BEP Cycle 3 Day 21

Monday 5 August 2019

As it was the last day of cycle 3 (and indeed the last day of my entire chemo schedule!), I had hoped that I would have been feeling as good and active as on the last days of cycles 1 & 2. However, I was actually very tired and had some feelings of sickness as well. I’d woken quite early and couldn’t get back to sleep which didn’t help. I ended up staying in bed for most of the day and napped a fair amount.

So the last day of my nine weeks of chemo was not that exciting, but it was great to have the girls back from Finland and spend some time with them, and Pia made some excellent roast potatoes for lunch (home grown potatoes) and a really good mushroom risotto for dinner.

Cycle 3 had been much tougher than cycles 1 & 2. Side effects had tended to be stronger and I had a lot more tiredness and sickness. I was very glad that I didn’t have to start another cycle and hoped that all the drugs I’d loaded into my system over the past couple of months were having the desired effect.

Here’s a quick recap of what I’d experienced during cycle 3:
– Tiredness was more intense and more common than in previous cycles and I’d been sleeping a lot more
– Headaches were still occasional, but stronger than previously
– Feelings of sickness had become regular and I’d been taking Metoclopramide for it most days
– I’d had some proper nausea this cycle, though I’d not vomited at any point
– Bouts of tinnitus had been longer and stronger, but didn’t cause me any real bother
– I had a slightly raised temperature after having Bleomycin on day 9, which I’d also experienced in the two previous cycles, but my temperature didn’t exceed 38C
– As per cycles 1 & 2, I lost my voice a little a couple of days after my inpatient stay, but it was not as obvious as on cycle 1
– The heavy feeling in my chest had gotten worse, but I was still able to breathe normally
– The cough I’d developed during cycle 2 had gotten progressively worse and I was struggling to get through anything more than a short sentence without having to cough
– The nerve-like pain in the back of my right forearm and wrist disappeared after my PICC line was removed
– I’d not had any further discomfort in my right upper arm, so I imagined that the blood thinning injections must have been doing their job. The downside of the injections was that they were less comfortable to administer than the Filgrastim shots, and I was getting a very bruised, swollen and lumpy belly.
– The stinging in my urethra had continued unabated and felt quite bad more frequently. I was trying not to let it bother me, but it was not exactly easy to ignore.
– My eyebrows had been gradually thinning out and although I’d not lost them, it was clear towards the end of cycle 3 that they were nothing like the dark bushy brows that I usually had. Likewise my eye lashes had thinned out significantly and there were some gaps of up to around 6 mm between some individual lashes.
– The nails on my thumbs, index and middle fingers were noticeably discoloured and ridged. It was sore to press on or pull with the finger tips, so there were a number of simple tasks like opening tub lids which became difficult. The finger tips were not numb or tingling though, which is what some people experience towards the end of a BEP chemo schedule.
– I’d had some unusual and sudden chest pain which I didn’t know the cause of
– I’d found it increasingly more difficult to be out in the sun on hot days. Even being in a car when it was hot outside was quickly tiring and uncomfortable.

Cycle 3 had been rough and I was glad to have gotten through it. With my full chemo schedule now over, I was ready to start rebuilding and repairing. It was great to be at this point. I didn’t know how long it would take to start feeling normal again, but I’d take each day as it comes.

BEP Cycle 3 Day 13

Sunday 28 July 2019

I felt ok waking up in the morning. However, when I got out of bed and leaned forward to pick something up from the floor, I had a sudden and unusual pain in the centre-left area my chest, radiating up towards my left shoulder. I’d not felt anything quite like that before and was initially distressing. It eased up after a bit, but for a short while I found that I could recreate the pain, to a degree, by making a similar movement. I was breathing fine and didn’t feel notably bad in any other way. I decided to take it pretty easy all day and to call my oncology team’s emergency number if the issue persisted. Fortunately it didn’t.

It was a lovely sunny day outside, warm but not too hot. We let all three chickens out into the garden. The Cochins stuck together and mooched around pecking at things. At one point we noticed one of them peck a bumble bee straight from a plant. Later, one of them had found a large worm. I sat on the ground for a while watching them. They came close to me a few times but were not quite brave enough to eat from my hand. Lucy chased them every now and then, showing that she’s in charge.

The new Cochins, looking around the garden

Our greenhouse gets a bit shady during the second half of the afternoon, so we took some of the potted plants out into the open to soak up some sun for a few hours. We also needed to attend to a few of them, notably tomatoes and cucumbers, that were not holding to their stakes very well. Pia also planted a few trays of seeds to get started, including beetroot and beans. Once they’ve germinated and reached a reasonable size, we’ll transfer them to the garden.

For dinner we wanted to make Gallo Pinto, or rice and beans, Costa Rican style. When we visited Costa Rica in 2006, this was served as part of almost every meal and it is delicious. The secret ingredient is a sauce called Salsa Lizano. This is not really available outside of Costa Rica and even if it was, some of the ingredients on the label can be a bit off-putting (MSG, etc.). We found a recipe online that attempts to make something equivalent to Salsa Lizano, but with fresh ingredients, so we tried that. We boiled some black beans, that had been soaked overnight, and cooked some rice. We then combined them with celery, red pepper, garlic, onion and our sauce. It came out nice! It wasn’t exactly like we remembered, but it was pretty good. I think we’ll need to return to Costa Rica to experience the authentic flavour again, but at least we have a good home made alternative.

I didn’t get any more of the morning’s chest pain during the day. I still had a heavy feeling in the chest and a cough, which had persisted for weeks, which I presumed to be due to Bleomycin, but that was different. My breathing was all fine and I’d taken it easy enough during the day that I’d not worn myself out too much, so all in all I felt that I was doing ok.