First day of chemotherapy

Yesterday was my first chemotherapy session.. It wasnt that bad!! I’m still alive and i am so happy.. I am finally receiving  treatment.. I am on the road to getting better.. I will beat cancer!!!


In total it lasted just over four hours.. before starting the chemotherapy i had a drip which had steroids and anti-sickness medication to help me tolerate the treatment better..


I had four chemotherapy drugs each one was run separetly and i was closely monitored for any serious reactions (as it was my first time being intoxicated with these drugs!).

The chemotherapy drips were always covered by a black bag.. I forgot to ask why.. But will ask next time.. It could be that the medication reacts with light?

The first three were okay.. I actually didn’t feel much.. However the fourth drug (Vinblastine) stung.. It felt like acid was running in my veins but i had a lot of distraction from my family which helped me get through it! One of the drugs is orange in colour.. Looking at it go through my vein made me think “seriously woman what are you letting into your body”.. It just looks toxic! I think i preferred the chemo drug which stung over the orange one..


Four hours was a long time to kill.. Other than innocently spying/eavesdropping (which ever sounds better!)  on other patients around me, i found it hard to focus on anything.. I’m quite a fidgety person.. As a doctor i just can’t help speculating what cancers the patients around me have.. You can tell everyone is at a different stage in their treatment.. I was the “newbie” who had broken the rule of ‘one visitor per patient’ and got three much to everyones horror (mum, fiance and younger sister).. I guess its a arab thing.. We are definitely that annoying family who just cant follow simple rules! It takes me back to when my dad was hospitalised after his road traffic accident in 2013.. He was in there for months.. and our family and friends took over the ward.. it was so embarassing.. The visitors room became our family living room.. I can swear the team looking after him were so glad when he was discharged.. As a doctor i have met such families and friends.. lets be honest they are never anyones favourite! But it’s hard as a healthcare proffessional, patient and a relative.. Healthcare proffessionals just want to get on with their job and they have to apply the same rules to everyone, relatives are super anxious and feel obliged to be by their loved ones bedside, and patients feel guilty because they are the cause of all this!

Anyway.. Back to the patients around me.. You can tell the experts who know where everything is and have come fully prepared with ipads/laptops and headphones, cleverly passing time by watching a movie.. Then you have the ones who are super anxious, holding the hands of their loved ones with their eyes closed.. it makes you wander if they have had a bad experience with chemo.. we are all different individuals, we all share one thing.. We have cancer and are in need of toxic chemotherapy!

Enough waffling.. Me and my sister decided to try and be artistic so we started colouring in this book.. Didn’t last long.. But somehow time passed! 

After my chemotherapy finished i got to go home! I was sent home with a goody bag.. Lots more medication.. My respect for patients just grows every day.. How do they manage so many tablets!! I can barely remember to do simple things! Some of these tablets i take more than once a day.. 


And.. I was given a chemotherapy book.. I am a proper patient check me out! I have to carry this with me to appointments..


When i got home i felt absolutely fine.. To begin with.. about an hour or so later i had some slight nausea and felt drained like someone had sucked the life out of me.. So i slept and slept and slept..

Today i have been fine.. I even went out for a bit! 

However i have been warned that the effects of chemotherpay kick in day 7-10.. So thats in five days time.. I am staying positive.. Okay enough chemo talk.. Time for some much needed rest..

But first:

I can not thank everyone for all the support i have received.. I am so touched..

Here are some of the flowers i received: 


PET scan result..

Not long left till i leave to go to the hospital for my first chemotherapy session.. However i had to share this first..

I just recieved a phone call from my consultant who gave me the result of my PET scan!! It was discussed in a meeting yesterday and they can now confirm my staging has not changed.. I am still a stage 2B.. The PET scan did not show any evidence of cancer below my diaphragm.. All the cancer in my lymph nodes are above my diaphragm.. My cancer is in the lymph nodes of my neck, both breasts, under my armpits, around my heart and lung.. Even though the disease above my diaphragm is “extensive” my staging does not change which is excellent news!!!!!

