Everyone told me that after the first cycle going into the 2nd would be much better because you knew what to expect…. But I was absolutely dreading the 2nd cycle if I’m honest. Going into hospital for those 4 days, knowing the exact number of injections I would have, all the tablets, the hospital environment, the number of chemo bags I would have and the endless bleeping from those machines was in many ways reassuring I knew what was going to happen but at the same time was stressful as I knew what to expect and therefore how yuck I was going to feel once everything kicked in. I had got no better with injections, still as phobic as ever but if I can get through it being a nervous wreck over little needles anyone can (just don’t look at them or the cannula, they look bigger when you look at them I swear!)
The cancer nurses had told me that peoples bodies react differently, some people would feel better during the 2nd and 3rd cycle while others would progressively feel worse. The prospect of potentially feeling worse as the treatment went on was really worrying. I felt so so bad for so many days during my first cycle that I wasn’t sure how another 6-8 weeks of feeling like that (or worse) would affect me.
Thankfully my 2nd and 3rd cycle was much more kind in comparison to the 1st. I had the similar side effects to the 1st but it appeared far less extreme, I was after a couple of days able to get out of the house, walk the dog and do a few things in moderation before having to sleep it off. The chemo ‘fog’ was still very present but I got times where it cleared a little and I felt a little bit more human. I had started to develop small lumps on my hands along with at times pain/ numbness/stiffness, it’s another little side effect that can sometimes linger for weeks or months apparently (if you play racket sports, be sure to tape your hands on these areas, if you don’t the friction definitely makes it more uncomfortable!).
The boosters became a routinely thing and thankfully I didn’t have as bad a reaction as before but I did have some chronic back pain (that at times still flares up) . I actually found the blood tests (in my arm) before my boosters as daunting as the chemo jabs – weird! Sometimes you really can’t rationalize phobias, they are unexplained and at times irrational but it’s just one of those things.
There was always the worry that, although I was feeling better at any stage I may all of a sudden feel worse and like I did during that first cycle. When the boosters came around each week there was a lot of anxiety that I may have another reaction or may feel so much worse, but like with everything I had to take each day as it came and try to reduce the nervous energy used up on something entirely out of my control!
At the end of the 3rd cycle’s 4 day hospital stint it was worth noting I FLED that hospital. Previously after my 1st and 2nd cycle I had been wheelchaired out much to my frustration (but it was the sensible option, those corridors were long) but not this time. My dad messaged to say he was bringing the wheelchair up and I replied back it would be a waste bringing one as this time it was NOT being used. So as soon as I knew parents were there to pick me up and I flew down those corridors on a par with Usain Bolt completing the 100m sprint whilst carrying a sports bag (on a par, because heck I’d had chemo so I’m being realistic with my exaggeration 😉 ) . Getting out of the hospital was the best feeling, as far as I was concerned that was hopefully the last overnight treatment I would have on the chemo ward, it felt good being out of there!
Part of the reason I’m late writing these updates is because I became quite superstitious, the ups and downs of my diagnosis (where I was told there was no stage 2 spread and then a few days later was informed there was a spread) and the improvement during this 2nd cycle made me feel on edge as this whole process was an unknown. Everything could be estimated and somewhat predicted but there were endless variables due to everyone’s treatment being slightly different and bodies reacting slightly differently. So I very much didn’t want to write too much down and publish it because there was that slight nagging thought ‘what if I I do feel really bad all of a sudden because I wrote about how I’m feeling better’. It’s daft looking back on this because obviously it wouldn’t have made any difference but keeping your ‘head’ strong at all times was very difficult but so crucial. The whole chemo process I found relies upon keeping your body and mind as strong as possible in the times of adversity and uncertainty. It’s not possible to be in control of things and it’s not realistic to be positive about everything at all times, but having a positive mindset and an optimistic outlook certainly helped me a lot. There’s always a lot of negatives with everything In life if you think about them and look for them, but at the same time there’s a million and one positives if you choose to think about them.
I’ve spoken to a lot of people over the last few months. Everyone who spoke to me or got in contact in one way or another played a part in helping me during this process so thankyou for that it really meant a lot during such a stressful time of my life. Knowing there were people ‘there’ was always such a lovely feeling.
I came to the end of my treatment on the 1st of June. My last booster was that day and my CT scan was also booked for that day. The CT scan needed to show sufficient improvement in the size of my node – back to a near normal size.
Node back to normal size = I would be monitored, no further treatment
Node still enlarged a little / same large size = I would need major surgery with a recovery time of around 4-5 months.
The wait for the results on the 2nd of June (thankfully just one days wait) was beyond excruciating! It was very much an all or nothing scenario and the worry that major surgery would be needed was pretty nervy!
Thankfully the call with the results came early (much earlier than I had been told, so much so I had nipped out to put some rubbish in the bin and left my phone in the house so missed the call initially. That’s the last time I put the rubbish out!!) and the scan showed a sufficient reduction in the nodes that they were happy for me to be monitored. PHEW! Absolute relief, the chemo had worked! It took some time for this to really sink in!
I had an appointment with the specialists and cancer team on the 7th June to run through the scan in full and get my 5 year monitoring schedule. It transpired that my node was entirely back to original size, so complete success. Once I had this appointment I think everything really started to hit me that this saga was very much as over as could be. Months of focus on trying to get through each day was no longer a thing I had to focus on and I could start regrouping my thoughts and looking forward to getting myself back on track. Just the best news, which I don’t know how to express other than it was endless relief!
I can be contacted on email@example.com if you want to reach out for any reason, whether it be because you are going through chemo or testicular cancer or want to talk for any reason at all. I’ll monitor the email as often as possible. If in any way this blog can help someone in however small a way then that would be great.