Saturday, September 28, 2013

I'd rather be here

I'd rather be feeling the cool water licking my body this morning. Instead the only thing licking my body is the constant waves of nausea that are effectively making me feel sea sick! 

I have taken my third capsule of magic meds that are supposed to render the nausea inert but this morning it is truly awful. 

Saint Mike has vacated the house with the KATs and taken them off for the swim that I really want...maybe I should drive after them? I'd like to but chundering out the window may not be a good look and although the water will be a blessing, the noisy children sharing the pool will do nothing to dull the roar that is occupying my head.

Yes this is day 3 post-chemo and like the first round it truly's also going to be the day the girls and Saint Mike shave my head.

Post with photos will follow...
(Image credit - Martine Emdur painting)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Getting back on the chemo horse

This morning I stood in the shower staring blankly at my hands covered equally in shampoo suds and my hair. Every day I have gingerly touched my hair waiting for it to give up the follicular ghost. 

As I mentioned in my last post I had even started to feel a bit of imposter syndrome creeping in as the days passed and I was not bald!

I had rationalised that as my 1st chemo session had been such a debacle I had been spared losing my hair and it would happen in the next few weeks post my new FEC cocktail commencing. So as I showered this morning with my head full of "worry" about what the day would bring in the chemo-lucky-dip department I absent-mindedly shampooed my hair. Seeing that amount of hair come away without even a whimper (no discomfort felt at all) was truly perplexing. Almost in disbelief I shampooed for a 2nd time and sure enough more hair fell out. 

I felt a bit bewildered to be honest. It's odd how even though I knew it was going to happen the timing just caught me by surprise. In order to give the KATs plenty of forewarning I called them in and gave them the news. Oldest KAT seemed unperturbed as did Littlest KAT. Not unsurprisingly Middle KAT did her best to be stoic but was clearly perturbed.

Annoyingly I couldn't spend the entire day pondering the imminent reveal of my scone as I had my chemo appointment to get to! So I ignored the hair mounting on the floor, in the basin and on the counter (note to self - white corian bench top is a VERY bad idea!).

I chose to dress in super bright spring colours today to counter the feelings of anxiety that could have swamped me if permitted. I'm trying to stetch my blogging skills so created this collage of the outfit...wasn't up for photos today!

It wouldn't be me if the chemo clogs didn't get an outing! My nails are also currently coral pink/orange shellac:)

The top looks blah but in actual fact it's a really nice lime green and I love it with the coral.

I'll post in more detail on how the actual chemo went but in short I'm home, I'm on an anti-nausea drug that doesn't give me lock jaw and a nasty metallic taste in my mouth. I am wiped out and am going to stay in bed and rest as long as my body tells me it needs to (thank goodness for another week of school holidays).

Over and out from my own personal pharmacy!!!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Respite from reality


My next chemo cycle starts this Friday. I have six cycles of FEC which sounds like some sort of mucous you would cough up during a particularly bad chest infection.

In actual fact it's an acronym for the cocktail of three drugs which my lovely oncologist has informed me will not result in the sort of severe allergic reaction I had when I had my first chemo round....oh that would be the one I haven't been able to write about here because it was so traumatic!

Imagine someone going into anaphylactic shock and that about covers it! Suffice to say that the drug that caused this reaction is not one I will be having. To add to my "special" status I also managed to have a reaction to the anti nausea medication (Maxalon) which resulted in something akin to lock jaw and a bad sense of vertigo which when combined with the buzz from all the steroids they had to pump into me made me truly want to euthanise myself pronto.

I was bedridden for five days and then improved daily the point that I was feeling dreadfully guilty (once again) for all the assistance I'm receiving with the KATs....imposter syndrome persists even when I'm legitimately unwell....I still feel like a faker...not "sick" enough...undeserving of all the terribly nice things people are doing and saying to me.

My poor KATs are naturally finding this roller coaster ride a tad tiresome and I thought they deserved a break from reality just as much as Saint Mike and I do! So a few days away have been the order of the day.

We loaded the car up with cossies, goggles, bikes and the minimum amount of clothing and drove a few hours north of Sydney to the calm and tranquility of a beachside holiday park. We have been here before years ago so I knew it was the antidote to our malady. Four days later I'm typing this as the KATs frolic in the pool....their last swim before they jump into the already loaded car for the return trip to our unwanted reality.

Oldest KAT tearfully proclaimed that it has been the best holiday she's ever had because she could forget that I'm sick and no one has asked her how her mum is. Truthfully I don't look sick (my hair is yet to fall out...cue more imposter syndrome) and I too have been lulled into feelings of "normal" heart breaks that we cannot remain in this state of blissful ignorance.

They have ridden their bikes with gay abandon, furtively admired cute boys around the park and frolicked like dolphins in the pool. I'm already plotting to return in early December to give them (and me) a much-needed booster shot before chemo round 5 on Dec 20....this time with our hard-working daddy along for the whole time!

The image I've used in this post is a mosaic garden tile that I made with Middle KAT....that was my week 2 project....I exhausted myself lifting three such concrete pavers and have been sternly instructed by my oncologist and Saint Mike to undertake less taxing creative distractions during chemo...passing out isn't a good look!

So we don our Indiana hat and march on relentlessly towards the other side of this horrible abyss....wish me luck for my mucous-like FEC regime:)


Monday, September 9, 2013

Wearing Indiana's Hat

In my last post I mentioned that Middle KAT and I had been workshopping an analogy to help her cope with what's happening to me.  As you'll know if you've spent any time reading about Middle KAT, she's a bit of a visual child.

