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Friday 13th August 2021: Cancer Journal 14 ~ Chemo Edition

Pink tones architectural background with the number 14 illuminated in white neon. Cancer Journal 14.
Cancer Journal 14: Chemo Edition 1

What I shared on Facebook on Friday 13th August 2021 as my Cancer Journal Number 14.

These cancer journals were my ongoing strategy of keeping people up to date without having to share the same information again and again. I would write, and then I would get specific friends to act as beta readers, and that was helpful. Then I would post to Facebook, send the same message by email, What’s App, SMS, etc. It saved a lot of emotional energy for me, and that was becoming vital.

⭐ Cancer Journal 14 ⭐

☣️ Chemo Edition ☣️

Chemotherapy schedule

Friday 13th August 2021 (14)

First Chemo 10:00am 19th August.

Second Chemo 9:30am 09th September.

Third Chemo AM 30th September.

Forth Chemo AM 21st October.

Blood tests have to be done the day prior, and I also have to have an injection the day after.

People are welcome to pick me up, or to meet up after and drop me home, but this particular Oncology unit does not allow companions onto the ward.

It will be a 3 – 4 hour time infusion each time.

The first cycle will provide the blueprint for what the impact will be for me.

Typically, the worst of it is the end of the first week – hits around day three or four, and hopefully starts to ease around day eight or nine.

The second week I will be especially vulnerable to infection.

It didn’t, but I consider myself an optimistic nihilist, so I was hoping 😉

Reiteration of boundaries (yes, they’re important to me)

‼️Please stay away if you or anyone close to you are sick or have been unwell in the last 14 – 21 days, or if you have been at a hot spot. If you are unvaccinated, please consider if it is appropriate visiting me at this point.

‼️I’m going to reiterate the boundaries I wish to hold to, and that I first set out when I was diagnosed.

This is not a criticism of anyone for whom these following 5 points have been helpful, nor an invitation to explain why it worked for you or those you know, I am just requesting these boundaries be respected in my process.

Five Main Boundary Points

1. I don’t want to frame this experience in any kind of warfare terminology  (a battle, a fight, winning, etc), nor do I accept warrior or survivor as appropriate titles / descriptors.

2. I also don’t want people trying to advise me about medical or lifestyle choices.

3. I appreciate everyone wants to share a success story in encouragement, but if it isn’t your lived personal experience, I invite you to consider that this is not the space. For every success story, someone is grieving, several with whom I have a deep, personal connection, and those stories are not helpful to them or me. Particularly if it is my mother’s brother’s cousin’s friend type 6 degrees of separation story.

4. And any of the ‘that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger or ‘sit with the energies that attracted this’, or ‘meditate upon why this has manifested’ crowd can fuck right off.

5. Please do not tell me where I need to focus or what I need to do. Sit with the urge to fix and advise for at least 24 hours and ask yourself if it is something that I need to hear or just something that you feel the need to say because this is uncomfortable.

Ongoing communication

I’m hoping to continue to communicate publicly about this in a way that models good boundaries and encourages conversations and raises awareness. So apart from my own treatment goals, that’s been my more holistic goal through this experience to date and continues to be something I am aiming for.

Availability / Capacity

This had became very important to me. It had become obvious very quickly that loads of people want to receive absolution from the person who is sick or in need. News flash – that person does not have the emotional energy to deal with all the apologies and guilt, and nor should they have to! If you have the capacity, great. If you don’t, don’t take up space that could be filled by someone who does, and don’t demand emotional labour from the person who should be central to the experience; I.e stop apologising. Apologies should only be about situations where you then need to also address behaviours. I do not subscribe to the whole bullshit around “ohhhh… When the chips are down, you find out who your real friends are!”. No, no you don’t, you just find out who has capacity at that time.

If any of this is problematic for you, I invite you to consider the wisdom of stepping away from this space and tending your garden, I do not have the emotional, spiritual, or mental bandwidth to negotiate the needs or wants of others that don’t align with my current experience.

Friendship links

Here are some great articles on friendship that explore the idea that not all friends are going to be in an inner circle, and not why you can’t necessarily rely on everyone. And that’s ok! One of the things that have awed me during this experience is what amazing people I have in my life. And that is important.

I am intent upon continuing with dignity, grace, and compassion, but with these boundaries in place.

Side effects

Most likely side effects are:

❗ menopause is a given

Rare side effects are:

The psych suggested the reframing of “delicate and slow” for one week out of three, so I am working with that, and with the concept of this being a recalibration process.

After chemo, I will start endocrine therapy, so that will be the final treatment stage – as yet, I am uncertain of the finer details of that.

In summary (Cancer Journal 14/Chemo Edition 1)

‼️ I honestly don’t know what my emotional landscape is going to be over the next few weeks, so I will simply say this:

⛔ I anticipate being very emotionally unavailable, so if I am insensitive or fail to engage, apologies in advance, but right now, my focus is on me, my self care, and the care of my household.

🚫 Once we are out of lockdown, I may well welcome visitors again, but I’ll let you know – I’m probably only going to up to see one person a day at most, and it will typically be in the afternoons I suspect. 

⭐ This is the fourteenth of my Cancer Journal entries, if you are interested in the others, I have put links in at the bottom of this post.

🌹 Be kind, Gentle Creatures, tend your gardens, take time to eat the roses, and walk your boundaries.

❗ Check your breasts, check your testicles.

This is where I will be undergoing chemo, for those that are interested.

Self checks

Ensure that you are vigilant around your self-examination. Train yourself to check your breasts/testicles routinely, and monitor your bowel habits and your urine output. These are our body’s early warning signs, and we don’t have a lot of awareness of them.

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