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  • Writer's pictureInnes Thomson

3rd Chemo Cycle – 1st June, 2022

Updated: Jun 29, 2022

I wrote this post mostly on Wednesdays and my Chemo Day is a Wednesday, too

After a week of trepidation and anxiety, it was time for my 3rd round of Chemo.

In the run-up to ‘Chemo Day’, I felt more apprehensive about round 3. Mostly, I found myself concerned that there may be some cumulative effect. In other words, round 3 would be worse than round 2. Or that round 3 would be worse than round 1.

To explain this, I am on NORDIC; regimen where the rounds of Chemo are alternating between R-maxi-CHOP & R-HiDAC. So, while this is round 3, it’s the first time I’ve experienced a ‘repeat’ of something I’ve previously experienced.

Also, the week before Chemo Day, I had been admitted to the Hospital with a fever of 38.7°C. The fever necessitated a stay of 3 nights with 48hrs or so on IV anti-biotics and 24hrs on oral. Released on the Friday without any conclusive reason for the fever, I believe it is put down to Febrile Neutropenia.

The weekend after discharge was quiet, Kerry and I met up with Carter & Miles for brunch on the Saturday, and Carter told me that “I didn’t look as bad as he’d expected I would look”. Miles was preparing for a ‘footy’ match, and we had a lovely meal, chatted, and laughed, much about nothing really.

The days running up to Chemo Day were quiet primarily, working when I could, resting when I could and generally taking it easy.

As has become the tradition, Kerry and I went for breakfast and headed off to the Hospital for my 9:00 appt. We got there at 8:30 and frustratingly were kept waiting until 9:10 or so. I only say frustrating as ……. I doubt anyone was in before me, and it seemed quiet that Wednesday compared to the previous Chemo Days. Who knows how scheduling works, but it seemed like an opportunity to be taken early and be let got early in the afternoon? C’est la vie.

I watched the comings and goings as we waited, again we chatted probably mostly about nothing. Kerry reassured me and me fretting about the hours ahead. To be clear, the fretting is about the days following, not about Chemo Day per se, it’s about the days following and what may eventuate.

As is the usual routine, I was shown to a seat, connected to a drip of ‘pre-meds’, anti-nausea and Saline (I think) and left for an hour to marinate. Different to last time, my Chemo was brought in a plastic crate/ box and left in front of me. It seems a little sinister seeing 5 ‘large’ foil-packets with my name on them in a box marked ‘Cytotoxic’.

Over the next 3-4 hrs, I was connected and disconnected, and I watched as some drugs were hung on my drip stand thingo, some drugs being infused automagically, and others being ‘pushed’ manually. The ‘Red Devil’ Chemo, Doxorubicin, being the one that is pushed by hand. My understanding is that this is done by hand to ensure a safe infusion rate in case the machine thingo breaks doon. The day passed without much fanfare if truth be told.

Oh, for some reason, I decided to walk the 1.2km back to the apartment. That was a BIG mistake. No more than 300m after starting, I was buggered. I’d felt that good, with no ill-effect from the infusions that I figured, ‘I’ll walk, get the exercise and make sure the cytotoxicity is maximised’. After all, If I. going to be poisoned, I might as well be poisoned good and proper. As stated, it was a big mistake, but by the time my mistake manifested, I was in a spot where I couldn’t get a taxi and by the time, I reached the road where I could get one, I was literally 600m or so from home with 90% of that being downhill. That 10% though……. holy shit!!! It took me 20 mins to do that last 600m, I was properly buggered. My legs felt like lead, and I was completely out of breath. These moments very much bring home the fact that Chemo is serious stuff and the ‘whole body effect’ is very real.

Those previous words were written a week ago, let’s call it end of week 1 of the cycle. I’m picking up now at the end of week 2 of the cycle.

The reason for the gap? There’s nothing really to report. No funny events really, nothing that I think I can make fun of. The side effects have been mostly tolerable. I’m literally just back from a Coffee catch-up with someone whom I’ve known for years, not real close but close enough to apparently care and we discovered we live in adjoining suburbs and have met a couple of times for brekkie and a natter. I’ve enjoyed connecting with him and it brings me to a characteristic of having Cancer that I’ll touch on as the close-out to this post. But first…… the only real side effect of this cycle; fatigue.

As stated earlier, this cycle has mostly been tolerable except for tiredness. I have been more tired/ fatigued than I think I have ever known previously. I’ve alluded to the fact previously that work has been fantastic, letting me do what I can, ‘take the time’ that I need, and generally allowing me to traverse this journey at a pace that is manageable. That means in effect, I do work from home mostly and that also means I can take a rest when required, be it just time away from a computer or a nap. This cycle however has seen me exhausted, especially (say) days +5 - +12 of the cycle. Spells of (say) an hour at the screen/ phone-calls are intertwined with 2hr naps, and I mean proper sleeps. 2 hrs solid on the settee and that can be repeated 2 or 3 times a day. Paradoxically also, I spend most of the night sleeping too, but intertwined with (say) 1 hr spells of wide-awakeness. I guess if I didn’t sleep during the day, maybe sleep would be less interrupted during the night. I have fully embraced a concept that the Haemo Nurse told me however; sleep when you need, no matter when it is. Your body is undergoing very heavy therapy and you must let it rest when needed. So, I do. I’ve generally been unfazed by other side-effects. I continue to look shite (in my opinion), grey pallor and ghoulish insipid lips. I have however thus far, and as I type, held on to my eyebrows. Well, 50% of them anyway. No not only one side, they’ve just thinned out noticeably.

So that other characteristic? Ho people engage, or otherwise.

Fuck me, people don’t half come out of the woodwork. Mostly, I’m welcoming. I like people. I get a kick out of being around people (in doses that I control of course). I genuinely like to chat face to face and interact. I can’t quite nail this one though……. I find some peoples ‘interest’ in my situation completely inoffensive and others’ really quite laughable. I’ll try to explain…

I’ve been contacted by people whom I’ve not heard from for weeks. Some whom I’ve not heard from for months and some from whom I’ve not heard from for years. I respond differently to peoples’ interest though. Some I welcome very readily and others I feel is a bit curious. Literally, I feel some people’s interest is about how they see themselves and wanting to ‘be a good person by engaging’ and others I think are maybe just nosey. At the very least, they’re doing what they ‘think is the right thing to do’. Well, what about the previous weeks/ months/ years? If I’m not that interesting to folks without having Cancer, it seems odd that I am now. That all sounds a bit self-centred maybe; who knows? As I said I’m mostly welcoming of the contact, I really am. I welcome the interaction but I do question what the real motive is in some instances.

I’m not the easiest of people to have a mate-ship with. I can be withdrawn at times and hard to reach. I may seem as if, at times, my motive for friendship is self-interest. It brings the dynamics of friendship into sharp relief, however. An interesting kaleidoscope of variables. I guess the bottom line is; each friendship has its own dynamic, making the world an exciting place.

Oh, if the person with whom I’ve just had breakfast is reading this……. I am very welcoming of the contact, and hope we continue.

In closing, I continue to feel better and better and expect that I will do so now for the next 5days until Chemo Day #4. That will mark the ½ way mark of the Chemo phase of treatment. It’s been a roller coaster as you’ll have read (massive assumption that you’ve read other posts), but if the 2nd ½ is the same as the 1st ½, I say BRING IT ON and let’s be done with this.


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Jun 16, 2022

Love your blogs, so well written but poignant, honest and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing


Jordan Fisher
Jordan Fisher
Jun 16, 2022

Keep going

Auld yin ! We Luv ya. x

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