So I haven’t written anything here for a little while. I think it’s fair to say that, with the onset of chemotherapy, a shift has been made away from the philosophical and towards the practical. There is far less musing about and thinking things over than there was.
I have had my first chemo session and I feel ok. My first 3 sessions of chemo involve two different drugs – Epirubicin and Cyclophosphomide. The Epirubicin first then the Cyclophosphomide. Don’t worry, you’re not expected to remember their names. I am surprised I can to be honest.
I toddled along to my first chemo session over prepared with water and blankets and pillows and pineapple ice lollies and a packed lunch and all sorts. Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it, right? Like a gun! (True Romance, Tarantino movie reference). I was shown to my treatment chair and the woman in the chair next to it starts smiling at me and waving. “Hello, Ashley” she says. Unbelievable.
My partner always jokes that I can’t walk down the High Street without bumping into someone I know. It’s a knock on effect from working with communities and in a large organisation. Now it seems I can’t have cancer treatment without being recognised. The terrible thing is I didn’t recognise my fellow chemo patient. She knew me though. I do more standing at the front talking than most so I tend to be recognised a lot. She had already lost hair and isn’t someone I know well so I was a bit lost. Turns out we work in the same department. She didn’t tell me her name though, even though I asked her 3 times. It’s a stressful situation so that makes sense but all the while she’s telling me who she works with and what she does but I am none the wiser. I was starting to get a bit embarrassed but then she told me what cancer she has and I knew straight away. The grapevine had told me XXX had XXX cancer and suddenly everything slotted into place. Bet I’m on that grapevine now, too.
Anyway, once the nurse had got over her surprise at our little reunion and we’d discussed how the nurse’s son when to primary school with the other patient’s son (SERIOUSLY!!!) they started to put the first drug in. Then my face started to itch.
Me: My face feels itchy. Is that normal?
Chemo nurse: Itcy?
Me: Yes. I feel quite hot too.
Chemo nurse: You do seem a bit red…oh!
Me: I’ve just popped out in hives haven’t I? I can feel them.
Chemo nurse: Yes. Yes you have. Hmm.
Everything had to be stopped and they ummed and ahhed. Then my chest hurt so they pumped me full of hydrocortisone and Piriton then everyone came to look at me and scratch their heads. I think my favourite part was when the acute oncology nurse came over to me and said. “You aren’t being paranoid. We ARE all talking about you.”
A lot of waiting and thinking and talking to doctors happened. They did an ECG and lots of telephone calls were made. Syringes were filled “just in case”. In the end they gave me more hydrocortisone and Piriton and had another go.
Chemo nurse: We’re going to have another go and keep an eye on how you do.
Me: Will you be just standing there staring at me as it goes in to see if my face explodes?
Chemo nurse: No, I’ll be over there watching from a safe distance.
This time it was fine and so was the second drug. So, tickety boo after all. I was a hair’s breadth from being admitted and my regimen suspended but it didn’t happen. All is well.
I was fine. I wasn’t scared. If you have an allergic reaction the best place to have it is in hospital, right? It could have been a lot worse.
Everything went to plan after that. I wasn’t admitted to hospital and they let me go home. Later, I stood in the kitchen with my partner, Rachel. Doing nothing.
Rachel: What you doing?
Rachel: Waiting to be ill?
Me : Yep.