The chemical-free countdown: Five

If all goes to plan this week (shamrock, black cat, chimney sweep and crickets at the ready) I’m just five days away from TH3.  On Friday I’ll be able to say goodbye to  FEC-TH or at least the FEC-T part of it because 18th January is the date for my final chemo in this regime.  Hip hip hooray!

luck-celtic-shamrock-blessing

FEC-TH started on 25th September last year.  Putting an end to these drugs is something I’m exceptionally happy about.  Although Herceptin will continue for several months more,  being free of chemo chemicals and steroids is a major milestone.  I’ve never been a big drug taker, the odd headache pill now and then or a course of antibiotics for a bad chest infection but no regular drugs and nothing to excess.

Chemo has been a regular drug habit and I’m glad to be breaking free of it.  Whilst I haven’t been violently ill the regime has interfered with my life by disrupting almost every system of my body.  Some will recover, some won’t.  I am weaker, less able to repair myself and more tired than I used to be.  Of course there was really no alternative and the combination of drugs I’ve received thanks to Dr C. is thought to be the best we have at our disposal today.  It was the only way to combat the unwelcome stranger that decided to take up residence last year.

Looking along the trail I can see the summit ahead of me now.  The sun is glinting on the snow and I’m armed with a flag.  I’m going to plant it at the highest point when I get there on Friday.  The flag says “You can do this” and it’s a message for anyone else who has to follow in my footsteps. Sadly there will be many, too many, but I want them to know that it is possible to come through this, to get out the other side of treatment and to enjoy life again.

I was told this experience would change me, that I’d be a totally different person by the end of it.  The people who insisted I’d be different weren’t medical experts, they haven’t been through this regime and they didn’t know me very well.  I am different – physically I look like Elmer Fudd but get past the rather strange exterior (which I hope is temporary) and I’m still the same person.  I enjoy the same things and hold the same values.  I value my life and all it encompasses more than I did before but that hasn’t made me a different person, just a slightly wiser one.

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24 thoughts on “The chemical-free countdown: Five

  1. Pingback: Ascent Complete! | FEC-THis

  2. Thank you so much for caring that flag for us, Tracy. That flag is not just for someone traveling the same trail of chemo, but for anyone who faces adversity which means all humankind and the entire animal kingdom. I am honored to have been able to accompany you on the last part of your ascent.
    I did not know you before, but the Tracy I have gotten to know is not only wiser, but is more lovelier than ever. {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

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    • You are such a sweetie Kozo (am I allowed to call you a sweetie? I hope so.) Its funny how we happen across some people and our inner voice says we were meant to find them, become friends, look out for each other, share some laughs and pick each other up when things go a bit awry. I think that’s what happened when we found each others blogs. Long may it continue because you’re the kind of friend who warms the soul and that’s the kindest thing one human being can do for another. I wish there could be more people like you in the world….

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      • There are more people like me in the world, Tracy. They just don’t know it yet. Your blog helps people become soul warmers, helps them see what is really important. For this I am grateful.

        I completely agree that people are meant to find each other. I feel the same way. Somehow I stumbled upon blogging which lead me to you and your journey, but there is a larger path in place and I am happy to have you walking hand in hand with me. {{{Hugs}}}
        I have a post I am working on coming your way. Keep an eye out.
        p.s. You can call me anything you want as long as you keep calling. “I just met you, and this is crazy, but here’s my number. Call me maybe.” No matter how many times I hear that song, it still makes me smile. 🙂

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  3. Not everyone has the fortitude to undertake the journey you have undertaken. For one reason or another, some find it too daunting. You are now within reach of the summit, flag in hand – and, thankfully, your flip-flops and a Sarong have remained relatively intact.
    You are almost the same person you were at the start of this journey. As you said yourself, you are now slightly wiser than you were before. Some of this wisdom has come from within, dealing with people whose attitudes sometimes seem unfathomable. Some has also come from the multitude of wonderful people who have joined you on this journey, both here at ‘FEC – This’ and on Twitter, where like minded people share their experiences, knowledge, fears and accomplishments.
    As an experience, I wouldn’t recommend this journey to anyone. But, if anyone does have to undertake a similar journey, they couldn’t wish to find better friends than you have found here.
    Onward and Upward! The summit is in sight and you have a multitude of people behind you, helping you onward towards a happy and healthy future.
    Love and Hugs. Silverback

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    • I’m lucky to be mentally strong but I suspect the multitude of unfortunate life events we’ve encountered facilitated that core resilience. Physically I’ve lost strength and I’ll work hard to regain it once THis is all through.
      I did wonder about being the same person. Here’s the thing – the handful of people who told me I’d be different did so with an undertone of negative connotations and that rattled me a bit. They implied the changes would include becoming bitter, resentful, incapable of certain things, self-centred, disinterested, melancholic. I can see how those things could happen after receiving the cancer life-sentence, but they don’t have to happen. I believe I wasn’t a tantrum-prone child (correct me if I’m wrong because I can’t remember and you will 🙂 ) but this is one time when I’ll dig my heels in about the kind of person I want to be… I don’t want to be a miserable, morbid mope so I shan’t! Lots of love to you, as always you are amazing and for a multitude of reasons I’m so lucky to have you xxx

