My Fourth Chemotherapy Treatment
Well today marks the end of the last of my AC chemo cycles – my fourth chemotherapy treatment is over. OVER!
No more ‘red devil’ for me – never, ever again! This is mainly because it’s so harsh that you can only have so many in your lifetime. Whatever, I’m done with it!
This last cycle was so much easier than the previous ones, due to the fact that my Oncologist reduced my dose by 25% as I was so ill for the last 3 sessions.
This time around, apart from a couple of bad days, I handled the side effects so much better. I actually felt like a few of my friends who have undergone AC chemo felt whereas previously I couldn’t understand how they had got off so ‘lightly’ compared to me.
I don’t know, maybe my original dosage was just too much for my body to handle. I don’t care. What I do care about is that I’ll never have to undergo AC chemo again and thank God for that.
So now I’ve had a little bit of time to reflect on the past 3 months and the first half of my chemotherapy treatment.
I can honestly say that AC chemo is not for the faint-hearted. It is all-consuming and at times you think you’re not going to get through it. I couldn’t see the end until very recently. I felt like I would be in the chemo bubble forever and I just couldn’t see past the end of my treatment, let alone a life without breast cancer.
As horrendous as it was at times, I’ve got through it. I’m done with it. I am not the person I was before I started and I doubt I will ever be that person again but I made it through.
It might not be all bad that I’m different now because in the past 3-4 months, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on the person I am and the people I surround myself with and I’ve started to make some changes. For the better.
For my whole life, I have felt like the person everyone came to with their problems, when they needed advice, a shoulder to cry on, the first to share good and bad news. And I’ve loved being that person and still do.
I have learned though that some of the people that have leaned on me are simply not cut out to be that person for me in return. I do not know why, nor do I care why.
Additionally, I have found that despite me facing the (hopefully) toughest time of my life, some people will still insist on making every situation about them. They have kicked me while I’m down. Or they haven’t contacted me. And shame on them.
I can count these people on one hand and instead of feeling sad or disappointed in them, I actually feel empowered. There’s nothing like a bit of cancer to help make some tough decisions and let some people go.
I’ve just finished reading Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” a and I wish I had read it years ago – I wish she had written it MANY years ago! It’s all about looking at your possessions, discarding those that do not “spark joy” in you and treasuring those things that do.
I am applying this to all aspects of my life and whilst Marie asks you to start by sorting and discarding your clothing, I am starting with People! So it’s goodbye to people I cannot rely on, who think only of themselves or who are constant drainers. It’s as simple as that. There is no sadness but a weight has been lifted.
Marie says you only have to tidy once, because then everything you have is precious to you and has it’s place. I will constantly be ‘tidying’ my circle of family and friends though – but I suppose she didn’t really intend for her principals to be applied to people!
But that’s enough of discarding the bad because what I am left with is undoubtedly the best circle of family and friends that anyone could wish for. Not only are they (you!) supportive, positive and uplifting but you are also many! For every person I discard, there are a hundred of you that I treasure, that spark joy when I think about you, or when you call me, or when I read your messages of love and support. You are amazing and I am so lucky to have you! Please know how grateful I am to you for being there for me when I really, really need you. Please know I am here for you too.
So I’m 3 months into chemo and I have 3 months to go before I start radiotherapy. I’m halfway there! Altogether now…wooo-oooahh livin’ on a prayer!
As much as 3 months is such a short time to many, I won’t lie, it’s dragged for me! It’s behind me now though. So I need to focus on round 2 which goes by the name of Paclitaxel. Rolls off the tongue, right?
I’ll be having a weekly dose of Paclitaxel for 12 weeks. It’s a different chemo and a much lower dose than AC chemo so I’m really hoping it will be much easier to take. The side effects are similar to the last chemo but as I’ve already experienced pretty much everything on the list in full-force, I’m ready for it!
In other news, my eyebrows and eye-lashes have started to regrow! Which would be bloody awesome if I was done with chemo ha ha argh! BUT it’s really given me a boost to see how quickly they can start to grow back so when I lose them again and start to complain, feel free to remind me that they WILL grow back and it won’t take long.
My mum is coming with me tomorrow for my treatment YAY so it will be nice to introduce her to my lovely chemo nurses. She met my Oncologist last week which was nice too.
I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now. I’ve only felt this way very recently. A few weeks ago, I couldn’t even imagine Christmas this year. Not because I thought I would be dead, I just couldn’t see that far into the future.
I can now, I can see everything really.
I think the biggest change in that, aside from finishing the harshest chemo, is that I got the results of my genetic testing to see if I had either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Honestly it blew me away when I got the good news – it was like getting the ALL CLEAR from cancer! If I had been positive for one of the genes, I would have scheduled to have a bilateral mastectomy and my ovaries removed and although I desperately didn’t want that to happen, I had come to terms with it being likely because I had gotten cancer so young. It would also have meant that my children, particularly my daughter, would have had to get tested as soon as she was old enough too. I felt tremendous guilt about the possibility of me ‘passing’ the cancer gene to them, as much as I know rationally it wasn’t my fault.
When my husband and I went to get the results, we nearly fell of our chairs when the Professor told us I was negative for the genes! Then we cried. Then I called my mum and dad!
My result was not 100% conclusive because they did find an unclassified variant in the BRCA1 gene but at this stage they think it insignificant. They will keep my results and DNA though and as new testing procedures are found, they will let me know if they uncover any new info and I will call them in 1-2 years for an update too.
So, all-in-all, it’s been a wonderful 3 weeks. A very happy and positive few weeks surrounded by my amazing family and friends!
Oh I’ve also attended the “Look Good, Feel Better” workshop with some other lovely cancery ladies where we got to try on new makeup, wigs and headgear which was a lot of fun!
If you want to see me in my new wig, check out this video :)
Right then, that’s about enough for this cycle. Wish me luck for tomorrow and let’s hope in my next chemo update I’m telling you I barely felt a thing :)
As the Queen song goes, “I’ll face it with a grin, I’m never giving in, on with the show”!
Love from Mim x