Dear you who’s about to start chemotherapy

I realise that often my posts are a tad self-indulgent, so I thought, seeing as tomorrow is my 2 year anniversary since finishing chemo, I’d like to talk to others who are about to start their chemo regime and let them know how I think of it now looking back…

Before all the cancer shit
It’s funny that you never think you’ll be the one to get cancer. Cancer happens to others not you. I definitely didn’t think I’d have chemotherapy that’s for sure. Part of me still has not accepted it happened to me. I know it did happen it’s just that none of it seems real somehow.I don’t think this is something anyone without cancer can quite comprehend- (you had to be there)!

On TV, everybody with cancer having chemotherapy is generally very ill. There’s usually always vomit and people look gaunt and on their last legs. The scariest thing about it is that you’ve never done it before, nothing in life has ever come close, so you really don’t know what to expect. Reading about all the side effects is also overwhelming because there are just so many!

“Chemo is not a time to be super healthy!” The docs said. “Let the drugs do the work. Don’t juice, and don’t take vitamins. Eat what you fancy when you can tolerate food.”

 Believe me when I say I ate what I want from the comfort of my bed and it was bloody great! One part of it all I secretly enjoyed, (although it’s no longer a secret now I guess, me the pizza scoffer with breast cancer tut tut).

I remember just feeling  nauseous and having a furry mouth. My bones ached like I had the flu, and I felt so tired I felt like I’d been hit by a steam train. My nose would constantly drip because I’d lost all the hair there, and I couldn’t think properly because the drugs made me spaced out. If you’ve ever seen Vauxhall ravers on a Monday morning stumbling home at 9am, then that’s what I looked like. 

The steroids- the evil necessities made me angry and cry all the time. And the drugs made things like going to the toilet such hard work. Perhaps it doesn’t sound so bad  individually, but put it all together and it was bloody hard work! (But there are good weeks where you feel well, it’s not constant).

At times I thought if this is life now I’d rather not live. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Of course my rational brain knew it was temporary, that I had to endure this so I could get better and live a long life. 

 I hated the needles. It was constant blood tests and scans and then IV infusions where the cannula was put through my hand or arm. I had to just deal with them, I had no other choice.

I know losing your hair is adding an insult to injury and it’s a horrible thing to have to go through, but you may be surprised at how little it actually bothers you in the grand scheme of things!

The thing about chemo is it’s doable and looking back much like giving birth you forget how bad it was. Most people tolerate it really well and those 5 months do go very quickly honestly!

I’m pleased that I managed to get through it and I am sure that you will be too. It’s not going to go on my CV but sometimes achievements are very personal, mental notes that really do enable that sense of pride in ourselves.

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