I am so happy.. Perfect timing for a boost of positivity before going into hospital today!

My PET scan will be repeated in 2-3 months to see if the disease has responded to the chemotherapy, if its the same or if its spread further.. Till then i will focus on my chemotherapy..

Before i head off to get ready i had to post this adorable gift i got in the post from one of my closest friends.. I feel like a child in a candy shop!

Preparing for the ‘Big day’

I’d like to say the ‘big day’ is my wedding.. But unfortunately no.. Thats out the window.. Well for a year at least..

My new ‘big day’ is the first day of starting my treatment.. My chemotherapy! I never imagined there would be a day when i would be telling people about how excited i am at starting chemotherapy.. But when your faced with dealing with my symptoms and having rough days, just the idea of recieving a treatment that will take my symptoms and maybe worries away is appealing..

My chemotherapy is starting in 2 days time!!! 

Today i went into hospital for some blood tests to check all is well before i start my chemotherapy.. 

I also had an injection called Zoladex.. This is to help protect my ovaries whilst i am on chemotherapy.. Oh my lord the needle used to give this injection is huge.. I was so shocked.. Its wide and long.. Next time i will take a picture to show you.. I’ll be having this injection monthly! 

Whilst on the topic of fertility.. This weekend I completed my ‘pre chemotherapy fertility preservation’.. After 2 weeks of injecting myself daily and having a minor procedure I can thankfully say that is now out of the way.. It was quite an exhausting day yesterday which has left me run down and therefore I choose not to focus on it..

Now back to the real talk!! I cant believe I am a hand stretch away from starting my treatment.. I have mixed feelings.. Part of me is looking forward to the road of getting well.. but I am so nervous and anxious about what comes with the chemotherapy.. What if I begin to feel more sick than I already am.. At least I can walk about now.. I’m dreading the thought of nausea and vomiting.. Now I know I should be thinking positively but I am well aware that chemotherapy is not pleasant.. What if it doesnt work.. 

My fiance has flown in to be by me for my chemotherapy so thats made me massively happy! My chemo buddy.. I don’t know what I would do without him as well as my family.. Everything is so much easier when you have people around you to support you.. It takes the edge off

As there are quite a few restrictions on what I can do and eat whilst on chemo I’ve decided to try and make the most of these last few days, all within the limit of my capability.. I don’t have half the energy I had before so I can only go out locally.. So I went on a last pre-chemo date with my fiance.. We traded in our preferred high end Indian Restaurant “Veeraswamy” in Mayfair for a local burger shop “Two Buns” in Harrow.. this allowed us to stay close to home and i could wear my comfy flats rather than my tight fitting stiletto Louboutins! We then headed to Vue in Harrow to watch a movie “Me before you” – loved loved the movie.. Shed a few tears whilst watching.. Don’t want to spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but its a must watch! Anyway, by the time the movie ended I was totally worn out, so we headed home and I dived into bed to sleep off my exhaustion.. Not my ideal idea of a date.. But I am thankful I was able to get out!


That’s probably the last time i eat a butger and have fries for months.. I am glad I made the most of it!

Okay.. So let the countdown begin.. Less than 48 hours till chemo starts.. I’ll tell you whats its like.. Fingers crossed..

I received the most cutest gift ever from some very special people.. They got me a “rescue pack” to help me get through my chemotherapy journey.. Honestly the most thoughtful gift ever.. I love every part of it.. I am forever thankful for the love and support they have shown me! 

Last but not least.. Something from the cancer to do list book..

Getting a bespoke wig.. Amiwigs

Exciting day it was today!

Since i found out about losing my hair i have been keen to get a wig made which i can wear until my hair grows back. The NHS offer a synthetic wig which most patients opt for, but as i have this obsession with hair i wanted a wig that would be as close to my real hair as possible!

