MarySmith’sPlace – Cancer Diary #03

Monday September 14: I’d to give blood for testing before the chemo. I was a bit anxious because the nurse I spoke to on Friday said Monday was too soon, though I’d originally been told by the cancer nurse specialist to have it done on Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday. I phoned and left a message but went ahead with the bloods anyway. I got a call later in the day to say it was fine to have them done today. Such a little thing but I spent the day worrying if my first chemo would have to be postponed because of a mix-up/communication breakdown.

Having made the decision about which treatment plan to go with I find myself doubting and wondering if I’ve made the wrong choice. It’s odd. Since the start of all this I’ve felt I have so little control over what’s going on with tests and scans and being told I need this done and that done. Then, when it’s decision time, I suddenly have full autonomy and the decision rests with me. It’s more scary than odd. I’ll never know if I made the right or wrong choice.

I attend Pilates class on Zoom and feel better for it, especially as I missed last week’s classes because of Monday’s meeting with the oncologist and double booking myself on Friday. When I assumed I would be lucky to see Christmas I’d started sorting out books and arranged to take them to a bookseller in Wigtown so if anyone is looking for Scottish titles you’ll find some good ones at Beltie Books. Now I think I might get past Christmas I’ll have to stop myself buying them back!

Thursday September 17: To distract me from thinking about tomorrow my son and I sign up for a bagel making workshop on Zoom, run by my friend Barb who blogs HERE. In the middle of it someone phones from the hospital to ask some questions before tomorrow’s treatment. One question is about dental work and I say I have an appointment next week and will probably be having a filling done, as the temporary filling put in previously had come out. I’m told I can’t have a filling when I’m on chemo because of the risk of infection. Had I know this sooner I could have changed my appointment. I ring Birch Valley Dental Practice, explain and ask if my dentist can call me back. She does and asks when I start chemo. “Tomorrow morning.” She asks if I can come in at 7.55pm that evening. I can and I do. She asks how I am and listens patiently while I ramble on about everything from Covid-19 to the horrors of a bronchoscopy before she checks my teeth, puts in another temporary filling and gives me a prescription for various mouth medications I may need over the course of the chemotherapy. Thank goodness I live in Dumfries & Galloway.

The bagels are a huge success – huge being the operative word. No wonder I’m piling on the pounds since my son re-joined our household.

Friday September 18: I don’t sleep well. I’m glad the DH is driving me to the hospital or I might just have driven past and come home again without calling in – even though I’m wearing the kick ass ankle boots. I’m on time, I give my name to the receptionist, take a seat. Then it kind of goes downhill because when I’m taken to the ECG department I hear voices of muttering that “it can be done but she’ll have to wait.” The receptionist says there’s no record of my appointment being made. The nurse says she brought the form herself last week. “Yes,” the receptionist agrees, “I remember putting a note on it.” Since then the form, the note and my appointment have vanished. No one actually tells me this so I wait and eventually I’m called. They are short staffed – two sitting a test, one called to critical care unit – but my ECG is done.

Those kick ass boots make tumours tremble

Back in the oncology department, I’m weighed (heavier than last time) and height measured. This causes some excitement and calls for someone else to verify it – I am exactly the same height I was on September 07. Apparently this never happens. Things begin to acquire a surreal quality, heightened when I’m led into the room where it happens. Four people are already hooked up to drips – and they’ve bagged all the good reclining chairs! There’s a radio playing down one end, television at the other end. I choose a chair sort of midway, facing the long – very long – nurses’ desk. In time I realise it’s a mistake because from the television, which I can’t see, comes a constant burbling, which is annoying. Can anyone actually watch and hear the television?

They tell me they are waiting for the pharmacy to send down the chemo. In the meantime they put warm pads on my hand and wrist to make the vein come up. I wait. I read. They bring me lunch. I eat. I wait. Finally, the stuff arrives and I get hooked up and toxic drugs start dripping into my body. They give me pills to prevent nausea. Drip bags are changed – flush, medicine, flush. The nurse changing the bag tells me when this flush is through there will be one more chemo. A different nurse comes over when the flush is done and tells me I’m finished. I’m confused. Really? I thought I’d to have one more. I say her colleagues are trying to tell her something and she looks round and realises her mistake. She makes a comment that a proper handover after breaks would be useful. I agree. Finally, about 3 pm it’s all over and I leave armed with booklets and instructions and medicines and lists of other medicines to get from the GP.

