Thursday 17 December 2015

More Chemo! Round 7

Today and yesterday I have forgotten the following things:

Put the bins out
And it was recycling night. 
And they are FULL.
Dave and I produce very little waste for landfill, about 1kg/week, but we have 2 rubbish and 2 recycling bins for the 10 flats where we live.
And next week is Christmas so they won't be collected until next Saturday!

Have my blood test
It's very important to get a blood test before each round of chemo. This shows if I am well enough to have the next round. e.g. has my White Cell count gone up again enough to take another hammering. Luckily for me I am surrounded by people who have my back. Between Dave and the staff at the Royal I was able to get in and have my blood test 10 mins before closing.

Put emla cream on my port
Emla cream makes your skin go numb. I usually put some on the area over my port where they put the needle in for chemo. It needs about 30-60 mins to take effect. When I arrived at the Royal today I realised I'd forgotten. So today I got the needles full effect. It stung!! If had a blister on my hand while rowing, or if I grabbed some nettles while weeding, I'd not have made a fuss at all. But for needles I become quite a wimp. 

That Chemo was booked for 9 am - NOT 10.30 am
I have no idea how I got it mixed up. There I was happily getting ready when I got a call from the Royal, who were expecting me at my booked time of 9 am. They were very good about it. After discovering that instead of being right on schedule we were running very late, we decided to drive in instead of walk. This is the first time I've not walked to and from chemo. At least the 8 flights of stairs at the hospital still gave as a little workout!
If I've forgotten anything else, I haven't remembered yet to know about it!

I think it's pretty fair to say that despite having an extra 2 weeks to prepare, I really wasn't ready for chemo this round.

Chemo took less time this visit as we've cut out one of the drugs - oxaliplatin. I was told with no promises that this may mean less side effects too. Well so far so good. After round 6 I was hit hard right away. So far all I feel is a slight 'fuzziness', and slight chemical taste in my mouth. Dave made us a fabulous salad for our lunch, and I drank a chilled glass of juice with no problems, which is great to be able to do.

I sort of didn't quite pass the urine test today though. I have to do a test before each round of chemo now since another drug (avastin) was added to my treatment. It was a bit borderline today, so I still got the avastin but I now have to do this crazy urine sample where I collect EVERYTHING for 24 hours. They've given me a gigantic tub.

Tonight is my work's Christmas party. I'm really looking forward to it. I won't be drinking, and I have my little bottle as usual, but I'm very glad I'm going to be able to go!

Friday 11 December 2015

Another Chemo-Free-Friday

I'm really enjoying not having chemo. As much as I'm grateful to have access to it, and prepared to put up with all the side effects it while it does its job, I'm not missing it either.

I went to the gym again today. It felt really good. I'm so lucky to have access to such great resource. I have the best provider of the most suitable exercises for me, with BODYSYSTEM Physio providing the Pinc Pilates program.

The workout I do is pretty tame compared to what I used to do, but it is perfect for me right now. My legs look like skinny little sticks compared to 6 months ago.

Exercise is so important. I've often found it to be a bit of a challenge to do enough. But if I thought it was hard before, it's harder now. I keep wanting to say it's more important now than ever, but I'm not sure that is true - its always super important and beneficial. 

After the gym Dave and I met Mum on Kingston Beach to walk the dogs, which was a lot of fun, and more exercise!

Thursday 10 December 2015

The Colonoscopy... of Joy

I've been looking forward to today, for several reasons. 
One, the colonoscopy is useful and important to get done. 
Two, I get to eat again once it's done. 
Three, voting for the Hottest 100 starts today.

And I must say it's been a day that ticked all the boxes. 
Once you've had one colonoscopy, major bowel surgery and various other smaller procedures, another colonoscopy is really no big deal.
Here is the extent of my suffering today:

We had to arrive at Calvary at 7.30 am, which is a bit harsh, then to reach the waiting room you have to walk past, almost through the hospital cafe which is a little cruel, then they subject you to Sunrise TV in the waiting room which is just horrible!

The nurses were lovely, one remembered me and Dave from my stay after surgery in August. The anesthetist did one of the most comfortable canulas I've had yet. 

I remember nothing of the procedure. I didn't have much sleep the night before and woke up feeling like I'd slept for hours (but still wanting to hit the snooze button).

And the procedure went well. The Doctor said I 'have a healthy bowel'. They didn't find any more polyps. It was a polyp that started this whole thing in the first place.
The view out the window from recovery - you can see our flat!

I've been googling polyps this afternoon. Causes are unknown but some evidence points towards unhealthy lifestyles or genetic factors. They are also more common in people over 60.  They rarely show any symptoms. Not all polyps will lead to cancer. Scary huh? So I just got one. With a healthy lifestyle, no genetic factors and at half the normal age group. And it turned into cancer.

