Cancer diary #07
Monday, October 19: The beginning of this week was horrible; horrible enough for me to absolutely dread the next round of chemotherapy. Apart from the heartburn (and thank you everyone for your suggestions – it has gone – for now) I had a cough, my stomach hurt, my scalp hurt, my mouth was sore (the poor cat has been quite distraught because she enjoys sharing my usual bedtime snack of baked cheese and onion crisps and I couldn’t bear to eat them), and I had diarrhoea (a change, though not a particularly welcome one, from constipation). On top of those side effects was the dreadful tiredness which dragged me down into a trough of despondency and apathy. And temper. Oh, good grief was I bad tempered!
I couldn’t see any point in going through this, for what might only be an extra year – not least because with all that is going on with Covid-19 cases rising and lockdowns all over the place the prospect of my current self-isolation continuing for what be the rest of my life didn’t bear thinking about.
And, with the worry of my kidneys not functioning as they should I was glugging down my two and a half litres of fluid every day so my tummy felt bloated and I was constantly nipping to the loo – including several times during the night.
In the beginning, I talked with doctors about wanting to have quality of life for whatever amount of time I had left – this wasn’t what I mean by quality.
Also, I had a painful foot. Come on, guys, lung cancer is quite enough, without throwing other minor problems at me. And did I mention I was bad-tempered?
I kept looking back to the days following the first chemo and thinking, well I was fine by Tuesday so maybe tomorrow I’ll be all right again. Tomorrow arrived and I wasn’t all right. Aware countless people have gone through chemotherapy with much worse side effects made me feel I was being a complete wimp.
On Friday evening, a full week after chemo, it was as though someone had flipped a switch and I was back to being me. Just like that. Extraordinary! Life was sweet again. On Saturday my brain was functioning enough for me to do my Afghanistan blog and reply to some of the many outstanding emails. The DH and I had a grand day out on Sunday, visiting the White Cairn burial chamber followed by hot chocolate at the Glentrool Visitor Centre – just an ordinary, normal outing, which a few days earlier I couldn’t have imagined being able to do again.
Something which really gave me a huge psychological boost and kept me going was a private message from someone who had read my cancer diary. She’d been prompted to have a lump in her breast – which she’d been ignoring, hoping it would disappear – checked out. She does have cancer but will have surgery soon, followed by radiotherapy and probably won’t need chemo. I’ve worried about my cancer diary being a bit self-indulgent but this has made me feel it really is worth doing.
Another nice thing was a phone call from the cancer specialist nurse to say my bloods show my kidney function is improving – yay! Huge relief – though it does mean having to continue getting those litres of fluid into me. But, now I know it’s working, it’s a small price to pay.
And, Kim Ayres sent through the photos he took last week. One I deleted immediately as it showed up all the wrinkles – and my goodness, there are many – on my face and neck. The DH and I can’t decide which we like best – the one to frame and put on the mantelpiece – the one which says, “This is us”.
Which do you think?
Finally, this week of huge downs and sweeping ups ended with having CT scans today to see if the tumour is shrinking – or spread anywhere else. I won’t know until next Monday when I have an appointment with the oncologist. If the tumour is shrinking – and my kidneys are up to it (the particular drugs I’m on apparently can cause kidney damage, something which is in the six pages of side effects but hadn’t sunk in) – I’ll continue with the chemo. If it’s still growing, then we need to have a whole different discussion. It’s going to be a long week, but at least I’m feeling well and able to do things to take my mind off worrying about it. I might even get some writing done!