MarySmith’sPlace ~ Cancer Diary #13

Monday, November 30: It’s now ten days since my last chemo and the side effects this time have lingered. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. If I knew I was facing another two cycles I’d be in despair. At one point this time I said, “If this is as bad as it gets – and it lifts, then I can cope. If this is as good as it gets – and it doesn’t lift, then it’s enough.”

Yes, I know some people go through many more cycles of chemo. I’m in awe of them. I don’t know how they do it. I really don’t think I could. I know some people have far worse side effects than I’ve had – but that doesn’t make me feel any better about the days I spend feeling like death warmed up. I can’t find a better way of describing what it feels like. It is certainly not living.

It’s not like after the chemo and the anti-nausea pills and steroids, I can just let the drugs do their thing and gradually leave my system. Oh, no, there’s the joy of five days of Filgrastim injections. These are to decrease the chance of infection in people having chemotherapy that decreases the number of neutrophils required to fight infection. They also help increase the number of white blood cells. They cause terrible back pain, right across my lower back. The first time I had the pain, I put it down to bad posture and lack of exercise – but when it disappeared only to return when taking the next course of the injections I’m pretty sure it’s the Filgrastim causing it.

Then, just before the course of injections is finished, it’s on to a fortnight of prophylactic antibiotics called Ciprofloxacin. Having looked up the side effects I’m a bit alarmed to see they shouldn’t be taken with blood thinners, which I’ve been on since those blood clots were found dancing about in my lungs. I take them based on the fact the doctor who prescribes them also prescribes the blood thinners. The antibiotics cause diarrhoea, which makes a change from constipation, but I do wonder if the oral medication is actually in my system long enough to be absorbed.

I’m sort of feeling OK today. I’m not as tired. The sore mouth has gone and there’s seems to be saliva enough. Out walking yesterday, the DH commented on how well I was doing. I didn’t slap him. But, I was not ‘doing well’. I had to pause to catch my breath on a walk which normally would be thought of as a wee stroll. Is this really as good as it gets?

Brambles in November – not that you could eat them as the Devil spits on them after September.
Castle Point, near Rockcliffe
The beach below Castle Point

I have my scan booked on Wednesday, December 02. The cancer specialist nurse rang on Thursday to say I’ll see the oncologist on Monday, December 07 though she didn’t know what time I’ve to meet the doctor. And, an appointment has been made in in Edinburgh the following day for the radiotherapy ‘planning meeting.’ No idea what time that appointment is either. It’s a two hour drive from here so it would be handy to know when we have to be there as if it’s an early morning appointment we’ll need to go up the night before. We are very fortunate that we can do this – what happens if it’s someone without a partner to drive them? Cancer patients have broken down immune systems so public transport isn’t an option. What about those who can’t afford overnight accommodation?

Of course, I suppose if the scan results aren’t what the oncologist is hoping for (a shrinking tumour), the appointment in Edinburgh won’t be necessary. Instead, there will be a whole different discussion on Monday. I’m getting my list of questions ready.

To end on something exciting – I’ve changed my car. My poor Toyota Corolla has done sterling service for 18 years but would never get through its next MOT. I’ve been dithering for ages about getting another car – how could I justify the expense when I don’t know for how long I will be around to drive it? Then, I decided, that was irrelevant. I’m still here and I need a trustworthy car so I’m now the proud owner of a new-to-me Clio.

Isn’t she lovely?

The day I’d to pick up the Clio and take the Corolla to the garage, it refused to start. That car never refused to start! I’m convinced its heart was broken.

131 thoughts on “MarySmith’sPlace ~ Cancer Diary #13

  1. Aw poor broken-hearted car. I was in tears when my old one of eight years and 130,000 miles got carted off on the back of a trailer. Even though they’re only bits of metal, they matter to us! Fingers crossed for shrinkage and the next steps Mary. Yes, goodness knows how some cope with the practicalities of getting to Edinburgh. What additional struggle on top of the existing struggle. Keep us posted. xxxxx

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    • Of course, they matter to us, Janette and this one gave wonderful service for so long. Please keep your fingers crossed for shrinkage. I don’t know if the NHS provides transport for those who don’t drive and don’t have anyone to drive them. Surely, they must – though I imagine the logistics are nightmarish.

