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Thursday, 5 May 2011

As I see it

My friend, Angie, sent me a text a few months ago suggesting that I do a post on my blog, if it wasn't too painful, on having cancer and the subsequent treatment.  She felt since I had helped her so much that it was only fair of her to share me!!!

Now when I had cancer, at the tender age of 24, so traumatised was I by the whole situation that I wanted nothing to do with helping other people going through something similar.  In fact when I was well enough, I started running as fast as I bloody well could in the opposite direction of anything remotely to do with cancer.

Twenty years later, the memories are still as fresh today as they were then. At the time I was given 6 months to a year to live but I was not ready to bloody leave yet, too much mischief to get up to still.

Unfortunately I couldn't outrun the little bugger and it came back to bite me on the ass when 2 of my friends were diagnosed with cancer within months of each other and then my sister was diagnosed not long after.

So what advice and knowledge did I pass on?  Mmmmmmmmmmmm well let's see.  My advice was at times a bit off the wall and of course, brutally honest.

So here it is, in no particular order, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of having cancer and subsequent treatment.

1)   If a junior doctor is having trouble getting a needle in your vein after the 7th try in vein no 7, you are perfectly within your rights to scream at them through your tears demanding he gets someone who knows what they are doing! Hell even after the 3rd time, start screaming your head off!!!

2)   Yes that is a vein on the inside of your wrist and believe me they are not afraid to use it.

3)   I don't know how, or why but you will take an ill will to one person during your illness.  They don't have to have done anything, in fact are completely innocent of wrong doing but every word they utter, everything they do will piss you off royally.  You know it is totally unreasonable but you just can't help it.

4)   The first dose of chemo is so easy that it lulls you into thinking that the rest of the treatment is gonna be like that.  Not so.

5)   Losing your hair is the most traumatic of experiences but once it is gone, it's gone and hey you wouldn't believe the amount of money you save on hair products!  A fortune, believe me.

6)   If a doctor is in the middle of giving you chemo and you start to 'up chuck', when he scoots back in his chair to avoid said spewings, remember to follow him because you are still attached to him via a butterfly needle! lol

7)   Being sick is the most lonely feeling in the world.

8)   You never knew how important your eyebrows where for putting on make-up until now!!

9)    Your bladder takes a heck of a beating when you are being violently sick.

10)  All that pressure on your bladder causes it to become "sensitive" and you think you need the loo every 10/15 mins.

11)  You don't have to suffer for 18 years like me, cos there are pills for this!

12)  When wearing your wig, try really hard not to scratch underneath it too often as the middle parting ends up half way down your head!

13)  You don't think that you are ever going to feel beautiful again but you will.

14)  Having piles, thrush and mouth ulcers all at the same time doesn't bode well for 'his' chances of having any kind of sex!

15)  When your doctor mistakes your best friend for you, then tells her that her blood results are ok so she can have her next chemo, don't correct him like I did cos if just one person could take a doze of the lethal stuff for you, it would be amazing!

16)  Fear becomes your nemesis, it haunts you, lurks behind you and keeps you awake at night.

17)  Visualisation is one of your most powerful tools. I used to imagine my chemo was like lots of little pac men zooming around my body munching up the the bad cancer cells.  It really helps.

18)  My consultant at the time told me that having a positive mental attitude counts towards about 70% of your treatment and the chemo/radiotherapy makes up the rest.

19)  If someone suggests a faith healer to you don't automatically poo poo the idea. They don't interfere with your treatment, are non invasive and real faith healers don't charge you for their services plus having another weapon in your armoury in your battle against cancer can't do any harm.

20)  When someone you know dies of the cancer you have, it can be totally devastating as your fear becomes overwhelming and panic can set it.  Just because they have the same kind of cancer as you, it will present differently so no two cancers are the exactly the same.

21)  Once you have fought an illness like cancer, you are never the same.  It changes you and things that seemed important no longer are.  Friends and family often find it hard to adjust.

22)  Your tolerance for people who moan about a cough or cold is at an all time low and really they'd better get the fuck away from you cos you have a lowered immune system and could die from their sniffles!

23)  One of the long term side affects of your treatment is that you can be badly affected by smells.  My stomach still turns when I smell the perfume Poison cos it is strong and sweet smelling and reminds me of the smell of my chemo concoction!  I also can't stand the smell of hospital canteens, have been known to turn green at the smell and be sick.

24)  Drip stands become the devil and can make you queasy just to look at them.

25)  Once you have had the all clear, everyone wants to celebrate but all you want to do is cry.  Cos once the fighting is over for you, there is nothing to hold back the fear which you will have to live with for the next few years til you are so many years clear. It's like your very own rain cloud hanging above your head.

26)  Every ache, pain, lump will put you on high alert and send you into orbit. In my case, I spent many a time peering down my mum's throat to see if hers looked like mine and was not amused when she cracked up laughing because she had had her tonsils removed and that's why she didn't have the same lumps at either side of her throat as me! Bitch! lol

27)  Your skin can become really sensitive and you may have to go for more natural products. If you've lost your hair, remember to moisturise your scalp as it can become quite dry.

28)  If you lose your hair you will be amazed by how much heat you lose from your head without your hair.

29)  Your heating bills will get quite high because sometimes during chemo you just can't seem to keep warm. Bed socks are brilliant for keeping your feet warm as they are much thicker and great for wearing around the house. Also sewing scarfs onto turbans/hats can really help keep your neck and head warm.

30)  The hardest thing about dealing with cancer is the huge emotional impact it has on your life.  You use all your energy to lurch from one chemo to the next and you push all your emotions down and squash them into a small container in your mind, snap the lid on and forget about them.

