Its final chemo day!! Yay!
I anticipated a lie in, but forgot I had left my phone downstairs and left it set for an early work alarm. That was helpful! Then the cub was awake before she ever is (as if she knows!). It mean that I opened a beautiful card from a work colleague who had a way with words today and I was nearly blubbing before the day had started. I’ll get her back for that!!
We did the usual morning madness and then braved the school run before heading to the hospital. We were there at 9am, caffeine in hand when we hit the ward. The girls were lovely and welcoming as always and made a big fuss that it was my last time in there. I couldn’t quite believe it myself. This was number six. Number one feels like an age ago and my hair loss feel like an age ago. We’d bought nice chocs (they put the selection boxes out so I wanted the girls to actually have them) and wrote a card which the cub also put a little message in – that brought them all a little tear as she had said ‘thank you for looking after my mama’.
By 9.30 I had the needle in my hand (first time lucky!) for the last time. After a saline swill the docetaxal was hooked up to me at 10.15 for the last time. As the nurse sorted me out ready to let the drugs drip in for the next hour she mentioned the bell. That bell. The inscription ‘Ring this bell three times well, its toll to clearly say; my treatment’s done, this course is run and I am on my way’. While in my chemo session I have only ever heard the bell ring once and I was midst getting a cold cap applied to my head so didn’t really think about the celebration of the actual event. I remember thinking ‘yay for them’ then being pulled back into my craziness of making a skull cap of freezing cold water fit on my head. I’d also told the man cub that I didn’t want to ring the bell after chemo as I wasn’t technically finished active treatment.
But…. I spent the next hour thinking about it. It was all I could think about. Maybe I did need to say goodbye to this treatment and make a deal of it. The end of another part of this horrible timeline – maybe it would help me put it too bed. I muted it with the man cub who was doing a smashing job of sleeping vertically and he was, as always, supportive of what I wanted and needed. I just wasn’t fully committed yet. As the docetaxal dripped its last drip and I was re-hooked up with saline for what would be the last half hour I spent on that ward, another nurse said she’d start rounding up the nurses.
At that point I felt good pressure to make a sign that I was finished with this part of the journey. My needle removed (nasty bruising and bleeding but worth the pain for a first time effort in getting the needle in!), all the nurses started gathering (well those that could) and I was there – front and centre with proper sobbing tears (unexpected), the man cub recording the event for prosperity and I rang that damn bell. I actually rang it. I announced that I was done. Yes I had more to go through, but I was done with this treatment and I marked the bloody end of it. The man cub had a little tear in his eye too and I know he is run down with the emotion of this too.
We escaped the ward, headed to the car, then realised in our haste that I had ran out without my home drugs (strong strong anti sickness drugs and immune injections). Bollacks. Back we bloody went. We joked as I re-entered the door, but then the joking stopped when we realised that they only had my injections and I’d have to go back at 4pm for my anti sickness tablets. Bloody fantastic.
We went home and both crawled into bed. Physically (me) and emotionally (both of us) exhausted, we needed to have a cheeky sleep. But no – the phone rang. I laid money it was my mother and ignored it. Was just about asleep when the phone rang again. Aaaagh – I’ll kill her. Lay wide awake now, feeling guilty that she might be flapping so headed down the stairs to ring her back. Then I realised the second call had actually been the Doctors. After the mam call, I rang the Doctors and the nurse there advised me that me result had come back saying that I was anaemic. WTAF? I had chemo today. They check that stuff? Should I not have had chemo? Was my immune system too low? They wouldn’t have done it if it was. Surely? I’m now wide awake with every crazy thought buzzing through my head. Nothing is ever straight forward is it?!
Heading back to the hospital for 4pm we hit the most horrific traffic, so I jumped out of the car, trotted into the chemo ward and had a chat with them while picking up my drugs. They reassured me that I had met the grade for chemo today, but of I felt ‘more tired’ (how would I even know if I was more tired? I have never been so tired, even with a newborn!) then get in touch and I might need a blood transfusion. Aaagh, please do not let that be another thing to add to my list. I left clutching the drugs and ready to make sure that I didn’t end up back in there (I’m about to google anaemia and food that might help it – that surely won’t lead me down a rabbit hole re: C).
So to end my crazy day, I have just done a Parents Evening. This day has been the longest ever. I am sat with the strongest of drugs swimming about inside me and I am tired, and I am trying to look like a parent that has it together for my cub. The last conversation I had with her teacher was back in September and since then I have heard nothing to say that my baby cub is acting any different than usual. After a solid performance (she is absolutely no bother) we collected the cub from after school club and I want my bed. I can already feel the metallic taste creeping into my taste buds (uugh), I have a whopping bruise from the needle.
But I’ve done it. I’ve made it to the end of this chemo journey and its been a hell of a journey (not quite over yet as the side effects will still keep me going for a few weeks longer). This time last November I was starting out on the unknown journey. Now I know and I definitely don’t want to ever repeat it. Chemo has been harder than I ever anticipated and it has drained me in ways that I didn’t think possible. I am more tired than I ever was with a new baby and I thought that was my lowest point I tiredness. But I’ve managed to still work (quite a bit) which has kept me sane and I might be a bit behind but I’m still going.
Today I have climbed another mountain, and I have done it. I have got this, and I will deal with radiotherapy in the same way. It’s the only way I can keep going.