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    • Thanks, Katy. The car is very nice to drive. My fingers are crossed for Monday when I hear the result of Wednesday’s scan. The actual scan is fine – and I get to wear scrubs like I’m in a hospital drama.

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  2. I like the looks of your Clio – I don’t know that kind of car, but she’s saucy. I cry when I let go of a car, which I hold on to as long as possible. My current car is a 2007 with 103,000 miles on it. I’ve been told for the past year and a half that she has 3 months to go. And yet….she’s still going.
    I think there’s a message in this. ❤ Keep on going, Mary. Your spirit is still SO strong. xo

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    • I think she is a nice car and we will bond in time. We’re still not quite familiar with each other yet. Maybe I’m more like the Toyota in refusing to break down, even though bits were falling apart. Hope you and the boys are doing well.

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  3. Bwhahahahaha 😀 … Emegherd! You broke your car’s faithful heart! You beast!!!! … I have to have ‘The Talk’ when I ‘retire’ any appliance/tool/vehicle/electronic device/etc. They have served faithfully and deserve no less. 🙂 … also clothes, shoes … any inanimate object that I interact with, really 😀 … also seasonal garden plants, veggies etc … this list is getting way too long, I’m gonna stop now. 😀

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    • Thanks, Wendy. It may not stay shiny for long. I’m not very good to my cars and they always seem to be filled up with an awful lot of stuff 🙂 Thanks for sending good luck – will let you know how it all goes.

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  4. I do hope the old car didn’t see the new one ( all mine have had names and I’ve had to sell them far away from home, so they don’t see me in their replacement). I think the guilt is a ‘woman’ thing. Fingers crossed for Wednesday, Mary. I won’t say, “keep on trucking” – or the new car will think it’s already on it’s way out and you’ll be replacing it with something larger.!! Will be thinking of you – no doubt with dozens of others here.

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  5. A lovely new car, Mary… It is so hard when the old ones must go. Just retired our 2002 Chevy for a 2008 Ford with AWD and heated seats. We don’t drive far these days. Wishing you well with Clio and sending lots of love and healing thoughts your way…

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  6. The cancer treatment period is very rough, Mary, but, if it’s successful, it certainly isn’t a measure of the rest of your life. My mom is quite active and busy and she is 82. She is more prone to illness now and we have to take good care of her, but on the whole she is a living miracle.

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  7. Enjoy your new car. My white Clio is most likely several years older but her name is Martine after my former neighbor who was the original owner. I’ve been driving her on our serpentine, rocky, and crazy rural roads for nearly five years and she is a trooper. She can find the beach on her own and drags me along…

    Close your eyes and think of where you were in those photos. Feel the fresh air, the smells, hear the waves, and know that on each wave is the positive energy and love from thousands of us all over the globe, and ready to wash away all the negativity that is trying to engulf you.
    Love, Léa xx

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    • Glad to hear you enjoy driving your Clio, Lea, and that she’s such a trooper. Mine is just over three years old and I’m sure she’ll soon get used to finding herself on the road to the beach – or to the forest. I do appreciate the positive energy coming from friends from all over the world. It’s humbling.

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  8. What a lovely shiny bright car. I have a white Golf. Isn’t the Clio the one from the advert with Nicole and Papa? Will be thinking of you tomorrow. How awful this chemotherapy has been and so unfair. Virtual kiss and cuddles.

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    • It’s the first time I’ve had a white car – not sure for how long it will remain so shiny. Yes, the Nicole and Papa adverts were for the Clio – I’d forgotten that. Just been watching them on YouTube 🙂 Thanks for your good wishes. I’ll be glad when I know – one way or the other – what the chemo has done to the tumour. xx

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    • I’ve never given my cars names but I do talk to them, and pat their dashboards. Daft, aren’t we? I’m looking forward to getting out and about in the Clio – thank goodness I live in a Covid level 2 area – Glasgow is level 4 and it’s now against the law to drive more than five miles 😦 Will let you know soon how I get on.

