Third cycle, 75% complete, 2nd to last… lets go!

As rough as I had felt at times during my treatments, I have to admit, it felt good to know that my third cycle meant I was approaching 75% completion of my treatment plan or to put it another way ‘I only had one more treatment cycle after this one’.

I guess trying to break your treatment plan down into smaller segments, stages or milestones is a good way to make the journey that little bit easier to approach and digest mentally. It certainly worked for me. It goes back to ‘that simple idea’ I touched on a few posts back. Keeping a track of ‘your’ progress and seeing the ground you’ve already completed makes the road ahead that little bit easier to understand and prepare for.

My third cycle started on the 4th April. A day later than usual as it had been the Easter long weekend.

Talking of the Easter weekend, we’d had a really nice one together as a family. Robin, my parents and one of my nephews went to our friends pub for Easter lunch. It was the ‘first’ real public / social meal I’d been to since starting treatment and given I was dressed ‘smart casual’ I couldn’t get away with wearing my ‘confidence’ giving cap! I hadn’t seen our friend for a while but he was aware of my situation. A little apprehensive, we entered the pub, ‘Chris’ spotted us and came straight over, it was nice as he didn’t make a deal of my new appearance and greeted Robin and I just like he normally would. This gave me a confidence boost straight away and helped with the rest of the afternoon. To our friend Chris – thanks for making our Easter Sunday a great one and thank you for the ‘Get well soon’ dessert 🙂

Sorry, I got carried away waffling on there… Now back to the third cycle…

I can honestly say as much as I was not looking forward to another five days of treatment, I was mentally going in to the week in a much better frame of mind than my previous treatments.

My consultation appointment in-between treatments was all positive news and as I said a few paragraphs ago I took some comfort knowing after this treatment I just had one to go (assuming all went to plan). The weather was also helping, the cold winter seemed behind us and Spring was around the corner.

When I arrived at the hospital I was told how busy the ward was and unfortunately on this occasion I was going to have to share a room. The staff had remembered the ‘negative’ effect this had previously had on me so they tried to accommodate as best as possible by putting me in a room that had some good characters in it. As in guys that would be uplifting in conversation.

Yes I was disappointed I couldn’t be on my own but my mental state this time was slightly better and I understood how busy they were. They also said to me that I would be moved to my own room if one became available in the next couple of days.

Although the men I was put in a room with were no where near my age (some 35-40 years older) it did open my eyes up even more to what individuals, families and friends were going through in their own journeys. Each of us were fighting our own battle in our own way. We shared our stories with one an other and it soon became evident that I was the only one in the room that had been told I could be ‘cured’. I felt so lucky but also scared at just how you never know what type of cancer you are going to be dealt (hopefully you never get it at all). The men were checked out within a couple of days of me being there but in those two days, the conversations we had will stick with me forever. I truly hope that they can enjoy there time with their families and friends as they planned to.

The day they left, I was also moved to my own room. Having the privacy and quietness was nice and much needed as the effects of treatment were kicking in again, extreme tiredness and overall weakness were the ones that showed their faces again!

Talking of faces, one aspect of being treated is that you get to know your nurses, doctors, registrars, care workers and cleaners (listed in no particular order). These people become an extension of your family when you’re in there. You get to build up a rapport and of course huge appreciation for the amazing work they do, day in day out. I remember ‘looking forward’ to being treated or seeing certain members of the team, (those I’d got to know a bit better than others) as they brought conversation, care, support and a smile to what was otherwise a pretty grim experience. It’s not the first time I’ve said / written it and it won’t be the last, but to all the amazing NHS staff – THANK YOU.

The rest of my treatment went to plan, the only issue and quite a common issue at that was that my ‘White blood cell count’ (immune system) was extremely low. The doctors referred to it as me having very low ‘Neutrophil’ blood cells count. From what I gathered, this basically meant my white blood cells were pretty much none existent therefore I was very susceptible to infection. As I have said, this can be a common side effect of BEP chemotherapy and given I was 17 days of treatment in to my regime I think it was to be expected.

To help boost my cell counts for both my immune system and to ensure I could have the next and final treatment in a couple of weeks time, I was given 5 injection pens to take home with me to be given once a day for 5 days.

If you’re told you’ll need the injections and aren’t a fan of needles, try not to worry. The needle is pretty tiny and if you have a partner at home, I’m sure if you ask nicely they’ll happily stab you in the stomach with it as my wife did :).

To read more posts in time line order click here.

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