Now that I’m effectively back wading in the water again, it’s time for a break from this blog.
As it happens, it’s 6 months to the day since the first post when I decided that I would write my way through the deviation and keep a record of moments which I would otherwise have forgotten (chemo brain notwithstanding).
My new normal is in full swing. The departure date for the next big trip, which seemed so distant during my treatment, is just days away.
I’m feeling exceedingly well and will always be grateful for early detection, readily available treatment regimes and the support of family and friends.
A big thank you to everyone who dropped in here with your good wishes.
As and when anything relevant arises (routine check ups and the like), I’ll drop in for occasional updates. In the meantime, you’ll be able find me at Sentio soon, reporting on highlights of the road trip.
At this time of year, the eucalypt trees are in flower. The lorikeets are voicing their joy loud and long. The laziest of forensic walkers can’t fail to notice evidence of their blossom grazing on the ground.
This week, a month out from the last radiation zap and two weeks into taking the tablets, I’m still keeping up my self-imposed daily walks. I have wet feet and photographic evidence to prove that rain isn’t going to stop me.
The lorikeets are enjoying their feasting despite the rain and, with each walk, I’m contemplating what my ‘new normal’ will look and feel like.
Yesterday it rained and rained as if it wasn’t going to end. It rained all through the night. This morning it looked as though we were in for more of the same. Until the sun came out.
Nothing for it but to go for a walk, if only to show off what’s emerging on my head.
On Tuesday I had the best conversation I’ve had thus far with my medical oncologist. I walked out of the consulting room feeling that my concerns about aromatase inhibitors (AIs) had been heard. He gave me his rundown on all the options including doing nothing at all. He made it clear that it was my choice, not his, as to how I might proceed from here.
While preparing for the discussion, I had fallen into the trap of assuming what his response would be. Fortunately for the sake of good manners, I had also made the decision to listen to him before launching fervently into my pages of notes.
My highest concerns on the list of side effects related to loss of bone density. Despite the fact that the good doctor would prefer I took the AI route, the options laid out included trying Tamoxifen which, while it has its own list of interesting potential side effects, will leave my bones alone.
So that’s what I’ve decided to do. A suck it and see approach to Tamoxifen knowing that all of the other options are still available should I change my mind.
When I visited the pharmacy to collect my first vat of tablets, they provided me with an information pamphlet. I am pleased to report that I will be totally compliant with this note.
In other news, I’m two weeks into my new disciplined eating approach which includes taking care of what and how much. It’s so far so good on the red wine count. I’m allowing myself 2 standard drinks a week. Thus far, two kilograms (or 4.5 pounds) have left the building.
And now that I’m almost over a cold which sapped energy levels just as they were starting to rise, the daily walks are up and strolling. It’s almost six months since I discovered the lump in my breast. It feels so good to be at this end of those six months.
Tuesday 22 July 12.50 pm. That’s the date and time stamp for the last scheduled radiation zap. The team of radiotherapists were and are amazing even if they didn’t pick up on my request for cake to mark the occasion.
As an event marker, I had suggested to Himself that we have lunch at Chop Chop Changs. He had greater plans afoot which included packing a bag for an overnight stay in the city.
So it was. Food, new books from Avid Reader, a film and more food. These images will remind me of a quiet celebration of the end of one stage and the beginning of another.
As an aside, you’ve got to love a cinema that offers wine with your film AND volume options. It’s the little things.
Daily radiation started on Wednesday last week. It wasn’t that much fun to include this as one of my birthday activities. On the other hand, this treatment’s very availability is a gift in itself.
We have to travel further afield to another hospital for the radiation. There they are juggling 140 patients per day over four machines. As such, apart from informing staff a week ahead of times you may be unavailable each day, there’s not much flexibility. It can be up to a two hour return trip including the session and already it’s a tad tedious.
There are puzzle books, magazines and tea making facilities in the waiting room. Our daughter noticed someone working on a very large, nearly completed, jigsaw puzzle. “They’ve been here a long time”, she quipped.
As you can see from the schedule, it’s been mostly nightly rather than ‘daily’ radiation thus far. For the later appointments, we have to buzz to enter the building.
I am apparently very good at getting into position for the zaps, even as a beginner. I had to confess to the radiographers that lying down features high on the list in my skill set.
Only 17 more zaps to go. That’s seventeen times to don the stylish blue paper gown. Seventeen times to be the canvas for a coloured marker. Seventeen times to watch green laser lights line me up. Seventeen times for the radiographers to disappear and leave me alone in the room as bell sounds signify the start. Seventeen more opportunities to rip the paper gown which is supposed to last me the duration.
There is less than a month to go before regular visits to the hospital become past tense. I guess that means that future relax is what’s ahead, right?
It happens time and time again. Whether or not we’ve had experience with something, it seems common to set up expectations about how something’s going to go, how someone’s going to react, how much time something will take.
Despite being told that the impacts of each chemo session are cumulative and have longer impacts, I figured on this last cycle that it would be enough just to plan for a couple of extra days of dysfunction. Ipso facto, by now I should be bouncing back. You know, still easily fatigued, but noticing daily improvement.
“You should be feeling better by now.”
Not quite, but soon. Let’s just not pinpoint a date.