Friday, 28 February 2014

Reclaiming my body from the devil called chemo

Every morning when I get up, I check my hair growth in the mirror. It is a source of endless fascination and excitement for me. I'm constantly taking photos of my head, from all angles, so that I can see the progress.

If you will indulge me, I'm going to start a hair growth diary and take weekly photos so that you can also share in my excitement at moving on from being a baldy.  Maybe monthly would be better actually. Weekly might just be that little bit too boring.  A bit too much like watching paint dry?  I'm now feeling a bit sad that I didn't take more photos of my head when it was properly bald.  But it wasn't a good look so I guess it's understandable that I didn't feel like immortalising it.

So to start off......

Just before final chemo (hair had started to grow back as I had the week's delay )

2 weeks post chemo

6 weeks post chemo

The hair that has come through so far has a weird texture, quite coarse really.  There is definitely a lot of grey and it is very patchy!  I gave myself a number 2 all over the other day as I had quite a few wild grey strands giving me the mad professor look which I wasn't liking too much.

I started taking Tamoxifen on Monday, the final part of my treatment which is a tablet that I will take everyday for the next five years. (Except when I forget, like I did yesterday.  Oops.)  It is an anti-oestrogen drug which which is prescribed to women like me whose breast cancer is of the oestrogen receptive type. It switches off the hormone in order to reduce the chances of my cancer returning.

I was dreading starting this to be honest. I've had oestrogen in my body for a long time.  What were the effects of turning it off going to be?  Its a bit scary, knowing that I'm in it for five years, whatever the side effects. Ive purposefully not read much info about it until now as I didnt want to stress about it whilst everything else was going on.  So we will see what happens. Nothing drastic has occurred so far, five days in (with one day off!). I know plenty of women have been there before me and carried on with their lives so I'm not going to dwell on it.  The main side effect seems to be hot flushes, but I was having those already from the effects of the chemo. I don't like to think that they are going to last 5 years but it that is the worst of it then I guess I'll cope. 

It's 7 weeks since my last chemo, and the muscle fatigue is still there. I feel like an old lady every time I get up from sitting for a while. But it isn't stopping me from getting out and exercising as I'm determined to reclaim my body from those chemo demons. I cycled to about half of my radiotherapy appointments (12 mile round trip) and I started a 'couch to 5k' running program on Monday. This resulted in me exposing my bald (ish) head  in public for the first time. I experienced a hot flush whilst walking home from my run/walk and I just had to get that hat off my head!  I wont deny, i did feel a bit self conscious but it felt so good to have the wind in my hair (stubble). As soon as I get a full covering I am ditching those wigs and scarves. Freedom!

I had my final meet with the oncologist yesterday.  Sadly I didn't get to see my favourite Oncy, but the guy we saw was very nice too.  He checked my radiotherapy burnt chest which he didn't seem too concerned by, and answered a few questions that had been bothering me.  Will and I both seemed a little reluctant to leave.  This was it, the end of 7 months of intense care.  In some ways, I'm quite glad I still have the regular Herceptin  treatments on the horizon.  Otherwise it would feel a little like a safety net being pulled out from under me.

Nevertheless, I celebrated the occasion by meeting up with one of my online chemo buddies.  Our first 'real' meeting.  We had a great catch-up, not dwelling at all on the past few months but just having a good old natter about all sorts of things.  Talking to someone who totally gets it is very comforting.  I have met six of these ladies from the forum now, and we are planning a big meet up of about twenty of us in April.  It is so lovely to meet properly after going through the tough bit together.

The cycle trip down to Turkey has had to be put on hold sadly as Will has been offered a 5 month work contract and we felt that it would be silly to turn down such a good chunk of work.  So we have had to rapidly recompute - our heads were already on the way to France.  We are both quite disappointed but I'm sure we'll get over it.  We are planning a big trip next winter and will have some time off in the summer too so its not all bad. 

So I have decided I need to head back to work too and returned to the Blue Cross Vet Hospital last week to do a couple of shifts to ease me in.  Next week I do 3 days so will see how I go with that.  It will be great to get back to some sort of normality and going back has made me realise how much I have missed my job. 

1 comment:

  1. Lovely to read your update, you have my respect for starting the running program. I kind of fancy a go but haven't got passed the sofa stage yet! Let's hope for a great summer that gives you the chance to do the outdoorsy stuff you want. X