As I get in the car, I realise I still can’t get my head round the fact I have cancer and I have started chemotherapy treatment. I wonder if it will ever feel real.

Saturday September 19: I slept well and feel fine. People who have been down this road before me have said the first cycle is the easiest to cope with; the side effects are worse after several cycles. I decide to make the most of this being the first and do some emails and writing in the morning and some work in the garden in the afternoon.

Sunday September 20: I didn’t sleep last night. I don’t know why. I’m knackered for most of the day (the steroids are finished for now which may be a factor) but I seem to wake up later and enjoy a two-mile walk. Hope I sleep tonight. There’s definitely going to be a nightcap before bed.

103 thoughts on “MarySmith’sPlace – Cancer Diary #03

  1. Dear Mary, I hope the treatment goes smoothly. Different people react to it quite differently, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you and hope your chemo is kind to the rest of you but tough on the cancer. Sending you positive thoughts and big hugs. ♥

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  2. I enjoyed the boot display and think they are kick ass. I couldn’t help but admire the gams too. (so, sue me) Still keeping the prayers going which are aimed at total effectiveness of the treatment. I’ll add a sidebar to minimize the effect of the chemo. I couldn’t help but laugh at you giving away books and think when this is over you should go buy them back. Of maybe even now since I have full faith on your recovery. Thank you so much for keeping us advised I know sometimes it may not be easy writing about what is going on. 🤗

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    • Thank you, John, I appreciate your support. And your compliments. I had to look up gams as it’s not an expression I’ve heard. I’ve led a sheltered life. I won’t sue you. It’s very odd writing about what’s happening – mainly because so little actually seems to be happening. I think that’s what makes it all so hard to feel real. Ordinary life continues: I get enraged every time I watch the news and see Trump and Boris posturing, I need coffee and breakfast when I wake up and then suddenly I remember I have cancer and the world tilts on its axis for a moment.

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      • Yes and it will tilt for a while (The world that is). You have to get used to the fact that you are now a warrior and Cancer struck first. You need to be dedicated to it’s demise. You are not a victim you are a conquering hero. (Well that made me feel better.) HUGS

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  3. Thank you for the update, Mary. You’re doing well. Keeping a diary and sharing it is wonderful. It makes you feel you’re not alone in this journey. Yes, you’re not alone. It’s great that you keep the online class with your son, and take the Pilate class also. They keep your mind occupied and not thinking about your cancer all the time. The hard thing is night time when the daytime activities are not there. Your thoughts focus on nothing but your treatment. If needed, listen to some music with a headphone. I continue to pray for you, Mary. 🙂

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    • I think you are right about the night time, Miriam. I didn’t sleep last night and although I can’t say I was consciously thinking about the cancer or the treatment something was keeping me awake. I finally picked up a book and fell asleep reading! Daytime is definitely easier. Thanks for your support.

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      • Yes, Mary. Conciously we tell ourselves that we have things under control, but subconsciously we still worry of the unknown. But if you’ve done your best making your decision and nothing was neglected, there’s nothing more you can do.

        I’m glad to hear you feel asleep reading.

        I was thankful to have overwhelming support when I went through mine.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you, John, I appreciate your support. And your compliments. I had to look up gams as it’s not an expression I’ve heard. I’ve led a sheltered life. I won’t sue you. It’s very odd writing about what’s happening – mainly because so little actually seems to be happening. I think that’s what makes it all so hard to feel real. Ordinary life continues: I get enraged every time I watch the news and see Trump and Boris posturing, I need coffee and breakfast when I wake up and then suddenly I remember I have cancer and the world tilts on its axis for a moment.

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  5. Love the kick ass boots Mary and yes wear them everytime..they are now your mascots.. And do you have a ipod that you can listen to an audio book perhaps during your session next time. Sleep when you can, eat when you can, and laugh as much as possible.. and remember we are all here wearing our kick ass boots and between us we will knock this cancer out the door… ♥♥

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  6. Hooray, Mary! You made it through the first round, and that puts you one step closer to the LAST one, where you’ll finish stomping that stupid tumor into oblivion with those snazzy kick-ass boots!! I’m so proud of you for stepping up and getting it done, in spite of how nerve wracking it must have been. You rocked it, and I just know you are going to prevail. Praying for you every step of the way, my friend, and hoping you’ll tolerate this treatment with the least possible amount of discomfort. 🙂 ❤

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    • Thanks so much, Marcia. Yep, one down – not sure how many left. I think I have another one then they check on what effect the chemo (and/or the boots) is having on the tumour. If it’s shrinking they will continue with chemo. Thanks so much for your support – I really appreciate it.

