Still Life

The effects of chemotherapy are making themselves felt. Imagine the inside of your mouth was incredibly sore with actual ulcers on your tongue and that the sides of your mouth had cracked and split. Yep, that’s me. The real downside of this is that it will happen every 3 weeks as I get my infusions of chemotherapy. I am actually blaming Docetaxel for this side effect as it is usually the culprit. I have had a sore mouth before but have used Blistex to heal it up. Could I find any in the house today? No. Cue a trip to the local shops to buy some but with a stop enroute with our friend Ms Frumin who is taking us to lunch at a new Lebanese restaurant.

West Ealing may be full of charity and pound shops but it is also sprouting lots of new food shops, cafes and restaurants. The Lebanese restaurant is the find of our friends, Mr and Mrs Carter, who discovered it whilst looking for the cafe I normally haunt. We sit down and order Ayran, a Lebanese yoghurt drink with mint in it. It is quite salty but very refreshing. Despite being told the dishes are large, we order 2 side dishes each plus a salad to share and then stuff our faces with some truly sensational food. The saltiness stings my mouth a little but it is worth it for the fantastic flavours. On our way home, we stop at our favourite food shop which sends Ms Frumin into paroxysms of delight as she discovers, amongst other things, bright pink pickled turnips which she buys to brighten up a salad for the weekend. Afterwards we go home and sift through potential houses to buy and she chooses those she thinks are most suitable. It’s a good day, although the stuff I buy for my mouth doesn’t seem to be working so far.

At the moment we’re in a strange place. We just don’t know whether the cancer is controllable or not but after each session, the pain in my osophaegus has increased and then faded away completely so I am taking that as a good sign. There will be no scans until we have maybe 4 sessions under our belt so there might be some change to see. The idea of staying on Docetaxel permanently is not appealing. It was the worst of drugs when I had my previous cocktails and it certainly seems to be doing it’s best/worst with me at the moment. My weeks seem to be like this. I have chemotherapy on a Thursday, feel a bit queasy on Friday, semi-able to do things on Saturday and then slump for several days when even getting out of bed is difficult. I am getting pain in my legs and feet so sometimes being in bed is just the most comfortable thing although it’s dreadfully tedious. By Wednesday, I can stagger out (with supervision) and the rest of the week will continue like this until maybe next week when I will be allowed out on my own. By the weekend before my next chemo is due I will feel reasonably OK although still tired and then, of course, the whole thing starts again. I suspect I am not a good patient, getting bored and whining when I can’t think of anything to do but too tired to do anything really interesting.

Next week, however, there is going to be a brilliant session at the Maggie Centre in London. My friend, Ms Hutchison, is bringing a lot of wooden ‘woobs’ to the centre along with paints and brushes so we can decorate them for an exhibition she is planning. You may remember I had a cast made of my chest last year which was then decorated by a brilliant artist called Skev. Ms Hutchison was the brainchild behind this and she is now moving on to another exhibition which will promote her charity, Hello Beautiful. If you get the chance, do go and look at her website and if you are in the area of Maggie’s on Wednesday 13th, pop into the centre and get creative.

Meanwhile, life carries on with its gentle flow. Mr Mason is busy painting anything that moves and I am busy putting my hands on freshly painted surfaces. It keeps us amused. We are not planning anything beyond a visit to see Mr and Mrs Hurley in a couple of weeks and a couple of nights in a Lincolnshire hotel in September. Thank you to everyone who phones, texts and emails. I am sorry that I don’t reply to each of them but it’s very good to hear from you. My voice is still not great and I’m not always up to speaking a lot so please don’t be offended if I turn down your offers to visit or go out somewhere. My energy is really limited and talking just sends my voice away completely. It’s a pain. Even Dog won’t listen to my commands. Surprisingly I am still managing to work a little. Quite a few offers come in during the Summer and my clients are good enough to know they must shell out for a taxi in order to have the pleasure of my company so it seems churlish to turn them down. Tomorrow I am going for a meeting at Guy’s Hospital with a team who are busy creating a hand-held PET scanner so that live pathology can be done in an operating theatre for women who have breast cancer. The scanner will be able to scan the wound site, too, to see if there are any rogue cells left behind. It is an amazing invention, still being tested and I am really pleased to be asked to be involved in the planning and monitoring of the trial. And it’s really good to feel I am still useful, even in my depleted state.

2 thoughts on “Still Life

  1. Nystatin is the creation of the Devil, Sue! I used it before when I got thrush in my mouth but I’m trying to just use Difflam this time as a prophylactic. It’s not working well, though, so Nystatin might be next on my list. I can barely speak today, my mouth is so full of sore patches and ulcers. I used hydrocortisone on the splits at the side of my mouth and that seems to be healing up. We become experts in what works and what doesn’t xx

  2. Have you tried Nystatin. Think that’s how you spell it. It’s on prescription and I was given but when the chemo left my mouth and throat unbearably sore during chemo.
    Keep on keeping on Shelley x

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