I had a consultation today at Amiwigs a bespoke human hair wig making company based in Richmond. I came across them online and in the magazine ‘Stylist’ and was instantly drawn to the story of its director Amy who has a wealth of experience in wig making – the positive reviews on her website says it all!

Amy originally worked in the film industry making wigs, hair pieces and facial hair for the BBC, she then moved into the film insustry, world of opera and theatre. Amy has worked for television dramas such as Midsomer Murders, Mr Selfridge and Game of Thrones, and feature films such as Warhorse and Thor 2, as well as being a key wig maker on Harry Potter (information taken from Amiwigs website). 
What was really important to me when choosing a wigmaker was finding someone who has made wigs for people with hairloss due to medical reasons. Many of the clients who have had wigs made by Amiwigs are similar to myself, they have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or other medical reasons.

So.. This is what happened today.. I went with my mum.. Embarrasingly we arrived 15minutes late, Amy was really nice about it! Usually i am very good at time keeping but today i just couldn’t find a parking spot – had i read the guidance on Amiwigs website which tells you where to park i wouldn’t have been late.. Oh dear.. Lesson learnt

We met Amy and her intern who were both very warm and welcoming! Amy took a long time listening to what i had to say and was very understanding.

I explained my worry about losing my hair.. And how its been a shock because i had grown my hair for my upcoming wedding.. Also how I am desperate to get a wig made before my 28th birthday (which is in July!! Yes im a roaring Leo) 

I really dont want to be bald.. I want to keep my hair.. I want long hair.. I want to be able to run my hands through my hair.. Tie it up and style it.. Anyway..

I was shown a selection of different style wigs.. All are bespoke and made of real human hair, you can choose European or Asian hair.. 

I chose the style, colour and length of hair.. I opted for European hair as it’s usually better quality.. I tried on the sample wigs to get a feel of what a wig would look like.. It was useful having my mums opinion combined with Amys experience to choose the perfect wig for me! 

Amiwigs are made to measure so they fit well.. I had my head measurements taken.. 

Whilst Amy was taking my measurements i was trying to imagine how i would look.. However perfectly made a wig is its still not your own hair.. Its still something that has to be worn.. I hope wearing a wig will give me the confidence and happiness i’m looking for.. I hope being bald won’t be that difficult to deal with.. Gosh.. This isnt easy.. 

I say i will wear a wig in my wedding but i don’t know how comfortable i will feel looking at my wedding photos knowing that i was wearing a wig.. Anyway thats too early to think about.. Lets think positive.. 

It will take 6 weeks for my wig to be made.. I cant wait to see the final result!! 

In the mean time as Amy advised me i will try and get a temporary wig to wear.. 

Wig shopping? Thats the new trend! No seriously.. Even celebrities nowdays are wearing wigs.. Will keep you posted on my wig shopping experience!!

If you are interested in getting a wig you can visit Amiwigs website.. 

http://www.amiwigs.co.uk

By the way.. I might sound like a salesman but honestly i have not been paid to recommend Amiwigs.. I am just sharing the excellent service i have had so far..

I’ve talked enough about hair and wigs.. but i had to share with you this clip on hair extension my niece got for me!!! She is so cute.. She told me.. “You can have your long hair back”.. 

I’ll leave you with these last words from the book i was gifted..

I am lucky.. This is why..

I do not feel any sympathy towards myself.. My journey is not a sob story.. I have my good and bad days but i am strong, i am positive and most importantly i am very lucky..

What inspired me to write todays post is the month of Ramathan, a holy month in which practicing muslims like myself fast from sunrise to sunset for a month. This month is not just about abstaining from food.. Its about thinking about others.. being thankful.. and much more.

This is the first time that i am not fasting in Ramathan for obvious health reasons.. I think it will be lonely at home being the only one eating.. But i hope to observe this month in other ways.. 