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    • Neither do I yet! Well, one dose of chemo hasn’t been too bad but I hear it can be worse as it goes on and it seems to affect people differently. I will be honest about it, whatever happens. Thank you.

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  7. Mary, I hope you can join a virtual support group to help you on this difficult journey. Your honesty and courage are inspiring. So are those kick-ass boots!

    Please don’t second-guess your decision for therapy; you chose the best options for a good outcome. We all wish you well and are praying for you. Big hugs. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Linda. You are right, it’s pointless to second guess my decision – but when did that ever stop us doing it! I’m not sure about the courage but I will be honest in what I share. Glad you like my boots and I truly appreciate your support. Hugs back.

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  8. Mary, the one thing I realised about you – so long ago we connected – was that you didn’t ‘do’ sentiment or unnecessary ‘sloppiness’. But I do ‘sentiment’, and I have appreciated your support and encouragement with all my books. Your illness doesn’t define you – nor will it ever; You’re a good writer and a great reviewer. Keep that in mind – and, next chemo, bag the best seats for the telly and comfort. And keep in mind there are so many rooting for you. And, on a selfish note, I need you to read and review my next book, The Heart Stone, out in Feb 2021. So… beat this bastard, like I did ( and apologies to anyone offended. )Sending lots of positive vibes ( is a X allowed? lol) Cheers Jx

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    • I’m not sure how many years ago we connected, Judith – quite a few – and we’ve sort of been through all sorts of things from dementia (not yet our own) and cancer. I’ll certainly do my very best to stick around until your next book, The Heart Stone, comes out. There is a sculpture called Hear Stone in a forest very close to where I live – so there’s another connection. I’m certainly going to try to beat this bastard with everything available from chemo and radiation to boots. I’ve been thinking about your book Secret Trauma ad the drug Stilboestrol a lot recently after a friend who has ovarian cancer told me she’s on a drug trial and many of the women on it (most under 45) have never had children. It made me wonder. Thanks for the positive vibes and the X.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It does seem quite a few years, Mary. And, yes, so many things. I do believe in coincidences, so that sculpture’s a good sign. Chuck everything you can at ‘the bastard”, including a good dollop of “sod off”. There are so many trials; does make you wonder. Stilboestrol affected my family but wasn’t even trialed – just accepted. In the past, we women were so gullible ( I know I was). Off to bed now. Hope you sleep. Jx

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  9. Oh, Mary, I’ve been out of the blog/Twitter loop recently and I’ve missed so much. I’m so sorry to hear this news and offer you oodles of virtual hugs and support. I hope your kick ass ankle boots do indeed kick ass and all is well. Lots of love xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Have you been off adventuring in your VW? I was telling someone the other day about buying the van for travels and adventure and thinking about how many of us say we want to do something like that but don’t. Thanks for the virtual hugs and support – really appreciate it, Shelley.

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  10. The boots are a delightful metaphor for this god awful treatment. I think you should put a shout out to Team Mary for piccies of your support boots, so you have a graphic representation of the goodwishes and stomping support that’s out there. Wishing you all the very best, from Sarf Londin….

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  11. Great boots, great attitude. But your attitude doesn’t always have to be great, you don’t always have to fight or kickass (even kickass boots need to put their feet up sometimes). Writing about it is great, clarifying, therapeutic I imagine, but don’t give yourself another stress on the days when you may not be up to it. On the days when you do and the days when you don’t, we’re there supporting you as best we can. . PS: I believe Christmas is postponed this year anyway.

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    • Thank you for your support, Jessica, and I am heeding your warning. I’m not a great believer in cancer being a battleground but I do like my boots, which like Willow’s red shoes give confidence at stressful times – like walking into a chemotherapy suite. As I have absolutely no idea how the chemo will affect me along the way, I won’t stress about posting the diary entries on the blog and if I can’t always get to read and comment on other blogs I know people will understand. Christmas postponed? I won’t have to get stuck into writing my cards early, then 🙂

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    • Thank you, Marina for the positive energy, virtual hugs and all round support. I’ll try to keep up the writing as it is helpful for me and if others get something out of it then that’s an extra bonus.