Our gorgeous girl is a bit of a movie buff.  It makes my heart sing as watching movies has always been a huge buzz for me...but it's also something that gives her a real connection with Saint Mike because she's a keen aficionado of the sorts of movies that make HIS heart sing...think completely inappropriate action/war/sci-fi/blood & guts "boy" flicks!!! 

So, where else to go for an analogy to help her understand mummy's predicament than a classic action flick....Indiana Jones!

So as I stood holding her tight whilst she cried at the shock of seeing my pixie hair, we talked about how what we were doing was a bit like what Indiana had to do when he cuts a swathe through the jungle only to come bursting out to find himself perched perilously on the wrong side of an abyss.
Every nerve ending is telling him that he should not proceed, risking life and limb on the tenacity of some dodgy rope ladder strung across this crevasse. 
His fight or flight instincts are engaged in a rowdy battle under his hat.
But he knows that he needs to get to safety across that bridge and he really has no choice....he must do the thing he least wants to do.
We are like Indiana Jones - we have no choice.  What's on the "other side" is the rest of our life. Our life together as a family.  This is an abyss that there's only one way to cross - surgery, chemo, more surgery and a very long stretch where mummy doesn't look like the person you know and love!
Middle KAT really got this analogy!  It gave her the necessary "colour and movement" and seems to have enabled her somewhere to park her feelings and that's what I wanted.
I'm posting this from bed recovering from the first round of chemo.  It didn't go well!  I'm barely functioning.  If I'm continuing the Indiana Jones analogy I feel like some little Aztec guy shot me with a poison dart!!!!
Next post I'll relate what happened.  We haven't fallen into the abyss but it was certainly calling my name a few times.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Premeditated Chop


My first chemo cycle commences tomorrow. The countdown will thus commence until the day my hair follicles decide to head for the hills.

Never one to contemplate an idea for too long lest the opposing view gains traction I booked in for a "pre-chemo chop" with my beautiful hairdresser Rachel.

I thought chopping my hair off was a way to inoculate myself and the KATs from the shock of losing my hair completely. I hate to say it but I'm no longer convinced of the wisdom of this approach....poor Middle KAT was completely devastated when she saw my pixie cut!!!

This photo was taken a week ago at dinner to celebrate Oldest KAT turning 13!! As you can see my hair was long enough to pull back in a ponytail....not any more!

I feel okay when I look in the mirror but it's like looking at someone else. I cried when Rachel started. I cried during the cut. I cried when I left the salon and I've cried along with Middle KAT as she cried big heaving sobs. I asked her to tell me what words came into her head to describe how she's feeling:




What to say to allay those horrible feelings? Well, when you're me you go for an post I will share it with you:)

It will be all good. I just wish it was all good now! If I had to express how I'm feeling right now it would also be:




Great minds think alike:)


Monday, September 2, 2013

Spending time wisely

Four sleeps to go until my first chemo cycle commences. I will be enduring four "cycles" each of three weeks duration. 
I posted the following on the Facebook page my sister set up to allow friends to track my progress....
"Combo of drugs is Docetaxel + Cyclophosphamide (or TC for short). Will then be on Hormone Therapy at conclusion which will last 5-10 yrs"
I can talk about the drugs and the duration with an alarming calmness.  On the surface I've pragmatic and stoic.  Underneath I feel I'm doing a great impression of the scene in the Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch melts into a puddle............................aaaaaaaagggghhhhh my inner voice is screaming....I'm meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeelting!!!!
Last Monday was one of my worst days.  I seemed to cry all day.  I cried on the phone to my beautiful mother-in-law in Canada.  I cried on the phone to the breast care nurse. I cried to my kind and caring neighbour.  Worst of all I cried in the arms of my children.  Heaving sobs of despair and sorrow that this insidious disease is taking our family off on a tangent that we didn't anticipate.

Tuesday morning I drove the girls to school with the sun shining brilliantly and I decided that if I was going to get through the next week and a half before chemo commenced I needed to stay busy - find things to keep my mind and body occupied so I had less chance to dwell on the road ahead.
So I've got busy in the garden and I've got busy DIY'ing!!  Hence these random photos that on the surface have nothing to do with breast cancer!
I've repainted our back patio.  I have been quietly frustrated that since our renovation last year the disparity between our lovely front porch and our daggy rear patio was even more pronounced.  So, having removed all the patio furniture and other assorted crapola I gave it a good clean and then got working on repainting it.  A good deal of sweat and fatigued muscles and it was completed in time for us to celebrate Fathers' Day out there!
Project number two was a revamp of the small area adjacent to the patio...imagine broken concrete and messy dirt!  A trip to Bunnings, an order of pavers, sand and other "ingredients" and by yesterday I was admiring my handiwork - a neat paved area that is now crying out for some pot plants!!  
Finally, I have a work in progress with our front garden beds which are planted with hardy species which I'm now hearing is being referred to as "Palm Springs" style (oooh sounds good doesn't it!).  There was a couple of spots that needed a bit of filling in and I've now achieved this courtesy of a couple of Strelizia's (Bird of Paradise plants).  They will grow to about 1.5m tall and possibly as wide and will give some gorgeous colour when they flower.   
Timely then that today when all my "jobs" were completed I had time to ponder the months ahead and have relapsed slightly into floods of tears territory.  Nothing to do now but occupy myself with getting the house in order between now and Friday and allow myself to have a good cry if I feel like it!
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