I went to my final round of chemo today. I wanted to mark the occasion by skipping into oncology, laughing with the nurses as we clanked our cosmopolitain cocktails and reflected on the joyous chemo socks and inspiration from Betsy, while eating canapes, and handing out gifts of gratitude to any chemo nurse that had stuck a needle in me. You know, really celebrate this chemo finale in style.
But reality had me hobbling into the chemo chair like a 98 year old with arthritis or whatever it is in my spine and pelvis, carrying an extra 7 kilos on my frame since this chemo lark began back in March, wearing a cardigan that had remnants of last night’s soup spilled down the front (this being a genetic trait), and sitting in miserable pain till my girlfriend Endone came and took a little while to cheer me up. I was then able to joke with the nurses and Mr Cool who came to every chemo infusion appointment and busily worked away on his work phone. Bless his little 4Shaw cycling cotton socks!
The last few days have seen me uncontrollably and embarrassingly cry as I laid on the chiropractic table and today on arrival at Oncology the nurses asked me if it was okay to have a trainee nurse insert the canula in my arm. I am in such a fragile state with the ongoing spinal pain I have been having that I burst into tears in the hallway and couldn’t speak. I’m all for on the job training, but I just couldn’t deal with anything new or extra today, no pleasant introductions with (probably highly competent but not chancing it) new trainee nurses, no fumbling around with needles for the fragile lady. Just give me my usual engaging and no bullshit nurse who can bullseye that vein like a sniper every time and will probably read this blog tonight lol.
Of course the tears and the miserable face prompted a flurry of movement from all concerned and staff hurriedly raced off to arrange pain meds and a scan and get the chemo started. We again went though the reasons why I really should have an MRI but can’t because of the magnetic port on the tissue expander in my chest. Ironically, the magnet helps plastic surgeons find the spot to inject fills into the expander. Since I was never filled, I didn’t even need one with a port but there you go. So, a full bone scan was booked in for the morning.
I am convinced that the Taxotere (Docetaxel) drug has made arthritic issues in my spine worse. Either that or it’s bone mets. I didn’t do anything to my spine to exacerbate any spinal troubles. There has been no heavy lifting of camping packs, no gardening, no running, no hours of vacuuming, no cartwheels or pole dancing (I promise!) But for 14 days the pain has been chronic and worsening.
Perhaps it’s just very bad timing and it is totally unrelated to chemo or cancer. Perhaps my body is just so low it cannot deal with the increasing toxicity and the immunity depreciating nature of chemo. I would be very, very unlucky to have stage four disease in the form of bone mets while on chemo. But at least the scan can reassure me as I really am a “cancerchondriac” on panicked high alert for symptoms. I’m not dealing well with pain that stays around for as long as it has and gets more intense. I gave birth to two children with no pain meds and I normally am an under reporter of pain. But this is really wearing me down physically and emotionally. So the grand and joyous “Chemo Finale Festival” had to take a bit of a backseat.
Today’s soup at Restaurant PHOR (That stands for Public Hospital Oncology Restaurant) wasn’t roasted butternut pumpkin with garam masala, or lentil with coriander and vermicelli, or a fine miso. No it wasn’t. Today’s flavour was gravy. Gravy soup. I think the chef got his saucepans a little mixed up. Aww who am I kidding? It’s not as if I have any taste buds left that haven’t been napalmed by chemo anyway! Luckily, the hospital sucks as a restaurant, but gets a chef’s hat for chemo care.
The highlight of today in finishing this FEC – D chemo regimen that started way back in March was using my gorgeous teal knit blanket and my gold sequined slippers that some incredible women at kinder gave me on the last day of term. I had saved them to mark this momentous occasion. The last chemo infusion.
So to the “Kinder Cast” I say a huge thank you! To Bilby, to Suzie Q, to Ned Kelly, to Dasher, to Austin Powers, to The Commander, to The Prince, to The Fair Ring, to Courageous C, and all the rest, I’m really saddened that my son is moving on from kinder at the end of the year. It has been an incredible privilege and fortune to have met some really wonderful ladies and families this year at the same time that this bizarre situation began. I would have been lost without their support. The well wishes, the play dates, the kinder pick ups when I was too unwell to kinder mingle as I love, the soup, the kale, the happy eggs, the local apples, the Good Loaf sourdough, the family fights over who gets the last of Suzie Q’s honey soy chicken and scalloped potatoes, the fresh play dough for the kids on a rainy day from the Bilby’s, the frequent arrival of delicious home cooked meals and all the hugs… and all of this is just from the “Kinder Cast”. But there have been several more production casts at work that I need to express gratitude too. Some day, in some way. Gosh our community is awesome!
Of course, I need to ride the next three weeks as this last dose works its magic. So I’ll be expecting to lay low for the next weeks till this stuff starts getting out of my system and I begin to recover in time for the big surgery in mid August. There is likely to be some 6pm bed times this week for me, not my kids. Bring on the next phase.
Can’t wait for my 8am full bone scan in the morn to see what is going on with them bones, them bones, them bones…
Luckily this ‘scanxiety’ wont last long. Normally the time waiting between scans and results is the worst. But this time the awesome nurse practitioner says results will be available pretty quick. Which is surprising as I heard on the grape vine he has a moderate addiction to Candy Crush. So I’m surprised he even has the time to see me. I’m so lucky!
Thanks to everyone who got me through this phase. Love you all and mean it. Really!