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  12. If you had never heard of ‘Gams’, you need to watch more old American films, Mary. 🙂
    Thanks for keeping everyone up to date. When there is nothing practical we can do to help you, it feels good to be ‘involved’ after so many years of blogging friendship.
    I can understand the feeling of it all being surreal, I really get that.
    If it heps you sleep, have two glasses of wine. I’m going to, maybe even three!
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • I guess so, Pete, but that’s more your area of expertise (and John Howell’s) than mine 🙂 This entire year has been surreal since the start of the pandemic, throwing in a cancer diagnosis just adds an extra layer to it. The wine helped, I think. At least I did sleep better – but feel like I’d quite like to go back to sleep again right now. Hope you enjoyed your wine 🙂

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  13. Yep, you’ve started. I’m so glad that, hiccups aside, it went well. It’s marathon, remember that. The boys will be concentrating hard on thinking to you during the bad times. Your experience is just as my friend Mo described. He’s still here, and clear so far.
    For what it’s worth, I’m going through the same ‘should I, shouldn’t I’ dithering, and mine’s only a cataract op. We’re both pretty normal, really, as normal goes.

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  14. I can only imagine how surreal this all feels, Mary. You are such a strong woman and I realize you may be tired of hearing that by now. I pray for you every day. I feel certain a positive attitude has much to do with our body’s ability to fight. I am glad you are blogging your journey. It helps me feel connected at a time I would love to help you in some way. It helps to ‘hear’ your voice. Sending you so much love and care from afar.

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  16. Mary, thank you for keeping us updated. You’re so brave. I don’t think I’d be able to write it all down, but I’m glad it’s helping you. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the rest of the treatment goes well and that there are no problems with the administration or missing appointments. And how lovely that your dentist got you in quickly to do the filling.
    The bagels sound fantastic. I like mine with cream cheese and smoked salmon, although I also like them with blackcurrant jam.
    Take care — lots more virtual hugs on their way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m delighted to get more virtual hugs from Hugh to lift my day. Thank you. My dentist is wonderful. I hated dentists all my life until I met her 🙂 The bagels were great and we sprinkled them with all kinds of toppings from black sesame seeds to celery salt. I’m with you on the cream cheese and salmon – my favourite.

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  17. A two mile walk after chemo is pretty good, Mary. The Brits, including you and my mom, are a tough lot. I could have told you about the filling but I never though of it. I am glad you elected to have chemo, I believe in it as the best treatment for cancer. Hold on to that thought as you progress on your treatment journey. pS You will feel the cold a lot so stay warm.

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    • I thought so, too, Robbie but I slumped the next day. I have to work out how to pace myself. No one thought to tell me about the filling. If they had I could have got an earlier appointment and had it done before I started chemo. As for feeling the cold, I always do anyway 🙂 I’ll be wrapping up well in winter layers.

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  18. You are so brave! And I love the boots. It’s doubly interesting (and moving) for me to read this because my daughter-in-law’s just about to start chemo for breast cancer. Your very frank and illuminating account is invaluable. Hope your treatments continue to go well – and that you get a comfy chair next time xxx

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    • Glad you like the boots, Fiona. I hope all goes well for your daughter-in-law. She must be very young. My next appointment is earlier in the morning so I’ll try to get one of the automatic recliners. I think mine could be made to recline but I couldn’t figure out how to do it 🙂

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  19. I really appreciate you writing about this with such clarity and feelings. I too feel this strange sense of you wondering if this is really happening to you ~ and even at the beginning of your post when you write “When I assumed I would be lucky to see Christmas…” it seem a shock of a reality check. Getting older brings these pieces of reality closer and makes you appreciate life that much more (and while I am no fashionista, those are good looking boots!). Wishing you a great weekend ~ and I bet those bagels are delicious.

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    • Thank you for your comments, Randall. I still feel some kind of disconnect – there is the ordinary, getting on with my life Me and there is the Cancer Me living a parallel life. I am sure in time the two will merge but for now it means I can mostly ignore the Cancer Me – apart from when having toxic drugs piped into my veins and popping pills, and when I can’t sleep at night. The bagels, while they wouldn’t win awards for appearance were really delicious. I’m so pleased I haven’t yet lost my appetite for food.

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