There was barely any time between the diagnosis and the first day of chemotherapy. I believe I was diagnosed on a Tuesday and chemotherapy started the following Friday.
I was still an inpatient when I had my first round of RCHOP chemotherapy. Which was in a way lucky because this round would take the longest. A drug in the chemotherapy can cause an allergic reaction, so they have to flow it through your veins slowly to begin with, in case you have an allergic reaction.
Just before I started my chemotherapy, my specialist nurse came into my room and sat down with me. She broke me the news that I would definitely lose my hair and possibly my eyebrows and eyelashes. This to me was devastating… some of you may think “oh well it’s just hair…” but it’s not just that, it’s your identity, it’s a small factor that makes you who you are. We style our own hair, we choose how we like our hair, we decide how long we want it to be… and cancer was taking that away from me. The idea I was going to lose my hair, broke my heart.
Anyway, one of the nurses on the ward started up my chemotherapy. Three of the drugs were in this massive needle instead of a drip, which I was surprised.
These drugs made my face feel weird, like I had heat behind my eyes and nose, and it made my vision blurred for a few minutes.
I wasn’t sure how I felt, it was all happening so fast. Then she told me to move to the bed for the last drug, Rituximab, the one which could cause an allergic reaction, it took about 4 hours. I remember the machine would always make a beep sound when it was finished or had a problem, that sound will always make me cringe.
The chemotherapy went fine and to plan, which was good, we’re off to a good start!
I will insert a picture of me finishing my first chemotherapy.
The classic ‘thumbs up’ to prove I was alright.
My parents had left me for the night, and I was feeling okay – upset because I was alone again but physically feeling alright. The following morning I remember the doctors doing their rounds, and my doctor came in to check on me and he asked “do you feel okay, any sickness? We might be able to send you home.”
Did I just hear the words home?! Hallelujah.
I stupidly replied with, “no sickness! I feel fine just tired.” And then two seconds later… guess who ends up vomiting in front of the doctors? Yep, you guessed it, me.
He laughed, “Ah, I’ve never had that reaction to my presence before, maybe you just don’t like seeing us in the morning.” Which did actually make me laugh and cheer me up.
I kept persuading him to send me home, even though I had just been sick, and he said I could go home at the end of the day if I haven’t been sick again. I spent the whole day wishing and praying that I would make it the day without vomiting.
And yes, I managed to go the day without being sick again! Hooray.
After two weeks in various hospitals, I finally got to go home! This was the best news I heard all week.
The car ride was quiet, I spent it with my head against the window, but we stopped off at McDonalds on the way home. No more hospital food, so living the dream.
I lost a lot of weight before being diagnosed, and lost even more weight during the hospital stay. When I left, I weighed 45kg, they put it down to lack of appetite due to the stress and emotional rollercoaster of being diagnosed but they called me everyday to make sure I was eating properly. Even when I got home after leaving.