Monday, 19 March 2012

I sat to write this blog and instead sat in silence.

A mixture of bad concentration due to Chemo Brain and also not knowing where to start, I really found it hard getting this blog done!!

You will often hear me say that throughout the garbage that comes with Cancer, there are always little rays of light. I would like to share one of those rays of light. Im not one for singling people out because I have so many amazing people in my life that are constant sources of inspiration for me but I have to share this with you all.

Meet Ashleigh.

I love that I can honestly say that Ashleigh is one of my first friends. I met her when my Family moved to Waitomo when I was 5 and I started school. We would catch the bus every day together to and from
school and really were best friends. Its one of those friendships that you know that you were brought together for a reason and no matter the amount of time you go without seeing each other, it will be like you have never been apart when you do see each other. The Rhodes and Seymour family are friends from way back. Ashleigh and her family live in Australia now and last Thursday I think it was, Ashleigh and her Dad decided that they would enter the Leukemia Foundation Big Shave event that was happening on the Saturday. She spread the word, tweeted celebs and managed to raise over $2000 - with still more donations coming. She has said she will get rid of the eye brows if people keep donating and raise $5000!!!!
Another stunner with a chrome dome!! I literally balled when I watched the video of this happening.
Im bragging a little....I really have support coming from all over the world. 

 The Big Shave.

Her AWESOME support crew. 
(I so wish I was there.)


After a Wet shave. Completely hair free. Move over Demi Moore and Sinead O'connor...

I have said it and I will say it again; I truly have amazing Friends and Family. I want and NEED you all to understand how much your actions, words and love mean to me. You all say I am brave and an inspiration but you are all exactly the same to me. 

YOU are Brave and Inspirational.

The exposure my blog and I have received over the last week has been SO much to take in. I got a text on Friday morning from my partners Mum that simply said "Front Page." I FREAKED a little (quite a lot actually) and made my brother run down and get a paper. I basically held my breath until he returned. When he handed me the paper I was flabbergasted. I looked to my Mum and said "OMG" and quickly skimmed through the article. Getting to the bottom to see continued on page two, I turned to my Mum again and said "OMG." Let me tell you, I was not expecting this front page business. I was expecting a little photo and article on Page 7 next to this weeks Warehouse specials.!!!!! Honest truth.
I was very touched that they thought me worthy of front page and also touched by the messages I have received from people since they have seen the article and blog.
Since I posted the blog where I informed you that I have Cancer, my blog has had 8884 page views.......... Every time I open my blog to write another I sit for like 2 minutes staring at that number.
I almost felt a bit of pressure when I sat down to write this blog, knowing that so many people read my blog and are even more are aware of it now since it being in the paper.

I came across my own little blog from a Cancer SURVIVOR, who had the same Cancer as me and who went through the same treatment as I am. He has since been Cancer free for 6 years. I read through all his posts and was so good to read that what I was feeling was ok to feel. I cried, laughed and found myself nodding my head as I related to his words.

I feel like this whole C-word situation got the better of me last week - Something I know I should expect and accept but something I hate to admit. The days following last treatment, I was in a pit. A really dark pit and I didn't want to get out of it. I just wanted to sit in the pit for a while.

Chemo for me is always on a Wednesday. Hump day.

The day before Chemo I have got myself back to normal. I have no side effects and you wouldn't be able to tell that I am receiving chemo. Funny that. Just in time for the next round. I keep myself busy but catch myself out every so often with a sinking feeling in my guts when I remember that I have Chemo the next day. I say my positive affirmations every time I feel this dread and it disappears.....until the next wave of realisation. I have never wanted to sound like I am complaining because I am more than aware that people are going through far worse than me but I have realised lately that it is ok to admit that you aren't ok with certain things. I am not ok with Chemo and yet I know that its doing what I need it to do for me to get better. Its a constant love/hate relationship battle.

