One of the many breast care nurses that have so kindly contacted me in the past few weeks told me that I shouldn’t get hung up on my treatment dates because they will inevitably change. My initial thought was, ‘whatever’, I’ll just focus on getting started. Well, I should have listened because not even one round of chemo in and the breast care nurse can claim a victory. She was entirely correct.
I turned up for my first session of chemotherapy so ready to begin. Except that my veins didn’t quite want to come to the party. Four different nurses tried to find a vein to canulate me so that they’d be able to pump the chemo through. Four different nurses failed. After the fourth attempt, I was somewhat distressed, ok, I cried. My mother, who had taken me to the appointment, ran off to fetch my oncologist. I think my crying made everyone uncomfortable – including the other patients having chemo. Did you know, they just administer chemo in one big room? So, for the first time, I really got to see what it looks like to be deep in the middle of chemo. Sallow faced, weakened and skinny, bald people everywhere. And, everyone in the room was on average 20 or 30 years older than me. Confronting, at best.
But anyway, back to the story. After a quick discussion with my oncologist, we decided that if every attempt to canulate me was going to result in multiple uncomfortable attempts, it would be better (and I suspect much more efficient for the nurses) for me to get a port put in. The port will sit just under my skin near my collarbone. The nurses will be able to access it much easier than trying to find a vein in my arm, so that’s good news. The bad news is that a port means another general anaesthetic and hospital visit this coming Wednesday. Chemo will then start on Friday. So while the week was incredibly frustrating, the silver linings are that I have enjoyed another week of feeling well and I’ll still have my hair for my cousins wedding which is coming up in early April …
I think I’ve written before that both chemo and radiotherapy are like getting extra insurance. Whilst technically all my cancer has been removed, thank you Corinne, there could be a rogue cell hidden somewhere just waiting to grow. My radiation oncologist tells me that often breast cancer can recur locally or it can return as lung cancer, bone cancer or liver cancer. Not pleasant. So, the aim of the chemo is to kill the rogue cells that may be lurking. And the aim of the radiotherapy is to kill anything that may be left in my chest well with an aim of stopping a local recurrence.
I guess ultimately, the surgeries, the chemo, the radiotherapy, the healthier eating etc. is all to try and ensure I enjoy a long and healthy life. Yesterday I went for a walk along the spectacular WA coast line. One of my favourite walks in Perth is along West Coast drive between Trigg and Waterman. Just hilly enough to feel it and with a spectacular vista. As I was walking past Mettams Pool, I spotted a woman heading in to the ocean for a dip who must have been easily pushing 90. How wonderful, was all I could think. What a blessing to be healthy enough at that age to still enjoy a swim in the ocean. That, my friends, must be the aim. Did you know the life expectancy of a 32 year old woman in Australia is 90? I’d like to get there, and go swimming in the ocean like the lady I saw at Mettams Pool… plus do all the other things in between that I haven’t yet had time for.
Oh, and finally to end on a positive note, they say that before you start chemo you should do something really fun. Well, lucky me, my fabulous friend Amy invited me to attend the first diner en blenc in Perth. What an amazing evening. A pop up ‘picnic’ with 1500 people all dressed in white at Elizabeth Quay. It was a breathtaking sight and a marvellous event – we had a great time!
Wishing everyone celebrating Easter this weekend a very happy and blessed Easter. Enjoy time hanging out with your family and friends. And raise a toast to your health.