I’m still dithering over what to decide about the chemotherapy treatment option.
I have had a meeting with the palliative care consultant which was helpful and reassuring in that chemotherapy and palliative care are not an either or scenario and if I decide to go ahead with the chemo, I can still be seen in palliative care for help managing any symptoms from either the disease or from the treatment. Knowing support is available in managing symptoms caused by the treatment is reassuring.
Other topics discussed with the consultant included resuscitation and whether or not I should have a DNR in place and also whether or not I would want to treatment interventions such as ventilation (I think that’s a no).
I started on the SafeFit trial established by University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support and other medical bodies to enable people with a cancer diagnosis retain or regain physical fitness levels. After a very lengthy process or questionnaires both online and over the telephone – plus a bit of a hiatus in my application because of the unexpected appearance of cancer cells in my lymph nodes after my treatment ended – I was accepted and assigned an instructor. For the first four weeks I have one-to-one online exercise sessions, tailored to my fitness levels and needs. It’s very much a holistic approach so my instructor always checks on my stress levels – not sure she expected me to burst into tears on our first meeting but she coped very well.
I also re-started Pilates classes after a break and that felt good, too. Over the period of lockdown, which more or less coincided with my cancer diagnosis and treatment, the class has been so important – the exercise but also seeing people, even if only on screen.
All in all, I’ve been feeling fairly well – and although I can see the lymph nodes in my neck expanding they aren’t bothering me too much yet – though I do worry about winter when I usually wear polo neck jumpers, which I suspect will be an irritation. But then, as always seems to be the case, whenever I’m doing the things I’m supposed to be doing to improve my health, to stay as physically strong as possible, something knocks me back. This time, I put my back out. I was putting the cat’s breakfast down on the floor – forgot to engage my core and bend my knees. Mea culpa.
I reached for the frozen peas followed by the heat pad. Dug out the lumbar brace and took paracetamol, expecting it to ease off after a few days. It didn’t and I had to give in and make an appointment with my GP. Before cancer, I was rarely at the doctor. I was brought up by parents who believed the NHS was a wonderful privilege never to be abused – so you had to be seriously ill before the doctor was consulted – and so I still hate to feel I’m making a fuss about nothing.
Oh, my goodness, what a difference strong painkillers and a muscle relaxant made! When I woke up three days later (I’m kidding) I couldn’t believe how much the pain had receded. Before the pills, I couldn’t have sat for long enough to type this far. I should apologise here to the many people waiting for a reply to their emails, letters and cards – now you know why I’ve not been able to keep up.
The one thing which did help my back when it was bad was walking, which really eased it. I was delighted to be invited by a friend to take one of her llamas for a walk. It was a lovely.
Annie the llama did grumble a bit at first about being made to go for a walk but she soon stopped complaining and seemed to enjoy looking about her. Occasionally, she turned to stare at me as if to say: “I don’t know who the hell you are but I think we can manage this together.”
I’m so looking forward to my trip to Islay with Wee-sis, which is still a couple of weeks away. Isn’t it odd how time moves slowly at times? Before Islay, though, I have another exciting event – a wedding. I can’t remember when I was last at a wedding. I can’t remember when I last wore heels!
The week I come back from Islay (16-24), I’ll meet the oncologist, try to get answers to my questions and make my decision.