyone is different and I do just have to go with the flow. I live it 24 hours a day so I’ve got used to it. I can drag myself off to my bed when I need to and I can moan and bitch sleep through it. If needed I can live in the bathroom. This is the polite way of explaining what goes on when I’m off sick – it’s what people get told. “Rough night, in and out of bathroom all night” and that’s generally where I leave it, unless someone asks specifically what happens. They don’t see the bedroom in chaos, the laundry piling up, the sick buckets, the unwashed hair, the emergency PJs, the Tena pants I sometimes have to wear, the tears that flow after seeing an advert on the TV for MacMillan, they don’t see me my mum having to wash me at two in the morning after being so ill all energy has gone I can’t even wash myself, they don’t see me sat on my bed, with my TV on mute and me just staring at the screen for hours on end because I can’t handle the noise or concentrate on what’s going on. They don’t have to watch the hours disappear where I’ve achieve absolutely nothing but not even notice or care but still feel exhausted. They don’t see the first stages of my hair falling out, or my dad’s reaction when I show him that 80% of my hair has gone. That’s just a taster of what can happen during the week in my house. Unfortunately I don’t really know when it will happen or for how long.
So imagine the internal (and at times external panic) that set in when Mark suggested we go away for a few days. These few days would fall after round 1 but just before round 2 of chemo. A few days away with the my boyfriend (new boyfriend) – any normal woman would have been jumping for joy and packing a week too early out of excitement. Instead I wondered how I’d cope with the car journey and needing the toilet, what would I do if I was too sick to even leave the apartment, what if I had really bad constipation/diarrhoea/bleeding/wind all weekend, what if I just had no energy, what do I do if I need to hide in bed – where would he go, what if I was really emotional, would he get really bored and regret the whole weekend, he might not fancy me after seeing me like this, it’s a bit too early on in a relationship to be having to deal with this. My brain was determined to ruin the weekend away before anything had even been booked.
Eventually I pulled myself together. I wrote list after list, and double checked every list on a daily basis to make sure that whatever happened over our weekend away I’d be able to deal with it. I was careful the week before, making sure I didn’t do too much leaving me tired out, I ate well and generally made sure nothing would ruin it. I had several talks with myself about how I couldn’t put my life on hold. How I wasn’t going to let this illness ruin anything else, especially the time I spend with Mark.
Guess what. My weekend was so good I sometimes managed to forget I was ill. From the minute Mark arrived and saw how many bags I had for three nights away I knew I’d be OK. My illness wasn’t my priority; it was Mark and us spending time together. I came home Monday 16 July and I’m smiling. I’m happy and relaxed and feel incredibly lucky to have such a wonderful man in my life. I didn’t want to come home or wave goodbye to Mark. I’d give anything right now to be unloading the dishwasher whilst he has a shower. Knowing we’re about to spend the whole day together.
I think we were both surprised at how easy the weekend was, and how my illness didn’t really cause too much disruption. The biggest issue was probably my hair (for me anyway). My timing is perfect. The night before we were due to leave for our weekend away my hair had started falling out. As I type this I probably have 10% of my hair left. All weekend my hair was everywhere. I’ve left a trail of it around Weymouth. This time round I’ve really struggled with using my hair. I don’t want people to see me with no hair. I especially don’t want Mark to see me with no hair. I don’t want to be ill in front of him. I know that’s impossible, but I’d just really like us to be getting to know each other without the bullsh*t getting in the way. There’s no Cosmo articles out there about dating when you’ve got cancer. This is very new territory for the both of us. What I have learnt though is that I can’t try to shut Mark out, back away or try to protect him from all of this. Because if I were in his shoes I wouldn’t want any of that, and that’s what I have to remember sometimes. Someone very dear to me sent me a message on Friday when I was sat in the car with Mark. It stopped me in my tracks when I read it because no one had really said it to me. The message said “snuggle up with Mark – and let him love you” and I knew straight away that she was telling me off for worrying.
So I’m home now and I’m happy. I feel so very different to a week ago. I miss Mark all ready and cannot wait to see him again. The weekend really did remind me that I need to sort my priorities out a little bit. The cancer is a part of my life, but it’s not my life and it’s certainly not me. It doesn’t make me who I am. This weekend I realised how lucky I am to have met Mark, and even though I think it’s completely unfair that the illness has featured this early on in our relationship I wouldn’t have it any other way if otherwise it meant never meeting Mark.
So, chemo round 2 on Thursday can hurry up now, because I want it over and done with along with the other doses because I have a life I want to get on with and a man that I want to kiss again, quite soon.