Apologies for the radio silence. I've recieved a bunch of check-in emails & texts asking "what's up" (thank you all for the concern) so figured I should post a quick update. I'm doing it from bed, such has been the state of things in the last two weeks.
Here is a super quick, very honest (once again, there is nothing sexy about colon cancer) run down.
- An ER visit - I'd been told to take any chest pain very seriously because apparently folks with tumours like mind can develop blood clots. To cut a long story short I had chest pain in the early hours of the morning (which I've never had before) which were bad enough to make me go to ER. When we arrived it turned out I was also running a slight temparature, which is code red for someone on chemo. I really regret going because I now know that a side effect of my treatment can be some upper gastic system irritation - kind of like reflux (which I've also never had before). In hindsight, that is probably what this was. The hospital however had to be thorough so I did every test under the sun over several hours - ECG, chest X-ray, and a blood test that left my right arm pretty bruised. Good news was that they said if I hadn't told them I was on chemo they wouldn't have known because my blood results looked like a normal healthy person - so good immune function.
- Bad chemo infusion - I was very proud of myself with the 1st chemo cycle. Needle phobia didn't cause me any issues. The 2nd cycle, delivered on a Tuesday 2 weeks ago, didn't go as well. Two nurses couldn't find my veins, despite a few attempts. What I struggle with most in these situations is the running commentary. Anyway, at some point I passed out. I woke up surrounded by nurses, and Madé smirking. Third nurse was awesome and got the job done on 1st attempt. In future I'm requesting 2 nurses by name.
- Chemo side effects - I've mentioned Palmar-Plantar Erythrodysesthesia (or Hand / Foot syndrome) before. Well this has got pretty bad on my feet in the last week. I had been trying to do a 30 minute treadmill run at the gym everyday but now I'm struggling to even put shoes on, the soles of my feet are so tender I can't walk far at all.
- Radiation side effects - Everyday that I go for radiation the nurses and treatment team ask me about side effects and for 4 weeks I've been gloating about having no side effects at all. Well, ummm, that changed very suddenly. On Friday last week I started getting a little tenderness. This got worse over the weekend. By Monday when I went in for my last radiation session (woohhoo) the pain was so bad it was making me nauseous. Radiation is cummulative and I'm on a pretty high dose (40 grey general area / 50 grey on tumour for 5 weeks for interested fellow cancer folk) so side effects can develop suddenly when your body hits a threshold of tolerance. One side effect is radiation enteritis which can give rise to Tenesmus. This is apparently what I've got. Oh, and a really lovely add on to Tenesmus is Hemorrhoids, a joy I've not previously experienced. Too much much information ? :) I've lost 6kgs in 5 days just from this combo effect (post coming soon on Cancer Buffness).
So yeah, this week is the 1st week in my little cancer journey that I feel like a real invalid. Haven't been able to help much at all around the house which feels bad. I split my time between bed and hot baths and watch the clock closely for when I can take my next painkiller. I was super disappointed about not making it to Jocelyn Carlin's funeral in New Zealand on Tuesday (and the breakfast with Auckland friends that I'd planned). Had the tickets and everything but the thought of being on a plane for 3 hours each way just ruled it out. When I bought the tickets last week I never imagined I could be feeling this bad just a week later !
Anyway, that's the update. Bit of a downer sorry, but I'm told the worst should pass within 1-2 weeks, I just have to make it through this side effect 'peak'. Just expect me to be a little quiet until then.