This day will forever be etched in my mind.
I sat there, on my favourite chair, with a smile on my face the entire time. The four hours flew by, no time for Netflix or music. We celebrated with the most divine muffin and coffee that my mom and dad bought.
I know it’s not over just yet but this part of my journey is.
I remember that first day. I did not know what to expect. I was trying to be so brave. I was so nervous. Seeing that red chemo slowly move through the IV and into my chest was scary. I remember my mom taking a video of it.
Did I leave scared? No! The nurses are amazing. Actually, no words can describe them. Fellow patients become friends. Chemo day feels like a visit with friends. No-one feels sick on chemo day. It’s just a day to catch up on news with fellow patients. Patients who are going through such a tough time in their lives, yet no-one complains. If you have to go back on a day that you are not doing well, they gather around you and give you support and advice.
It’s been an up and down road. Two hospitalizations (talked myself out of a third hahaha), extra fluid and nausea drips at oncology. A change in chemo because I’m allergic to the second type I got. They prefer not to give the chemo I ended up on but since they had no choice, I had to put of with the side effects of this drug. It was horrific and I can already feel it starting after yesterday’s chemo. It was the first time that I felt I would rather just die. I truly do not wish that on anyone. This is the final stretch. My body just has to make it through the next two/three weeks.
“Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not muscles.”
I could not have made this without my parents. They’ve been amazing. Right from late night talks, medication when I’m not well, shopping, driving the children up and down, just everything.
My children. Every single on of them. I’ve had to do nothing at home. They took over completely. They made sure we had what we needed at home, they cooked, took care of me. Took care of the dogs. Themselves. I am blessed.
Tommie, for coming home on chemo days to help with the children. Liesl, who cooked every single chemo day. You were a life-saver in more ways than you know. Natalie, who spoiled us with food and sweets.
My dear soulmate, Wenchy who drove through to support me after my op and to spend a chemo day with me.
My friends Wenchy, Sarah, Shireen and Heather who went on a girl’s weekend away to take my mind of things. All of them and Jax who continued to walk this road with me every day.
My brothers and sisters (because they aren’t in-laws) thank you for all you did and your love and support every day. Thank you Douglas for being here to drive the kids around when I could not.
My clients, who understood and did not put any pressure on me. I know I’m going to forget people and that’s why I should not start with names, so to every single person who dropped by, sent a message, prayed for me and took extra care of my children when I wasn’t at their sport event THANK YOU. Every tiny deed made a huge difference to me and did not go without notice.
To my oncology nurses. Thank you for the laughs we shared. You put a smile on my face the moment I walked into oncology from that very first day. Even when battling to get the needle into the port, we could share a joke (or swear at the doctor) Thank you for being my “call a friend”. Thank you for caring about ME and not just the cancer patient. I’m actually going to miss you! It takes a very special person to do what you do
My very last chemo day.
On that first day you walk past this bell and know that’s what you want to do. You WANT to ring that bell. When fellow
patients friends hear it’s your last day, they say with a smile in their eyes “You get to ring the bell today!”. It’s what you look forward to.
16 May 2018 was MY day to do just that.
So much has happened since my last blog post(s). I’ve had so much to say but yet no words to do so.
I’ve been admitted to hospital twice.
Once with chest pains. My blood levels for blood clots were very high and I was treated for that as well as a lung infection. I had a CT scan done (for blood clots) and thankfully no blood clots were detected. However, the did see a 8 cm growth in my throat. I had a biopsy done and I was so scared. The biopsy I had for my breast cancer was definitely up there with one of the most painful things ever and I did not look forward to having one done in my throat! However it wasn’t too bad and they didn’t find any cancer cells! The doctor is still worried though and it will be removed between finishing my chemo and starting radiation.
I was then admitted two weeks later because it seems I’m allergic to the chemo. I got four sessions of AC chemo, which was fine and then I would have had 12 sessions Taxol. Halfway through the Taxol treatment, I got the worst rash. It actually started after about three sessions but got progressively worse. After the 6th treatment, my hands were so swollen and covered with painful red blisters and marks. I was to be admitted for a week but thanks to the needle that pulled out of the port and me having to go to a different hospital to have it fixed, my oncologist decided I could get my medication at oncology throughout the day. That way I could sleep at home, which is WAY better. My mom was also in hospital that same week and I spent my days between her and oncology. Thankfully at the same hospital. Even though I walked around with a needle inserted to my port for the rest of that week, I had no problems with it. HUGELY thankful because I would have hated getting IV treatments three times a day. Getting poked to access the port is no fun either. That would definitely count as my worst week yet. I was tired, couldn’t sleep. It was just bad all around.
