In Treatment

It’s Hogmanay and I had my second chemo session yesterday. The fact that I am writing this now shows that the side effects were more manageable this time. I got a new drug to control the vomiting and it was effective although I still felt sick.

I now look like someone who has cancer as I started losing my hair 15 days after the first chemo. I had bald patches within the next few days and by the evening of Christmas day I begged my husband just to clipper it off. He did and I felt nothing but relief. I know this aspect can very upsetting for some women but I did not find it so. I am now bald.

The day before Christmas Eve I got a phone call from the geneticist to say that I did not have the breast cancer gene. I was sobbing with relief about that. The day after, I was in hospital getting a scan on the cist on my ovary. It had disappeared and was a temporary hormonal thing just as predicted but it was good news and I felt that.

I feel that I am in the middle of so many transitions now. My physical appearance is obvious. I took a bath the morning after my head was shaved and had a long look at my naked body in the mirror. My breasts are scarred, my pubic area has a caesarean scar x2 and my bald head is revealing scars I didn’t even know I had. I have never looked so naked but I don’t feel ugly. I feel strong and already as if I am surviving something.

The time between the 1st Chemo and the 2nd one were largely taken up with getting Christmas sorted and that all went well and the boys happy with their respective gadgets. I feel like I will have more time in the New Year to think about the changes that have taken place psychologically.

I feel already that I have learned a lot about myself. I have been exposed to something really difficult and I am coping. The things that have helped me cope are friends and family. Talking honestly about what is happening. Getting outside everyday to walk my dog, which has been really important. I have learned to cope with uncertainty and focus more on each day. Ironically, I am probably worrying less about the future than I used to because I realise what a waste of energy that is.

I have learned that the way I was living my life needs to change and I will spend more time thinking about that in the fore coming months. I have a strong feeling of wanting to pull together what my life has been about. In the early days of my diagnosis I wondered what my children would remember about me if I died. I felt that I had not lived long enough to leave them with any kind of imparted wisdom. I felt unprepared for all of that.

I think I realise that actually imparting wisdom doesn’t really work, even if I had any. But I do want to leave something that I created so I am pulling together all the poems I wrote during their childhood and before and after. My life has not been remarkable but it has been mine.

The things that I experience and feel are temporary, everything is. So I resolve to create some order to those little moments that moved me to write about them. The same applies to the writing I have done here about how this experience has affected me.

Someone told me recently that getting a cancer diagnosis was the emotional equivalent of being hit by a brick. I laughed at her words in sympathy because how true! Painful. I’ve never experienced anything so painful before and that includes being hit by a car and trying to give birth to one baby which was stuck and one which was undiagnosed breech. For the record I was not too posh to push!

So despite everything I am looking forward to the New Year, new beginnings and new experiences. I resolve to make the most of them.

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