(Ps this is a long one so maybe put the kettle on before you start) Write the blog…. This is what my head has been full of since I finished the radiotheraphy. I have taken to writing this is my head as I go to sleep at night and what sounds fantastic at 11pm at night sounds like total drivel at 7am the following morning, in fact this blog has seen me spend more money on ebay and amazon in the last two weeks than I care to think about, as everytime I have gone to write it I have just done some shopping instead. Its all gone back now. I am not sure why this has been the case, I guess its was just my mind avoiding it. So before I start lets just get the usual disclaimer out of the way, and that everything I say here only applies to me and that my outcomes will be completely unique to me, so if you are reading this and have followed the same path as I have, and had a better or worse outcome then that is I supose normal. This is why diets work for some and not for others, its nearly all down to that magic box we all have called our metabolism. During the radiotheraphy I would sit and chat to people who had the same or similar cancer to me and who had done chemo and now radio and all of us had different side effects and different views on what was better or worse, between chem or radio and thier side effects, how the both treatments had hit them. I use the word hit here because from a personal point of view that is what radio did to me it HIT me hard.
So at the end of my last blog I made that statement about changing my diet and going anti inflammatory well that was an absolute waste of time. Radiotheraphy soon taught me that its a far harder treatment to deal with (For me) than the chemo was. You see my type of chemo was RCHOP and while its an all over treatment as in they inject it and then it does its thing on all fast reproducing cells, ie Cancer Cells and also hair growth. Radiotheraphy is a concentrated treatment into one specific area with a plus or minus 3mm degree of error. My God its concentrated, and the basic idea behind it is to zap the life out of what remained of my cancer. It all started as I was advised, with no real side effects for about the first week and then it kicked in to such a degree that I lost all taste buds, my tongue felt completely disconnected from my body, its like a furry appendage that does its own thing. It is just handy for moving things about but not much else, so after seven sessions or so, while I still had a taste bud I was forever thinking why am I eating cold food. Basically you lose your sense of what is hot or cold and that is the first sense that it stole. Then your throat feels a little raspy and that was soon followed by blisters that felt benign at first and just a little rough. Lets just say these blisters mature so if you have ever seen the movie alien, then I would compare the blisters to them in so far as they open and when they open thats it, anything you eat or drink is pure hell and the only way to get around it I found was to crush a few painkillers in warm water with a little salt and gargle it, until it anethethtises the blisters and then you have about five minutes to get something down, before they wake up again with a bang. But even this only works for a while, as by session 12 I found that I had completely lost the battle and for the first time ever I found that I was eating food as fuel and not for pleasure. Food is important to us a family and I do like to think that we cook together as one. Both of the boys are into cooking and this was an activity we do together so for them to see me not able to eat on Christmas day was upsetting for all of us. Plus you lose your ability to produce saliva so your mouth is constantly dry and sore and that effects your sleep because as it is dry all the time, so when you try to sleep you cant. It burns to touch it. Its true to say that I found chemo versus radiotheraphy easier to get through and yes I know I have the advantage of food knowledge but I would compare radiotheraphy to walking across a frozen lake where at the start you are on solid ice but it quickly thins out and eventually swallows you. I now think back to the start when I had the anxiety of wearing the mask and I think wow was I actually worried about that!
Mind you it has one upside,remember always take any positive away from any shit heap and that advantage is I started at 101kgs (I fool myself by saying I was weighed in with a heavy jacket with keys and coins in the pockets) and hey presto twenty seven days later I now weigh 90.45kgs so every cloud and all of that. For a second just imagine all of that fat that has been wrappped around my liver has now melted away plus its impossible to drink any type of alcohol during radio so I also know I have done a complete detox. Saying that the moment my taste buds return I am going to consume a few great bottles of wine we bought for Christmas and that bottle of single malt I bought way back in May for when this treatment was done I guess its the first time in my life I have practised delayed gratification. So back to the present day and where I am now with food, well I am still eating like a bird I am probably managing about 600 calories a day but I am making sure that these calories are packed with proteins and vital fats plus I have gotten pretty good at smoothies with lots of fresh fruit and maple syrup. I cannot taste any of it but you grin and bear it as a necessity. I dont have the exact figure to hand but its estimated that one in six cancer patients actually die from starvation before the cancer gets to them. When I first heard this figure at the start of my treatment I admit I was dismissive of it, but after this treatment I can now see how this can easily happen. I have the advantage of being surrounded by love and this gives you that external impetus to keep going so God help anyone going through this without support.
So the body can recover and it eventually will. I know that all of my senses will return with time and patience, now its the time to think about the mind and now as I look back at how I described the effects of chemo on my mental health, I can see that radio has had a greater impact. Even though the radio took a far shorter length of time its the sheer impact that it had both on me and my family that I need to highlight. All of the blogs I have written mention food and eating as a family at one stage or another, be that the time when due to covid I had to stop shopping for the family and the impact that this had on me. So when radio robbed me of my ability to taste and then the appetite for food, this although it may seem small is obviously a very important part of how I connect with my family, and its also important to me in how I view my relationship and importance to them, I suppose to take it back to its basics I viewed myself as the hunter gatherer in so far as I provide. Loosing my impetus to prepare and enjoy food with my family was like cutting a life line. But its only when it happens that you realise this. Now from an outsider this may seem like nonsense and maybe it is, but its my nonsense so that means I need to acknowledge it and perhaps look at how I can maybe lessen its importance in my relationship. So on this, I think I shall leave this to develop and perhaps cover it on the next blog. But I will say that I am taking it day by day and I am doing my best not to block my feelings and to live life as close as I can to the quote below.
Let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Rainer Maria Rilke.