Sunday, December 12, 2010


So here we are again!

I'll start by saying that treatment is going well. I finished Chemo in October, and am currently undergoing Radiation Therapy. That will continue until mid January. I have no reason to suspect that the treatment will not be successful, though obviously I will have to be vigilant for the rest of my life.

I don't miss the illness caused by the Chemo, and so far my main side-effects from the R.T, are tiredness, insomnia, and some soreness. Given I am  only one third the way through, I have been warned to expect an increase in these side-effects during the course of the treatment.

I've had a couple of minor setbacks during my treatment. I ended up in hospital at one stage with an infection which the Doctors wanted to treat with I.V. antibiotics. Unfortunately, this proved difficult, as my veins had pretty much broken down, and after a couple of days, and some VERY nasty failed attempts at cannulation, I ended up back on tablets.

This also caused the Docs to recommend that I have a line inserted into my upper arm to receive my remaining chemo. A total pain, as I actually only had one treatment left. However, I went along with it, only to find it caused even more dramas. First, the dressing they applied to hold the cannula in place burned me so badly, it actually cut the skin. I still have the scars some two months down the track. Then a couple of weeks after chemo finished, and the line was removed, I had an infection, as well as a DVT at the site. Treatment was twice daily injections of Clexane, and I don't care what anyone says, that shit HURTS. Monster Yuppy to the rescue again.

This complication caused additional drama. As mentioned elsewhere, my best friend shouted me a trip to Melbourne for J's birthday. Mum went BALLISTIC!!!! She cried, and screamed, and told me I was taking a foolish risk by flying with a blood clot. She even went on the internet to find research to back up her argument. It didn't matter how much I assured her that I wouldn't do ANYTHING my Doctors might consider even the slightest bit risky, she raged at my selfishness, my lack of consideration for her and for The Brat.

 As it turned out, I had an appointment to return to my Oncologist, as I had been quite unwell with the Clexane, and my GP suspected that I may need a change in medication. (This was in addition to the lumps and bruises that prevented me from sleeping, or even climbing stairs without considerable pain). My Oncologist was a little surprised by the side-efffects I was experiencing. Even though they are listed on the medication information sheet, they are relatively unusual. Anyway, she ordered another ultrasound, to check the status of the blood clot. She also assured me (as did my GP when I spoke to him later), that a blood clot only increased the risk when flying, if it was situated in my leg. The fact that it was in my arm meant I could fly without any worries.

Anyhoo, the upshot of the ultrasound was that the clot was gone. It was small to start with, and the 3 or so weeks I had persisted with the injections had dissolved it. YAY!!! No more needles, and the added bonus that Mum would be reassured that it was safe to fly... you would think! So I flew to Melbourne at the end of that week, (without Mum's blessing), and had a ball. No regrets!

The day after I returned, was the first of thirty Radiation Therapy treatments. Due to public holidays I will be finishing these in the middle of January. I had previously had 4 tattoos, on and around my breast, and the techs spent a fair bit of time working out how I would need to be positioned to receive the radiation in the correct spots. Suffice to say, it involves gladwrap slings, and lots of tape...

As I mentioned earlier, so far not too bad. Apart from tiredness and insomnia, I have some pain and minor burning on the skin. I have been warned that this will worsen, so I am prepared. I have also dropped back to 4 days a week at work, hoping this will help lessen the tiredness. It was a good call, and my sisters, who pushed me to make this decision, are helping me out a little financially, as I am trying to build up enough leave for a short break at the end of my treatment.

Emotionally, I seem to be having a few more bad days than previously. You would think that with the light at the end of the tunnel I would be less inclined to meltdowns. I personally think it's just the result of a long 7 months of treatment and chaos, and I am simply tired. It will settle once the treatment and associated side-effects are over. Then I can relax, have a break, and start looking seriously at jobs in Melbourne. Early research looks quite promising for admin jobs in my preferred salary range, so we shall see.

It's likely that this will be the last update before the end of treatment, with the madness of Christmas approaching. So thanks to you all for your love, support and encouragement. I know that I am lucky, as I have wonderful, supportive friends and family, as well as a very treatable cancer, and a very positive prognosis.