The third first impression

Greetings from the bathroom floor. It seems this third cycle of chemo is presenting itself with that most stereotypical of side effect — nausea. I’ve just been hanging out here, dry-heaving for the last 45 minutes. Thought I’d dodged it. Woke up at 9 feeling alright, with that mild hangover-y feeling you get from chemo. Grabbed the dog, went to Cherry Bomb for a coffee, wandered around High Park for two hours until I started to feel a bit ill. Thought eating something could stop the nausea from creeping up, so I came home and ate some of the cereal and berries my upstairs neighbour left me on the landing for breakfast. It didn’t help. (Funny thing about chemo-related nausea — sometimes eating helps. Yesterday, when I was actually getting chemo, I grazed all day. Grazed and napped, grazed and napped. Whenever I started to feel queasy, I’d eat a bit and feel better. Not so today.) The very first time I did chemo in 2003, there was no nausea, just a leaden fatigue that put me to bed for a few days. The second first chemo in 2011 sent me to the hospital with a perforated bowel less than 24 hours after it was completed. This start to things is far less dramatic, even with the dry heaving.

I’m back in bed now. The cats are flanking me which is nice because I’ve been struck with the chills and they’re warming me up. I went to chemo myself yesterday. I spend the day in and out of sleep, so it doesn’t make sense to have someone there the whole time. Jodi came in the afternoon and crawled into bed with me and snuggled for a bit, then sat on a chair and read while I lay somewhere between conscious and unconscious, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of Benadryl. When we would chat, words that weren’t words slipped out of my mouth and sentences were more meandering than mapped. On the drive home (Natasha, from upstairs, picked me up), I played the animal game with Finn, who is four. I had a hard time remembering from one moment to the next which letter we were on or whose turn it was.

I’m not doing the clinical trial. I came back negative for the p53 mutation, so I’m just sticking the standard treatment. I was talking to the newest oncologist to join my team — he’s also a researcher, which is great — he was talking about my cancer and how even though my recurrences have been classified as “aggressive” (unlike the first diagnosis, which was low-grade), it doesn’t behave like an aggressive cancer. This is in my favour.

The Celexa I added to the Wellbutrin I already take has finally settled in. It is amazing. My anxiety has been squished right down and only rears up from time-to-time. I met a gentleman on the street a couple of days ago who was put on Celexa when he was diagnosed with cancer six years ago. It was amazing, he said, I felt like I was flying. I eventually had to get off. It feels good, but it’s not real, you know what I mean?

I do know what he means, but frankly, I don’t think it is any more real to go through your days crippled by anxiety, dogged by despair. The drugs don’t make me happy, they burn off the fog and let me see what makes me happy.


76 days


About Alicia Louise

I'm a writer, editor, fact checker, storyteller, events organizer, chronically busy yet endlessly lazy, mildly neurotic (though I keep the neuroses well-hidden, one hopes) 32-year-old with recurrent ovarian cancer. I like people and good writing and straight talk. I have a hard time feeling sorry for people, including myself, but the people that I love, I love passionately; one may even say creepily. I try to keep that mostly to myself. I'd like to be charming, but I'm usually just a mess. I'm like a gull slamming into your windshield.
This entry was posted in chemo days, Indignities of the human body, psychosocial oncology, Second recurrence and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The third first impression

  1. I’m amazing you managed to write a post during the dry-heave spell. What a trooper! It’s really impressive. Isn’t it fascinating how our blogs – the writing of the blogs, and the sharing online – can bring so much comfort? For me, it’s like putting the experience ‘out there’ so there is less ‘in here’ with me.
    Good luck in your recovery.


  2. Linda says:

    Thank you for sharing. Thinking of you.

  3. Elaine and Mal says:

    Thanks Alicia -we are thinking of you every day ———

  4. ulrike says:

    fühl dich umarmt und gedrückt
    die besten wünsche für dich.

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