Patricia Brown Clinic

'LIFE' Blog

'LIFE' Blog

'Twas The Night Before'....Chemo

Posted on May 19, 2016 at 11:55 AM

Ok, so not quite like the night before Christmas! But I suppose its like the nervous/excited feeling you get when your a child on Christmas eve, only without the excitement! The time leading up to your first chemotherapy treatment, is a strange time, from my results appointment I had about 13 days until my first chemo, I had been put on a course of steroids, which work wonders and they had given me a boost and beside the stage 2 cancer, large mass in my chest, I felt, well, good actually. We had distracted ourselves by going out where we could, my closer circle knew about the cancer now, I sent out more a list of instructions than a 'how awful I have cancer' message, it was more I have this, I don't want this, don't treat me different and certainly no sympathy! The day before chemo I went for Afternoon Tea with my friend, who for the purpose of this blog, I'll call Miss J to save confusion later on. We had both decided we wanted to do something the day before it and I would recommend do something that you like or enjoy with the people you love the day before your chemo, dont just sit waiting for it to come, try and get out to take your mind off it. In ways it felt like the Last Supper, not in the usual way, but just in the way of this feeling I had of waiting to be ill. You just wonder how long  until I will be back to doing normal things like this again?

In the week before chemo and the night before, my conversation with my partner over many coffees was trying to describe the strange feeling I had. I at this time, like so many people do, assumed chemotherapy meant feeling ill, very ill. I had been told at the hospital that many people go through chemo with no or few side effects, and I did have a strange feeling that would be me. But a big part of you from what you know about cancer, or think you know, assumes you're going to feel pretty bad for quite a few months. The best way I can describe how I felt is like this. Imagine you knew you were going to get flu in exactly 13 days time, but proper flu, where you feel really ill. The cant get out of bed flu, aches and pains, hot sweats, shivering cold. Or a sickness bug, feeling sick constantly, been sick and stomach pains. Would it not be a weird feeling, to feel really well, yet know in about 2 weeks time you will feel horrendous. Now the fortunate thing is with flu and sickness bugs you don't know when your going to get them, they creep up on you sometimes without warning, nobody wants to be ill but it just happens. But how would you feel knowing this is coming? Having to spend two weeks waiting to feel ill? Then thinking you could have months of feeling ill. Then there's the hair side, those last two weeks, your putting brow powder through, thinking I might not be doing this for much longer, brushing or drying your hair wondering how long it will still be there for. That last time you dry and style your hair before chemo, its so strange to think it could be the last, you say a little sorry to it for all the times you moaned it took ages to dry, went frizzy in the damp, or kinked in the wrong place. You want to see it curly one last time, see it straight, wear it down everyday to make the most of it. Where you realise, it isn't just hair, its part of you. Part of you that you might lose to cancer. These were the things that seemed so strange to get my head around, waiting to be ill and waiting to see a different person in the mirror.

The night before chemo, was just a weird night. All the things I mention go round in your head, the nerves, the fear of the unknown. I spoke to a lady who the hospital had put me in touch with, who had just finished chemo and had used the cold cap, this did help. Just speaking to someone who has been in the shoes you find yourself in and has done it does help you, you realise that will be you one day. While on this, I'd recommend take on board all of their advice, she told me really good advice on chemo, things to do related to the cold cap and I really was glad I had the conversation. But remember when people talk of their opinions don't assume you will be the same, keep fact and opinion separate. I was told brilliant advice for the cold cap like I said, but she also told me she found it painful and one time in particular it was excruciating. I came off the phone and it played on my mind, as me and my partner talked later he knew it had upset me. I was so determined to do it, but thought what am I going have to go through tomorrow? Not just tomorrow either, but 12 sessions. Thinking you are going to be in pain the next day is not a nice feeling. He told me that I didn't have to do it, if it was too much it didn't matter. We then went to normality like any other couple and cuddled up on the sofa to watch a film.

But I woke with a different attitude, I was doing that cold cap, I hadn't styled my hair for the last time it was staying exactly where it belonged, it was part of me. I wasn't going to feel ill either, I'd go have the chemo, get home and of course be sensible but put it out of my mind. Who did cancer think it was? This was my fight, and it was going my way. So the morning of my first chemo, I got up and showered and put my make up on like usual. I got dressed as if I was going shopping, I put my heels on and looked in the mirror and saw me and was determined to see the same looking back at me in 6 months time. Everyone needs a theme tune and I wanted to get in the right frame of mind so mine became 'Eye of the Tiger', I recommend a good fight song to listen to before chemo, it puts you in a stronger mood. I have always been a Rocky fan on the quiet, ever since I was young and watched it with my cousin and granddad on a Saturday night. So the morning of chemo I got the ipad and put it in on You Tube, I watched the video once then would listen to it on repeat while I was getting ready, lucky my partner didn't mind! It might seem silly to some, but this became my thing, before any chemo, my final PET scan for my results, before I phoned for my results, it became my thing to listen to it and it gave me that strength when I needed it. As soon as you hear that intro to 'Eye of the Tiger' its hard not to feel an inner strength. I thought when we went to watch Creed how ironic that Rocky has been part of my cancer journey and he had Lymphoma too in the film.

Whatever it might be, whatever becomes your thing, if it works, makes you feel you can fight the fight then do it. Don't worry if it seems silly or irrelevant compared to what is going on. You are walking in to the unknown on your first chemo, you will be scared, you will be worried of what will happen during chemo and what's to come. But these little things can be like your hidden weapon. To me I strutted into that chemo ward with make up on, heels on, dressed like I was meeting a friend for lunch. Some people may not ever understand this but it is all about positive mental attitude. For me by doing it, I walked into that hospital, bolder, stronger and more confident, ready to face cancer and chemo head on and there was no doubt in my mind the fight was on.

Categories: Cancer and Me

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