Breathing in is like opening the door of your rented 4wd and sniffing a Canadian icestorm outside: the sensation is sharp. I stand in the middle of my chemo regimen fascinated with the stripped down effect on my body and self in general. First with the body. The chrome dome and return to just skin look from losing most of one’s hair content makes me resemble I, Robot (from the movie with Will Smith). My ears stick back thank god. I’m used to it now. I even kind of like it – it’s easy. There’s no hiding, anything. Same with myself. I have no career at present to hide behind or define my self by. What do you do? I’m a mother: check. I’m a cancer patient: check. I’m a person with interests/ of interest? check. Query – How do you define yourself when the usual trappings are sliced off? By how you conduct yourself through the world … and with others (?)
Breast clinics are attached to hospitals as a support for women going through breast cancer treatments. It’s a follow up centre to get drains removed, queries answered, and referrals to counsellors/psychologists and much more. My nurse from the Mater Private Breast Cancer Centre http://breastcancer.mater.org.au/ has arranged to throw some private funding from the Breast Clinic my way for a Nanny. BUT, there’s more … she randomly met some women she knew out and about on the weekend (it’s shrouded in mystery, I’ll never know their names) who had a successful fundraiser on the weekend and wanted to give a portion of money directly to a women with breast cancer in a difficult situation (well, we all are) – and – I am officially on a tricky, muddy, tight-rope of a path with a son on the same said path so they donated the money to Felix and I. And now my lovely nurse has put me in-touch with a Nanny service and she’ll organise the payment side of things with my pooled funds. How wonderful is that? Bloody wonderful in fact. Thank you world.
Didn’t need to take anithistamines today. I am flushed face, but not in a badly allergic way. Wacked with tiredness, low-lying nausea, but nothing that’s rocking my world. Taking it easy.
Oncology day unit: (mid-point)
The first two rounds were horrible. I’m hoping that the next three after this one will go smoothly. With the first cycle I was hospitalised for five days.* With the second I was ill with a septic shock reaction and so far with the third chemo I haven’t gone septic (crossed-fingers). May the anti-emetic drugs (anti-nausea) + post-chemo cocktail of steroids, bowel control tablets, GCSF depot injection (triggers bone marrow to make white blood cells) and antihistamines hold me – them drugs baby they do appear to work.
The first two cycles remind me that I’m beholden to my chemistry. When physically ill with medical mishaps I’m the child who ignores the practical joke of a sheet over a sand pit. I walk straight into it and the sides collapse – my emotional life plummets to lack of hope, I become skinless and words with any hardness or edge go straight in and twist. With the first sign of returning health my normally robust nature draws back on like a much loved jacket – reassured and comfortable inside myself again, hope returned.
*One good thing about being in hospital was I got a complete rest. The staff were lovely to their youngest person on ward.
I went to the Choices young women with breast cancer support group’s Christmas in JulyAugust dinner last night.
Other women’s stories are so important. They position me among a group; an experience I can deeply relate to. As a 35yr old women I sat near two other women my age with one child who’ve also made the decision not to tempt Mz Oestrogen and conceive again. On my other side was a woman who’d finished treatment a year ago, proudly showing pictures of her attractive bald head. There was an active breast cancer advocate who said goodbye to cancer 22 years ago. Plus, the good news story of a women diagnosed 7 years ago who’s fertility kicked back in late 30s allowing her to have the children she wanted (she remains cancer free).
I finished Lance Armstrong’s ‘It’s not about the bike’ today and something he said struck me. He talked about his own emotional upheaval, his grueling struggle with chemotherapy and the support from family/friends being crucial to his state of mind remaining positive and focussed on his cure from advanced testicular cancer. He said, ‘sometimes you need to support and reassure the people who are alongside you as they’re scared too.’ Even though my first two rounds of chemo have thrown me physically and emotionally I don’t feel this is the only life I’ve got now. Chemo finishes early October 2009 and then I’ll start to feel better and better. So, I want to reassure you that after the chemo mop-up I’ll regard myself as cancer free, which I plan on remaining for the rest of my life.