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Newcastle, NSW, Australia
The big ‘C’ – cancer: it was always something that happened to someone else or someone else’s family, not me. That was until the 4th November 2009; the day I was told I had breast cancer. I remember being told by my GP and feeling disbelief. I am a 35 year old photographer with a beautiful husband and four gorgeous children: I am happy, I am healthy and have no history of breast cancer in my family. How could this happen to me? Since that day I have been on a very strange journey filled with weird, worrisome but also wonderful moments. I know many of you must be thinking ‘Wonderful? How can you have wonderful moments when you are fighting cancer?’ My answer is we all have options and choices and if we look for the good in people and life, we will always find it. I have created this blog to share my experiences with others, especially women who may be on their own breast cancer journey. Along my particular path, some beautiful women, who have beaten cancer themselves, have been very generous in sharing their stories with me, which has appeased some of my fears and worries. Maybe I can help others by sharing my own unique story… Love Mel xx

Monday, January 25, 2010

Chemo Diary Entry 2

Tuesday 12th January 2010 – Day 2, day after first chemotherapy session

I woke up this morning looking like I had spent a leisurely day at the beach without sunscreen. Not quite the infamous cooked lobster look I am prone to, but I think I’m going to call my skin colour this morning ‘fairly flushed fairy rose pink’ (sounds a bit like an OPI nail colour)! Besides my skin colour, I noticed a weird taste in my dry mouth.

My first night home from chemo was not uneventful. When I went to bed last night my elbows and shoulders began aching. It took me a while to register it was a chemo side effect I had read about in one of the many information books bestowed upon me by the hospital. Neurofan Plus fixed that though (and led me through to a lovely slumber).

In the wee hours of the morning, though, I woke with a throbbing pain in my upper body. The throbbing kept moving to different points around my torso and it felt like ice was coursing though my veins and organs, but again, only in my torso. My first reaction was to panic. I have never had a sensation like that and I had images of the movie ‘Alien’ flash through my mind. I felt a wave of fear overcome me and I began to writhe around the bed as my panic heightened the throbbing sensation. I took a moment and realised it wasn’t actually that painful, just strange and uncomfortable.

I began the breathing exercises that my fabulous kinesiologist, Kartia, has taught me. I breath in deeply, hold my breath, count to14 or 21 and then expel the air through my mouth. This exercise slows down a person’s breathing, reduces oxygen to their brain and allows the person to slip into an alternate consciousness. It certainly worked for me. After a few minutes I ‘drifted away’ from the throbbing feeling and found peace again. I then began to visualise a white light moving through my body’s organs and veins until I felt totally relaxed and calm, and then drifted back off to sleep.

Doctor Craig Browning, my wonderful husband, has taken it upon himself to ensure that I follow the hospital’s instructions to a ‘T’ regarding post chemo care. He bounded out of bed just after 8 o’clock this morning to make me fresh watermelon, ginger, orange and mango juice, served me up my anti-nausea drugs and steroids for the day. Then after I had eaten some wholemeal toast, he prepared a warm bi-carb soda solution for me to wash my mouth out so I don’t get mouth ulcers (another chemo side effect). Talk about dedicated!

The anti-nausea drugs are certainly doing their thing: I haven’t felt nauseous at all during the first 24 hours. The steroids have helped ease my flushed skin and kept any other allergic reactions to the chemo drugs at bay. The steroids have kept me awake and enhanced my appetite somewhat, which I’m not so happy about - I want to be satiated already! At the moment I am eating on the hour, but limiting my food intake to watermelon, cherries and a low-fat cannellini bean dip I made spread on wholemeal bread.

A week before I began chemotherapy, I had an information session with a nurse educator who went through the side effects that the chemotherapy drugs could cause my body. I was also given folders and books of information to read: I didn’t actually open those things until the night before my chemo (ignorance is bliss sometimes).

I am not sure what lies ahead for me in the side effect department, but I will post another entry in a week or so with further side effects that I experience!

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