The next part of my treatment regime was the dreaded “Chemotherapy”. The Oncology Department gave me a choice. Have about one and a half inches of the base of my tongue cut off/out (to hopefully rid my throat of the cancer)…or…have chemotherapy. It really wasn't a choice. I could spend the rest of my life having to wrestle with just being able to speak and even more importantly, being able to be understood. Or have 7 weeks of weekly chemotherapy treatment.
So, it was bring on the Chemo…(he said, somewhat bravely!)
We all laughed when we discussed hair loss due to my treatment!! Whilst my chemo treatment didn't cause hair loss, it didn't matter as I had made the “hair sacrifice” years ago…in the interests of never having to worry about dandruff. If only I had a choice here… never mind, blame my family genes for my lack of hair!!
So, the Oncology people, in co-operation with the Radiology people and with some input from the ENT people, we managed to put together my weekly chemo roster, which over the 7 weeks of weekly treatments, changed, I do not know how many times!
Chemo involved sitting quietly in a very comfortable chair for upwards of 4 hours while “Cisplatin” (the medical name/term for my chemo treatment) was intravenously injected into me, via my arm. We alternated each week for variety and not to overuse the one part of my arm. Lots of bruises to tell the tale of the IV drip.
Before I would have the Cisplatin injected into me, I needed to be “flushed, by having saline solution injected both before and after my treatment. Before to prepare my body for the chemo onslaught and after, to help me cope with the “stuff” that was now coursing through my body, destroying millions of healthy cells as it (hopefully) concentrated on killing the Big C cells in my neck and throat.
Of course, at my age, the litres of flushing solution used meant many trips to the toilet. I simply couldn't sit there for all that time, without nature calling too many times. So, before I could go off to the toilet, I would need to be unplugged and then off I went with my IV machine and stand in tow…a sight to make anyone have a laugh or two!!
I cannot thank the nursing staff enough for their fantastic attitude towards me and all the patients in the ward…it's not the most fun place to be. There were some absolute standouts…they made my time and that of all my fellow patients as bearable as possible.
I was also very fortunate that I did not suffer any lasting short or long term side effects during and after my chemo treatments.
Mind you, two weeks after all my treatments finished, I dropped 10 Kgs in that two weeks. Boy, was I sick while I kept on “cooking” (internally) for those two weeks following the cessation of my treatment.
I will not talk about some of the terrible, heartbreaking scenes I witnessed in that chemo ward. I only know, I was and am, one of the very lucky ones to come out the other end, intact physically.
I'll talk about the “mental side” of my treatment in another blog (yet to come).
It was a very interesting time. A side of the treatment I thought that brave and resolute me, wouldn't have to worry about…WRONG!!
But, that's for another time.
And as I always say, even more strongly, having survived…
Make every day your best day ever…!