If this was happening to someone I knew, I'd probably think 'ah I'm OK though'. But I'm still going to tell you all - you should all go and get yourself screened for all the screenable cancers. Now.

Anyway, my day today just got better and better.
After I came round they brought me some sandwiches and a coffee which I wolfed down, then Dave took me home and made me some delicious mushrooms on toast. 
Then I ate about 2 punnets worth of raspberries. 
Then we scoured the voting list for the Hottest 100.
27 Pages of fun
I had to sign a document this morning promising that I wouldn't drive, make important decisions, and other similar things for the rest of the day, and that I generally had to take it easy. Which I've most certainly done.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

I'm back

I had a really nice break in VIC. I think with the change of environment and routine I forgot I was sick at times. It was lovely to catch up with friends and family, and just take a break.

I also really enjoyed NOT having chemo on Friday, which was a fortnight from my last round. I've been taking too easy to know if I've been having any fatigue, but its been great to be almost 100% side effect free.

I don't like to complain about the chemo though, it's great that I have access to it - and for free - and it seems to be doing its job, but it was nice to have a break.

Here is what I'm up to today.
Bowel Prep, for my colonoscopy tomorrow. I have to drink one sachet at 12pm, one at 4pm and one at 8pm.

This is my 3rd bowel prep and my 2nd colonoscopy. It's no big deal really. I'm a bit hungry (I have to fast all day). I'm staying very close to the toilet. It gives me a chance to catch up on emails and housework. Both of which are out of control at the moment! And it's really windy outside which I don't like. Good day to stay inside!
And thank goodness I'm still allowed to drink (black) tea and coffee!

Another element to bowel prep is a low fibre diet for 2 days before fasting.

After finding out I'm sick we've adjusted how I eat, and I've settled into a diet focused on low GI (Glycemic Index) foods, lots of fresh fruit, veggies and salads, and avoiding any processed foods. This is mainly because cancer cells love sugar, and lots of fruits and veggies have anti cancer properties, although to be fair that is mainly prevention, not cure. It's actually a really nice way to eat though.

A low fibre diet is not great in my opinion. You pretty much have to cut out all fresh fruit and veggies, only a few veggies are OK and you have to boil them to death! But this is the first time I've done the low fibre diet since modifying my own diet, and this time I enjoyed treating myself to food not usually allowed on my regime, including fish and chips, toast, croissants and white bread rolls.

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Round 6 Day 12

Before I start normal blogging, I want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone for all the love and support! It really means a lot to me. I don't really have the words to say how much.

Anyway, blog...

I really hesitated to still use the old 'Round 6' title. BUT I am still experiencing side effects from the last round. I kind of feel it's good to acknowledge it's not even been 2 weeks yet since my previous round of chemo. The results of the PET scan are fantastic, but its not over yet. Previously at this point, I'd be 3 days away from my next round, this time its 17 days away. That means I get to feel good for just over 2 weeks! The closest I get to feeling fully well was every other Thursday. Will I feel even better this Friday? I hope so! Even if I don't - its really pretty good! I'm really excited to be not having chemo this Friday

This morning I did my Christmas shopping. Good to get it done! This afternoon I went to work. The first time in nearly 2 weeks. It feels so good to get behind that desk, to pick up the phone and say in my 'telephone voice' 'Good afternoon, BODYSYSTEM physio, this is Felicity', to greet the patients as they walk in, and see all my wonderful colleagues. Sometimes see them is as much as I get to do, we are busy and working after all, but its still great.
This morning I signed a contract that changes me from a 'permanent' position to 'causal'. This was a mutual decision that makes a lot of sense for me and for the business. Casual is what my roster has been since this whole thing started. It feels like a big deal. A really big deal. But it doesn't have to be forever. For now it makes sense.

I'm still processing the news of the PET scan. And I feel really tired. I think its a combination of a little bit of chemo fatigue, a little bit of 'I've been busy and I didn't get much sleep', and a lot of comedown from a very emotionally intense week.

I think I need a holiday! Oh, that's right - we're off to VIC tomorrow for a catch up with friends and relations! YAY!!

I'm not planning to blog during that time! Have a nice weekend everyone! xxx

Tuesday 1 December 2015

The Results are In

We got the results of the PET scan today. The tumors are greatly reduced, almost undetectable. This is awesome. I don't think it's fully sunk in yet. Actually I'm sure it hasn't.

One of the things I've been looking forward to (and also fearing) is knowing 'what's next'.

So this is what we know:

My next PET scan will be in another 3 months.

In the meantime, I won't have another round of chemo until the 18th of December, and for now it will be without any Oxaliplatin, which will hopefully mean milder side effects. The treatments might also be less frequent, and we'll try to change to a tablet form of chemo at some stage, which means no more bottles, which will be nice.

With this great result so far, I thought I'd spend the rest of the day on a high but instead I had a real energy crash. I guess it's been a big week.