31)  The problem with this is that you keep having to do this, so there becomes a build up and the container lid starts to strain under the pressure and when you least expect it, the pressure lifts the lid and you can't hold back the tears.  But you only cry enough to relieve the pressure so there is little relief.

32)  You are frightened that if you truly let go then you will never be able to stop those painful, gut wrenching heart breaking tears and you will lose control.  We hold on so tight to our emotions because when you are going through an illness like cancer, this is the only control you have.

33)  No matter how tough things get, laughter is still the best medicine.

34)  Hugs are the best therapy but people are often afraid to touch you cos they see you as being so fragile.

35)  If you are crying, everyone can cry but if you are smiling, they have to follow your lead.


So there you have it, Cancer from a patient's point of view. So if you know anyone with cancer and I am sure you do, then let them read it, bet they recognise so much of their own experience on this page and it will help families who feel helpless too, cos they will know now just how much strength it actually takes daily to keep smiling and positive.


18 comments:

  1. Am in awe, I had no idea xx

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  2. Sorry, that comment was using my daughter's account by accident (she's a blogger too) xx

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  3. brutally honest. Never had cancer, but have known folk who have - given me a few things vto think about.
    The comment about crying and not doing it too much lest you never stop - i know that feeling - had it after Peter's initial diagnosis. It took me a long time to trust and get over that.
    And the feeling of heplessness and not being in control - i know that from being in hospital for 6 weeks, 5 days 6 hours and 52 minutes after having a pr=erforated bowel and nearly dying. Nit nice!! Didn't count the seconds - thought that was obsessive!!!!

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  4. Brilliantly written! Im only on a low dose of chemo (not for cancer) and have some of the side effects you've written about.Not nice, even on such a low dose! I have the utmost respect for anyone going through cancer treatment and anything that helps them get through another day, such as reading a blog answering the questions most docs wont even think of, has a thumbs up from me :-))
    xxx

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  5. Everyone who reads this should praise God for their health. It is hard to get a real feel for how it must have been never having had the disease. I have printed it off to share with others that need to know the truth. Thanks & have a great rest of the day, As always, Hey to Holly & Jack.
    Odie

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  6. So well said as there so much many don't realize I am sure. I know it is hard to relive the memories Lyndy, but thank you for taking the time.

    Hugs my friend.

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  7. You sure are an amazing lady.

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  8. Lyndy-
    I am sitting here crying....because every single one of these points I can relate to...I am still at that scary point that I check every single bump and bruise, every headache means something. These are brilliantly written and similiar to an email I sent out to my friends and family during my fourth round of chemo a few years ago. Everyone kept asking what they could do or how they could help- I needed to emotional support more than anything...and I remember bawling as I was writing it to them because it was the most emotionally raw I as able to be during the whole time. number 25 and 32 especially spoke with me...
    the only thing I would add and I said this to people a lot is that I don't want to hear that it's part of God's plan for me and he only give you what you can handle because I was at my wit's end with what I could handle and didn't like thinking that he was pulling the puppet strings. He and I weren't on speaking terms when I got the news that the tumor spread and that was a common phrase people used for me...
    Hugs to you....

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  9. I will pass this on to my friend who just was diagnosed with liver cancer and began treatment yesterday. Thank you so much for writing it. I can tell you all about what a spouse/friend goes through but not what the patient goes through. I so appreciate it. This person just doesn't want to talk about it right now but she needs to deal with it sooner or later. Much love and thanks to you!

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  10. excellent points...
    i can add nothing...

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  11. Brilliant post. There's nothing else I can say. I have seen too many friends going through this, but it's good for me to see it from the patient's view as well. Sending you big hugs dear friend.

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  12. Very well written. Thank you for sharing!

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  13. Thats great you've been all clear for so long and I hope it stays like that. Thanks for doing this post as it makes me so much more aware of what its like and I hope I'll never have to experince it since its something that scares the life out of me.

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  14. You are a trooper Lyndylou! We love you.

    http://theadorkableditzmissteps.blogspot.com/

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  15. Looking for Blue Sky - it was not my finest hour! lol
    Julie - I know what you mean
    Kinks - oh poor you, I never realised!
    Odie - good health is something we sometimes take for granted. Printing it out is a brilliant idea :)
    SkippyMom - the memories are always just there just below the surface
    Kellie - thanks :)
    Colenic - I didn't mean to make you cry! I remember that time checking every bump, pain etc til I thought I would go crazy. I sent you a personal message as well but I totally agree with you about people saying you only get what you can cope with. I often found it was people who were coping with very little who would say this!!!! And re the God comments.........I so am with you on that one :)
    Bouncin' Barb - I hope it helps her and you open up the lines of communication but sometimes only someone who is going through the same or has been, understands what you are going through and the warped way you start to think, in your head :)
    Bruce - there is probably a lot more I could add but I would be here all day! lol
    Thisisme - I know, everyone knows someone
    A Redhead Named Sam - thanks :)
    Bubbles - illness is a very scary thing
    AD - thanks :)

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  16. Well said and very enlightening. My sister went through cancer and survived, my sister in law did not. You are a courageous woman with a great attitude!

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  17. Hi, I'm here via Chasing Joy's Flashback Friday. Thank you so much for sharing your story, and your many practical (and sometimes humorous) insights into dealing with it. I am so very, very thankful that my health problems do not include something as drastic and life-altering as cancer, and I pray they never will.

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  18. Thank you for posting this. My mom is going through treatment now. I shared this with her. This helps me to understand in a small way what she may be going through. The sad part is that I realize the only thing I can do more of to help is to keep her laughing. Thank you for posting this for the flashback.

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Laughter is the best medicine and it's free. Thanks for visiting my blog and I look forward to hearing from you.

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