Tag Archives: breast cancer treatment

on the upside of cycle 1

Easter and the days leading up to it coincided with the end of the first chemotherapy cycle and thus, with some semblance of feeling normal.

I can tell this because coffee. And because wine! And because lunch out in a public place with a hat made from a travel buff – a tube of fabric used when traveling, particularly in hot and dusty parts of the world.  By turning it inside out and giving it a few twists in the middle, it takes a fold over to become a perfectly functional cover.

Apart from the fact that a few heads turned, then turned away as I walked into the cafe, it was a successful first outing, so to speak.

The rounds of visitors continued on Good Friday with guests bearing prawns and flowers. The sunflower in that bouquet is spectacular. On Saturday we had a family gathering at our house to greet a visitor from Sydney – a certain newly appointed primary school teacher. We ate pasties and portuguese tarts and hot cross buns and tiny eggs.

The teacher’s grandmother stayed for a sleepover too so we could go to see the delightfully human film The Grand Budapest Hotel on Sunday. Then we had lunch at an Italian restaurant with arancini balls, zucchini flowers stuffed with goats cheese, eggplant parmigiana and calamari. And a glass of a dry Italian wine called Soave. A few very good days all lined up together.

On the hair front, the last bits are taking their time to dislodge. For the first few times after the clippers did their thing, I neglected to remember that the quantity of shampoo needed to wash a thick head of hair is much larger than the skerrick actually required. Just saying.

sunflower 1 - yellow


snoozes are important

sleep recover

Note to self.

Even though you may feel like you can stay up all day, do a few chores, go visiting and generally act like everything’s normal, don’t!

Sunday was such a good day. I didn’t need to lie down once! That was my mistake.  On Monday morning I woke up late with a dull head that felt almost bruised, although there were no external signs that this was the case.

Fatigue has hit hard again. I have assigned a story to this fuzzy headed lethargy. As the remnants hanging around in my hair follicles actively disengage, other well-intentioned elements are going into battle to stop it from happening, defending the indefensible.

Imagining such a scenario is far more interesting than accepting that I overstepped the mark by thinking I could get away with not resting with my eyes closed a few times a day. No prizes for guessing what’s next on my list of things to do today.

on the up

I’m happy to report that the past few days have been pretty good all things considered.

On Thursday afternoon, our 80 year old neighbour dropped by with this warm dinner bundle courtesy of his wife. “I’ve been told to drop this off to you and ask no questions,” he chortled. Ray loves a chat.


It was a tasty beef and vegetable casserole. Himself was very appreciative as it meant he was relieved of serious meal duties that evening.  Happily, I was able to enjoy some of it too.

Breakfast seems to be the best meal of the day and the joy of oats and banana is holding.

Some of the more obvious chemo symptoms are diminishing including the neck rash and the mouth ulcers which put in a brief appearance. The ulcers seem to be being managed by frequent bicarb soda and Biotene mouthwashes. (I love my soft baby toothbrush).

The need for daytime naps has also lessened and this morning I woke up and actually felt like a cup of coffee. Not that it was the best coffee sensation ever, but it was recognisable and indicative of the fact that the impact of the chemicals is lessening.

Onwards and upwards for this first cycle!


This morning, I woke up feeling …… hungry.  Dare I say, normal. Disregard the fact that it was just after five and still dark.  I was on the hunt for some food. Something specific.


My rising coincided with the return of the night herons from their nocturnal feeding grounds. Quiet and purposeful in their arrival, three of them moved from branch to branch until they found a roosting spot that was just right. They are stoic birds, used to ignoring the chirpers, mynah birds and lorikeets and other honey eaters who would have them move on and out of their neighbourhood.

As the sun rose, I photographed some of the lorikeets feeding in the grevilleas.

sunrise lorikeet - Gritty 13

Then off to the stove, where oats and bananas with yoghurt topping became my morning feast.

Nearly four hours on and the burst of energy is over. The fact that it was there, even temporarily, lets me know that my body is starting to rally during this first cycle. Go you good thing!

I’m off for a nap.


drying roses - Grunge 17It’s early on Saturday morning and already the world feels a better place than it did yesterday. For one, I’ve logged on to the computer, brain cells armed with the goodness of a lady finger banana. It’s a cooler, less humid day than yesterday. Hydration rules!

