Saturday, 12 July 2008

last chemo in 10 days time - good, bad or just scary??

Saturday 12th July

Since the last chemo I have been feeling sick most of the time and AWAKE a lot - I think it’s a combination of the steroids [well known for causing sleep disturbance] and worrying about the chemo concluding, what happens next etc. I seem to just lurch between trying to stay awake, trying to work and trying to go to sleep. This post has been sitting in drafts all week. Thought I'd better crack on and finish it before next year!

The joint pain is back with a vengeance, all side effects as usual, but worse this time. Apparently it gets worse on the last one too! Aaaargh. Feeling sick, pain in my stomach, wrists, knees and ankles, and a bit depressed [I am convinced that’s the steroids - as soon as they leave my system I feel better. Although saying that, the fact that it rains every single day isn’t helping!!]. I've been trying to use any time at all that I have as an awake person, to get work done – concentration is very, very difficult. So many things whizzing round my head, and so, so tired. Enormously frustrating, as I always worry about letting people down.

This time the total and utter exhaustion is really total and utter! I think I feel tired even when I'm asleep. But I just keep thinking I only have to go through this once more, then that’s it.

It's odd, but until now I didn't think much past the end of the chemo cycles. Now that I know I have a date for what we HOPE will be the final cycle, I am starting to think further than that. Three weeks after that final chemo I should be able to think about not having cancer, growing my hair and nails, losing all this weight I’ve gained; basically getting a level of fitness back and generally helping my self confidence, which is gone with the wind. I was thinking about all this, and I started off feeling really happy about it, but the more I pondered, the more anxious I became, until I was in what amounted to a total panic!

I am sure everyone is thinking that I must be jumping for joy now that the end of the chemo is finally in sight. But it’s not so. It’s very confusing actually. While I am having chemo, 'something' is happening to kill any cancer that might be lurking about, and even though it’s an awful cure, no matter how awful it may be, it’s helping. BUT. What happens when the chemo stops? What if there are still bits of cancer lurking about that it missed? I wonder how they know it's enough? How did they measure that it takes 6 cycles to destroy it all? My main worry being that there was some of it on my bowel. Hmm. Scary - lots of crying going on here last week.

Probably the 3 monthly check ups will be reassuring, but how can they see if it's appeared again? It's so insidious and sneaky. All the articles about the cancer coming back within 2 months and being resistant to the chemo at that point, are quite scary. Rummaged about in this website adjusting to life after cancer, as it's quite helpful, probably not just for me, but for my friends and family as well. But no-one can really help what goes on in your mind - in fact I am starting to feel a bit like Jekyll and Hyde in my own head. One voice screaming about dying quite soon, the other voice saying "don’t be so stupid, you’re not helping yourself deary". Where’s my positive attitude gone eh? Seems it has been having a wee vacation.

I think getting used to cancer is a bit like grieving - the process isn’t a slow, stately progression toward acceptance. It's a constant back and forth between being utterly devastated and being ok. As time goes on and your mind starts to get used to the idea [or gets bored with being so stressed about it], the devastated times become less, and the ok times become more. Hopefully at some point the 'ok' times take over. Such a lot of emotional uproar is pretty draining.

Another worry is having a lower resistance to infection for quite a long time after chemo - apparently it can take months to gradually get back to the usual levels. And the tiredness doesn’t just go away unfortunately. According to the facts, it will ease off gradually once the chemo has ended, but it can often be three or four months until you feel back to normal. Some people find that they still feel unusually tired a year or so afterwards!! Need a plan of action here methinks! People are going to expect me to be back to normal after the chemo - so I’ve become all pretentious and contacted a Fitness Trainer. Move over Kylie, here I come. It seems that being physically fit boosts your immune system too - bonus! And it certainly can't hurt.

Physically, psychologically and emotionally I think I might be at the worst point so far now, even though I’m nearly at the end. It’s just a 'worn out' feeling - small things can be gigantically upsetting, and supposedly 'important' things have become totally insignificant...and everything is just so much effort...oh well, KBO eh?

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