Friday, November 29, 2013

Helping me get up these endless hills

We're at the gruelling part of the FBC journey. My latest analogy is that it's like riding up a hill anticipating that if you can just tough it out to the crest you can cruise down the othert side before you need to confront the next hill.

Except there is no crest. There's just another bloody hill. Hills with no crest. No time to re-fill your "tank". Barely time to take your hands off the handlebars and gulp in some replenishing fluids.

This past cycle was a turning point in many ways. It included the "planned admission" to hospital where I endured three failed attempts to insert a canula whilst my three lovely KATs cavorted around the room, the registrar became increasingly agitated, my wonderful sister bit her tongue and Saint Mike  maintained his usual calm demeanour and I wanted to close my eyes and float away to a land where there are no more needles and no more nausea.

It took two days before the magic cocktail of anti-nausea drugs was established. In my case the drug Cyclozine is the wonder drug that when combined with Zofran and fluids makes my nausea retreat. Unfortunately it can only be given by injection so I had a sub-cutaneous butterfly thing put in so they could inject it without more jabs.

I came home late in the week and without my new bestie (Cyclozine) I was back to wobbly - the nausea although not as bad as at the start of week 1 was still grim and my bowels go into lockdown so I was in a bad way over the weekend.

Getting back up and around my priority was to nurture my KATs because the hospital week had been really tough on them. Planned or unplanned, seeing your mum in such a low state and having to leave her side to go home wasn't much fun for any of them.

I decided to spend as much time as I could giving each of them one-on-one time and thankfully by the end of week 2 they were all in a much happier place.

I on the other hand commenced week 3 dreading the countdown to Friday's craptastic chemo day and the commencement of our next "hill". This hill was made all the more steep because I had an appointment to see the breast surgeon and discuss my double mastectomy which is to happen 6-8 weeks post-chemo. 

Throughout this journey I have tried to focus on what's immediately in front of me. Consequently, this next surgery has been put in the "later" basket. Now it's front of mind and I am feeling quite overwhelmed by the prospect of having my old friends removed and a 12 hour reconstruction. Lots to organize and consider and hurdles to overcome re co ordinating the timing of my breast surgeon and the plastic and reconstructive dude. So far it's not going well. 

My older sister commented that what I need is an advocate so I don't have to deal with their shit-fighting over fitting me in....she's a smart girl (both my sisters are very very bright!). Bring on the advocate I say. In the spirit of my bike riding analogy it's like someone jumping out of the underbrush, reaching out and shoving my weary arse up this bloody endless hill!

As you can see from the photos in this post, life goes on! My KATs are growing up amidst this turmoil and I couldn't be prouder of them. I continue to be surrounded by caring and thoughtful friends who have given us the metaphorical push up the hill at various points!!

To those who comment and read these posts you too are hands pushing us up the hill and for that I am eternally grateful:)

Monday, November 18, 2013

There's no good cancer

I called into a talk back radio show today. Couldn't help myself. Haven't ever been backward in coming forward and not going to start now.

The topic was related to the disproportionate attention (and resources) that Breast Cancer gets relative to other cancers and the community perception that it is the "biggest" cancer for women.

As I was waiting on hold to make my point I listened to the various callers and a very articulate man from the Australian Cancer Council who dispelled some "myths" (for example lung cancer is actually the biggest "killer" of women). 

A lady called in and referred to breast cancer as the "sexy" cancer. The announcer (who I love) asked her in what sense she meant sexy. Quite rightly she talked about the fact that from a marketers perspective boobs are sexy.

I was really surprised by the emotion that the use of the word sexy stirred in me. I was almost teary contemplating the dichotomy of sexiness and the realities of breast cancer. The two should never be used in the same sentence and I felt compelled to make that point strongly.

When I did get to speak (which in itself was an honour as I can imagine there were a huge number of calls on the "board") I managed to make the following points quite succinctly (for me a waffler from way back):

1. All cancers and in fact all diseases that affect families the way we have been affected suck.
2. It would be fantastic if all the other forms of cancer could be elevated to the degree of public awareness, support, charitable contribution and therefore research and services that Breast Cancer has because then everyone who gets this terrible diagnosis would benefit equally.

Then I made my final point. The one where I said that using sexy in the same sentence as Breast Cancer makes me want to cry. Sexy is the last thing I feel and the Pink October marketing of perfect boobs when that is far from what women are left with post-breast cancer treatment is very distressing to me.

The truth of it is that my boob is a mangled mess and I try not to look at it. I certainly don't touch it and the fact that Saint Mike and I jokingly refer to this as our "year without sex" isn't just due to chemo nausea. 

