Chemotherapy is the standard treatment for cancer so in order for me kick this cancer’s arse I must endure chemo.
I am currently on my 10th round of chemo out of twelve and am reacting well to the treatment. My chemo was called ABDV, which is the standard treatment for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma – but I reacted very well to treatment and am now on a different chemo called ABD to which I am also *hopefully* reacting well.
A pattern has emerged during and after chemotherapy – straight after treatment, I don’t feel to crap and can muster up the strength to spend some (most) of my money in the Topshop close to the hospital. The following day is what I call the start of the shitty week: I have a shitty week then I have a good week and then a shitty week, then a good one and so on.
It’s hard to put to words how exactly chemo makes you feel. In general, it makes me feel tired and confused and angry and weak and upset but it is hard to pin-point exactly how it makes me feel in one word.
The shitty week is all of those feelings bundled up and magnified. I am bedbound and weak and on those days I wish I had a bedpan because I can’t be bothered to get out of bed. Perhaps the expression I would use is that it is like looking in on yourself through a window: you can see yourself lying in that bed but you aren’t in your body or mind. I am not me for the few days following chemo. I walk on eggshells around myself and my thoughts; so do my family and friends (although I don’t actually walk anywhere because I stay in bed). The one thing I know for certain is that I need to be alone, and they do to.
It’s impossible to control my mind on the days where I am ill. On the one hand my mind is a complete mush of empty nothingness but on the other hand, I spend so much time trapped in my own mind that I end up over-thinking just about everything.
I cry – a lot. Often about stupid things, things that happened last year, petty things like not having petrol in the car (even though I wouldn’t be driving anywhere any time soon).
Pinterest is my new favourite thing, as are interior design websites – I spend hours designing houses I’ll probably never own.
I also count down the days, the hours until I know I’ll feel better again.
By mid-shitty-week I upgrade to the sofa downstairs and I can look at the television without seeing two Jeremy Kyle’s or eight Loose Women or Holly and Phil swirling around the television. By this point in the week, my friends know to bring me popcorn and chocolate to cheer me up, which always does.
It would probably be fair to say that at the moment my life is one ‘Lazy Sunday’. The best part about being home all day is I get to live in warm, cosy pj’s without feeling an ounce of guilt.
It also turns out that daytime television and being at a full-time bum isn’t too bad, especially when I have excellent anti-sickness tablets. After my first treatment I was very, very sick, but for my second treatment they gave me stronger anti-sickness and I haven’t been sick since – for which I am over the moon! My anti-sickness tablets are probably life-savers, or at least, they have kept me somewhat sane. I depend on these every day because without them, I couldn’t function without constant nausea – plus they are great for preventing hangovers! If I go out, I take extra to make sure I won’t be ill in the morning… they should really start to sell these in the supermarket!
Then, almost miraculously, comes the day at the end of the shitty week where I am able to function properly! The rest of the week is spent going on fabulous adventures with my friends, mostly to various cafes in North Wales, and spending actual time with my family and boyfriend. During this week, I can be a normal teenager.
But the cycle continues and the shitty week arrives once again, much too soon. And so… I am back to bed.
Although I joke, as much as I enjoy the days stuck in the house watching tv on the sofa, munching on an assortment of junk-food, I very much look forward to finishing treatment in January.
Sometimes I just blank out the bad week entirely which must be a kind of coping mechanism because I don’t want to look back on these past months and remember the days I’m stuck in bed. I want to be able to look back and remember all the laughing with friends. I want to remember how great my family and closest friends have been. I want to remember how strong I have been.
I want to remember at the end of this journey that although there were terrible, crappy, earth-shattering lows, there have also been extremely amazing highs – all of which couldn’t be possible without my family and friends.