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  • Writer's pictureOC Warrior Queen

Halfway Through The Storm

Yesterday, I had chemo 3 of 6!


The night before chemo, I was sitting by the fire, soaking in all the warmth and harnessing all the energy it had to offer!


As I was staring into the dancing flames and getting hypnotized by them, a beautiful scene describing how I felt started to paint itself in my mind.



I am a very visual person and think in metaphors to make sense of life.


I’d like to share the mental images I painted with you.


Through The Mist

The scene opens up with a view from high above, as if peeping through the clouds, looking down at a large body of water, maybe an ocean.


It's daytime, it’s a little foggy and a little stormy, not too intense but just enough to feel a constant sense of uncertainty.


The view now zooms in closer to the surface of the water. There is a small wooden paddle boat, and I am the only person on it. I have long beautiful hair and I’m wearing a white summer dress. I am calmly paddling, and looking around to ensure that I stay afloat amidst the storm.


Can you see it? Is your mind painting the picture as you are reading this? I hope so! Ok, let's go back to our scene...


In this moment I realize that I didn’t need to be a hero or a loud warship, as I initially thought back in March when I got my diagnosis.


No, it’s me and my little wooden boat, and my mission is simply to hang on through the storm.


Like every other day, I was paddling along until suddenly I sensed that something was different. Far in the distance, through the mist, I could see something. A light that would come and go, like a lighthouse showing me the way to land. And I could hear a faint sound of fanfare and celebration.


I rose my hand to my brows and squinted my eyes to see better.


What is that I see there in the distance?


It’s land my friends! It’s land!

All those who love me are there, waving and cheering to give me the motivation to keep paddling.


I smile and laugh out of joy because it’s a sign that I am half way there!


My Journey, My Boat

A note about the boat and why I am alone.


The boat is really my body and I am hanging on to it and working with it to make sure we make it safely to shore. I have tools on board like chemotherapy, and bottles and boxes filled with love and support sent my way from friends and family.


The storm and ocean represent the unknown of what could lie beneath under the ocean or what other storms could appear during the next half of the journey.


When I shared this imagery with some friends, some of them responded with “I am there with you on that boat!”


To that I say NO. You are not!

And that’s ok because you can’t be.


The fact of the matter is that you are not my body, nor my mind, and you can’t experience this storm the way I am experiencing it.


You see the storm from a distance, and you experience it's presence perhaps when I cross your mind, but it is not a 24/7, constant, omnipresent storm like it is for me.


And again, that is ok because I don’t want you to be on the boat with me, and I don't want you to experience the storm as I do. That would be as if I were wishing you had cancer too. It's not a nice boat lol! Trust me!


I prefer you on the island, safe and sound.

I don’t need my friends and family to experience what I am experiencing in order to support me, and cheer me on. I need you to be on the island, sending me love, a shoulder, a call, some help here and there so that I can focus on navigating through the storm.


Stay on the island, and call at me so that I can find my way to you. Throw a life jacket, or shine a light.



Round 3

Two days before each round of chemotherapy, I go in to get my bloodwork done to see how my body is coping.


Just as it happened last time, before chemo 2, my platelets and white blood cells were too low for chemo 3. And so, once again, my session was delayed by a week—it was supposed to be on the 19th.


This time, the team decided to tweak down the dose of both chemotherapy drugs: carboplatin and taxol. They also prescribed Lapalga to boost my white blood cell production. It's the same molecule as the one I mentioned in my last post after round two of chemo, but this time I don't have to take an injection for 7 days! This time, it's a one-day shot because the medicine is designed to stay longer in the body.


I also decided to get the auto-injector this time to see if I'll be able to inject myself instead of asking Alex to stab his wife lol! I'm just curious to see if it'll be easier.


Side Effects

Chemotherapy hasn't been too cruel to me, well at least not when it comes to the more noticeable side effects, apart from hairloss!


Over the last few months, other than mild stomach cramps, fatigue once in a while, and some numbness in my finger tips and toes that comes and goes, it's all been relatively easy to manage.


I do notice though that I get itchy on my face for the first couple of days, but if I chug down a glass of water, the rash goes away 15-20 minutes later.


I can't stress enough how important water has been and continues to be on this crazy cancer journey! It is truly a miraculous gift of life!


Being neutropenic, i.e. having a low white blood cell count, is definitely the biggest side effect because it makes me extra vulnerable to catching a bug and having a harder time fighting it. I definitely noticed it when I realized I had 2 to 3 eye infections from wearing eyeliner over the last few months. Something that happened to me maybe once every 3-5 years!


The thing is, this is a tricky side effect because you don't really feel any different until you catch something. It doesn't affect my energy levels or make me feel weaker. I feel normal, which is dangerous because it can lead me to believe that I am fine to go here and there and party like it's 2009!


I spoke to one of the cancer centre's pharmacist yesterday and asked her to remind me and give me real world examples of what I can and cannot do when I am neutropenic. How much of life do I need to tone down?


Can I hug?

Can I go eat at a restaurant?

Can I eat sushi?

Can I swim in my pool?

Can I lick the floor?


Ok, the last one is a joke, but you get the point!


I was pleasantly surprised to hear that I can do most of these things, as long as I use common sense. For instance, a side hug is ok, as long as the person isn't showing signs of a cold. And yes, I can eat at a restaurant, but sushi is going to have to wait. And yes, I can swim in my pool as long as Alex keeps an eye on it, which he does!


And I think I could probably lick the floor if I really wanted to. I'd just have to make sure to do it right after dousing it in Lysol, I guess! Lol!


As soon as I got of the call, I ran upstairs with the same energy as my youngest son, Kaleb, who is 4 years old, and frantically looked for a bathing suit, ran back down, and jumped in my pool!



It felt awesome to splash around! But what was even sweeter was the look on my children's faces. They were so happy that their mama could join them for a swim. A priceless moment that I will cherish forever.


It's in moments like these that you realize that young kids might not understand the depth of what's going on, but they are definitely impacted by the dose of energy we're able to give them. It's as if they get used to my low energy, and then when I do have more to give, they are so happy, surprised, excited and ecstatic to receive it! It's like giving them a gift every time. They are such precious little beings, and I love them so much.


It was the first time this summer that I jumped in my pool with my kiddos and it sure is not going to be the last!


That's all for now folks! I've got 10 minutes left before my time references in this post expire! I feel like cinderella!


Good Night, Sweet Dreams! See you later.


My journey continues! I'm paddling along.


Alvina,

OC Warrior Queen


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