You know I posted last week about the Mysteriously Tender Breasts? Well, not so mysterious, as it happens…. PMT. (I know. D’oh. In fairness to me, this is my second period since March 2009, and I’m not supposed to be having periods anyway, because I am simultaneously having a medical sodding menopause. I know. You couldn’t make it up.)
Anyway, I was searching PMT on the blog, and I found this post from September 2009, which reminded me that It Could Be Worse. (I’d completely forgotten about being cold all the time. And the sinus thing.)
Herceptin isn’t cheap, as you probably know – in fact, as I’ve mentioned before, it comes in at around £3000 per dose. It’s made up for specific patients (calibrated to body weight) and has a short, short shelf life.
So, when you are being treated with herceptin, you are asked to ring the unit the day before your treatment is due, to confirm that you are well (a term taken under advisement by oncology patients, obviously) and that you will be coming in. Which seems fair enough.
My next treatment is tomorrow, Monday, so I had to ring the day unit on Friday to confirm that I would be coming in, because, as we all know, no-one has cancer at the weekend.
So I called the unit at 9am and said I would be coming in on Monday.
And then it started to happen. As the day went on, my mood darkened. I felt cross and a little bit teary. I struggled to settle to anything, although eventually I found that – yes, you’ve guessed it – knitting seemed to take the edge off. (Just to be sure, I combined it with catching up on The Tudors
. Gloriously, unhistorically watchable.)
Yesterday, I spent much of the day batting away questions about whether I was OK from the family, and then an hour in the bath with a Philippa Gregory
novel that still failed to cheer me up. (I seem to be finding a theme to my being-less-miserable strategies: no matter how bad life is, at least I’m not married to Henry VIII.)
Alan came in to see how I was doing and I burst into tears. I realised that as soon as I book for herceptin, it plunges me into misery. (I had a big cry the night before the last one as well. I was like a child at the end of summer: “I don’t want to go back. I don’t want to goooo…”)
Yes, my friends, I am suffering from PHT. Pre-Herceptin Tension.
I can’t work out why I resent it so much – because it is resentment, more than anxiety, that I am awash with. I’ve come up with a whole host of possibilities.
2. Half a day in hospital.
3. Bringing back old memories of chemotherapy.
4. A three weekly reminder that I am not as well as I think I am.
5. Sore sinuses, sore nose, cold all the time, aches and pains.
6. Because herceptin is meant to keep cancer from recurring, rather than destroying the previous one, it suggests to me on some level that cancer is not done with me, nor I with cancer.
7. I have to do this every three weeks for a year.
I’m trying to counter these thoughts.
1. It’s better than a PICC line.
2. It’s largely uninterrupted knitting/reading time.
3. I can measure, in my physical health and mental state, how far I have come since the dark days of chemo. And, by being there and being well, I can show others that their chemo journey will end too.
4. I am well. I’m just taking preventative measures.
5. The side effects are manageable.
6. I’m just humouring the medical profession.
7. Some people dancing with cancer would give their eyes to be in the position that I am in.
But somehow, this reframing isn’t working. I am grumpy and resentful and low when I want to be gracious and grateful.
Alan has suggested I go back to see Gosia
at The Haven
, and I think that’s a good idea. (You can read about how she helped me before, here
Until then, I will try to play nice. And remember that it could be worse – I could be Anne Boleyn.