So here are 10 reasons why i find myself lucky.. and for these reasons I am very thankful..

DISCLAIMER: Be prepared for some cheese.. 

1) I am lucky to have a faith and a God which i can turn to for guidance and spiritual elevation. My faith gives me direction and strength.. Without it i would feel lost.

2) My family are the biggest blessing i have.. There are many orphans in this dark world.. Many people have lost members of their family through wars, acts of terror or accidents.. I am lucky to be surrounded by a loving and supportive family.. I couldnt have picked a better partner, I would choose him again and again no matter what. My inlaws have stood by me.. i love them to bits. Also a big shout out to my extended family and my inlaws extended family.. Family is everything! 

3) True friends are those who hold your hand and stay by you during difficult times.. I am lucky to have caring friends who are still by my side even when i don’t feel well enough to talk to them.. They never walk away..

4) How lucky am i to live in a home with a roof on top of my head,  hot water and electricity.. I never go a day hungry and i have all the clothing I need and more.. I can’t bear to think how the homeless live or how the millions if refugees are living in cold dirty camp sites.. I am living in a safe country, I don’t sleep and wake to sounds of bombs.. I am lucky

5) I am lucky to be educated, have a degree and a job with amazingly supportive colleagues.. I am not oppressed.. I am treated equally to men.. I am lucky to be able to express myself.. I am lucky to be free

6) I am lucky to have all the materialistic things I wished for.. Without being specific but the luxury items I own including the car i drive.. All of which now mean so little in comparison to the bigger picture of life.. But i am lucky to have been able to get what i want.. I am lucky and thankful 

7) I have travelled to countries all over the world.. I am lucky i had the opportunity to meet new people and different cultures.. I am lucky and grateful for all the trips i have been on.

8) We all make mistakes and we all have our downfalls.. I am thankful for the mistakes i made and the downfalls i have had because they have shaped me.. I am lucky each time i was able to pick myself back up.. 

9) I am thankful for the health i have.. Are you surprised? Don’t be.. I am alive.. I am not dying.. And if i was i am lucky not to be dead. I am lucky for the 26 healthy years I lived.. And for the coming years which i will live.. I am not on a ventilator, i am not dependent on others.. I have cancer but i am lucky for my health..

10) Finally.. I am lucky and thankful because I accept myself as i am.. With all my flaws and imperfections.. I am content and at peace with myself.. and nothing not even my illness will take this away..
Now.. Stop.. Look at yourself.. Look around you.. You are blessed and you are great in your own way..

Be thankful for what you have.. We all have our ups and downs.. When you feel down just remember there is someone out there in this wide world who is worse off than you.. 

I thought i would share with you this motivational book which a thoughtful friend got for me (J thank you!).. I will share pages from it after each of my upcoming posts…


To those observing Ramathan.. I wish you a blessed month and a easy fast.. 

A new lump

Yesterday..

I was sat in front of my mirror staring at my new short hair.. Still trying to get used to it.. I had tried to be adventerous this week and dyed it four times.. Sounds a lot? Well lets say it took four attempts to get it to a colour which i like.. I liked none so i went back to my original hair colour.. Boring me..
I kept looking into the mirror trying to accept the new me… Acceptance is a big move forward… I was trying to be positive.. I brushed the little hair I have behind my ears whilst still focussing on the mirror.. When i saw it..

One side of my neck didnt seem right.. Slightly irregular.. I froze.. I felt a sudden rush of panic and put my hands on my neck.. I could feel a small lump.. A new swollen lymph node on the right side of my neck..

The doctors instinct switched on.. I moved my hand further down.. trying to examine the chain of lymph nodes which run along the neck.. When i got to the base of my neck on the left side.. I felt a large mobile lump.. At least 3cm in size.. My heart sank..

All i remember is putting my face in my hands and crying like a baby.. Fear.. Anger.. Dissapointment.. A mixture of everything.. I hate my mirror.. I hate its reflection of reality.. I wish i had never looked into it..

