Tuesday, January 29, 2019

A Small Setback...

Firstly, I’m sorry I have been so recently M.I.A I needed a bit of a break after chemo 6 as I found this one so mentally challenging. Chemo 6 was meant to be a positive chemo due to it being halfway but a number of things added up to it being so difficult…1) everything was go-go around Christmas that I actually felt normal, but I was then suddenly transported back into the land of cancer and dealing with chemotherapy the day after boxing day which, was hard. 2) my boyfriend and his family went away for new year, skiing. A trip that I had planned to go on before finding out I was poorly. This was really hard for me to sit back and watch them all go, I didn’t want to miss out but I unfortunately had no choice. To be honest, this is one of the only times where I have been angry with my current situation, cancer was holding me back from living my life, creating memories and being normal and this angered me like nothing else, I felt like cancer was in control. My plan for this blog post was to do a generic update about what’s been going on and to keep you all in the loop of my journey. But this post will now be slightly more interesting (luckily for you) after another weekend away in my local NHS Hotel, as I like to call it. 

After monitoring my temperature all Thursday evening, in the early hours of Friday morning my temperature reached its highest and it was another trip to A&E. This time round the staff seemed to be a bit more understanding of my situation and I felt like they took it more seriously then they did in my previous experience. There was no waiting in the waiting room with everyone and I was taken straight to a cubicle. I was given my antibiotics for suspected neutropenia and for an infection somewhere in my body. I then had blood taken for a blood test so they could see what was going on. 3 hours later and the nurse in charge came to speak to us and said how she was going to move me to my own separate room as the results were back from my blood test and I was severely neutropenic, in my case I had 0.0 neutrophils…meaning I had no immune system whatsoever and I could literally pick up anything. To put it into perspective for you, the average range of neutrophils for a healthy person can be anywhere between 1.5 to 8.0. The side room was okay and we finally managed to get a few hours sleep as the symphony of A&E could now only be heard in the distance. I was told that as soon as a room became available on my ward, Laurel 3 I would be taken there.

16 hours later…

It was now 6pm on Friday night and I was finally being taken to my ward where I would have my own room with a private toilet and essentially be in isolation for a few days to be honest though I didn’t mind. The rooms are quite nice and it’s better then being on a ward with everyone. Over the next few days my neutrophils started to come back up and I began to feel like myself again and I was finally able to come home on oral antibiotics on Monday afternoon. It’s hard to stay positive sometimes when you’re in hospital and have to deal with yet another setback, but I remind myself of how far I’ve come and how I don’t have too far to go. After chemo on Thursday I will only have 4 more to go and to be honest, I cannot bloody wait!

But, in other news I saw my consultant in December and received the results of my halfway scan. The tumours in my neck and chest have completely gone!!! This means that although they have gone, I still have to carry on with chemotherapy just to make sure it has completely gone (good riddance I say!!). To say I am relieved would be an understatement, but I know I have to keep fighting and I can’t fully relax and celebrate until I get my all clear in March/April. 

However, I did receive some devastating news a few weeks ago. My consultant but also my friend, the best man in the world has been signed off work for 6 months with ill health, which means he will no longer be able to accompany me on what’s left of this bloody awful journey. By the time he comes back to work I should hopefully be done with cancer and treatment and living my life. This has been really hard for me to get my head around as I rely on my consultant for so much, the constant support he has given me is truly overwhelming and I can’t thank him enough. I’m struggling to see how I am going to do it without him, but as he has said to me I must stay strong and that ‘this is all gods testing time.’ Things in life get sent to test us and to show us how strong we really are and I will not let him down. 

I just wanted to finish this post by saying thank you to my amazing family and boyfriend, I really wouldn’t be able to do this without them by my side every step of the way.

8 more bloody weeks of hell until freedom! 

Love Grace xo 
My carer (mum) and I

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow.

This post is quite delayed and I can only apologise…the festivities were getting the better of me and to be honest, it was nice to get away from everything and spend time with the people who are important to me as this halfway chemo has been really tough for me. This post is going to be quite hard for me to write about and open up-to to everyone as it has been the worst part of my journey so far. But I feel it’s important to not hide what cancer really is like. 

