2017… a new year, a new fight begins.
To first summarise phase one of chemo; it started great – no side effects, plenty of energy, and still enough in the tank to train. This last part was key for me, as running and training gave me more energy to withstand the chemo and balance out the effects it had on my body, such as lethargy, blood circulation and mental determination.
But the doctors warned me it’d get tougher, and it did. Not necessarily more side effects, but a chesty cold in cycle three stopped me training, which reduced my energy levels, and gave the chemo the edge… vicious circle. So in the later weeks I was on a lower ebb, without the strength I’d started.
But the #startstrongfinishstronger mentality kicked back in at the end. My last week before Christmas was recovery week. I worked from home on Monday (still full of cold) and went into the office on Tuesday and Wednesday, and it was a busy three days! It felt fantastic to be back at it, super productive and I got some great feedback (unrelated to being ill) about the work I was delivering. It just felt great. And on my last day before Christmas, I even managed a training session – if you could call it that?! I started with some basic stretched (which felt like oiling a rusty chain, I could hardly even move my neck from side-to-side or bend from the waist!) And my trainer was standing next to me with tissues in hand, as my streaming nose was dripping on the mat on front of me! At that point I felt totally pathetic and momentarily disheartened at just how quickly I’d lost all my strength and flexibility, six months hard work over the summer, gone in two bad weeks of chemo. The speed with which this shit kills you is frightening. But my trainer reminded me that it’s killing my cancer that fast too, and we can and will work hard to rebuild my strength. With that I picked up, and by the end of the hour I was not only doing 30-second planks and full sit-ups, but hip lifts with a 12kg dumbbell – still nothing compared to where I was eight weeks before but a whole lot more than I was doing an hour before! So I finished the hour, the day, the week and phase one strong – winner!
So what’s still to come?
Phase one was chemo (AC)
Phase two is chemo (TC) – this starts now
Phase three is surgery (to remove what’s left after chemo)
Phase four is radio (to stop it coming back)
So we’re a quarter os the way through already! Woo hoo! And a few other bits to note;
- Over Christmas my hair started to grow back! It’s not much, and is probably because I’ve had a week of chemo. It’ll probably go again during phase two of chemo, but it’s reassuring to see it grows back so fast.
- Before Christmas I had a DNA test, the results of which come in a few weeks. This will tell us if I have a genetic mutation (doctor’s description, not mine – sounds like something off Total Recall!) causing the cancer. If so, I may opt to have a double mastectomy and ovary removal to reduce risk of getting it again. The doctor estimated about a 10% chance of this being positive, so with pretty good odds, I’m hoping for a bit of luck on this one! We’ll know more towards the end of the month.
- Tomorrow I have a second MRI scan. This will show the change in my tumour since the first MRI in October (ie what impact the first phase of chemo has had). Obviously I’m hoping this to show it has shrunk! I’ll have another MRI after the second phase of chemo, and that (with the DNA results) will ultimately determine what surgery I have. but this second MRI will give us an indication of how it’s going, so I’m keen to see it. MRI results should come through in a few days’ time.
So the next fight starts now. Chemo two started yesterday, and this will be four cycles long (12 weeks). Each cycle will last three weeks (21 days) and I’ll have treatment on the first two Mondays (days 1 and 8) then recover in week three. So far so good… but I’ll let the video below tell the rest…