Sunday 29 March 2015

Part 1, Done.

As of Thursday evening I have officially finished my initial course of treatment. I'm now in a position to reflect on the treatment and the effects of it. I've mentioned before how I started feeling sick pretty much instantly, and for the most part that was the only side effect I was dealing with. However, I have sustained a fair bit of hair loss and towards the end I started to develop an itchy rash on my arms and legs as well as patches of burned skin behind my ears. For the most part this was caused by the radiotherapy, but the rash is likely down to the antibiotics I've been taking.

Unfortunately all of this combined means I look like an angry egg with skin problems (see evidence below). I'm also unable to grow more than 60% of a beard which means the only hair I've got on my head at the moment is my eyebrows. It may be the medication talking but I've started thinking about styling my eyebrows to make up for the inability to style anything else. So far the only styles I can come up with are 'traditional' and 'spiked', and I don't think society is ready for the second one, so I might just have to wait for my hair to grow back.

A photo posted by Jamie MacDonald (@thejamiemac) on

On the subject of finishing treatment I'm not completely sure what my next steps will be. I know I have an appointment with my consultant on May 1st where we will discuss the ongoing plan and this will probably consist of a further 6 months of chemotherapy, but this could change depending on how I have responded to what I've had so far.

From a body weight perspective I have dropped to 67kg, while not great I'm still failing my fighting weight so I'll count that as a win. It's definitely better than the puffy faced, steroid induced 74kg I faced a few weeks back!

Over the last few weeks it has been my Father's 70th, my Brother's 23rd and Mother's Day. Although I haven't been in the best shape to do much for these days it has been nice to have a chance to give a bit back to the people that have done the most for me over the last few months. Luckily being pretty much house bound and boring has meant I haven't dipped into my sick pay so could spend a bit on presents for them.

Now I'm off to teach the pup to sit with Happy Feet on in the background. I'm so rock and roll sometimes it hurts.

Saturday 14 March 2015

The Home Straight

As of today I only have one full week of treatment left! Next week I have a full week and the following week I have until Thursday and then I'm done with this stint of radio/chemo.

I can't wait.

Either the radio or the chemo (or a combination of the two) has left me feeling sub-par for the majority of the time since I started treatment. This has been mainly through the constant nausea and occasional sickness but also just feeling tired a lot of the time. In order to combat the nausea I am on my 4th combination of sickness tablets, so it's lucky I'm finishing soon or I'd've gone through every type of anti-sickness tablet known to man.

I also realised today that if I keep going through the Friends box set at my current rate I'll be running out of episodes before treatment finishes. So I'm going to venture out for the rugby this afternoon in an attempt to reduce my FCR (Friends Consumption Rate). Hopefully the nausea will stay away for a few hours so I can successfully manage a couple of hours out of the house that doesn't involve Velindre.

I'll end this short post with a question, when you have a shaved head featuring completely bald patches, do you use body wash on your head or stick to shampoo? One of life's great unanswerables.

Monday 2 March 2015

Hump Week

This week marks the half way point in my treatment. On Wednesday I have my 15th radiotherapy session and will only have 15 left to do. I wish I could say it gets easier to deal with as the weeks go on but at the moment I can't. Since last Sunday I haven't had what I would class as  'good day' until today, even with the extended weekend I was given due to a Friday off while the machines had maintenance. Having said that the 'bad days' aren't exactly terrible, I just feel a bit under the weather, almost as if I am at the tail end of a hangover all the time.

The biggest problem is still my reduced and varying appetite. I almost never fancy food, even when I'm hungry, and in the moments I can face food I never know what will make my stomach turn as it changes from day to day. On the grand scheme of things though I'll take an indecisive appetite and a dodgy stomach.

This has meant that I wasn't feeling a night out over the weekend for the rugby and that in general I've felt a bit crap, although today I woke up feeling bright and ready to do things, I'm starting to think my mood just mirrors the weather as today was one of the rare days where we had some sunshine in the Valleys.

Today I had a field of vision test ready for my appointment with the Opthalmologist this week as well as a radiotherapy appointment and a treatment review so probably for the best that I was having an up day. After 10 minutes of staring at flashing lights it was confirmed that my field of vision is okay and I was off to Velindre for treatment. Just once it would be nice to actually fail a medical test so that I actually had a reason to be in and out of these hospitals all the time.

In my review the Radiologist suggested that it might be beneficial to move the time I take my sickness tablets closer to the time I take my chemo and hope that this helps with the sickness, so I'll be trying it tonight and fingers crossed it provides some relief.

As a post scriptum I was catching up with MSM today and it was mentioned that they are recruiting 5 new graduates this year so I will give it a quick plug here on the off chance that there are any computing graduates reading this and are looking for work next year. I can't fault them as a company and they have been brilliant throughout the time I have been 'sick', and the insurance they have for long term illness is really going to be a life saver over the next few months. You can read more about the vacancies (that range from developer through to sales) here: