In a way it’s week one as it’s my first week post treatment and the start of post chemo life. However, it’s week two given my Ultra training and the extra mile that I’ve ran this week, taking me to 18.5 miles.
The first week post treatment is always the hardest, the bit we patients remember and fear…the fact I don’t have to do it again is great from the outside but living it is different, difficult.
I feel monstrous, my body alien…sore, sick and uncomfortable. As an extra, you know when your glands are swollen in your throat, that tight and uncomfortable feeling and it’s sensitive to touch – my whole body feels like that. Clothing hurts, touch feels brutal and yet my skin is dry so I’ve got to massage cream in twice a day regardless…dress, live, love regardless.
My last round of Filgrastim injections started Monday evening, administered by my darling man. They boost my white cell count as the chemo starts to badly effect them. Everyone reacts differently to them – I have nosebleeds and a headache that builds from a Tuesday to a Saturday, plus a slow development of pain in my hips up into my back, then also down into my legs. By a Sundays long run it hurts to actually breath but running helps, the endorphins ease the pain and the high after is electric…when that wears off there’s knowing tomorrow the pain will have mysteriously gone…I focus on that – I read that if you focus on the pain you’re feeling hard enough, for long enough, the brain can’t cope and so switches off the receptor. I’ve used the technique when I’ve run and I use it for Filgrastim…for me it works but you literally need to think about the pain and block out everything else. I’m praying I never have to have another one of those injections again though!
I felt at a low ebb as I started the week:
Monday – 4K first day back on my training plan and it felt so good to be out. Lots of little stops, sips of water and tuning in to how I felt. My legs ached but not in an alarm way, they’re just getting back into things.
In the morning I had a hospital appointment with the surgical team. We really didn’t know what to expect, I’d had the appointment letter but knew nothing more and the fact they sat us in the same room as they did 12th July 2018 to tell me my diagnosis, didn’t help nerves one bit. It was such a relief to be told nothing else has been found or is wrong, it was just a thorough check of my scars following surgery in August. To say it drained me physically and emotionally is an understatement, the sigh of relief effect!
Tuesday: Mondays good news gave me wings and I had a fabulous dawn run with a robin and blackbirds singing to me. I was really tired when I got in, drained with no energy in my limbs but felt alive all at once. Although I had a good day it was slightly dulled by how sore my mouth was getting. I’d formed an ulcer on the centre of my bottom lip, plus a few patches along my lower gums and on top of that I still couldn’t taste properly…still a mouth of fuzz! Eating literally was the last thing I wanted…but needed to strengthen me.
Wednesday: Me against me, my body just didn’t feel like it had anything in it and I could easily have not run after the first few footsteps. I did my 4K but felt laboured, tired and my muscles and joints ached…a combination of the last treatment and the Filgrasim kicking in. Mind over matter won and I felt great after.
During the morning I sat in the garden watching a long tailed tit on the feeder while I had a coffee, it was such a treat. The biggest part of the day was the fact I drove to the next village and back to go to the Post Office. My first drive in a week and it completely tired me out. I’m struggling a little from chemo brain and have since cycle four, I noted in the afternoon just how much my focus was off and how hard it was to remember the silly little things well.
Thursday: Determined to run better I ran a slightly slower pace and counted my steps to stay constant. My energy was good throughout and stayed stable all day. I ached but knowing it would worsen before getting better means I channelling it.
It was a beautiful almost spring feeling day, I managed a short drive and a coffee sat out in the sunshine. On getting home it was too nice to stay in so I had a walk up the hill behind the house…without losing my breath!
I realised I could taste things, the fuzz not as bad but jeeze my mouth was sore, my tongue felt cut and my teeth loose.
My Dad had his 3 monthly cancer check up in the afternoon and is still, thankfully, in remission from stage 4 lung cancer…something else to feel grateful for today.
Friday: Although I didn’t pay as close attention to my pacing and just ran my run felt okay, hard at times but then I was only a week post treatment. Thankfully the aches in my body hadn’t worsened and I got home feeling good. Wanting to do something different we went and explored a local patch 10mins from home, part of which was an old railway line. Just under a 3K stroll that found me a brilliant trail to run…always a bonus! Although I was tired in the afternoon I didn’t feel the brain fog tried of the last few days which feels like a massive achievement and step forward.
Saturday: My recovery day but an active recovery day. For the non-runner readers this is a day to rest, keep hydrated and eat well but smart ahead of a long run. The Filgrastim aches had got to the point that I hurt that much in my back and hips it felt uncomfy to do anything. We incorporated a lovely, short, slow stroll into the morning along a local trail route and purposefully took a route that was uphill out and downhill back to test my body, again no breathlessness and walking eased the pain I was in. In spite of which by bed I felt ready body and mind for the morning.
Sunday: Long Run Day!
It’s surprising now how light it is at 6.30am, although I did need my head torch as I went out this morning which scared three blackbirds into mobbing me for a good 300yards!
My run flowed well, three stops and sips of water as I ran…although I should have been stricter to sip more. I felt like I had gas in the tank on finishing, a first on an initial post chemo long run. Now I feel that overly tired feeling but that’s normal for this stage after treatment.
The pain from yesterday is still there but duller, through this coming week and by next weekend my body will be as different again. It’s now time to rest, recovery, refuel and hydrate mindfully.
If there’s one thing to take out of this week it’s the following quote I saw this morning:
“Never allow waiting to become a habit. Live your dreams, take risks, life is happening right now” Paulo Coelho