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  9. Your poor old Toyota. At least you appreciated its lifetime of service.
    Everything you say about the treatment is familiar to the stories I have heard from others. It takes courage and determination to get through all that, and support from those close to you.
    You have all three, Mary.
    Best wishes as always, Pete. x

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    • It was a car in a million, Pete, and I truly did appreciate its 18 years of sterling service. Just as I appreciate the support from friends like you and others throughout the blogging world – it really does help.

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    • I feel so guilty, still, Olga, but I was becoming nervous taking her out and hearing all the various rattles and weird noises she made. Thanks for your good wishes – will let you know what’s what soon.

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    • Thanks for the best wishes, Leonie. I’m glad you like the photos. I do try to get out as much as I can – today’s walk was down my Threave Castle – the river was utterly calm and the reflections amazing. We are lucky to be surrounded by such wonderful countryside.

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  10. I love your new car, Mary. I had my Acura TL for 19 nears and one day a year ago, she fussed and stopped in the middle of my driving, blocking the traffic. I had to have it towed. Too expensive to replace the part. I sold it to the junk yard and bought a new Acura RDX and loving it.
    I don’t doctors have the comprehensive understanding of drugs contradicting each other. It’s the pharmacist who would advice because that’s their specialty. Hurray for the progress and happy for you to see the ending of treatment coming in sight. 🙂

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    • I was becoming nervous about that sort of thing happening with my car, Miriam. My last one just sat down on me, fortunately on a quiet country road with no traffic. Maybe the doctor/pharmacist believe the benefits outweigh the risks – and hopefully I’m on my last course. I’ll let you know what comes next after I see the oncologist following the scan. Fingers crossed.

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      • My doctor order two kinds of radiation. The radiologist even tattooed me for the precision. But she also reviewed the irreversible side effects with me. I discussed with my doctor and he said the risk outweighs the benefit, so I only had one kind of radiation.

        Continue to pray for you, Mary.

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  11. Love the new car Mary and the attitude.. sorry about your other car…I am always careful not to mention I might get a new one when I am driving the one I have now…I am sure this next week is going to seem like ages, but you have done everything you can and been amazing. Your courage and grace is inspiring.. Sending love and enjoy riding in your new wheels. hugsx

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  12. Thank you so much for updating us all Mary. It sounds truly grim.
    Your Clio looks lovely and will be great. My Renault nearly got to 300,000 miles (didn’t look good though I was proud of my scruffy ‘wee tractor’) but I took a gamble on the cambelt-change-or-not-to-change question at its last MOT and it went with a bang on the road to Dumfries, just by the layby with Route 75 cafe so I rumbled in, had an egg roll and called the car knacker man. I felt sad as it rolled away but had to admit it wasn’t as bad as losing a pet hen.
    Good luck in your scrubs tomorrow and, even more so, good luck on Monday. We will all be thinking about you.
    Juliet xxx

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  13. Good luck tomorrow and the the 7th and 8th, I will be thinking of you and willing you on.
    Love the new car it’s so white! I know how guilty our beloved old cars can make us feel!
    I have not been in touch much , because I have had my op… But was unwell and had to be readmitted to hospital… recovering now. Still sending you lots of good vibes and good luck. 💜💜💜💜

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  14. 18 years is a respectable amount of service for a car! I guess it held on as long as you needed it to. Your new one looks sleek, yet sturdy for zooming around.
    I hope your scans Wed. offer a good report. Rooting for you all the way, Mary. ❤

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    • I think it is, Eliza, though a friend has just informed me on FB her car, also a Toyota Corolla, is 25 years old and still running well! The new one does make me feel more confident. Just back from the scan so now the waiting begins – at least it’s not too long until Monday.

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  15. Mary, having been away from WP for a while I had no idea you were ill. I am so sad to read that you have cancer and my heart goes out to you. You write with clarity and eloquence here and I’m teary-eyed … I pray the scan today will show an improvement and you will have good news on the 7th. How true that it is a gift to have help from those nearest to us, for the emotional support but also for all the practical help. One wonders how those without manage at all.

