Yesterday was my first session of CHOP Chemotherapy (which is a regimen of 4 drugs; Cyclophosphamide, Doxorubicin, Vincristine, and Prednisolone) at the LOC on Harley Street. Nathan and I were exhausted from the day before and probably only got about 6 hours sleep total and were up super early to get to London for 830. This is it, no turning back now and we caught the train and tube in full on rush hour, meaning it was standing room only. So tired!
We arrived promptly and took a seat in the reception area. Then it was time for blood test and to insert the canula in my arm in preparation for my treatment. Bernadette does the job and she explained a few things and I asked how long does this usually take, to which she replies 6 hours. Fuck me 6 hours?, Dr Marcus had mentioned 3 hours. Once this was done we were asked to report to the treatment suite in the basement of the building. Once arrived we are greeted by Daniella the receptionist, and shown to my area. The suite is tastefully decorated and I must say we were very impressed. The room has a very comfy chair for me and wardrobe space, chairs for guests and luckily an atrium window in the ceiling. We are made comfortable and show the food menu, yes a food menu lol. They have a French chef we are told. Nathan was already eyeing some items on the menu 😉
Time to get weighed and measured again as the doses for the drugs are based on height and weight ratios. Oh shit I have put on a few kilos after our trip to Florence. We ate our body weight is pastas and pizzas there and it was bound to catch up on me! I am really missing the gym! At least I was able to be measured again and have my height updated from 1.73m to 1.75m. All my life I thought I was 1.77m lol. I guess we shrink when we age! lol
Fabiana is to be my nurse and she is from Portugal originally. Such a lovely character, warm and compassionate and with a great sense of humour, which I need so much right now. She explains everything in detail (this is called the pre-chemo talk). Nathan sat beside me taking it all in. I see he is taking mental notes on everything Fabiana is saying. Then it’s time for an anti sickness tablet and we wait for the blood test results before we can commence. I get swabbed for MRSA as part of the protocol, that was quite hilarious. Time to order some breakfast at this point as we are starving. Love a freshly made cheese omelette! Yum.
Each of the drugs are administered one at a time and flushed before and after with saline, so this is why the process takes time. I didn’t get started till after 11 am on this occasion but told it will not take long once underway and all depends on how well you receive these drugs. The first one is a mix of anti sickness and steroids. Fabiana also mentioned that I must just go on with my normal life, and the importance of a great positive mental attitude. She said a lot of the success of treatment depends on that. The brain is a powerful thing. Eat well, drink plenty of water, rest when needed, but be normal. Everyone is different and reacts to treatment individually. This team can be reached 24/7 and if I experience anything on the long list of complications I need to call them straight away. Hair loss will begin in about 2-3 weeks, which is an unfortunate side effect. Luckily I am engaged to an amazing hairstylist and am partial to a baseball cap too haha!
I have a visitor arrive and it is no other that the lovely Kirsty Ettrick from London Medical Concierge (LMC), http://www.londonmedicalconcierge.com/ ,with a big warm smile and some Godiva chocolate covered strawberries. How super thoughful and kind. It was my first time actually meeting her and so happy Nathan is with me too. Kirsty is like my guardian angel and without the help of the company she founded I would never have found the LOC and Dr Robert Marcus and the amazing team here. Both Nathan and I are grateful for love and support.
The steroids kick in and I just get major giggles going and before I know it through chatting and laughing with these two, the first drug has been administered. I didn’t feel a thing and thought is this for real? Then time to move on to each of the drugs, one of them is red on colour and told my wee will be that sort of colour and not to worry. It had to be done manually through a giant syringe, looked like it was going to hurt, but although it took a little time, I again didn’t feel a thing.
The lovely lady from the pharmacy also visited to explain all the drugs I was going to receive, and I mean a bag full! Very intimidating and a lot to remember. But all part of the treatment plan, some of them only to be taken if needed. We also met Annette, a lovely Irish lady who was head of the nurse team at the LOC treatment suite. She mentioned that if we had any issues at all to let her know. You really feel like you are in good hands and everyone keeps saying if there is anything we could do better, please let us know. Just like a good hotel 🙂
All done and time to head home at around 1pm so it was not 6 hours thankfully. Hopefully future visits a bit shorter, next sessions update to 28 March and 18 April, with a PET scan to follow and 3 more sessions and re-assess. We caught a cab to the station and then a train home. I was actually feeling ok and was originally going to book a car back home but thought let’s just be normal. On the train I started to feel a little sluggish and Nathan said I looked a bit greyish in the face. It passed and I felt like I got my colour back.
We popped out to M&S, my fave place and bought some food for the next few days and Nathan wanted to make a roast dinner. I still had an appetite thankfully. We even bought a digital thermometre as that is one of the side effects they worry about, infection and high fever. Nathan is my nurse and doctor for the next few days. He has been amazing througout all of this. I can’t tell you how it makes me feel to have him by my side.
Managed to catch up with a lot of lovely messages from Frankie, Karen, Debbie, Laetitia, Sue, Pascale, Alex, Yvonne, Lana, Louise, Chelsea, Alain, Michelle, Pammy, Chris T, Jamie M, Bella, Gazza, Lorna, Norma, Chrissypoo. I haven’t left anyone out intentionally just overwhelmed with messages. FT with Thora and Una in Italy, and Karen in Canada. You guys all rock. Love my support team. Forgot to mention we came home from Florence to some lovely cards for our engagement, so thoughtful and lovely.
Felt pretty crappy yesterday evening but managed my roast dinner and the rest, one cheeky little vodka 😉 but was not in the mood for more. Plenty of water with lemon, yes Norma, I am on the lemon water, pissing like a racehourse! Checked my lumps on my neck before bed and they have shrunk substantially already, so this shit really works! It’s killing this fucking cancer. Onwards and upwards. Let the games begin!
Cuddles with my boy last night, woke early feeling crap, so decided to write and let Nathan get some well deserved sleep. All being well we will head back to Cardiff tomorrow and back on Monday, then back to work on Tuesday. I miss the office believe it or not.
Those of you asking about or wanting a lime green armband send me a message and I will try to get one sent out to you.<3<3