I’ve just completed / survived my first week on the chemo cocktail, so perhaps a good time to reflect on how things have played out so far.
Starting a new line of cancer treatment gives rise to trepidation and uncertainty – it’s a fear of the unknown. Doesn’t matter how much I research the side-effects, it’s clear that even identical treatments on patients, generally produce widely different outcomes. So just got to deal with it as it comes, I suppose.
Monday 9th May was a lovely sunny morning as I walked into Cheltenham Oncology Centre. Very much the same as when I started radiotherapy almost exactly 2 years previously, as a cancer ‘newbie’.
But now the centre is very familiar –many of the staff know and greet me – but in that special way that they have of being welcoming, although not particularly happy to see me in there again.
I’m an hour early for my appointment in the chemo ward. No point to sit waiting at home, I’d rather wait in the unit and hope they can get me in early. Which they do.
A hospital volunteer greets me and leads me to the chemo unit and my ‘reserved’ chair. There are six chairs in my section and most are occupied.
My allocated nurse – Kat introduces herself and goes through the double (and it seems triple) checks just so there’s no mix-up in treatments to the wrong patient.
I’ve really dropped lucky with Kat. She’s super-efficient, but also wonderfully funny – and I can tell by her interactions with other patients, this is not an act. I think it’s marvellous how nurses can work on this type of unit, knowing what they know – and yet remain remarkably upbeat to ensure the patients have a relaxed time there.
Kat sees my PICC line ‘ooh – lovely’ she says. ‘I can do all sorts with this.
Lovely for me too, I have hopeless veins for needles and cannulas.
Kat hooks me up to a saline drip – get some fluid in me to begin.
This is followed up by a good shot of Dexamethasone, which is a steroid. It’s used for many treatments, but in my case to help the body transition with the chemotherapy drugs. After that I get a dose of an anti-sickness medication and then finally hooked up to the Carboplatin chemo. This infusion takes around an hour.
Kat puts it all together and places the Infusor into a small ‘bum bag’, which attaches to my belt. That’s me and the Infusor ‘married’ for a few days. I can’t disconnect it and must get used to it being there – including while sleeping, without of course, allowing the line to become tangled or disconnected.
It’s pretty amazing how we adapt to new things. In 60 odd years, I’ve never slept on my back – but immediately I find that wedging the Infuser behind my pillows, gives me enough play in the line that I can (almost) sleep comfortably.
Showering isn’t easy – I have a waterproof sleeve to cover the PICC line and then protect the Infuser pump by placing it in a plastic bag and then tied to my wrist. Kinda works though!
And that’s it really – my first week on chemo hasn’t been so bad, all things considered.
I’m feeling fatigue – but that’s easily overcome by having a lay down. I’m well experienced in this anyway. Hopefully it’ll stay this way and we’ll see how my second cycle goes in early June.
In the meantime, I'll be thinking how to best re-brand the 5FU Fluorouracil, to someing more catchy and memorable.
How about FU2 chemo?
Take care all x