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Secondary Breast Cancer: Treatment Roller Coaster – Part two

Ismena Clout

breast cancer new 300x300 Secondary Breast Cancer: Treatment Roller Coaster – Part twoSo here we are, part two of the Treatment Rollercoaster update blog.I’m sorry I didn’t keep you all updated as it went along but it took all my energy to keep upbeat and stoic about everything that was happening.

So I became quite internal and couldn’t find the strength to write about it -  even though I find this blog very therapeutic and helpful, I just couldn’t find the head space to go over it all. I was too scared it was the beginning of the end and how could I write about that? I wasn’t ready so I kept it to myself. I didn’t even really talk about it in my Facebook support group. So sorry to everyone and I promise to try and write more for you all.

So we left off at the beginning of November with my sore radiation burn throat. I was at the end of my tether and totally fed up when someone suggested eating scrambled eggs, great I thought! Something different for my palate! I was also meeting my friends for breakfast the next day so I could actually eat with them. After a three week radiotherapy break I was back for round two of chemotherapy and due my second dose on the Monday.

My weekend was planned to be; meet friends for breakfast on Saturday morning; go for a walk on the common for fresh air; rest for a day to recover; have a quiet Sunday and prepare for chemo on Monday. Sadly it wasn’t to be. At around 11pm on Saturday I started feeling violently sick and it must have been those lovely runny scrambled eggs on sourdough toast. Violent can be the only word used to describe the vociferousness with which my stomach needed to be emptied. By 1am it seemed my bowels wanted to get in on the action and for the first time in my life I was on the loo with a bowl in my hands for the sick.  It was hideous and never ending and It wasn’t until 7am the next day that I was stable enough to consider going to hospital.

I called the Marsden who insisted I go straight in as my temperature was also low – at around 33oC – 34oC. I never knew you could get reverse sepsis where your temperature drops, apparently it’s just as dangerous as when it rises! So I called a taxi, stayed in my pj’s (by now the 4th set after a number of accidents) had a towel folded in my knickers and a bowl for emergencies. I had just about managed to grab a bag of bits and bobs (a toothbrush, phone, iPad and charger) and headed up to hospital… again.

I was a wreck by the time I arrived, shaking and in so much pain. They acted quickly and got me dosed up with drugs to stop all the symptoms. By about midday I was relatively stable and able to finally get some sleep! I have never been ill like that before and never want to be like that again. So I am employing extreme food restrictions to make sure I don’t make the same mistake again. Being omitted from my diet is: raw or lightly cooked eggs (so no runny scrambled eggs then!); shellfish; all types of pate; soft cheeses; moldy cheeses; takeaway food; pre-wrapped sandwiches; cooked sliced meats and smoked fish and meat. Seems extreme but if it means I’m not in that horrible situation again then it’s a small price to pay.

I stayed in hospital for only 36 hours. My immune system held out well and the symptoms were fully under control. But we had to delay my chemotherapy by three days, on top of the other delays this wasn’t good. I was starting to panic that we weren’t getting the drugs in regularly enough to do any good.

It was so nice to get home. Thankfully my mother came down and tidied the house up so I didn’t have to come to the mess that I had left it in. I was so thankful to be in my own bed and able to get some sleep. I had the chemotherapy on the Wednesday. The bloods showed my immune system was pretty rubbish but given the events of the weekend that wasn’t a surprise.

I took things very easy in that week after chemo, I realised that I needed rest and recuperation. My throat still wasn’t perfect, I was tired and worn out so I kept mostly in bed, on the sofa and pottering around the house, I did discover The Big Bang Theory, how have I waited so long to watch it? It’s hilarious!

One thing I haven’t mentioned is my red blood cells. They have been terrible since August when I was diagnosed again. Pretty much every two to four weeks I’ve needed a blood transfusion. To date I have now had six transfusions, that’s 12 units of blood in total. I’m A negative, so quite a rare group but I can also have O negative. Do you donate blood?  I’d love to know I’m blood neutral… By that I mean that I’d love to know that people have been and given blood to cover the amount I’m taking out of the system. I have been told by the doctors that I’m probably going to be having a transfusion every two weeks for the rest of this treatment so please, be brave and think about giving blood!

There will be a part three to this story… look out for it soon…

For more information on secondary breast cancer visit www.breastcancercare.org.uk/secondary


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