Saturday, December 10, 2011

Home is wherever I'm with you ...

I’ll go into the details of my diagnosis later, but first I want to bring people up to speed to what is happening now. I’ve reached the end of the London leg of my journey, and maybe I will look back at that part as the hardest, but most life-affirming bit of the whole experience. It’s hard to say yet, I know I’ve got a hard road ahead of me, but at least I know now what I have to do.

So, in a nutshell, chemo sucks. It’s like a really bad hangover, but without the really fun ‘night before’ part. But I am well-acquainted with hangovers so I guess I’m the best equipped I can be to deal with it all. After a bit of a rough week, I am now on Day 14 of my chemo and things are finally on the up. The last week has been full of: impromptu nana naps, nausea and vomit (including one very public roadside spew – shamefully not the first time this has happened in my life, haha), paracetamol-defying headaches and just a general weak, crap feeling. The extreme fatigue means I haven’t been able to do much (a nice excuse to get out of housework!), but this is rather frustrating for someone who is very independent and not used to doing so little. Living in a shoebox room in a London share house in the middle of winter hasn’t exactly made it easier. During my first days of sickness I was also an emotional wreck (I spent most of Thursday sobbing into my boyfriend Matt’s shoulder, “I’m going to miss you soooo much!”) as I think I simply wasn’t emotionally prepared for feeling so helpless. Everything just hit me so hard.

Blood tests on Monday showed I was neutropenic (sounds like a name for a band or album). This meant my neutrophils, the most important kind of white blood cell, were dangerously low, leaving me susceptible to infection. To ensure my white cell count is as high as it can be for my flight on Saturday, the doctor prescribed me a hormone that would give the cells an artificial boost throughout the week. It’s administered by injection but I didn’t fancy stabbing myself in the shoulder or abdomen, so I’ve left that to the professional, namely my brother Doctor Sam (who arrived here from Australia last Saturday). The injections have been working so I guess Sam passed that test!

But every cloud has its silver lining, and I’ve finally come to my reward. Yesterday I saw my London oncologist for what will be the last time. An X-ray revealed that the lump in my chest is now a smaller lump. The doc said he was ‘very happy with the response’. My blood tests showed my white cell count had jumped from 1.3 to 4.6 (go white cells go!) in three days. The doctor said he had no problem with me getting on that plane on Saturday, and seemed reassured by the fact I would be travelling with a doctor, even if he has only been a doctor for a week.

So I am coming home! Finally! It’s probably going to be the most horrible 24-hour flight of my life but it’s going to deliver me to the people that matter to me more than anything in the world. I’m at peace with leaving London; I feel I have unfinished business here and I know I will miss the place and the people in it, but it will always be there to go back to. It’s just so much more important to be around my family right now.

It’s Friday today and I’m feeling pretty good. Tonight is my last night in London, which will be spent with the many awesome people I’ve met here along the way. It’s six degrees today and will be five tomorrow, which makes it easier to leave … Australian summer, I'm ready!


  1. Congratulations Beth! Come Home! Good luck with the flight. Thinking of you. Let me know if you need anything when you get to Melbs.

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