Monday, 19 March 2012

High dose chemotherapy- Week 2!

By the beginning of my second week of high dose chemotherapy I was beginning to feel slightly weaker, every movement felt harder and everything began to feel heavier. This was just the beginning of the horrendous toll that the high dose chemotherapy would have on me.

My days mainly consisted of going in the dayroom as much as possible, while my blood levels were monitored. As soon as my neutrophil level (the cells in the blood which fight off infection) went below one I would be confined to my room permanently until they rose above one again. I was told that this could potentially take months, so I attempted to spend as much time out of my room as possible.

On the 16th of March 2011, the stem cells which I'd had harvested in November 2010 were put back into me. This meant that hopefully my immune system would build back up and I would be less at risk of getting a lift-threatening infection. One of the major side effects of having stem cells returned it that the fluid they are frozen in makes them smell like sweetcorn, and because they were being pumped into my blood it meant that I absolutely stunk of sweetcorn! You could smell me before you saw me and for the next few days any room I was in stuck overwhelmingly of sweetcorn!

Woo my stem cells were in that freezer!
March 2011.
While I was on high dose chemotherapy my Mum had to stay in the parents' accommodation building opposite the hospital, called Eckersley House. My Dad runs his own business so had to carry on working,  coming to see me on weekends. I always looked forward to my Dad coming on weekends because I missed being with both my parents while I was stuck in hospital.

My throat was slowly becoming sore and I was unable to eat as much, every meal being a struggle. I was sleeping for hours a day and feeling sick. The high dose chemotherapy was beginning to damage my whole digestion system from my mouth all the way through. Everything was becoming progressively worse and (sorry about the detail on this next bit) but I had the worst diarrhoea you can ever imagine, it was painful! 

I also felt really lonely at this time, as I'd been unable to see my friends because Leeds was 70 miles away from most of them and they were busy with their A levels. I felt left behind and very alone. 

One of the friends I had met in hospital was called Beth and she was 14. She had a very rare type of cancer, one usually only seen in adults. I remember her Mum, Alison, talking to my Mum about upcoming scans. My Mum was reassuring her that the scans would be fine, and this memory will always stay with me. It reminded me that everyone did their best to stay positive, even when we sometimes knew deep down things wouldn't always be as simple as we hoped. Cancer can do many things, but it cannot destroy hope.

By the end of my second week in hospital, my chemotherapy had been given and my stem cells had be returned to me. Now I was just waiting for the side effects to start in full. I was fully prepared for my organs to stop working and, as happens in 1 in 10 cases, for me to end up in intensive care on a ventilator.
There was no turning back now.

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