I turned to do my evening prayers.. I hadn’t cried in my prayers for a long time.. I cried and cried.. I asked my lord for peace with myself and the strength to make the right decisions..

The new lumps i felt on my neck were not there before.. Or shall i say.. Maybe they were there but not large enough to be felt.. Is my disease spreading? Its definetly growing..

I feel i am at crossroad.. I have 2 weeks/less of fetility treatment left only then can i start my chemotherapy.. Did i make the wrong decision by delaying my chemotherapy? I have a cloud of guilt floating above my head.. Do i regret my decision to go with the fertility treatment? I don’t know..

I don’t know what to do next..

I look at my belly and the small bruises i have from the injections i give myself twice a day.. I feel i have come this far i can’t drop my fertility treatment now.. The thought of it is unbearable..

I’m scared to scratch myself or put my hands on my body in case i feel something new.. 

Feeling a lump is physical evidence that my cancer is there.. It is scary..

These past few days have not been great.. I’ve had bad nights and my fever has come back.. It’s times like this when i really dont feel like talking to anyone.. I am trying my best to take everything in..

I will remain positive.. Its the weekend now.. I will wait and see how things go.. No rush decisions.. Whats meant to be is meant to be..

I will try and have a relaxed weekend in bed watching house of cards on netflix.. This my new normal..

Tomorrow will be a better day x


(Lucky to have such an amazing support system.. This was left on my doorstep from a beautiful friend who recently became family! Love you J)

Pre chemotherapy counselling

Yesterday i had an appointment with my haematologist and specialist nurse to discuss my chemotherapy treatment and to sign the consent form… yep I signed my life away.. Before I go on to talk about that let me tell you.. My PET scan report is still not back.. So that means more waiting.. My consultant kindly said she will contact me when its back. I think I am now totally ignoring the significance of the PET scan.. I would much rather focus on moving forward and getting better..

Luckily I was the first to be called in, which meant I didn’t need to spend all day sitting in the waiting room, scanning the patients around me and creating their life story in my head. At first I was seen by my specialist nurse who explained to me the purpose of the appointment is to discuss chemotherapy, its side effects and the lifestyle changes I need to make. My consultant then came in and went over it again which was great..

So this is what we discussed..

Food and lifestyle: whilst on chemotherapy i cant have takeaways (sad times).. fruits have to be peeled, vegetables have to be cooked (no salads!!), no raw meat, no yoghurt with live bacteria (the ones that are advertised to be supposedly good for bloating), plenty of water  to drink. I can’t catch the tube or be in crowded places including shopping malls (Praise the lord for on line shopping!! my piggy bank is not getting away with it that easily!). I have to avoid anyone who has been unwell in the last week or is unwell.. I have to restrict the number of visitors.. No travelling.. And i can’t remember the rest..

Chemotherapy treatment: I will be having four drugs which are abbreviated to ABVD, I will need to go to hospital every 2 weeks for the medication to be given in a drip over three hours. I can only have one person with me at a time. I will not need to sleep in hospital unless I have an infection which may mean I need to be isolated. If I do develop an infection my chemotherapy will be delayed.

Side effects: where do I begin? Everything under the moon and a pinch more.. No seriously it makes me wonder what’s worse the disease or the treatment.. Anyway enough complaining and here is what I remember off memory (this list is what I can possibly get, I won’t necessarily have all these side effects.. I hope to have none)

  • Bone marrow suppression (infection, anaemia bleeding)
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Hair loss
  • Damage to my heart
  • Damage to my lungs
  • Damage to my kidneys
  • Damage to my liver
  • Damage to my nerves
  • Change in taste
  • Sore mouth
  • Problem with fertility
  • Being tired
  • Risk of developing blood clots

I know what your thinking.. Not an extensive list at all! On a serious note it could be worse.. I can’t remember any mention of brain damage.. at least i get to keep my marbles, thank the lord!