The Day before Chemo I always make sure that I drink and eat lots because the days following, its the last thing I feel like doing. I have this constant battle with food. Ask anyone that knows me well (or even not so well) and they will tell you that I can demolish a decent sized meal.....I love food/eating. Since starting treatment I have been lucky that I havent physically thrown up. I do feel nauseous but I havent vomited ever. I find that I feel starving and I crave certain things. I will get what ever I'm craving and as soon as the food enters by mouth, its like a switch goes in my stomach and suddenly Im not hungry anymore and just the sight of what ever I am eating makes me feel sick. It drives me mental. Like seriously...I throw little tantrums on the inside every time it happens. So I like to make the most of the days leading up to chemo to fill myself with food in preparation for my deformed eating habits following.

I wake up the day of chemo and get out if bed. Good start!! Shower and eat some breakfast. I then pack my bag with a magazine or book. These things never get looked at because I am always to busy people watching or I have constant company but I always take something. I then heat my teddy bear wheat bag up and sit for half an hour heating up my arms. This helps prepare my veins and helps the lovely nurses with getting the needle in. I am really driven by my sense of smell. Like I can smell someone farting before they even fart. Its just always been a really switched on sense. This has proven to be a big pain in the backside since starting chemo. There are certain smells now that remind me of chemo and make me nauseous and my poor little wheat bag is one of them.....Its such a shame because its so darn cute and people always comment on it but its associated with Chemo now. Trust Cancer to ruin a cute wheat bag. I will use it again definitely but for now its taking a break and looking pretty in my room.

I get picked up by one of my parents and we head to the hospital.We arrive and I internally make the decision that todays session is going to be good. I am going to go and sit and let the drugs do their job. I LOVE seeing the Nurses and fellow Cancer fighters. Really I do. Those Nurses are really special people and I have grown really fond of them all. It takes a special kind of person to do their job and I really dont envy the job at all. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I get terribly anxious leading up to having the needle inserted. This time round I asked if we could try my right arm because I had a lot of pain following the previous treatment. My veins in my left arm throbbed and I think they needed a break. So the Nurse looked and asked if I would try having it inserted in my hand which I replied to quickly with "yes." I totally shocked myself. My hands generally are a no go zone but I could see the benefits of having in my hand. Juicy big veins being one of them. I tense up as soon as I see the Nurse un wrap the bundle that holds the needle and alcohol swabs. My Mum always reminds me to breath because I have this bad habit of not....I dont notice it until she says "Breath Andrea." Once its in Im all good but it takes me a few minutes to completely relax. I was lucky this time. I had both my Mum & my Dad with me. I also had visits from my Grandparents and my Best Friends Mum. Had a wee group of people with me throughout out the whole thing which always makes it go faster.
Another Cancer fighter was having his last treatment and he brought cake to share with us. It was delicious.

My vein's start to burn and throb with the second to last drug. I always get a little quiet around this time.  This is also around the time where I start to smell and taste the Chemo drugs. I start to settle into the state that I will be in for a few days. I am ok but I can feel the rank feeling coming. I leave each treatment with satisfaction and a feeling of achievement. I sit and do nothing but achieve so much.
I head home and start to hibernate. I get a couple of hours sleep and then wake up. I will get little sleep for a couple of days after that. I just cant switch my brain off during the night. So I just dont sleep. I think this is one of the factors that lead to my stink attitude that I seem to have.

This time round I really got down. Im not one to bottle up how I feel. I am always quick to let someone know if I am not ok but for what ever reason, I couldn't do it this time. I cried at the drop of a hat and even muttered that I dont think that I can do another treatment.....SHAME ON ME!!! I really didn't feel ok. I think just emotionally, I had a lot going on and a lot to process. The lack of sleep didn't help either. I had a lot of lovely messages from people who could sense that I was struggling from my last blog post and you were all quick to remind me that I have to feel like crap to feel better. Thank you for the kick up the backside.....It was exactly what I needed. After a good nights sleep I woke a different person and was back to my normal self.

