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!

Side effects of treatment 1

17 Oct 2013

My chemotherapy is administered every three weeks which obviously means a cycle lasts 21 days, day 1 being the day chemo is given.  I decided to keep a kind of diary to see if there was a pattern emerging with side effects so that I could maybe plan better for future cycles. 

The first side effect happened pretty quickly in that the chemo sent me slightly hyper!  I was awfully chatty and a bit scatty that afternoon much to everyone’s amusement.  I think Simon was probably worried it was going to be a very long three weeks if that kept up, so was I to be honest!  However the main side effect I was worried about was vomiting and nausea.  Those of you that know me well know I just simply don’t do vomit, not even Kyle and Leo’s and if children at school are sick I will leave them where they are and go and find Mrs Chambers who is amazing at cleaning sick up, she is a star! 

I had been given an anti-sickness injection that would last me five days and was sent home with anti-sickness tablets just in case.  Well I was taking no chances and took two before bed “just in case”.  I also took two the following morning, again “just in case”.  Luckily I didn’t experience any sort of nausea and certainly wasn’t sick which was brilliant.  

  • Side effects of treatment 1 - Picture 1

By the way Elaine Wright I think we should replace the sick buckets in school with the ones in the picture above!

I slept fine that night despite having spent most of the previous night wide awake due to steroids which help combat reactions to the chemo (my goodness that are powerful little tablets).  Days 2 and 3 passed without drama  I felt perfectly fine.  I had been sent home with an injection that would boost my white blood cells and help fight infections.  I injected myself on day 3 with this.  It was fine, Simon and Leo managed to watch although Kyle wimped out.  This injection would force my body to make extra bone marrow but the downside was that it would make this in my long bones such as thighs and back and cause these bones to stretch and therefore hurt. 

Day 4 arrived and my mouth began to feel furry, basically like it was lined with carpet, nice!!  My morning cup of tea tasted awful which was a bit sad as I love my cuppas.  I met friends for lunch and whilst they all sat there munching cake and drinking coffee I was on water as sweet things and tea and coffee now tasted awful.  Still, I saw this as a good thing as I may lose a few pounds which is no bad thing.  That evening I started to hurt, everywhere, but painkillers and a warm bath sorted this out. 

Days 5 and 6 continued as normal, I was full of energy although the pain returned in the evenings but again painkillers sorted this out so all was good.  Day 7 was a different matter though.  I had been awake in the night taking painkillers for the top to toe pain and in the morning Simon insisted on taking the boys to school.  I was daft enough to let him and at 9am my hairdresser came round to see my new wig even though I was still in my pyjamas.  After she left I sat around still in my pyjamas and stayed that way, I kind of felt like I had been hit by a bus and was absolutely floored.  Whilst I knew to expect this I got a bit cross with it.  I felt as if the cancer had won today which really cheesed me off. 

The other bad thing about day 7 was my mouth was in a right state by now, so when I was on the phone to my GP to sort out my sick note I mentioned it to her and she said to come  in that afternoon for her  to have a look.  I was too wrecked to even drive myself half a mile to the doctor’s surgery so Simon had to take me along with the kids.  I sat in the doctor’s surgery away from everybody and their nasty germs and screaming kids feeling very sorry for myself.  The doctor said it was a delightful case of oral thrush and gave me some medicine to sort it out.

I persuaded Simon to leave me to walk home whilst he nipped to test drive a car we were interested in but he was reluctant.  In the end left me in the hands of Kyle who was to babysit me and walk me home!  I must say I felt a lot better for that 10 minute walk home and decided there and then that that would be the last day I stayed in my pyjamas and didn’t make the effort to drag myself up and take the kids to school. 

Day 8 was another tiring day but I did indeed drag myself out of bed and did the school run which in a way set me up for the day as I was up and dressed and that helped so much.  At this point I was quite firm with Simon and told him that if I needed help I’d ask but otherwise he was to presume I was able to do what needed doing.  A lot of people have said to me “make sure Simon and the boys take care of you and wait around on you” which sounds lovely but it just isn’t me.  I can’t be doing with fuss so I haven’t particularly let them or my parents do that.  To be fair to them they all probably know better than to fuss around me and although they might want to fuss they know I’ll be better left to get on with things as normal and I hope they trust me to ask if I need help which I absolutely will do I promise. 

The evening of day 8 however was a bad one, I decided I’d have a good old cry as I was feeling sorry for myself and started to get upset about what this was doing me.  Looking back it hasn’t done a drastic amount to me as it had been manageable but I wasn’t happy and took myself off to bed to sob.  I also started to freak out about the hair loss issue which was odd as I hadn’t been too bothered by this up to know.  Simon kept checking on me but I just needed to be on my own.  My Mam rang and she took the brunt of it as I sobbed down the phone to her.  I told her I was feeling crap and Leo overheard and went running to Simon to tell him “Mam swore down the phone to Grandma” bless him!  After a couple of hours I gave myself a stern talking too, a bit of  a slap and got up to go down stairs and carry on as before.  Normal service had been returned.  PHEW!  Also FYI I didn’t get wrong for swearing off my Mam next time I saw her, much to Leo’s disgust! 

Days 9 and 10 were pretty much back to normal apart from the on-going thrush in the mouth which was pretty minging by this point.  Then day 11 arrived…….as did the zits!  A fantastic cluster of whiteheads erupted on my face in my “T zone”!  What a sight!  I probably shouldn’t have but I couldn’t help myself and I popped them!  They then went a nice bright red colour and I looked shocking.  Having never particularly suffered from zits as a teenager I was a bit lost at what to do, so I covered them up with makeup which I hate but I really did look bad. 

By day 13 they were worse so I rang the hospital and went to get them checked over.  They believe it was a reaction to the Perjeta drug and gave me a lard type substance to wash my face in and antibiotic cream to clear it up.  The good news at this point was that whilst I’d been at the hospital they had checked my bloods, including platelets and white blood count and they were all fine and quite high which meant my body was coping and battling on and if they stay that way I will be fine for my next cycle of treatment.  Day 13 was also the day the hair came off but that deserves its own post so more on that later. 

Day 14 and Id finished the mouth medicine and the thrush was still here and was now making me feel quite sick so I spoke to the doctor over the phone (demanded a call back from them as I didn’t want to be near all those horrid ill people) who gave me tablets to try.  The rest of the cycle passed without incident and although the thrush had pretty much cleared I still had a nasty taste in my mouth.  I think this is going to be a permanent thing for me until the end of the chemo treatment.  As long as they can keep the thrush at bay I’ll be able to live with this. 

So all in all it hasn’t been as bad as I expected.  I’ve had a couple of bad days but next time I’ll plan for that and make sure I take it easy on these days.  I figure that if I do that then I’m in control really and not the cancer so hopefully my head will be able to take the idea of resting better as it’s my decision (mad logic I know but it makes me feel better to think like that so just go with me here).  If things carry on like this (except the thrush) I’ll be fine!!

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