Ginger Snaps - The blog of Jayne Hawkins

Go Sober!

Right, all this toxic medicine has clearly affected me more than I ever thought possible and as a result I appear to have gone off the old vino! So I have decided to make something good come out of this disastrous occurrence and go on the wagon for October to raise some money for Macmillan Cancer.

Go Sober for October!

I would really appreciate it if you would kindly donate the price of a bottle of wine or the cost of a drink or two to this fantastic cause!

Cycle number 3

25 Nov 2013

Wow, we are up to the third cycle, half way there although technically that point will be once I’ve reached the end of the three weeks that follow treatment. 

I was OK to start having all three drugs on one day despite my little reaction to the actual chemo last time.  This however was going to make for a long day but was better than two or three days that’s for sure. 

As usual Simon packed up his little mobile office and I also packed a bit of work as well as my kindle and my laptop loaded with downloaded programmes from I-Player to keep me amused.  We arrived for our 9.30 appointment and were kept waiting over half an hour alongside everyone else who had arrived for that time.  I do get a bit cross when I’m kept waiting but I later found out they had been having a talk on the Perjeta drug I am having so I thought “fair enough”. 

So the usual process happened, I was weighed, stuck my hand in warm water, had my bloods taken for checking, was hooked up to saline whilst they checked said bloods and wheeled along to a comfy chair to await my cocktails.  Simon joined me and started work and I managed to do last month’s accounts and sort out some other paperwork whilst my brain cells were still intact.  I think the nurses and other patients probably think we are both a bit mad but with Simon working for himself and being so busy at the moment he has no choice and I’m still no good at this sitting around business so I need something to keep me occupied. 

My bloods came back fine so I was good to go!  Over the course of the day I had 2 paracetamol tablets (always have to have them before the Herceptin for some reason), 8 steroid tablets (need these the day before, the day of and the day after chemo to stop reactions), 4 bags of saline in-between the main drugs - a bag of Herceptin, a bag of Perjeta, a shot of piriton and a shot of hydrocortizone (to make sure I didn’t react to the chemo) and a bag of Docetaxel chemo.  I also had the usual soup, crumble n custard and cheese n biscuits for lunch, 2 litres of Lucozade and 2 litres of water……..oh and a mars bar and some cookies. 

Everything was administered with no problems and we left the building just after 4pm armed with more lard stuff to wash in, some “just in case” tablets in case the spots came back, cream to try to prevent the spots coming back, some “just in case” tablets for the old oral thrush and my usual injection to boost my white blood count and hopefully stop me going down with an infection. 

As usual I tried to get on with life as normal and luckily enough cycle 3 followed pretty much the same pattern as before.  The good old runs appeared after a couple of days, this time they were highly impressive if I do say so myself but good old Sainsbury’s Anti-Diarrhoea tablets kicked in fast lol.  Moving on swiftly………I did my injection on day 3 to boost my white blood cells and again this brought the usual pain which was added to the pain the Docetaxel chemotherapy brings with it. 

So from about day 4 to day 8 I had a fair amount of pain from top to toe.  Painkillers, baths and my good old electric blanket helped as ever.  My knees took the brunt of the pain alongside my shoulders.  I’ve got a feeling the chemo targets weak areas in my body – I kind of have bad knees from gymnastics as a child and we have been having some work done in the house so perhaps I was stressing about that a bit and my shoulders were  tense.  I normally suffer from a bad back and this was fine so I absolutely have no idea why the pain went where it did really. 

I had another bad day emotionally this cycle, day 8, I truly hate day 8 with a passion.  I was sore but popped a paracetamol or two and headed to B&Q with my parents.  It started to go downhill when they wouldn’t let me help pack the car with our purchases so I cried, then basically kept crying all day.  Firstly I was upset because they were really being kind not letting me help, then I cried some more because I was upset about being upset.  Then I think I got upset when I asked Simon to go to the chip shop as I couldn’t face cooking tea but he was busy with work so I was worried and upset at that, then my friend texted being nice to me which made me worse and to top it all off my poor Auntie rang later that night and got the culmination of a full day of tears!  By the time the kids went to bed they were ignoring me as was Simon as I was a snivelling wreck in the corner.  I have since told everybody to kindly avoid me on this day as I’m quite happy snivelling away to myself! 

Luckily I woke up the next day feeling much better and rather silly for being such a dafty.  I really really hate it when this stuff makes me like that.  Thankfully the pain had passed too so I was back in the game!  However the oral thrush had returned so I started taking the anti-fungal tablets I had kindly been given.  The thrush this time passed a whole lot quicker and I’ve since learnt that antibiotics make thrush worse.  Previously I have been on anti-biotics for the spots but I didn’t take them as a matter of course this time round and didn’t end up having to take them so I hope this helped the thrush clear quicker.  Fingers crossed anyway because that’s a rotten side effect, the taste that is there 24/7 is awful and food just tastes rife if I’m honest. 

The annoying nose bleeds returned for a week or so, my eyes have been drier than normal but the good news is my hair is apparently growing and I’m delighted to say Mr H reckons it’s still ginger and not grey!!  Eyelashes and eyebrows are still hanging on in there too. 

However the great news from cycle 3 was that the dreaded spots caused by the Perjeta drug did not return!  I had been told they would peak in cycle 2 so I am so happy to have made it to the end of cycle 3 without them coming back!  They were quite disgusting I must say.  So that pretty much sums up the drama of cycle 3 and I’m now facing round 4 tomorrow. 

  • Cycle number 3 - Picture 1

The side effects have been quite manageable for me luckily.  The whole chemo thing is a mine field where side effects are concerned and I know this because of my lovely 37 Facebook friends I mentioned in a previous blog.  Some of us have been lucky with side effects and have been able to carry on with life as normal, or as normal as normal can be in this rubbish treatment.  However so many of these lovely ladies have not had such a good time and have really suffered.  A number of them have had little “holidays” care of the good old NHS due to infections invading their bodies which more often than not sees them hooked up to drips for days at a time. 

Whilst the side effects in the main seem to be fairly standard in that we are all more or less facing the same ones the severity it hits people with is quite different, I have no idea why this works but that’s the conclusion I have drawn from it, rightly or wrongly.  

I am in awe of these ladies who have had it bad as I’m not sure I could do the whole “hospital” and “being quite ill” thing!  Obviously if that’s where I had to go I would as I know as well as my new friends did that it’s the best place to be in the circumstances but I know I’d be rubbish in there and I’m so glad I have been able to retain such a sense of normality for both myself and those around me. 

So given that I seem to be coping with this reasonably well I’m actually looking forward to cycle 4.  It’s another step closer to the end and I’ll be 2/3rds of the way through chemo after it’s done.  It’s a long day, my appointment is at 9.30 again and I’ll probably not be let out until after 4.00pm so its Grandma and Grandpa to the rescue collecting the boys from school but I’m hoping to head to IKEA tomorrow evening under the supervision of Kyle (aged 11.5 – milkshake and donut promised as bribery for going with me) whilst Simon takes Leo to basketball training.  We have been doing a bit of decorating and DIY in the house and I must publicly thank my Mam and Dad for helping heaps with this – I also hope you all very proud of me for slowly but surely accepting this help too!  I’ll be honest it’s not something I’m finding easy but I did it!  

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