To be fair I am probably painting a bad picture.. It is not natural to think of the negatives first.. They seem to stick in my mind more easily..

I have been reassured that I will be monitored regularly for these side effects and if needed some of my chemotherapy medication may be reduced or stopped.. I have access to help at all times.. I am grateful to the team looking after me.. I know they are offering me all that is available.. I hope we soon find treatments for cancer which are less toxic.

I apologise for any delay in my posts.. Some days like today are rough for me (fever is back in town!) so I breakdown my writing.. Not ideal.. I prefer writing a post in one sitting but sometimes its just not possible.

On a more positive note let me share with you some of the Belgian chocolates that were posted to me by my lovely cousin Sherin who lives in Belgium.. We all know the power of chocolate.. Yummy..


Oh and before I go back to bed I have an exciting appointment coming up next week that I cant wait to write about it..

Sending you all postive energy.. And praying my fever gets bored and goes away soon xxx

My first PET scan

Those who have been following my blog will know that i am still waiting to recieve my complete ‘staging’ (how far my cancer has spread). Currently my stage is 2B but this may change. 

Today i had my PET/CT scan, basically this is a scan which highlights the areas in my body which have cancer. It will tell us if my cancer has spread further.

Its the first time i have such a scan, and the hospitals i have worked in have never had this type of scan so it was interesting getting to know all about it. The geek in me loves to learn new things, i hope my journey educates me more. I had a lovely radiographer who took me through everything which was great.

 I had been advised in advance not to eat anything 6 hours prior to my scan.. As my scan was in the morning 8:45 that wasnt an issue! Embarassingly i was 10minutes late to my appointment thanks to my luck of judgement for time and struggle to find the correct building! 

I was in the scanning department for just over a hour and a half. I was first given a radioactive substance which was injected through my vein, this travels around my body so when i go through the scanner the parts of my body which have cancer show up. I had to then sit alone in a room for 20 minutes doing nothing.. No reading.. No using of my mobile.. Just sitting there for 20minutes, pure and utter boredom! After 20minutes of no activity i was allowed to read a book or use my phone etc, i was also advised to drink water to stay hydrated. During this time i was still secluded, this lasted a further 35minutes.

The reason i was kept separate is because of the radioactive substance i was given, for 10 hours i have to be at a arms length from adults and avoid children and pregnant women.

 I then finally had my scan which lasted 20minutes.. I had to stay still the whole time.. For someone with constant itching i found it extremely difficult, i tried to focus on my breathing to distract myself from moving.. I dont know how i lasted the 20minutes but somehow i did!!

Now i just sit tight and wait for the result of my scan.. I really hope its good news and my cancer hasnt spread!

I took a quick snap of the PET scanner to share with you all…

Fertility

Today i had my appointment with the fertility specialist – my gynaecologist. How ironic a few weeks ago i was working in obstetrics and gynaecology seeing patients myself and here i am today on the other side..

I never thought i would be discussing family planning at this stage of my life. I have been so career driven and independent over the years, the concept of having a child didnt seem to fit into my busy schedule.

When i met my other half from the get-go i knew he loved kids and having a family had to be on the cards. He has always talked a lot about children, what he would name them and even discussing their future education! The more my love for him grew as our relationship progressed i totally changed my mind about motherhood and decided that if having children would make him happy then thats what i want. So we decided to think about concieving after a year or so into our marriage.

Here i am today hearing about the implications chemotherapy can have on my fertility. Suddenly i am having all these tests and hearing numbers thrown at me.. The chance of this and this making you infertile.. Its overwhelming!

The bottom line of todays appointment was regardless of what they do and give me they cannot gurantee my fertility will be okay. On a positive not many ladies who have recieved cancer treatment have gone on to concieve.. I will hold on to that string of hope.. In the end i truly believe these things are in the hand of my lord.. 

Time to focus on getting better!