Today was an eventful journey to Guantanamo Bay, aka chemo camp. There are road works on every available route to our 20-ish miles destination. Resistance is futile because taking the country lanes means viewing the back of cattle, sheep and/or tractors. Overtaking isn’t an option and they all smell; to me they stink badly so it’s no Chanel no. 5 moment. Miraculously we arrived on time.
I took a chair next to Brian, my chemo buddy. He was back for a top up on red blood cells, plasma and platelets. We got talking and I asked how his wife Jan is doing following her troubled pace-maker op. She’s almost back to normal. I tell Brian that’s just the best news and I’m so pleased for them both. She has more surgery before Christmas so the family plans they had are on hold until New Year; it’s pretty much the same in my household.
We talk about our treatment and when we might see each other again, then Brian says out of the blue that I look good, healthy…. and young. These words, so obviously heartfelt, take me completely by surprise especially when chemo nurse joins in. I did slap on some make-up this morning, no point making camp dull and lifeless. I’ve almost mastered the illusion of eyelashes with kohl and the mirage of a rosy glow with rouge. I chose a woollen baker-boy cap in cream, long cream woolly scarf, knitted tunic dress, leggings and boots. I looked clean and well attired but I’m no super model (unless London’s Royal National Theatre building counts in which case I’m Claudia Schiffer). I make an effort so other people don’t have to feel sorry for me. I’m not bothered if I look like Casper the ghost in a snow storm but I don’t want other people to have to pity me. There is nothing to pity, it is what it is and I’m doing my best to learn some new dance moves in this tango with the breast cancer cad.
Today’s move – the Gancho. Aka kicking cancer cad where it hurts.
Yesterday I was wrong about the number of chemo syringes. There were eight last time, today there were eleven of varying sizes (none as small as the diagram in my previous post). But before chemo can be administered, we have to find a vein. Oh dear. I soaked my hand in very hot water for 20 minutes and next to nothing showed up. I had one small vein in my index finger and one at the base of my thumb. They both got blown before we were anywhere near injecting the chemo. FEC! So the remaining option – underside of my arm about 4 inches above my wrist. It’s not the best site for a cannula but in my mind it still beats the central line. (The nurses aren’t so convinced). Although we had a few attempts at finding a good vein and I feel a tiny bit like a human pin cushion, chemo itself flowed somewhat better into today’s unwilling volunteer. The whole session took three hours instead of four which is a bonus as far as I’m concerned.
My meds have been adjusted again too as nausea seems to blight me for anywhere from 72 hours to 9 days post-treatment, coming on within an hour or two of arriving home. It’s back again today but didn’t start in earnest until 4 hours after treatment – another bonus. It’s getting quite intense now and I confess it makes me a touch miserable so I deal with it by going to bed and trying to sleep it off. Hibernation may well be my plan for winter.
However all this messing around aside, FEC3 is now done and dusted. I thank you, chemical cocktail of WMD-ish characteristics for the work you’ve done and I hope I never see you again. Two weeks chemo free and then its time to get ready for Taxotere and a host of new supporting drugs. I welcome you, almighty drugs, with open arms. Perhaps not open veins but you can’t have your cake and eat it.