Mum’s treatment plan was six chemotherapy sessions, each spaced three weeks apart. She started them in January 2017, due to finish in mid-May. We had to attend a chemotherapy workshop beforehand – side effects, dos and don’ts, what to expect etc. It was a lot of information to take in, and we had lots of paperwork, leaflets, and even a cook book called “Recipes for People Affected by Cancer” – most of the recipes were for foods that were really easy to eat so they didn’t put pressure on the mouth and teeth because chemo can make your mouth ulcer and your teeth fall out…cute! We brought all this stuff home and read through it, cover to cover, ten times over. Mum and I knew what to expect…but it still wasn’t easy.
She went in for her first chemo treatment and it went pretty ‘smoothly’ (if that’s the appropriate adjective?). Mum had all of her treatments at the Jigsaw Building at Royal Bournemouth Hospital, which by the way is staffed by angels. She brought her laptop, got her IV line in, had a coffee, sat in the recliner chair for a couple of hours and then came home! She was a bit drained coming home, so had a nap but she was pretty much fine when she woke up.
Mum had asthma all her life, and a couple of days after her first chemo treatment, she started to feel a bit short of breath. It was in one of her special leaflets to alert the chemo clinic if that happened, so I called them and as I was on the phone to them, Mum got worse. In retrospect, I now think she was having a panic attack brought on by the realisation that she was going through chemotherapy. She was seen by paramedics, taken into hospital, stabilised, and brought home.
Two weeks after Mum’s first chemotherapy treatment, she asked me to pamper her and help her feel and look herself before the chemo had the chance to make her look “sick”. Mum was in the bath and called me in, crying, as her hair had started to fall out in her hands. I knelt down alongside the bath and held her as she just sobbed. When she was ready to get out, I dried and styled her hair, did her make up, and took some nice photos of her.
Mum’s treatment was difficult. She got so weak. She got so dependent and was constantly in and out of hospital. There was one incident where she needed to go in to have a blood transfusion before a treatment, as her platelets were too low. Her veins had taken so much that it took three nurses and two doctors to get an IV into her arm. Mum was shaking and crying with pain, I’d never seen her like that and I won’t ever forget that moment. I couldn’t help her. It was arduous and demeaning for my Mum to feel as though she didn’t have independence. I missed her.
My heart ached for her to get better and be my Mum again.