There was an upside to chemo. Yep, really, and quite a big one! I got to sit in the car with the window right down so that I could stick my head fully out of it as we drove along. It was something I had never been allowed to do in the past. I loved it! Of course I wasn’t so keen about the nausea part. I never vomited but I came close once so mum learned to drive a lot more responsibly to make it more comfortable for me. And she let me keep sticking my head out the window even when chemo was finished!
I did six doses of Carboplatin, nominally three weeks apart although a couple of times were delayed by one week due to low WBC count. It did make me a little bit tired and nauseous and I got a little bit of diarrhoea but symptoms generally only lasted for one to three days (except for the car nausea which was with me all the time I was doing chemo and a tendency to be a bit pickier with my food).
I started chemo two weeks after my amputation. I was still staying with dad so we met mum at the hospital. I was absolutely ecstatic to see mum, smothering her in wet kisses and rubbing against her looking lovingly and intently into her eyes telling her “please look after me Mum. I know something isn’t right and I trust you to make sure I am looked after. I adore you Mum.” Mum says this look had some uncomfortable similarities to the look I was giving her in my last days.
The oncologist initially wanted to put me on Doxyrubicin because there was a small chance that I had hemangiosarcoma and not osteosarcoma and the final test results were still not available. But, after finding my heart function to be a little below normal (don’t know why and we had bigger things to worry about than to explore that one any further at the time) he opted for Carboplatin.
Some observations to share from my chemo experience ….
– I loved going to see the oncologist for the first couple of treatments. I always got lots of cuddles and treats. But, from chemo no. 3. I started becoming more reluctant to go out the back with the nurse. Mum had to accompany me.
– When it came to chemo no.6 I didn’t even want to go into the oncology building at all, just the building where I lost my leg. That wasn’t near as scary as the oncology building. I’d had enough of chemo. Although, once there was no getting out of it I made the most of it and turned on my charm, gifting the staff with lots of my famous smiles.
– Mum was a bit slow to pick up on my nausea but when she did the anti-nausea tablets soon did the trick.
– Between chemo no. 4 and no. 5 I became a lot more clingy and I also had some episodes of bad breath that the vets couldn’t explain. Mum wonders if it was pain??
– Mum never gave me any bones while I was doing chemo but she gave me a pig’s ear once. I vomited and got diarrhoea. She felt like a very bad mum when she realised it was not the smartest thing to have given me.
– The 5th and 6th chemo treatments were the hardest. They knocked me around the most. But, having said that, it was after chemo no.5 that I got the chance to go to the river and beach and I sure didn’t let it slow me down there (more about that another time).
I was one of the lucky ones with chemo, my quality of life was still pretty good although there is no denying that I had become a little fearful of the oncology centre by the end of the treatment (even though I was all smiles once mum had gone). This bothered my mum a lot but on balance she still feels it was worth doing the chemo. She had been told that I would only get 4 to 6 months without chemo instead of 10 to 12 months with it. In the end I only got 8 months. But still, if we hadn’t given chemo a go mum would always have wondered and knowing my mum she would have been having lots of nasty regrets, lots of “what ifs” and “if onlys”. She already has enough of them to torture herself without adding to the list.
Even though my lungs were clear at amputation that nasty cancer was already growing and spreading through my body. But we think the chemo slowed it up a little bit and gave us more quality time together than we would have had without it. It was the right decision for us and our particular journey.