    May your new car bring you some joy … I feel your old one is in empathy with your own exhaustion as it refused to start – perhaps it didn’t want to leave you!

    Take extra special care of yourself and I’ll look out to hear from you soon here. hugs xx❤️

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    • Thanks, Annika. I first became ill back in early July, starting treatment in September. I usually do a weekly update on my blog. I started it as a way of sorting out my own thoughts and feelings but it is also a good way to let everyone know what’s happening. And, it’s had some unexpected bonus results – like the woman who finally had a lump in her breast checked out after reading my diary and will now be treated.

      I think I’ll enjoy the new car, though I still feel a bit guilty about my old one, which was a total star for all those years!

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  16. Mary, you live in such a beautiful part of the world. I would imagine it soothing in difficult times when you are able to get out and enjoy it. I am sorry the ills are still lagging after your treatment. It is not an easy battle. As always, my thoughts and prayers remain with you. Now that is a ‘sweet little ride’ you have there! It tempts me, but mine will be around until it just stops working. I hope you enjoy it as much as your Corolla.

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    • I’m really lucky to live here, surrounded by beautiful countryside and coast – kept me sane during lockdown, as much of it is accessible by foot (not the coast) from my front door.

      I think I’ll enjoy getting out and about in my ‘new’ car and do feel less worried about it breaking down. Hope that’s not tempting fate! Thanks for your support, Maggie.

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  17. Oh Mary, you have my sympathy re the feeling like death warmed up, that is a fairly accurate description. I hope some of the side effects have faded further into the background by now. Hope all went well today, fingers crossed. Love the new car, but sorry your old one chose to show it’s displeasure.

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    • Yes, Jill, I’m glad to say the side effects are receding though I’m feeling incredibly tired for some reason. The scan went all right today so now it’s just a case of trying to put it out of my mind until Monday (wish it were as easy to as to say). The new car is lovely but I do feel very guilty about my poor Corolla.

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  18. My cars have nearly all been run into the ground before getting a new one – with the exception of my last Mini, which I managed to drown after only 16 months. One of those long flooded patches on a back road that turned out to be that little bit deeper than I expected…
    It didn’t feel like previous cars that had reached a natural end, instead I had a lurking sense I’d inadvertently killed it. Manslaughter through negligence. Or should that be carslaughter?
    Hope the lousy side effects dissipate soon
    ((hugs))

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    • I’ve only had two cars since I came home in 1996 and I reckon that’s pretty good going. I do feel guilty about the Toyota. It could probably have nursed along for a few more months as the engine was still going strong but I was becoming nervous – especially out on some of those back roads miles from anywhere. Sounds like you have a lurking sense of guilt about your Mini. I did test drive a Mini Cooper S – it was lovely to drive, very nippy but inside was incredibly naff with huge white dials.
      The side effects are lessening but have taken a lot longer to do so this time.

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  19. I love your new car Mary, but understand that fondness and guilt re: your old one! I’ve had my old S-Max for years and even though it’s falling apart I will undoubtedly be sad to see it go when we do finally release it from its labours. Sounds such a tough old time just hope you get some positive news to lift your spirits. Sending love and hugs, Marje x

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  20. You have captured all the lingering effects of cancer treatment. There is always something whether it’s side effects from treatment, or side effects from measures to treat those side effects. My fingers are crossed that you get good news.

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  21. I hope you are feeling better this week. Its sounds like the drugs are working in a good way. The Clio is wonderful, but honestly i always thought only men are having a deeper feeling for cars. Lol Its true, changing a car is a little bit like giving a part of the heart away. Best wishes, Michael

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  22. You’re such a soldier Mary. And what a cute car. Yes, it was meant to be, the time for a new car Mary. I remember when I sold my first ever car that I’d put a ton of miles on. My girlfriend knew a dealer who would give me $1000 bucks for it. I knew I’d worn out the transmissions on the many snowbound treks I’d taken it on, and so my friend followed me to the dealer to drop off, and the car died on the lot. LOL, I told her to get me my 1000 bucks and let’s blow this pop stand. 🙂

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