Paint it Black

It is 3 days after my 4th Chemo cycle and my first experience of Taxotere. The side effects don’t generally kick in until the 3rd day so perhaps I am experiencing an extended honeymoon period, appropriate as I am writing this on Valentine’s day!

I painted my toenails and finger nails black in preparation for T as your nails can fall off and this may help. I’ve not seen any concrete scientific  evidence to back this up but hey ho….I am attached to my finger nails both physically and emotionally, I would prefer to keep it that way if at all possible!

My biggest concern was of course getting the cannula into my veins preferably without pain and without the swelling to my arm caused by my last chemo. I went into the session determined not to use the right arm again. I feel sure that the loss of my 8 lymph nodes and perhaps the consequences of surgery have compromised that side and the last chemo was very difficult. I was wakening up in the night with pain in my arm and the swelling was troubling me due to the heightened risk I now have for lymphoedema.

However, the cannula went in on my left side without pain and my arms feel fine. Last time the pain was trying to tell me something and this time I am listening so I won’t be having chemo in my right side again. There are other veins and other places to go, so we will go there.

I felt really down after the last chemo. Perhaps in part because it was the half way point and maybe I had expectations of feeling good about that but mostly because I was in discomfort and anxious about the implications of the swelling in my arm and lymph area. I am up again, feeling positive and hopeful and making plans.

I had stopped making long term plans up to this point. Everything was day by day, only hospital appointments went in the diary for anything beyond. My final chemo falls on the first day of the Easter holidays and my 44th birthday is 3 weeks after. I decided I want to mark both events and have booked a weekend away in London with my children. My husband is working and can’t get away but I am keen to have fun with my boys, I haven’t always been fun during this process.

I have also booked a week’s holiday on the Isle of Skye during the summer. This was a bit reckless as I did not know if my radiotherapy treatment would be finished by then but I have since heard that the feedback from the multidisciplinary team meeting indicates that radiotherapy to my lymph rather than clearance surgery will be the best option for me. This is great news as it will shorten the time required to recover. I was concerned about further surgery and so both happy and relieved by this decision.

I am meeting my oncologist next week to discuss how chemo has gone and find out more about the radiotherapy I will get for the next part of this experience.

Outside it has been snowing overnight and I am going to go out sledging with my family. Today is going to be about family, love and fun. What better way to spend Valentine’s than with the people you love, whoever they are. As John Lennon said ‘Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans’.  Life gave me cancer, but I still have plans and I won’t be painting it black.


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