The good news is that I’ve started cycle two of my chemotherapy. I was afraid to write about it earlier, in case I couldn’t write. I had no idea of what way I was going to be. Tim dropped me in on that first morning, giving me a tight hug. He was not allowed in. The porter took me to St Bernadette’s Ward in the Bons Secours Hospital. I was terrified.
My consultant oncologist, Dr Deirdre O’Mahony, arrived with some of her team. She is an amazing doctor with a fabulous bedside manner who prefers to be called Deirdre.
“I’ve good news from your PET scan. The node in your chest may not be cancer.”
This meant that the spread of the cancer may be confined to the leiomyosarcoma tumour under my arm. In other words, I had a better prognosis than before and surgery was now an option. I now had real hope. There were more tears as I relayed this news to my nearest and dearest.
Then, it was time to start the chemotherapy. The oncology nurses, dressed in gowns and gloves, prepared the infusions of the chemotherapy drugs – checking, again and again, my name, date of birth, hospital number and expiry dates on the medicines that were made up for me only. I realised how toxic they were. The list of side effects informed me. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced fear like that before. I wondered if I would I be able to get through the cycle. Would I be able to tolerate the medicine? The new hope helped my resolve. Still, every inch of my body was taut as the first dose of doxorubicin – a red liquid – entered my body. The second one, Ifosfamide, would take several hours with other supporting drugs. I was in hospital for four days, and will be for each cycle.
I went home with an exhaustion that is absolutely indescribable. You do a little bit and just have to lie down and rest. It consumed me.
Each day brings different symptoms. I had significant brain fog and felt quite disorientated for a few days and unsteady on my feet. I had real trouble keeping warm at night.
Yet, one day followed another and I got through them. Week three dawned, and my head cleared. It was such a relief. I could trust myself again. I had a lovely week being taken out to lunch to The Village Deli and Café at Ravens Court Garden Centre. The food is scrumptious with a great quirky menu and wonderful toasties. It’s only a mile down the road and my bed wasn’t too far away. The garden centre, run by the Murphy family, and gift shop are there for a browse, too. My garden is filled with their plants collected over many years.
We went out for my birthday to one of our favourite restaurants, Bacco Ristorante Italiano in Ballincollig. I was pampered. It is an authentic Italian restaurant with plenty of other Mediterranean and European dishes on offer. Diarmuid loves pizza and orders a Margherita every time. Emiliano, the head chef, has great banter with Diarmuid, as does Met, the waiter and front of house man, about his order. They gave him a beautiful chocolate dessert after his transplant. Diarmuid was thrilled with the attention.
Here I am on day three of my chemotherapy. I am doing OK! I’m so proud of them at home; especially Tim. A few weeks back, my friend Betty came with a big lasagne. It disappeared into the freezer. Tim informed me: “I’m keeping that for the silage men.” I told Betty. She said, “I hope it’s good enough.”
Feeding the silage men and contractors is a nice thing to do. COVID-19 is finished. We can go back to these traditions. Tim rang late last night. He had served the lasagne with chips and garlic bread. He’d bought doughnuts and apple tart for dessert and Pat Murphy and his men had cleaned their plates.
One of the men, Andrew Barter, and his wife had a baby boy, so that was celebrated around the kitchen table. 100ac of silage has been cut in Woodside and outside support blocks with about 65ac going into the pit. 35ac was made into good-quality bales. These will be the buffer for the summer drought that might come. I missed being there.