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      • You were never a tantrum-prone child Tracy. If anything, you were always wide-eyed with an enquiring mind that wanted to know the ins and outs of everything. This enquiring mind has stood you in good stead throughout your life as you continue to show an interest in all that goes on around you. Knowledge is strength and sharing that knowledge makes us all stronger. With regard to being hit with the ‘Feisty-Stick’ when you were a child, I think both your Mother and I were (metaphorically) to blame for this as we wanted you to grow up to be the independent, self motivated person you are today. All in all, you don’t seem to have turned out too badly! 🙂
        As ever, proud to be your dad. Silverback xxx

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    • Thank you, we can do this… it isn’t easy but I seem to recall someone saying the best things in life never are. Here’s to a brighter future for us both and all the others we know who got thrown onto this path without an option to walk another way.

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  4. Tracy, while insisting that you are the same person you were before you went through a regimen of chemo, I wonder if you aren’t protesting a bit too much. I know that in my own case, my radical prostatectomy, while it ‘cured’ my cancer (I am optimistic) has had a huge impact on how I understand life. Sure I am the same person I was before the surgery, minus one prostate gland, but I know my zest for life has increased dramatically and my intellectual self is even more curious than before. I think any experience changes us, makes us a bit more than we were before. All of that may be attributed to being in the world, actively participating, leaving traces behind and maturing.

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    • I think perhaps some past experiences created the underlying framework of who I am before this particular experience came along… it’s just one in a very long list of events that could be called unfortunate though it’s not as unfortunate as the things some people have to go through.
      A therapist once told me that if she’d experienced as many critical life events in a one year period she’d be verging on insane – it was an interesting comment from the person who was meant to be helping me overcome a very traumatic period! Fortunately I didn’t go insane but I suspect 1995/6 when almost everything in my life came undone at the seams made me much more resilient than I’d otherwise have been and even more determined to pack as much as possible into whatever time was available. I’ve always been very driven, I think from an early age I realised my life would be too short to learn/do/experience everything I’d hope to – my Dad worked with life and death every day, sometimes it was deeply upsetting for him and the pain showed. It’s hard to grow up in that kind of environment without being shaped by it so I somehow knew to make the most of each day from quite an early age. Part of that meant offering love and friendship to the people and animals that made whatever time I have here enjoyable… and I’ve been lucky enough to receive much love and friendship in return for which I will always b grateful.

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  5. Ahh, I don’t miss the Elmer Fudd days! They will pass and you will look more like yourself again soon when you don’t have all this poison inside of you.
    Regardless of how you feel on the outside right now, I can tell that you are enormously beautiful on the inside and I am glad to be following along on your journey…
    Warmest wishes… ~L

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    • I realised when I said Elmer Fudd that people might also think I’d become a man… with a baggy top and trousers I could easily be mistaken at the moment. It’s strange what a lack of hair, dry crispy scabby skin (yuck) and absent hormones does to us but so encouraging to know once all this is finally out of my system I’ll look more like me again. I feel very lucky to have met you, you’re a shining light in this crazy world of cancer. I remember first reading your blog, it touched my soul and brought tears to my eyes. I couldn’t stop thinking no, she’s too young for this, leave her alone. I wish with all my heart that we’d met through some trivial circumstance instead of this one but I’m very glad to have met you and I’ll keep wishing for trivial circumstances to replace those that brought us here in the first place.

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    • Thank you 🙂 Having so much support and kindness here and through my close family and friends is an amazing tonic and a very good way to grow strength.

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    • Thanks Dianne – two more days blood results and snowfall permitting. I will keep you posted and thank you, thank you, thank you for your support, it means so much.

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  6. Tracy, I think one of the most remarkable things about you is that your core person appears incredibly resilient. To me you seem to be the same person. P.S. My guess is that the Elmer Fudd look will fade once you are not pumped with so many chemicals. If you ever miss the Elmer look, you are welcome to borrow my rain hat, which has insulated ear flaps.

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    • The insulated ear flaps sound heavenly so I may have to take you up on this offer Elizabeth. We’re forecast heavy snow on Friday and Saturday and its -7 now dropping to -13 next week… my bald head and fragile skin can’t cope with that kind of chill and I fear I’ll go from Elmer Fudd (lets be honest, it isn’t a good look unless you are Elmer Fudd) to freeze dried lychee! I think someone hit me with the feisty-stick when I was a child, it’s the only rational explanation for this kind of resilience and boy am I glad to have it.

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