So, after my initial dose of Chemo in July we were sadly forced to take a break while I had surgery for a fistula that had formed between the top of my vagina and my bowel. Yup. Bowel and vagina. I was pooping through two holes for a bit (hey, I may as well tell it like it was). Stool in the vaginal area is a huge infection risk, meaning unless I agreed to a colostomy surgery I could no longer receive chemo. In the words of my consultant oncologist “it would be like giving you sepsis” – fair enough, I thought. “I’ll take the surgery then” I said.
She asked if I wanted more time to consider it, and I told her I just wanted to take the fastest path back to treatment. Whatever that might mean.
My consultant Oncologist and I met again about 3 weeks post colostomy surgery. My surgery went far better than expected and that was the beginning of some better news. We sat down to assess the situation and surprisingly agreed that we’d kind of start over, as though the original cycle never took place – provided I tolerate the further cycles well.
So, there we had our plan: that we would recommence six cycles of chemotherapy (each comprising of three separate drugs), with each cycle three weeks apart. But that no baseline scan would be taken, as I had otherwise remained stable which was great, and meant that it was unlikely anything had been growing when I don’t want it to be.
I recommenced my treatment on Friday 14th September. It hit me hard, despite the positive news from my colostomy surgery, I was in an awful mental state at the time and it wasn’t until we received some extra news that I started to be able to pick myself up, start to fight a bit more.
So I want to insert some shout outs here: Thank goodness for my family during that time. Thank goodness for Tom during that time. Thank goodness for my friend Sophie during that time – you have been incredible. Thank goodness for my Octomums (Soz, if you know, you know on that one). Thank goodness for my NCT girls. Because a combination of all of you got me through that.
You might not know it, you might just think you sent a message but I never responded, but that message made my day, I just either didn’t have the energy to reply and forgot, or just forgot because… chemo gives you chemo brain, and I still have two lots of baby brain (yay!). Plus, I’m on opiates, so if I don’t reply I promise it’s not personal and I’d love it if you messaged me again to remind me you messaged in the first place. I promise, I won’t think you’re bugging me.
But then, two days before I was due my next round of chemo, when I was feeling a bit better but still really frightened and apprehensive of what was coming something small happened. The dull ache in my pelvis that seems to be unquenchable by my usual level of meds had gone. I did a whole day of errands with my lovely Dad, and it didn’t hurt. I walked around two shops, went on a school run and it didn’t hurt. I smiled to myself that night and hoped it would happen again tomorrow.
It happened again, no pain in my pelvis. I walked the length and bredth of the hospital for three different appointments in different departments and it didn’t hurt. I didn’t start needing extra pain relief, it just wasn’t there.
Luckily, I was able to tell my oncology team that day. I was able to see one of the members of my oncology team light up. Delighted for me, and so pleased to inform me that this is good news. This is the first positive sign that we have had that the treatment may be working. We won’t know exactly what it’s doing without a scan (and that’s after my third cycle) but we can take this as a positive indication.
It was just what I needed.
Now I actually actively WANTED the chemo. “Yes!” I thought “BRING IT ON! Let’s smash it some more and make ME feel less pain” I felt like I was fighting again, like I was on top of it, and not letting it get on top of me.
But, I’m really starting to learn that the phrase “It takes a village” is true in more than one scenario. That I don’t have to do this alone, that I’m not alone.
So there it is, my good news, my good update from my second take at round one of Chemo. It’s about time I got good news.