My invitation from The Big C and Me to join the World Blogging Tour last week got me thinking about why I write these blogs. At first, it was a way to process what was happening with my Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and later, once I decided to share that I had cancer in September 2013, it was a way to keep people posted on what was going on. But I’ve also wanted it to be a place where those going through ABVD chemotherapy or a stem cell transplant could read about my experience so they had an idea of what to expect.
I found a few blogs about Hodgkin’s lymphoma and refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma to be helpful, so I wanted to put my own info out there, although each patient has his or her own experience. Some people can eat all the way through the transplant, some have throat pain (like me), and others have nausea. Some people experience very few side effects, while other people have many. Many people go into remission after ABVD, while some refractory or relapsed cases need additional trials, chemo and radiation.
I never wanted to become a cancer blogger, because I never wanted cancer. Once I started writing, though, it became extremely therapeutic. When I talk about pain or side effects, I hope it doesn’t come across as self-indulgent or woe-is-me. It’s just to let people know what happened and what they might expect. I’m not one to pore over every blog out there either, because at some point, I’d freak myself out.
I suppose my message is: If I can to this, so can you. I have a low tolerance for pain. I’m squeamish. I don’t like doing things I don’t want to do.
My experience, overall, has been a good one, despite the disappointments of having refractory Hodgkin’s lymphoma and the year-plus of treatments.
Here’s a little update on what’s going on with me, more than a week after my transplant.
My eyelashes are gone. They just disappeared one day. In high school, this guy I knew plucked out all his eyelashes one day because he was bored, he told me, as we stood in line for gym attendance. His eventually grew back. I have a few left, and they keep depositing themselves into my eyes.
My eyebrows also are mostly gone. I feel as if I spend more time, money and thought grooming my brows than my hair (back when I had hair). It’s almost a relief. Fine, take a break, brows. You’ve earned it. Come back when you’re rested, and we will resume our struggle with how much real estate on my face you’re allowed. Spoiler alert: Not as much as you seem to think. (I still have a few mustache hairs in place, though. Those can go away forever if they’d like.)
I am nearly sipping. I took about seven sips of tea last night, and it felt momentous until I looked at my nearly full cup. Oh, well. Small steps. The doctors seemed impressed after looking into my mouth, which has been healing, but they also don’t want me to force myself to eat or drink. Taking a few tiny pills today really hurt. Today, more tea; tomorrow, broth.
I had a bit more tea today, but I forgot that I need to focus all my attention on swallowing liquids while my esophagus heals. Otherwise, disaster ensues. Luckily, I didn’t choke too much on my tea.
I’m starting to get hungry again. They really go all out here to try to tempt you to eat, so it’s no fault of the menu. I have in my possession the regular menu, the weekly specials, the children’s menu (with a Thanksgiving Day sandwich) and a purée menu (where everything is puréed, even the lasagna that I plan on ordering when I am well enough). I just need to get rid of this pain.
I am awake for hours at a time. I still nod off a lot—while I’m typing an email or getting my vitals taken. But I can stay awake for awhile without napping again. But on that note … I can tell I’m falling asleep now if I close my eyes for more than a second or two.