It’s been very quiet in this corner for some time now. I have no real excuse, just a jumble of reasons. It’s partly been a form of writer’s block – how pretentious! But I’ve had several posts in draft for some time and don’t seem to have been able to find the words to finish, or in some cases even start them. Perhaps it’s been more a dive in motivation. I’ve been finding it hard to motivate myself to do anything much for the last few weeks. And that has been partly due to hitting something of a low, a wall – or perhaps more correctly slumping against the wall. I think a mid term low is probably quite normal – I do seem to remember it happening with my broken ankle. I’m a real expert in these things, you see!
Some of it has been brought on by having to admit to myself that I really am a lot more tired these days. It’s all very well trying to carry on as usual, but I get to 9 in the evening and I’m crashing. That’s unfortunate when I’ve always been something of a night bird – able to work in the undisturbed peace and quiet of the late evening. Late night was always a good time to write blog posts, do swimming club admin, sort my VAT return, that sort of thing, but not at present. And some has been brought on by trying to find holiday insurance and realising that, whilst I’m trying to pretend there’s not much wrong with me, that’s not the way other people see it. It’s only dawned on me since Christmas that although the chemotherapy will be over before Easter, I am going to be tagged as a cancer patient for years to come.
But things really aren’t all that bad. I’m just over halfway through the treatment at the moment, a good time to remind myself that I’m one of the lucky ones. And the treatment really hasn’t been that bad. I’ve pretty much carried on as normal, to the extent that most people forget that there’s anything wrong. That’s how it should be, and how I wanted it, so I shouldn’t really complain when I can’t get anyone to take over my committee duties at the swimming club. Excuses are varied and many. “I’m self employed.” Err… so am I. “My niece has cancer…” What can I say to that one? “The children have too many other things on. Dancing and football.” Mine do – oh, you don’t want to know what mine do. You’d need to lie down for a rest and in any case, that’s another half written post. I do realise that the attitude “GPM will do it” is entirely self-inflicted and it’s proving really difficult to wriggle out of things. By the time I manage it, the chemo will be done and dusted and I’ll be saying “Yes, I suppose I can do that” again.
And I am one of the lucky ones. I do have to keep repeating it. At my last round of treatment, a man across the room had advanced lung cancer and another was being violently ill with the medication. A colleague has just been diagnosed with lung and kidney cancer and I went to a friend’s funeral just before Christmas, someone from the triathlon club. She was in her mid-40s and had cheerfully battled a brain tumour for the last few years. Some friends who seemed to have a marriage made in heaven are splitting up. Whereas I’m going to have my health back and I fully expect that we’ll be celebrating our 21st wedding anniversary this summer. And we’re going on holiday at Easter! Did I mention that?
So, just in case anyone else with ovarian cancer has happened to find this site, I’m going to do a quick review of all those horrible side effects I was threatened with and what I’ve actually experienced. Just so’s you know it doesn’t have to be as bad as all that.
- Hair loss Yes, as predicted my hair went 2 to 3 weeks after the first treatment. That was quite hard but you soon get used to it. It hasn’t gone completely, though, and I do still have eyebrows and eyelashes. My wig is fantastic. Someone the other day: “Your hair’s lovely! When did you have that done?” Difficult to answer.
- Sickness I have felt slightly queasy, bad indigestion really, for a few days after each treatment, but I’ve not been sick at all. I’ve not gone off my food for more than a day or so, so I haven’t lost any weight. The opposite in fact, largely because the surgery reduced my level of exercise enormously.
- Increased risk of infection The blood counts take a nose dive each cycle but I’ve not been ill. Not a single cold all winter, even when all around have suffered. No norovirus (although I suspect a media engendered urban myth with that one). Nothing, not even a cold sore. I can’t remember the last time I went so long without having a cold. I’ve probably just blown my cover by writing that and will be struck down immediately by some evil disease.
- Mouth ulcers Nope, none of them.
- Aching muscles and joints None of them, either. Apart from my knee but that ached before I started all this, so it doesn’t count. It will stop aching when I start running more. Honestly!
- Numbness & tingling in hands and feet Yes, this is something that has happened. The tips of my fingers are all numb and it’s spreading down one thumb. My feet tingle sometimes when I’m walking around. It hasn’t restricted my activities and it should be reversible.
- Fatigue I do get tired but it’s not overwhelming fatigue. I don’t have to take to my bed during the day. Not much worse than normal, really.
- Constipation This might be too much information, I suspect, but life can be uncomfortable for a few days after the chemo. Nasty medicines sort it out pretty effectively.
- Surgically induced menopause Evening Primrose Oil really works – I notice if I forget to take it.
I think that’s about it. It was a daunting list of side effects when they were described to us at the start and I was expecting at the very least to go right off food but it hasn’t happened. Thank goodness. I do feel a little odd for a week after each round of chemo, slightly spaced out and detached with bad indigestion but by Day 7 that’s all gone. I haven’t swum since the surgery but I have started running again, albeit slowly. During Weeks 2 and 3 I can pretty much forget about it all. And soon it will all be over.