Tomorrow I start on a different chemo. One we hope I won’t be allergic to. Instead of 6 more sessions (which would be 6 weeks), I will still have a six-week treatment cycle but only two chemo sessions. They prefer not to give this to patients, as it is hectic on the body. I’m not looking forward to it but I do hope that my body will cope with it as it has with the previous two. Okay, except for the allergy thing. I’ve been doing okay really.
I feel like I have going through life on auto-pilot. Not really thinking about what I’m going through and how it is affecting my life and those around me. I fear the day that it will all hit me. When I truly realize that I actually have cancer and I’m fighting a horrible disease. I’ve not been angry, upset, depressed. Just taking it day by day. It could be because I have such great support. I could never thank my parents enough. Even though my mom is going through this as well, she has been tremendous support. My father…I could not put into words what he has done and how much he has taken on since our cancer diagnoses. He is an angel in disguise. I could NEVER thank my children enough. They have been my rock.
Here’s to hoping that tomorrow will go well. Second last one then!
“Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.” – Ambrose Redmoon
I have said from the start that I want to write about my experience as something to read back on but also to just maybe help someone who has to go through this unknown.
I’ve been strong. I am still strong. I’m not falling into the depths of despair. No need to send help. I am feeling down though. It’s only the start but I just feel robbed.
I feel robbed of time. I can’t remember when last I’ve been able to just watch the kids swim. Zander used to insist. Now he doesn’t even ask. I don’t do things for the children anymore. They do things for me. I have so much work to do. I need time to work and time to rest at the same time. I don’t know how I am going to cope with added school activities. So thankful we live close to school.
My body is giving me a little f#ck you today. I don’t blame it. I mean it’s putting up a good fight and all.
Tomorrow will be better.
I knew what to expect. Which made the thought of the second chemo much easier. It’s just that it takes so long!
We drive into the parking lot, when Tommie said “There is Dion.” Now, Tommie knows everyone in town, or so it feels. Dion, could be any one of the many people he knows. As I was focused on getting everything in the bag for chemo, I didn’t really listen. Then he said “There’s Christel!”, that’s when I listened.
I got out of the car and there was Stel and Dion. How? We live 200km away… Here just to keep me company during chemo? I was sooo happy!
We just sat down and caught up with news from their new Northern Cape friends, when Liesl came in with coffee! More of us! By the time I was settled with drips and all, my mom, Dad and Jason also joined us.
There was not a moment that I was alone. Not a moment to think how much longer it will take the poisen to flow through my veins.
We laughed, entertained nurses and hopefully put a smile on some patients faces.
Stel, Dion… Thank you. Your support and the visit all day. You kept me smiling. Thank you for that.
Stel, thank you for being my person.
Honestly? I was nervous. Nervous because I couldn’t feel the chemo port and thought they wouldn’t be able to use it. Nervous of the unknown.
I handle such situations with humor. I had that oncology in giggles most of the time. Except when someone was asleep and there was this one old Oom that snored. That calm snore. I wanted to sleep with him!
First they put a plaster over the port that numbs the area. Takes 40 minutes and gave us time to visit family in hospital. I went back and felt close to zero pain when she put needle in. Felt absolutely nothing when she flused it and nothing while getting the chemo. I had my hands available and comfortable without an IV. It was great.
My body handled it like a pro. So far, so good. Little bit nauseous but I can cope with it.
I was so worried that I made a mistake by getting the port. I thankfully did not. It worked so well.
Everything has happened in slow motion. Too slow. More than a month after surgery, I will start chemo.
Next week Wednesday.
29 November 2017.
I feel like saying finally it will start but that feels wrong. I don’t want it to start. I also don’t want to wait any longer.
This weekend we have a family photoshoot. Will be nice to have those photos to look at as I go bald and feel sick. That sounds really negative but I’m just realistic. It is a fact.
I am thankful though that I could finish off the individual tax season without being on Chemo!
See..always a positive.