Before I finish reflecting on the last week, I want to update you all with everything. I met with my amazing Doctor the Monday before Chemo for a catch up. I had planned to talk to her about my reservations about having radiotherapy. I met a lovely lady at the Relay for life who had the same cancer and treatment as me at the same age. She later found out that she had breast cancer. They say that there is a high risk of having breast cancer if you have radiation. She had the treatment a few years back and was never told of the risk. Maybe at that point in time they weren't aware of the risk. Anyway she just mentioned to me that I should definitely inquire about how much of a higher the risk there would be if I were to have radiotherapy. I know there is always a risk!!! But I dont want to put myself through something that could increase it.
Before I could say anything she said that she had been in contact with the Radiation Doctors and they had decided that if I can avoid having radiation, I should. Because of where the tumor is, the area that would need to be covered by the radiation would mean a definite higher risk of breast cancer. So we are going to do the full run of Chemo and then I will have a PET scan to see how the tumor is looking and go from there. I was happy with this. Right from the beginning, I have always had reservations about radiotherapy. It could be that I dont know enough about it. I left the appointment feeling great knowing that we were on the same page.

Now I will leave you with a quote that I really fancy. Goodnight and love to you all. A.x

"You have to be brave with your life so that others can be brave with theirs."


  1. Hello Andrea, I'm doing Chemo on the same day as you, I'll introduce myself next time. Thanks for the honest account of your treatment, my side effects are the same as yours - crappy. There have been many times when I have wanted to give up, but the scan showed the chemo is doing it's job. Take care, see you on the 4th. Gwen

    1. Hi Gwen.
      Please introduce yourself to me next time :) I am so glad to hear that your scan is showing that all is going to plan. I cant wait to have my scan!! I look forward to meeting you. Take it easy. A.x

  2. Hi Andrea,
    I wanted to say - i had the sleep issues and speaking to my chemo nurse helped as she got me (yet another) drug which helped immensely, so maybe you can talk to yours? Sure helps with the low mood to get a bit of sleep! Also I had radiation - but a small dose to balance the risks. My phone number is on my web site, you can always drop me a line if you have any questions.
    Thanks for checking out my webpage - unfortunately it's currently under construction and I'm also way behind on my blog!! (because I am obsessed with playing with my lomography camera, a complete distraction!! ,
    I'm listening to a great photo blog at the moment called "shoot to kill". You might enjoy it and it can certainly act as a distraction on the yucky tummy/nerves days :)
    Take care of yourself Andrea. If you can think of anything I can do to make your treatment days pass a little less pukily, let me know :). I have
    a few good tricks up my sleeve.
    Till next time Hodgkins Warrior! ;)
    Kristin x

    1. Hi Kristen.
      I will definitely ask about that thanks!! It really drives me up the wall and I can see why people can go a little mad when they dont sleep. I love my sleep and I would love it if I could sleep those nauseous days away!!
      Yes- I have also heard that some people take radiation orally. I did something similar with my thyroid so I think that is also an option. I will definitely get in touch if I have any questions about radiation.
      I had a look at your work :) Very nice! Oh nice!! I have a Diana which I love playing with.
      Thanks for the blog :) I will add it to my already embarrassingly long list of blogs that I follow.
      Thank you so much Kristen. I truly appreciate your words.
      Haha love it :)

  3. Hey Andrea,

    I have just been reading your latest blog, and thinking how beautiful you are. I just wanna let you know, I have been praying for you, and all the people around you supporting you through this time in your life. Stay Strong, for you are a beautiful and inspiring person and your life is if full of LOVE. I will be continuing to pray for you in the coming days.


    Kylie nee. Lloyd (From DAC Days, Chch)

    P.s, Loving your amazing eye of detail in your photographs, I fellow you Photo updates on Facebook daily. x

  4. Heya, so great to be reading your blog. I breathed a sigh of relief when I read that you did not have to have radiation therapy...amazing! It was so lovely to have met you at relay, I think of you often. Single digits rock, you are doing amazing, keep it up Hun. Before you know it there will be none! Take the very best care. X Janine :)

    1. Hi Janine :)

      I really loved meeting you. Seriously. It was so good to hear all that you had to say and I definitely took on board everything you said.
      I am really happy with how we have planned my treatment and I cant wait to have my last treatment and have a Pet scan. I cant wait to see what it all looks like.
      Anyway - Thanks for your message. I hope that all is going well with you and your beautiful family.
      Take care. A.x