Sunday, 11 November 2012


Sometimes this cancer thing really does creep up and knock me for six, never more so than in the past three days where I've been virtually bed-bound with feeling absolutely awful. The chemo side-effects of this cycle have been totally overwhelming, and I just haven't been able to fight it at all. Every bone aches like crazy, and even the strongest pain-killers only lift the edge of it. I'm moving around as if I'm 103, and the pain jumps unexpectedly from one bone to the next, like some really high-tech laser light show.  Then all my finger and toe nail beds have become a bit loose, and even the slightest pressure hurts like mad. Typing like I'm doing now really isn't much fun at all. All I can do is lie in bed most of the time, and I haven't even got the energy to adjust the duvet if there's a bit of a cold draught. Then on top of all of that, the killer runs started overnight, and I spent most of the night on the loo feeling extremely ill. The soles of my feet have blistered, so walking is very slow and painful, and my tongue has swollen, is really sore, and making eating and drinking a real ordeal. This evening, the skin in my mouth has started to peel as well, which gets stuck in an already very sore throat, so I feel like I'm choking. 

Then there's the total exhaustion, sleeping is all I want to do, but a lot of the time the pain just keeps me awake, so I just can't sleep. Instead, all sorts of thoughts flit across my brain, and annoyingly, the good ones seem to pass by and I can never quite collect them properly.

It's when I feel this ill, which has only happened a couple of times during this six-month-long adventure, that I start to actually believe that I'm not going to make it. Depression is lurking as an ever-present threat, but I haven't let it take hold yet, and will do everything I can to stave it off at the moment. 

Depression is the real enemy with cancer, and although it's fine to have the odd day when things just don't seem too great, full-blown depression is something that I'm determined to guard against. There is so much research that show that people who remain hopeful are more likely to survive, and I know that mental attitude is every bit as important as the pharmaceutical weaponary that's being used to save my life.

So I don't like the side-effects of chemo, but I have to remember that I absolutely love chemo itself. If it's doing this to me, it must be really obliterating any stray little cancer cells into oblivion. It's giving me a real fighting chance of being around to meet the grandchildren, and for me,  the only way to deal with the difficult bits of chemo is to  just remember that this is transient, and it's doing me stacks of good. Gratitude as well helps - 30 years ago there simply wasn't the technology to save my life, and even today, in many parts of the world, this sort of treatment simply wouldn't be available to me.

So, I'm trying to regard what I'm currently dealing with as a very precious few days of hibernation. A chance to just stop, shut-down from real-life for a few days, with a chance to perhaps think and plan too, and to count my blessings. 

A lovely piece of research I read yesterday really did bring this into focus. Women with breast cancer, who also have a strong social connection with friends, family and community, have a staggering 61% better survival rate that those who are socially isolated. If that's the case, then I'm virtually home and dry, because my friends and family have really stepped up to this challenge, and have carried me through the past few months with continuous love, support and laughter. WM though, deserves a very special mention. He is doing everything for me, and everything for my kids that I can't do at the moment, always with good grace, patience and humour. I have to get through this, and out healthy on the other side, just so that somehow, I may get a chance to make it all up to him.


  1. Wow, Yvonne! Those side-effects you describe sound extremely tough to go through...and you are coping with them amazingly well, in my opinion. Clearly, you have an iron-strong will that's forging you ahead and a joyous spirit that's lifting you up and seeing beyond your current physical health xo. You are so right, that mental attitude is a huge part of recovery. I remember reading years ago, about a political prisoner who was incarcerated in a tiny jail cell, in isolation for a long time. He could have spent his long days, months, years deteriorating mentally and physically, in a state of anger and despair. Instead, he spent his time doing physical exercise in his tiny space, without any gym equipment. Throughout his ordeal, his physical health and spirit grew so strong...and when he was finally released, he left jail in great physical and mental health! How powerful the mind and spirit are! You're also right about the significance of family and friends being there for those dealing with a health crisis. It's so great that you have WM to take care of everything you can't, and other people there for you in your social circle. So during this physically painful hibernation, get as much rest as you can, so that your body can go to work, healing you xo. Sending love and hugs your way, Sharon K. Ottawa (xox)

  2. I have love to send, hugs and hopefully a little smidgen of courage... The words, however, are lacking... B x

  3. Just can't imagine how you must be feeling - but it's good to know that our support is making a difference. Remain positive, optimistic and strong - hibernate for as long as you need to - and WM well done that Man!! Look after our guiding light so we may continue to see her for a long time to come xxxx

    1. Reading what you are going through Yvonne is making a lot of people think twice when they moan about a cold, a headache, toothache etc your strength is very humbling. I think you and WM are amazing together. Thank God you two found each other as you pull through this nasty blip in your life together. What a party we will look forward to when we celebrate THE ALL CLEAR.
      Love you guys

      Debbie xx

  4. Sharon, Benedicte, Sian, Debbie, thanks to each of you for your lovely comments. Feeling loads better, hoping to write another post today, and Debbie - love the idea of planning that party, but it seems so long away, maybe we'll just have to have a few "all clear practice parties" in the meantime! Love you all, Yvonne xxxxx