Chemotherapy Diary - Cycle #4: Day 1

As it's Gynaecological Cancer Awareness Month I thought I'd blog each day of my mum's chemotherapy during cycle #4.  I also thought it would be good to document every day for our personal use aswell.  So much happens on a daily basis during chemotherapy that I want to note important things to remember for each cycle so that we can see a pattern and identify abnormal symptoms.  This is what chemotherapy was for my mum and was for me as her carer and supporter.  

Day 1
My mum's treatment is long so we always prepare for a long and tiring day.  Though we are but sat in a chair for the full day - a recliner at that!  It is still exhausting.  The day started at 6.30am for us as we got ready to leave the house and arrive at the hospital for her allotted time.  The traffic was terrible so we arrived 10 mins late but luckily didn't need to fight for parking as my mum is a blue badge holder which entitles her to parking which is closer to the entrance.  As we arrived, we initially chose a recliner, however, my mum's nurse for the day said that she was going to have an iron transfusion aswell so suggested my mum opt for a hospital bed which would allow her to be more comfortable for the day.  There is a lot of mystery and stigma surrounding the treatment unit.  People assume it is full of sick and dying people with no hair weeping in pain.  In truth, there is a sense of camaraderie that is not found anywhere else.  Everyone there shares the same feelings whether they be seeking treatment or supporting someone having treatment.  The every day worries that we stress about such as traffic, early mornings and not knowing what to wear for the day no longer seem important.  We silently respect the courage of the neighbour sitting in the chair next to us and will that they be strong.  There is a common goal for that of everyone there, patients, nurses and doctors to get the treatment of the day over with as soon as possible, as everyone there knows how precious time is.  As we delve into cycle #4, I liken the experience of being on the treatment ward to that of waiting at an airport.  Strangers drift in and out and anxiously watch the clock.  There is refreshments; wifi and lots of reading but mostly, my mum just likes to rest.

Treatment always starts with a brief chat with the nurse as she reviews symptoms and any problems since the previous cycle of treatment and a review of bloods.  48 hours before treatment, my mum has to have her blood taken and analysed to review her white and red blood cell count aswell as other things.  If the red blood cells are below acceptable levels, then chemotherapy will be postponed to the following week, when it should increase as low red blood cells can leave someone open to infection and anaemia.  It's only at this point that it's confirmed as to whether my mum's treatment will continue that day and we bed ourselves in for the day.

To prepare for treatment, my mum had taken an anti sickness tablet but more medication was to come.  A stoamch protector, steroids and more anti sickness medication was administered all through an intravaneous drip.  As many people who have had chemotherapy will understand, it is sometimes very, very, very hard to find a vein in my mum's arm.  Chemotherapy ruins the veins and as such, needles make her very anxious.  It's almost a cruel twist of fate.  We've discovered tricks to increase the chances such as keeping the hands warm, a 'good arm', a warm arm bath but at the end of the day, it's just luck.  Sometimes a vein is found as quick as I can blink and sometimes, it can take even a doctor three attempts to successfully get blood.  Once the IV is in though, we're off!!

The preparatory drugs always make my mum sleepy so she pretty much always sleeps through the first bag of chemotherapy which takes 3 hours to administer.  Generally, by the time she's had a nap it's time for lunch and she will have a sandwich with some fruit.  Nothing great, nothing appetising but it does the job which is how we treat it.

In the afternoon, the second bag of chemotherapy was administered aswell as the new chemotherapy which my mum has been prescribed.  During the time, many people come and go and it always surprises us that some people are only there for 30 minutes and my mum's treatment is in total 8 hours back to back.  As another patient once said, you can go to Madrid and back in that time!

The treatment finished early on this occasion at 5.30pm.  We have previously been there until 7pm and been the last to leave.  It does though, always feel like a very productive day but we are still glad to be able to go home and know that this is when the real work starts to begin.  My mum's side effects, which I will talk about in the next blog never really start until the a full 24 hours later so the journey home is always full of relief for us like going home after a very hard day's work!


I'm extremely excited to be able to say that I've been nominated and shortlisted for Carer blogger of the year within the Health Unlocked 2017 Health Blogger Awards.  I'd appreciate it if you could vote for my blog here.


Popular Posts