Nov 1, 2016

FINISHING CHEMO!!!!



On Tuesday (1st November) I had my sixth and LAST round of chemo. These past few days have been unpleasant to say the least. The first few days are always the worst. A physical struggle and also a massive mental struggle to pull yourself out of that dark place, to keep on fighting and talking your body into feeling better. Since Tuesday I have had the usual chemo sweats, where I'm a giant red mess and being in really hot temperatures this month hasn't helped. The only thing that can help you through this stage is drinking plenty of fluids which is hard when you have painful acid reflux. Then there's just the general feeling of being too weak to move, to do anything except lie down. You've just got to wait for it to pass and now, 3 days later   I feel okay enough to write this post.

Now as the drugs wear off and I can start to feel like I'm in the real world again and emerging from the chemo fog, I am so relieved and excited that I now get to move forward past the worst stage of treatment!

NO MORE CHEMO!!!! Thank you thank you thank you!!!!
I still have 25 rounds of radiation to get through, 6 rounds of subcutaneous Herceptin and 10 years of Tamoxifen treatment.

Which sounds like a lot and I guess it is but the chemo was the worst part and I have to say I am very proud of how I got through it. I did have ups and downs and the downs were pretty damn rough, there were tears and breakdowns and bouts of feeling like I couldn't get through another treatment, but I never let it beat me, I never got a temperature, I never had to take any extra anti nausea tablets afterwards (you get some in the IV before chemo and they always worked really well for me) I never had to visit the hospital and I didn't have one single anxiety attack the whole time, which considering the state I was in before hand is a bloody miracle.

I was actually so worried about having a panic attack the day of my first chemo that I asked the Doctors to admit me overnight and monitor me, I was so sure I'd be a complete mess. It was only when my friend Lisa who has been through a lot of chemo herself pointed out that sleeping in a cancer ward with lots of very sick people after your very first treatment might not be the best idea! Thank God I listened to her and went home!

I ate chocolate and all the delicious food I could lay my hands on but I did also eat a hell of a lot of superfoods and put a lot of work into prepping my body for the chemo, with probiotics, with a tonne of spinach and broccoli  everyday and I added a lot of things to my diet I wouldn't usually have eaten. I  gained 7 kgs through it and everyone keeps commenting about how much better I look! When I am recovered from this round I'll be able to do more exercise and tone up but I'm actually going to try and stay around this weight as I like it too and Craig is definitely a fan of my huge butt lol.

If I hadn't had to have chemo I wouldn't have quit my job and I wouldn't have found a full time job in my art work. I never would have had the confidence in myself to do that before and I have been blown away with the amount of paintings I have sold, to people all over the world and I am excited about what I can paint, what I can do, when I'm not resting for two weeks at a time and going through chemo! It's also meant I've been home with the kids which has been great bonding time. I love being there to pick them up from school and have things (kind of) organised throughout the day. Sometimes I even do meal plans for the week. I tidy the house during the day, in between drawing and painting and listening to music which has been so lovely. I feel like I have totally restored the balance and calm in my life and now without feeling like shit constantly I am so excited for what the future holds.



I have pain in my whole body, quite severe in my legs and feet, shoulders and hands on a daily basis but I know that will improve over time. 

If I hadn't had chemo I never would have lost my hair and never known that I can rock a buzz cut. I am excited for my hair to grow back but I really like it short so I am going to try out a Winona Ryder/Natalie Portman style pixie crop for a while! Having short hair in Australia is heaven and it's actually quite a liberating feeling when you've hidden your life behind a giant curtain of hair because you thought that was the only way you'd be considered attractive. No more frizz, no more greasy hair, not to mention feeling cooler in the scorching summer sun.



I learned so much. That I am really strong, seriously if you can get through chemo I think you can get through the everyday hurdles that life throws at you!! 

I learned I have to listen to my body and that its ok to rest, my new favourite saying is 'let her sleep, for when she wakes she will move mountains' rest is important and without it I can't function properly.

I learned who my friends were. The ones who showed up in my darkest times, the ones who were always there to help me out, to take my kids to school or drop a meal over, to talk me through the especially shit times and take me out on my good days.

I knew my family would be amazing and they really did look after me / hold it all together. Every week after chemo my Mum would cook meals for me everyday, pack the kids lunch boxes and take them to school, then she'd do my washing and ironing and anything else she could help with.

My sister drives me to all my appointments, sits there for 8 hours sometimes whilst we're kept in the waiting room, whilst I'm getting chemo.
Which is not a pleasant experience for anyone, especially as she has two young kids herself and doesn't always get a lot of sleep through the night. Last time we came out of chemo, she was so nauseous, just from being there, she was vomiting before we got back to the car, so I really do appreciate it that she came with me so many times. 

This was my first round of chemo, I was skinny and terrified! I questioned the nurses about 800 times what was in the meds, how much, what would happen to me and they were all so lovely and patient and calming and for that I will always be so grateful.



I got my hair cut a few days later to try and prepare for the hair loss.


Then can the steroid fuelled acne, I bloody hate this stage but unfortunately it came every single time on the morning of Day 10, like clockwork


Then of course came the inevitable hair loss...


And after losing clumps of hair for days, Craig shaved my head for me, with the kids helping out too.



Then there was bone aches and endless days on the couch covered in hot water bottles. 



There were hugs and love from the kids, when they realised that Mummy was quite poorly, with sore bones, they would sit with me and watch movies when I couldn't get off the couch, they'd happily appreciate pizza for dinner when cooking wasn't possible! And they became very caring and sweet.




There were wigs! Dark wigs, blonde wigs, pink wigs.....




There was bald photo-shoots with my best friend....







But of course the most important thing about the chemo was making sure that if there were any microscopic cancer cells that had managed to venture into my body away from the original tumour, they would now be gone. The radiation is more targeted and I will find out more about that in a few days. It's been a hell of a ride since June. From being diagnosed to having my boob cut off a week later, to going through 6 rounds of chemo.....I know it has been tough on those around me. I'm forever grateful to my family, My mum and Dad, my sister and Paddy and to Craig for standing by me and of course my lovely children and Laurens lovely children for always managing to cheer me up.






But I can now confidently move forward to a healthy life. I am so grateful that I can now enjoy a cancer free life, with my family and enjoy every bloody second of this crazy adventure.

I know I won't ever take anything or anyone for granted again. There will be tough times ahead I'm sure, radiation and tamoxifen may not be fun but I will be here and I am so happy that I made it through the other side of breast cancer, so grateful to every single person who made the journey a little easier and so grateful that I am still here xxxx




























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