My hormones have packed up their wagon and decamped. I am experiencing th joys (plural) of the hot flush multiple times a day. If I'm not feeling like puking I'm a cranky cow likely to bite my husbands head off! His saintly status is not just being enhanced by his patience with the treatment but also with the repurcussions it's had for our interactions.

I've always had a fairly amiable relationship with my boobs. Now that they're on a countdown to oblivion I feel like it's only a matter of time before I give this tangible loss the air time it deserves. But I can't focus on it now. Out with the old and in the new will happen in late Feb/early March but in the meantime I've got to focus on what's immediately in front of me and unfortunately that's a bucket! 

Sorry if this is a tad depressing. Felt like putting on the record these particular emotions. One day my girls will read this blog and I want them to get a nuanced perspective:) 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Lull before the storm

It's day three of chemo cycle 4 and I'm sitting up in bed typing on my iPad using my new whiz bang keyboard and origami cover

Sadly it's nowhere near as pretty as this origami flower but it's ticking all my functionality boxes.

I'm ruddy faced and feeling a bit jumpy from the dexamethosone (AKA mini-speed). It alleviates the nausea but doesn't completely rid me of the craptastic chemo side effects that I'm becoming accustomed to.

This was my position on Friday afternoon post-infusion....resting my weary head.

Note the stellar nails! A welcome side effect so far is that I've stopped biting my nails (I had resumed this woeful habit when I was first diagnosed). The thought of double ingesting the chemo drugs was enough to bring my nail biting to a screaming halt. Coupled with the suggestion of the chemo nurses to get myself to a nail bar pronto and Shellac the heck out of my fingers and toes was enough to get this Taurean racing off to the nearest franchise.

Another thing that has alleviated the after affects of this dose is that I got to open a few more of the pressies that my best friend in the entire universe sent over for me. Each one is packaged up separately for each chemo cycle. 

Bracelet 1 made me smile....but when combined with this...

Bracelet 2 "Fierce" I laughed....I felt anything but fierce at that particular moment in time!!

It's hard to separate what I loved more - the card (writing on the inside will remain private) or the lovely coin's so special words don't describe it. It's another token to add to my growing collection of good luck charms given to me by thoughtful and kind friends and family.

When I count my blessings I count all of them twice.

Monday night I'm off to hospital, origami cover and keyboard in hand. I am sure to suffer the dreaded imposter sydnrome that I don't deserve to be taking up a bed but my breast care nurse said she'd actually like that to be what I'm thinking because it would mean I'm feeling okay and that's the whole idea!

My wonderful big sister is coming up (again) to help out Saint Mike and I with wrangling the KATs and I am really looking forward to seeing her. Yes this is the lull before the storm but I'm hopeful the storm won't be as bad as the last one:)

Friday, November 1, 2013


Things have been subdued over here in KATcapers land. Despite my best intentions my blogging continues to be sporadic.

Craptastic chemo was never going to be a beer and skittles affair. I knew that. I just hoped that I would get cut a few breaks when it came to side effects. Unfortunately each cycle thus far has featured its own drama. 

Whilst my first visit to hospital was a fairly calm affair, my subsequent trip to the emergency room last week was less slightly more dramatic in that I was dehydrated and losing bodily fluids from both ends! Craptastic chemo is not only causing me kt have severe nausea but is also messing with my bowels something nasty!

It was distressing for all of us but I have been particularly concerned about the impact on the girls when I have to be rushed off to hospital. 

I seem to have one week out of three now where I'm relatively energetic (to a point) and so I am trying to busy myself with crafty pursuits to take my mind off the fact that I have an appointment with a canula every three weeks that I would prefer to skip!

Exhibit A is the above image - fabric covered canvas for a teacher at school who has a new grandchild. 

Exhibit B was another fabric covered canvas made for another lady at you can tell my innovation with a fabric covered canvas is a bottomless pit!

I also managed to finish three shelves that I'd picked up from council cleanup - wallpaper found on Etsy and a few sample pots did the trick. My skills with a drill and a spirit level still need some work but I'm happy with the result.

Next chemo is November 8th and my oncologist has arranged for me to check into hospital on day 4 post-chemo to be attached to a drip and fed anti-nausea drugs and fluids to help me ride out what seems determined to be the week from hell each cycle. Hopefully this will be a calm and controlled process that we can ensure doesn't traumatise the girls and keeps me relatively healthy.

Halloween decorations will be the topic of my next post...even craptastic chemo can't subdue the frustrated event planner in me and I decorated up a storm...before collapsing in bed and missing the afternoons proceedings:)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

The Old Blog Header

The Old Blog Header
Just Because I like it!