Friday, 21 May 2010

Last Chemo/CT Scan/PET Scan......REMISSION!

As you can see from the title of this blog...very good news! But I'll start from the beginning.

So I went for what I hoped would be the last chemo on 7th May. It went fairly well. Had a bit of pain in the vein with the dacarbazine as it was sore from the last chemo but I still managed to fall asleep during it lol. Unfortunately my blood was very low (Neutropenia level was 0.5 when 'normal' is 7.0. So I was was very neutropenic meaning I was VERY susceptible to infection as I had few white blood cells.) They warned me about it before I went home. Unfortunately after a few hours of getting home I suddenly came ovr feeling very ill - I was feeling very very cold and was shivering which were both signs of infection so I went straight back to the hospital. They kept me in over night to test my heart, x-ray my chest, test for infection and give me IV antibiotics. I was allowed home the next day with anti-biotics yet again! Fortunately there was no infection, it was just all the chemo catching up with me and I was on antibiotics for a few days as a precaution with my blood being so low.

The following monday I was booked in for my CT scan. This scan would show if the lymph nodes that had swollen due to the cancer had reduced nor not. It was clear from just looking at my neck that it had gone right down but I couldn't tell from my chest. For the scan you have to drink a liquid to outline your organs. I threw it all up before I went in for the scan. Luckily I could still have the scan if I just drank water. The results came back the following week and they were very good. There was however still some swollen nodes behind my left breastbone but they were small enough not to be classed as abnormal. The doctor said that the results from this scan showed REMISSION! I couldn't believe he used that word. But obviously there was still a chance I wasn't in remission.

The next day, the tuesday, I went to London for the PET scan. I had to go to London as I was participating in a clinical trial to see about reducing treatment for patients like myself. The PET scan would show if there was any active cancer in my body. So it would show wether the swollen lymph nodes in my chest were actually active or not. I had the PET scan and then spent the rest of the day shopping in London and travelling home. I would hear the results by the end of the week so I expected to hear them on Friday.

The next day I was very tired and was asleep on the couch when my dad woke me up at half 5 to tell me the doctor was on the phone for me. My stomach did a somersault knowing it was probably about my results. Basically he said I was........IN REMISSION! I couldnt believe it. I had beaten cancer. I wasn't ill anymore and I didn't need to go through anymore chemo. Considering my life for the past 8 months was all hospitals and cancer it felt like I was never going to get to this point. I still needed to hear however wheter I would need to have radiotherapy or not just as default for being part of the trial as it is normally standard treatment for hodgkins lymphoma. I found out the next day the excellent news that I wouldnt have to have it. I was over the moon because radiotherapy would have quite largely increased my chances of breast cancer in later life as it would have been directed close to breast tissue. It would have also involved going to the hospital in middlesbrough everyday for 3 weeks...NO THANKS! It was all over.

Since the beginning of October last year my life has been all hospitals, 2 operations, needles, blood tests, overnight hospital stays, chemotherapy, scans and a hell of a lot of worrying. I've suffered from anxiety attacks late at night, felt very depressed and often wondered why I would even bother waking up some days just to suffer feeling ill. Chemotherapy really is HELL but I got through it and I think I am a stronger person emotionally now. I still had good days aswell as well as bad days.

Some friends didn't really bother with me right from the beginning of the whole cancer journey but some really made the effort with me, wether it was coming to see me or always asking how I was and how things were going. For those who didnt bother - I don't know wether it's because they didn't know what to say or sometimes I feel more because they were too wrapped up in their own petty problems I don't know. It's better to say something rather than nothing at all. You might have felt bad, but I felt worse. It's something I'll never understand but thats life.

Now my life will be 3monthly hospital checkups and getting on with being a 20 year old. I'm taking the next year out of Uni as I can still be suffering the side effects of chemo for up to a year and I shall return the following year to complete my final year.

Thanks to everyone who has read this blog. I hope it has been a help if you are going through something similar yourself and if you're just reading it out interest then I hope I have opened your eyes what cancer suffers really have to go through. (All too often I got 'Ohh it will all be over soon').

I'm off to enjoy my life. Lauren xxx

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Chemo & MacMillan

I am very very happy to say that the last chemo (Cycle #3, treatment 1) was pain free!!
I opted to go just for a venflon in my hand/arm rather than another line as I just really couldnt face it. To stop the Dacarbazine being so painful they put the venflon in a bigger vein at my elbow, put a heatpack over my arm and black bagged up the tube of the drip (normally it's left in the daylight which is stupid since the bag the drug comes in has to be kept out of the light...). It all seemed to work THANK GOD!

The next day I came back to Huddersfield where I was at Uni. I just felt like a I needed a break from home. I'm writing this now, a week of being here and my god, I feel like a different person. There's been no hospital visits, prodding with needles, nurses or anything. I've seen people who I havent seen since I was diagnosed and they treated me like I was normal and for the first time in ages I felt normal (or as normal as I possibly could!) Don't want to go home now as it will be back to reality!

I thought I'd write a little bit about my experience with MacMillan as I would reccommend them to anyone in a similar situation to me. One day I had a bit of breakdown after I had the picc line put it in because I was so fed up of it and of everything in general and told my mam I needed to talk to someone, someone who could understand how I felt. She phoned MacMillan and they put us in touch the local macmillan nurse who arranged to come and see me at my house to have a talk about what I wanted from them.

The lady that came round, Hilary, was lovely. She asked how I felt, what I wanted from them in terms of support and we dissused a few other things such as finances. She interestingly mentioned complimentary therapy I could have such as massage and aromatherapy so I was booked in for a session at the hospice and it was sooooooo good. I had a shoulder and head massage and came out feeling like a new person. (I've got 5 more sessions to go, woo!) Hilary also gave me a questionnaire to complete that was to assess how depressed/anxious I was and she gave me lots of papers on tips to relax. We arranged another session for the following week where we discussed the questionnaire which showed I was showing more signs of anxiety so she talked me through some ways to cope with this (and may I say I've had no more 'attacks' since! :)) We completed a form to apply for a macmillan grant for some money to go on holiday so I should be recieving a cheque for that soon. I'm due to see her again after hopefully my last chemo so I shall let you know how that goes.

At the moment I'm feeling good. I can see a glimmer, albeit a small one, but still a glimmer of light at the end of the long tunnel. After the next chemo on Friday I have the CT scan on the 10th and then the PET scan the following week so I need everyone in the world to cross their fingers and toes that I don't need anymore treatment!

Until next time :) xxx