Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Running the last chemo mile

I confess to starting yesterday in tears, though I finished it in smiles.

Yesterday was Back to School Day so at 7am I was dragging myself out of bed feeling rotten after yet another sleepless night and making the kids breakfasts in a puddle of self-pitying tears.  How can I describe how I feel at the moment?  The worst of the weekly muscle aches and stabbing pains worked themselves out over the weekend but I still have various niggles including a return of mouth ulcers and an embarrassing itch which is bad enough to give me sleepless nights.  But overall I just feel....weak.  I have wobbly legs and no strength in my arms.  Halfway up the stairs I have to rest, gasping for breath.  It is as if I am getting over a horrible bout of flu that has sucked my strength away.  You might even have thought I did have flu over the weekend as I was coughing all the time, but apparently that's just fluid on the lungs...

Anyway, yesterday I got the kids off to school and headed up to the hospital for my weekly blood test: another bruise to add to the collection up and down my forearm.

The good news is that this should be the very last week of chemo.  The end of my five-month FEC-Taxol chemo marathon is in sight!  But last week my white blood cell count spectacularly crashed again so the doctor warned that I was unlikely to be able to go ahead with chemo this week.  Another delay, another week of chemo dragging on.  Not a big deal perhaps, but every extra mile at the end of a marathon seems a long way.  And to make it worse, the chemo that should have been finished by Christmas looked as if it would drag on into a celebratory weekend with a friend visiting from the States after all - bummer.

At the hospital, things were busy with post festive-season appointments and we had to wait an hour and a half in the dismal waiting room to see the doctor.  I started on conspiracy theories.  She must be consulting my oncologist about my white blood cell problem. What would he recommend?  Would I have to do yet another course of the dreaded Neupogen shots before I could progress to the last chemo session?

Finally I was shown in.  My doctor smiled.  She can't explain why, but  my crazy white blood cell count has gone back up again by itself despite last week's Taxol.  Still low - but high enough to go ahead with chemo. 

So today I arrived at hospital and followed the 'Route 42' signs to the chemo ward for the very last time(as one of my visitors said, it sounds like directions to a motorway).  I nipped down the short-cut tunnel that I only found because a friend tipped me off and straight to the bank of lifts that took me several visits to work out how to operate.  How well I know how it all works now!  Was there a trace of nostalgia as I effortlessly found my way to level 4, watching the newbies bewilderment as they tried to figure out the system?  Well, maybe just a bit. 

But three hours later I walked out, a little slow and weak, with one, big, happy smile on my face.

I feel like a marathon runner who has suddenly realised that the finishing line is a mile closer than expected.  There's still a bit to run but my flagging footsteps have gained a bit of extra bounce. 

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