So there we go - mam's had the first, much anticipated course of chemo.
Despite the snow (and the north east had an awful lot of it) and problems with the patient transport, mam made the 10 mile journey to Gateshead Queen Elizabeth hospital on 13 January to start the next part of her "journey".
Link: how does chemo work?
The initial plan was to give her two types of chemo - carboplatin and taxol. They tried the carboplatin, but she was in a lot of pain. Apparently it's not an uncommon reaction - some people just can't tolerate certain types of chemo.
So they moved on to the Taxol and it went in okay - along with steroids, which you get when you're on chemo, to counteract how tired it'll make you. And by that afternoon, she was back home.
My brother phoned her the following day and apparently she said she felt really well - the best she'd felt in ages! Must've been the effect that the steroids were having. That was Thursday 14th...by the Saturday, the nasty side-effects finally arrived - sickness (green!), diarrohea and she couldn't sleep - another, less nice side-effect of the steroids. I spoke to her on the Sunday and she sounded so weak, and tired...and had to run off to be ill, mid-conversation. It's days like that that it's awful being so far away on the end of the phone :(
I asked if she had any appetite - she said not really but the previous day she'd had a craving for good old-fashioned fried bread so had made herself a slice and said it didn't touch the sides!! Hearing her tell me about that, she sounded like a naughty schoolgirl who'd pinched the last slice of cake :-o She said she was just over 10 stone when she was first taken ill in early October, but the consultant weighed her before the chemo and she's only 8 stone now. And not eating much. Told her to remember to use the liquid 'meal substitutes' but it's still worrying.
Saturday 23rd, called again: she still sounded weak but not as bad as the last time we spoke. Sounded like the sickness was tentatively starting to wear off but she said how fed up she is with feeling rubbish...she said she felt so bad one particular day that, in her words, she "wanted to die" - it's hard hearing her talk like that. I want her to fight it and see the positive side of why she feels like this, but I can understand why she's so fed up with feeling ill. She also said she'd had a fall - luckily indoors, in her bedroom, but she'd fallen and bumped her forehead. Dad was in the bathroom next door, heard the noise and came to find her on the bedroom floor, and put her into bed - but I couldn't help thinking of it in terms of a fairly frail little old man 'rescuing' a frail little old lady.
Put the phone down feeling a bit low and worried, but an hour later older sis called - she'd just spoken to mam as well, and mam told her she'd stood and baked a couple of batches of scones!! So maybe all the stuff she said to me - maybe she was just 'unburdening' herself, getting it out of her system - and she realised she didn't feel so wretched after all?
And now it's nearly 2 full weeks since the chemo, so hopefully things are improving - and it's another week until the next chemo on 3rd February. I told her to make sure the consultant knows how bad the sickness was, maybe he can prescribe stronger anti-sickness meds?
So it's good that the chemo's finally underway...but I hate thinking of how ill it makes her. But three days after her next session me and hubs will be up there for a long weekend so I get the chance to be there for her, for dad, and to really look after them :)