It sounds so shallow but when I first met my haematologist one of the first questions I asked was ‘will I lose my hair?’ I had cancer and all I cared about was my hair. I didn’t want to be associated with the disease and I felt that losing my hair really was a big giveaway, everyone (even strangers now) would know I was poorly and I didn’t want people to stare at me. 

I was told that I would, and that most people’s hair started to fall out 10 days after their first chemo. This didn’t happen for me, I didn’t start to lose hair until 9 days after my second chemo, it was only little bits but more than usual, it was gradual for me and just strands came out when I brushed it but nothing I couldn’t cope with. I would say for me, the day I was let out of hospital after being admitted for the second time in mid November was the day I officially started to lose my hair. 

I remember I had just had a shower at hospital (not a nice experience, would not recommend) and started to brush my hair. When it starts, it falls out fast. Clumps of hair were coming out in my brush and I remember telling myself that it’s fine and I knew this was going to happen. I’m not going to lie, it’s actually quite painful when your hair does start to fall out. My scalp was achy and it hurt so much, the only way I can explain it for me,  is like being pricked with tiny needles on your head all the time. I remember coming out of the bathroom and my mum asking me if I was okay, I just handed her my hairbrush and burst out crying…I think I cried for 2 days straight after this. Partly why I cried all the time is that you’re constantly covered in hair so I would be having a really good day and then when I would look down at my clothes , I would be covered in strands of hair and it gets to the point where it’s just so annoying…a constant reminder of what’s going on. 

I then decided to get a fringe cut to hide my new bald patch at the front of my head, this really helped me. It covered the area which was thinning the most and gave me a bit longer with my hair. I was prepared to try anything so that I could keep it for as long as possible and hold up my disguise of not being known as a cancer patient. The fringe lasted quite well until I had to have my hair re-cut at the start of December. My mum being a hairdresser was a blessing in disguise really, she pulled more hair from the back to cover the growing bald patch at the front of my head, but because this didn’t look great on its own, it was hats and headscarves from here on. For anyone going through this or something similar, I really would recommend getting a fringe as when you have a headscarf on and leave the fringe out, no one would know! (and if they ask - “it’s fashion darlingg.”) 

By having the fringe recut this gave me an extra two weeks with hair, which I know doesn’t seem a lot but I’ll take what I can! On the 18th December I decided to 'brave the shave.’ My hair had reached the point where I actually looked like an old woman (more like witch), I would say I only had about 20% of my hair left, if that. It looked ridiculous to be honest, all I could wear was beanies and have these tiny bits of hair poking out just so people thought I had hair, and I suddenly thought to myself, why am I trying to hide this? I promised myself I wouldn’t hide the toughest battle I was fighting from everyone and here I was clinging onto my hair so people thought I was okay. Well the truth is, I’m not okay and most people know that, everyone knows I’m going to lose my hair so what is the point in hiding it? Yes I am fighting cancer and yes I am bald, but I am winning my fight. 

When I actually shaved my head, it wasn’t a sad moment at all and I didn’t want it to be. I had no attachment to my hair anymore as it no longer looked like me and wasn’t the hair I missed. I miss my long, healthy hair not the fluffy stuff I had left. I laughed throughout getting it shaved off and my family and I made jokes and it really was a special moment and very liberating to be honest. For an event everyone was dreading, it’s probably one of my best memories from this whole journey so far. I don’t want to wear my wig and for now I wont be, I’ll be sticking to my headscarfs and beanies, what’s the point when everyone knows it’s a wig? My opinion on this might change but for now I’m happy embracing my bronzed (thank you fake tan) little egg head. 

All that’s left to say is thank you for taking the time to read this very long post (sorry) and I hope you all have a very happy (and healthy!!) new year!! 

(I’ll attach some photos below of my hair…)

Love Grace xo 

when I got my fringe cut 
experimenting with headscarves (harder than it looks) 

bad hair day (lol) = beanie
bald patches appeared
when it started to get hard...
experimenting with more headscarves

I'd had enough by this point.
Finally baldilocks :) 

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