Patricia Brown Clinic

'LIFE' Blog

'LIFE' Blog

The 'It Is' Appointment

Posted on May 19, 2016 at 11:50 AM

August the 12th was here, my mum's birthday and official results day. For this appointment I was in the cancer centre, this was the part I was dreading most walking into the cancer centre, stupid really but I felt this would brand me a 'cancer patient' and of course I didn't know what to expect. I had never been on to a chemo ward before, all I knew was what I had seen on the tv or read about. What did I expect to see? People looking awfully ill, no hair, your imagination runs wild and you picture up something worthy of a film. Part of you really doesn't want to walk in there, because you know that will make it real, but you find that inner strength and you do. When I did get in to the cancer ward, the waiting area was chaos, the chemo ward at my hospital sees 80-100 people a day, doesn't that put it into perspective. But you know what got me the most? You couldn't tell who had cancer and who didn't, yes you see a few people that do look ill, but you see other people in couple's or small groups and you cant tell who is the patient.

When I was called through there was my consultant and a nurse, but on the desk I saw a booklet saying 'Hodgkin's Lymphoma', I felt a wave of panic but also relief. My tests had needed to determine if it was Non-Hodgkin's or Hodgkin's and I'd been hoping for the latter as it was the better one out of the two, more straight forward and had a 10-20% higher success rate. My consultant confirmed that it was Hodgkin's, I had a 12cm mass in the left side of my chest, the cancer was Stage 2, as it had spread to my lymph nodes (around the collarbone, where the swelling had been). Its strange the thought process, when you heard the words we all hope not to hear. Did I see my life flashing before me? No. Did I make up in my head an instant bucket list? No. Was I ready to plan the funeral? Certainly bloody not! The first thing that flashed through my mind, in all honesty, was for f***s sake, its took 10 years grow back these eyebrows (I seriously over plucked them when I was younger) now they are going all fall off in one go. Honestly that was my first thought! I aren't vain at all and just bothered about my looks, but this was honestly the first thing that came to mind. I guess throughout it all I never thought of the D word, not getting better, not surviving that never came into it, why even entertain this thought when I knew this wasn't going to be the outcome, there was no doubt in my mind I was beating this cancer, and my quote throughout 'I'm not facing cancer, its facing me'.

Reality soon kicked back in, I was told I would need 6 cycles of chemotherapy, which would be 12 sessions in total, over a 6 month period. They had thought of doing less, but the mass was large and bulky that they thought it would require all 12 sessions. I would have to take 6 months of work at least. I was offered the cold cap but told it was painful, not guaranteed to work and that most people don't stick it. They also suggested, due to my hatred for needles and only been small and this been quite a harsh chemo on the veins that I go for the PIC Line, as my veins wouldn't likely hold out for all 12 sessions, I was told I would likely feel very sick, so they would give me a good supply of anti sickness tablets. Then you get all the facts, that chemo can damage your lungs, your heart, you could be left infertile, you then have to sign to say you consent to all of this. You're given a card to keep in your purse at all times, should you be in a car accident you need eradicated blood should you need a transfusion and you would have to show this. Here I had another daft thought, I can't find a receipt in my purse if I need it. Its just a dumping ground for receipts, vouchers, loyalty cards. I never get a free coffee because I can never find the card to get it stamped, so how will I keep the blood card safe for life? Everything starts going a blur, and it was this appointment where I did cry and I did feel overwhelmed and out of control. I was at my low, it was right after my biopsy and this had took a lot more out of me than I thought it would, I never thought it then but physically my body must of been exhausted from the cancer. Six months off work? But it had took me time to build up my customers, I had weddings booked, I couldn't not work. In this appointment, I have to say I get all the drama that is attached to cancer, you do feel as if your life has stopped, that all you are going to do for 6 months is stare at 4 walls, have a change of scene when you've got your head down the toilet throwing up, but wont have to worry over holding your hair back because you will have none! This was August, six months meant I wouldn't finish chemo until the end of January, that meant 2015 gone, been 26 gone, a year of my life was wasted and cancer had took over my life. That night we had a Chinese take away, normal life again, a horrible day really, but again, just the normality of little things helps and after all the trauma, the four of us still managed a laugh that night.

When you find yourself diagnosed with cancer, do things your way. Listen to your gut, don't have other people's opinions put on you to make you feel you should react a certain way, do what is right for you. I didn't choose to have the PIC Line, as you had to have this inserted in your arm and it was in the duration of the 6 months. I knew this wasn't for me, I might of had a hatred for needles and cannula's even more so, but even though it meant having the cannula 12 times, I knew Id rather that over the PIC Line. At least when the cannula came out, it was out, I could go home with nothing medical attached to me. You see I do far more damage to myself by what goes on in my head and I knew I couldn't handle the thought of having that in me 24:7, also it is an infection risk and you had to go the hospital once a week to get it drained. If I had to have it further down the line I'd cross that bridge then, but I was determined I wouldn't and my veins held out, were little troopers and I did it without the PIC Line. I didn't feel sick and I wasn't sick. My tummy felt a little sensitive a few days after, and straight after chemo I felt (not as though I've done it) but what I assume swallowing a litre of petrol must feel like, but I didn't dwell on this feeling, or look for any sign of feeling sick, I pushed it out my mind and got on with it. I kept my hair, zero hair loss. The wig salon is amazing up there, and a real benefit to ladies who need it, but I didn't even go in to look, I knew that I wouldn't be in the position where I would need their services, the cold cap saved my hair and I didn't find it painful. I also worked where I could, it was my way of fighting back and keeping some normality about things. I had a life before cancer and it wasn't stopping, cancer was just a part of life while it had to be. The inner strength I found was amazing and it even took me back how I handled it. Maybe goes to prove the power of positive thinking, I refused to let cancer rule me and it didn't, I gave it the time on chemo day, but other than that I was me. Just do what is right for you. You might at the end of your experience say you handled it thanks to having the PIC Line and wearing a wig, its your story, like this one is mine. Just do what is right for you, but above all find your inner fight, stick two fingers up at cancer, refuse to let it rule you and stay you throughout and you will come out the winner and you will be stronger than you ever thought you could be, as I say you aren't facing cancer, its facing you!

 

Categories: Cancer and Me

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