I felt like these flowers yesterday, hanging, but not so loosely; keeping front of mind the realisation that to pay attention to what my body asks for is the best option.

That meant flow. More sleeping than waking. Knocking some back pain out of the park. A bit slower than it’s been thus far, making late notes about what is, what was, what will be.

My attention span was missing in action. Yesterday’s DA cryptic crossword waits in a pile of unsolved puzzles until the edge on my brain returns.

The appetite is hanging in there albeit in smaller quantities. Lunch was a piece of crumpet with peanut butter. Beef stew and ice-cream for dinner. Water has trumped wine and coffee as the beverage of choice – the detox you have when you’re not having a detox. 🙂

Yesterday was a 24 hour lesson about lights at the end of tunnels, a microcosm of what may be down the track. I can only hope that this student remembers this as, when and if the tunnel gets longer.


round one

Chemo # 1 - canula - Pop GrungeThe first chemo infusion yesterday took away some of the mystery of what’s ahead, at least as far as the hospital days are concerned. Notwithstanding the pre-medications I’ve been taking since Monday, the medley of drugs began with steroids and anti-nausea meds, then culminated in 1 hour of Docetaxel and 30 minutes of Cyclophosphamide, shaken but not stirred.

Chemo #1 - drugs - Worn PopI’m grateful for the fact that treatment is available on Tuesdays at our local hospital which means a short drive there and back.  The first four hour session was longer than the next three will be, largely because we had to wait for the doctor to turn up.  When he stops calling me ‘dear’ and insisting that I must be nervous, I may warm to him a little more.  Perhaps by then I’ll be calling him ‘dear’.

The oncology nurses are on their game.  They bring a bundle of competence, empathy, humour and no-nonsense to their work.  It was really enjoyable to be in their company.

We left the hospital with the contents of the pharmacy and more permutations and combinations around the what ifs than I could possibly remember.  Thank goodness I do good notes.

Apart from a short sensitive reaction from my nostrils at the end of the session, all went well and I was able to go home and have a regular meal accompanied by pharmaceuticals to prompt, the details of which I’ll spare you, a few bodily functions.

I rejected an offer of a glass of red wine with dinner. Yes I did. The two books I’m ‘reading’ at the moment are languishing on the bedside table as head on pillow has a higher priority.

a deviation

cakesTen days ago we were heading back from Stradbroke Island with the knowledge that I was more than likely going to receive a diagnosis of breast cancer on the following day.

Here’s my attempt to make sense of the last fortnight. With gratitude to Patti Digh for the last line.

figs and sugar plums



a soak in the bath

liquid surrounds

random self-examination

an anomaly

that’s what we’ll call it for now

a rescheduled appointment

a confirmation

the anomaly has a new label

the biopsies

the waiting

two days on the island

beach camping

nature offers welcome distractions

wind, rain, birds, sea, sand

the GP visit

another confirmation

sleeping tablets suggested

red wine substitutes

liquid sleeping draft

the alcohol free zone can start tomorrow

calls made

commitments cancelled

the surgeon

a date

admission forms

gratitude for insurance

the airport

the family rallying

afternoon tea cakes

totem selfies

shopping for sleepwear

fresh vegetables and fruit for juicing

liquid green

a photo walk to the point on dusk

the hospital

gift packs, flowers

a cushion for afterwards

compression stockings

information pack overload

making blue people from surgical gloves

the glare of theatre lights

an anaesthetist with a Scottish accent


liquid sleep


eyes open

clock on the wall

rating the pain

liquid comfort

ice chips

sandwiches and rice pudding for dinner

half-hourly observations

normal sleep position unattainable

late night television

black and white reruns

a hungry plea before the breakfast run

honey toast and coffee delivered

liquid sweetness

morning shower

surveying the battle ground scattered with blue dye

more of a skirmish really

two incision scars, new shapes to learn


social groups on offer

introvert wants to run for the hills at the very suggestion

new phrases join the soon-to-be common lexicon


well wishes from all quarters

temporary restrictions dawning

new routines necessary

the vegetable garden is getting an extension

as loved ones focus on the ordinary

maintain a piece of the normal

the waiting

in between the surgery and tomorrow’s conversation

and now, just today

liquid salt

hello moment, I’m here

Lynn Buckler Walsh

mangroves 1