Thursday, 18 October 2012

Eating toast and crossing fingers

Well, I've just eaten a piece of toast, my first food for over 48 hours, and I'm hoping against hope it stays down. Writing this is the perfect distraction to take my mind off what may, unfortunately, happen next. Finally, yesterday, on the third day of the third chemo, the sickness kicked in, big time. At least I don't feel like  a chemo fraud anymore, but I really wish the fairness fairy was back on duty this week - how does it happen that I eat nothing, feel like death warmed up, and still manage to put on a couple of pounds? 

I was dreading going back for more chemo on Monday. I know that it's good for me, I'm incredibly lucky to be able to benefit from the very best of cutting-edge medicine, and that it may well significantly prolong my life, but on Monday morning I felt more like a stroppy teenager than a willing participant about it all. You just have to go there, let them do what they have to do, go with the flow and deal with the consequences. I do know that, and I did all of that, but I really would have rather been anywhere else.

The day is long and tedious, and on Monday it felt like the tears were never far away,  but it was also peppered with a couple of really good moments too.  A cancer charity had a little sale going on in the canteen, and someone had donated a brand new, soft, black leather handbag, almost large enough to hide in, at a bargain price of a tenner, so I really had to buy it, didn't I.

The other thing that was lovely was that, once again, I was overwhelmed by the sympathetic understanding of one of the doctors. A tiny, very pretty young doctor who really doesn't look like she should be out of school yet, listened as I explained why I am so apprehensive about the forthcoming Muga scan, essential to check that the chemo isn't causing me any damage to my heart, but involves two separate injections, and they can't use the portacath. She just seemed to realise how big a deal my needle phobia is to me, and is arranging for me to go to another hospital for an Echo scan instead, where they don't have to inject any dyes whatsoever. Her kindness in doing this just took away a whole extra layer of worry and dread, and immediately, everything just seemed that little bit brighter. 

This time round, I feel really ill again, and the weeps have hit me big time too, but even though I've had to cope with being sick as well, it's not as awful as the last time. I'm hanging on to the fact that I've been here before, and it will pass and get better, and I'm not letting myself get dragged back into that big, deep dark pit of hopelessness that completely flattened me a few weeks ago. 

I've even read a book - the first book I've managed to read since diagnosis. I'm an avid reader normally, and can't put a book down once I've lost myself in it. My kids have often wandered around saying "We're orphaned, mum's reading", and they haven't been far wrong - once totally absorbed in a really good story I simply wouldn't notice if the house was on fire or my kids were starving. Since I've had cancer, I just haven't had the concentration or energy to work my way through a whole book just for fun. However, this book wasn't much fun. It was the book Gloria Hunniford wrote when her daughter, Caron Keating, died of breast cancer. Caron had walked away from conventional treatments, choosing to pursue alternative cures, and some of them were very alternative indeed. I was very sad for her, and quite angry that so many charlatans were virtually queuing up to make money out of a very vulnerable young woman.  There is a huge difference between "alternative" and "complimentary", things you can do instead of, or as well as receiving the very best that modern medicine can offer. An hour or two on the internet will bring up all sorts of other treatments, some of which sound plausible, others sound just plain whacky. There are all sorts of stories of people who were totally cured by "thinking" their cancer away or whatever, but there is very little hard scientific evidence to back up many of these claims. I can't work out if following different non-medical paths is courageous or cowardly, and is probably an amalgam of both. To do it properly, and really immerse yourself totally in it probably costs a lot more than I can afford, and you have to wonder if Steve Jobs or Robin Gibbs had had less money and fewer choices, would they have had to go down the conventional route, and still be alive as a result?  Anyhow, this whole subject has stretched the old grey matter a bit, and that can't be a bad thing. 

I nearly had a chance to be on National TV yesterday, but it fell through in the end for me, but the idea of it was very exciting all over the weekend. The Alan Titchmarsh Programme is doing a show all about "Happiness" on the 8th November, and they wanted some Laughter Yoga Leaders to demonstrate some laughter techniques. If you get a chance, please watch it, because 6 of my Laughter Leader friends and colleagues are on it.  I qualified as a Laughter Yoga Leader a few weeks before diagnosis, so haven't really been able to get it going in a big way, but I do hold sessions every now and again for friends and family at my house. Laughing has some amazing health benefits, 10 minutes laughing is as good as 30 minutes on a rowing machine in terms of cardiovascular exercise. The Yoga part of the title is about the breathing -  the deep, long oxygen-rich breathing you get from a belly-laugh, so nobody has to put their ankles behind their necks. Laughing has "whole body" benefits too - regular laughing gets everything working well together  - your mind, body, spirit and emotions all get a real boost, and your body doesn't even notice whether it's because you are laughing for real or forcing laughter. Of course, in a group, what starts as forced laughter quickly dissolves into total hysterics for real, but if it doesn't people still get all the health benefits regardless. 

So on Sunday, we had a little laughter session at home, just so I could get some practice in, and for the first time we had some small children, both of whom have special needs. It was a really lovely session, and the children seemed to really enjoy it and benefit from it, to the point that I can't wait til I get another chance to work with some "special" kids in small groups with their parents.  So much to do, so many reasons to get better as soon as I can. 

Some people have asked if I mind if they pass this blog on to other friends, or via their Facebook page. Of course I don't mind, in fact I feel the more the merrier, although I never thought anyone was going to be interested in the minutae of my comings and goings! I am staggered that the readership continues to grow and grow, and that people are reading from all over the world, and even leaving lovely comments sometimes. Thank you. There is a facility to become a "follower" which means that you get an email to let you know whenever I've found the time to write a new post that you can use too, if you want to. 

Guess what? The toast is still down, and I even popped off halfway through to add a quarter of a Scotch Egg to the mix, so things are definitely looking up.

PS I took a great photo of my new handbag to put on here, but I've been having technical gremlins for over an hour, so maybe, next time!


1 comment:

  1. Thinking of you every day and so grateful for those genuine doctors that make this experience a little easier for you xxx