So I had my last chemotherapy last Friday… and thank fuck for that! Got the picc line removed and seen the last of the cold cap too.
Here is the poison going in for the last time:
…and a shot of me in the cold cap for the last time:
…and my arm’s response to the picc being removed. I think it’s had enough of dressings now…
I can’t really say how I feel yet. Kind of tired to be honest. Still got this lot of side effects to get through and then onto bilateral mastectomy in 29 days so it’s a bit difficult to be all “WOOOOHOOOO!!” about it but obviously I am glad to see the back of chemotherapy. It has been more difficult that I care to admit. I think I’ve done ok though. I have taken some extra days off this week but including the three weeks I took for my operations last year, the IVF and all the chemotherapy I am still under 30 days sick from work total which I don’t think is too bad.
So yeah.. yay me. Chemo done. Just need to get past the last round of immediate side effects, my hair to grow, lose this additional stone in weight, dye my hair a less white colour, get boobs chopped off pumped up and swapped for permanent implants, grow some eyebrows, regain some fitness, recover from being anemic, get through the five years of hormone therapy and maybe life will be good again. I’d settle for just “ok” at this point to be honest.
Anyway… what I thought I would talk about today is all the drugs I have been taking this last five months. For years and years I have taken nothing more than over the counter painkillers then suddenly I had to become a junkie. They pumped the poison in and to counteract the effects I injected myself and popped pills like it was going out of fashion. So here is a run down of the main drugs I have been / am still taking throughout the chemotherapy extravaganza:
My first drug was the Zoladex:
This is the injection I have every 28 days which shuts down my ovaries and puts me in a chemical menopause. It’s not nice at all. Let me just confirm that hot flushes are very debilitating when they stop you sleeping and being in a chemical menopause doesn’t do a lot for your intimate relationships. In fact it kills that whole side of life stone dead. I go to the GP to have this done and last one will be 7th May. I do then have to start taking Tamoxifen though which has a similar effect so we’ll see if the side effects are the same. I hope not.
No. 1 of the actual chemotherapy paraphernalia is Domperidone:
This is an anti-sickness that seem to be handed out like sweeties. Had these on FEC but have told them not to bother for Taxotere as I didn’t feel sick on that anyway. These did absolutely nothing for me on FEC either. I puked copiously for the first two sessions and these didn’t seem to make a blind bit of difference.
Alongside the Domperidone was Ondansetron – another anti-sickness:
Again… not particularly effective and cause constipation which was an added feature. They have continued to give them to me on Taxotere but I have not taken any as no sickness. Shame as it is wasteful but they would not let me leave without them so I will just have to hand them into the chemist now.
A lot of people get on just fine with the above two anti-sickness medications but I had to break out the big guns to stop the puking… the Emend:
THANK CHRIST for this stuff. Still massively nauseas on FEC but no actual puking. There are three tablets – you take the first one about an hour before chemo and the one each morning for the next two days. I only got this on my third and fourth FEC which pissed the chemo nurses off. They wanted me to have it after the first one. I was prescribed it on Taxotere too but I did not need it so again I have two tablets in the packet in the picture which I could have done with on the first two FEC really!!
Next up is probably my least favourite drug of them all – the evil Dexamethasone:
Horrible horrible misery inducing steroids. Had these for both FEC and Taxotere and just for a treat the dosage is increased on Tax to counteract any kind of allergic reaction. These have had an awful effect on my state of mind and I also think they make the flushes worse. They definitely stop me sleeping. I am so glad to see the back of these – never want to take another steroid again.
Onto the injections – Lenograstim:
I start these four days after chemotherapy and have five to do in total. I have four more to do this cycle and then no more – hurrah! I do the injections myself as after the IVF I’m a bit of a dab hand at jabbing myself and I didn’t want to wait in for the District Nurse for five days every week after chemo. No thanks. You can see in the pictures that there is a syringe and a vial of powder stuff. You have to mix the two together with the BIG needle (yellow pack), swap to the smaller needle (brown pack) and then stab yourself in the stomach / leg. I always do it in my stomach. It’s not that bad but the more I have had to do the sicker of it I become. This cause bone aches which is a bit annoying on Taxotere as that causes bone aches too – so double whammy. I manage it ok with paracetamol and ibuprofen though. I know some people who have had to have morphine to control the pain so I’m not going to complain too much!
One of my least favourite side effects on Taxotere has been the rancid oral thrush. It’s very difficult to explain how depressing this is if you have not experienced it – but take my word for it that everything tasting of shit and your mouth hurting is not much fun. I have been prescribed two things from the GP which to be honest, have not helped all that much but I’m still taking them for this round (plus salt mouth wash, oraldene, pineapple and live yogurt. I’m trying everything to no avail). The two things the GP has given me are Nystatin and Fluconazole:
The funny thing is that Registrars have not given a shit about my rancid mouth for the first three Taxotere but on the last one there was much concern and now I have Fluconazole coming out of my ears. Oh well… at least it helps a little bit and I won’t run out this time!
Last but not least is the Omeprazole:
This is for indigestion. I had terrible indigestion on FEC and this stuff is absolutely awesome. Honestly, you really appreciate it when drugs work on chemotherapy as half the time they give you stuff and it doesn’t make a lot of difference. This was a revelation and I love it. My indigestion has had a bit of a resurgence on this last round of Taxotere so I’m glad the GP gave me a ton of this stuff on FEC and I have some left over.
Oh no… sorry, not last. I have a couple more prescribed things but no pictures:
Temazepam – sleeping pills. I’ve really tried to avoid taking these so have only had three. I will admit to being a total sominax junkie though. Need to get a handle on that really.
The GP did also prescribe me a mouth wash called Difflam that I know a lot of people find really helpful but randomly it just made my mouth hurt more. Clearly I was just doomed to have a manky mouth.
On FEC I needed constipation relief but that was just over the counter Senna tablets although I’m sure you could get better stuff from the GP. The other over the counter stuff I could not have done without is just the painkillers for the Taxotere bone aches. These have just kicked in today for the last time actually so I am about to pop some pills.
I think that is about it though. Drugs on top of more drugs!! I am looking forward to not pumping my body full of this stuff. This is the thing about chemotherapy – you feel fine before you have it and by the end you are a wreck of yourself full of all manner of crap. It’s difficult to feel that it is doing you good. Lets hope it did though…