Sun, Salt & Side Effects

I’m reclined outside on our new black & white bean bags, watching the last rays of the day stream through the palm & gum trees, listening to the cicadas, feeling the cool breeze provide some relief from the scorcher of a day. Sweet baby Jane, there’s nothing like the wind in your hair (I mean, head scarf) to make you feel really alive!

My head scarf comes off. The air that blows through the minuscule hair that still scarcely cling to my head feels like it’s weaving through a maze, sending sensational feeling across my soon -to- be skin head, giving me shivers down my spine. Or perhaps that was the result of the baby huntsman I just found in my head scarf?  GAAAAHHHH!!!!! Bush living benefits. And yeah, sarcasm loaded.

Minus the spider, taking my head scarf off (happens a lot over the course of a day) is one of my favourite moments. It’s comparable to that feeling after a big night when you take your heels off and let you swollen chubby feet free from the stiletto shackles, or the satisfaction found in showering off a sweaty stinky workout, or that undeniable relief when you undo your bra which is too tight and cuts into the not- so -attractive back flab bit of your back. Yep, It’s bloody fabulous.

So today my head scarf is off for the ‘Everyday photo’.  I’m documenting my breast cancer  ‘journey’. Thanks to the array of reality TV shows that overuse this expression I’m quite reluctant to use it myself. But technically the word should suggest some sort of profound transformation to a more enlightened state of mind so I’m rolling with it. For now, due to a lack of a better word for it, and admittedly coz I just can’t be fucked finding another one in my chemo thick head, it’ll do.

I want to take one photo everyday to make a compilation of images over the course of my treatment. My blog is an expression of my emotional/mental/ internal journey so I wanted to also put together in a visual slide that documents my physical ‘transformation‘ (replacement word found after quick google) or perhaps more appropriately put, my ‘deterioration’ which I am beginning to witness.

I remind myself of a little fragile fledgling. I catch my reflection in the computer screen now and then of  my wispy balding- patchy head with scarce hair still hanging on by a thread,  and it’s sometimes an emotional reminder of my sometimes forgotten reality. Seeing my pale white mug this evening and heavy set eyes ruffles my feathers more than I’d like to admit. I look sick. I feel sick.


I was at the hospital half the day having my third dose/cycle/round of AC chemo combination. I felt a bit of dread this time round because there’s been a bit of a pattern from the first 2 cycles develop over the past month. I know now not to make any plans for 4-5 days post chemo as basically I feel rat shit.

Round 1 (14 days)- I was cocky and confident thinking my youth and ironically ‘health’ would help me solider through it as I didn’t really suffer any severe side effects, just the standard fatigue, the odd mouth sore and dry mouth. I was running and following a relatively normal life minus the oncologist appointments and chemo chemicals pumping through my veins.Oh and of course hair loss right on day 14.

Round 2 (14 days) was more significant, with the first hints of nausea and a lot more fatigue setting in for longer and heavier periods of time. Headaches and aching body of a night were common and “chemo brain” definitely making a daily appearance, where often I’d be mid conversation and forget what I was talking about. Having a port-a-cath inserted too meant I’ve been sensitive from that surgical procedure where they put the device under my skin. It’s purpose is to provide easy access to my veins as the ones on my fore arms aren’t ‘good enough’ to withstand the numerous amounts of needles that I’ll need over the next 4 months. So this new addition to my body will be in place until treatment finishes. The chords and extras are only added on chemo days, otherwise it just looks like a disk in my chest. I squirm thinking about it, let alone seeing or touching it.

So today was Round 3, the start of my 5th week being a chemo patient. Still feels weird and surreal to type and say out loud. I’m hoping there aren’t any new spanners in the works in the form of any new crazy side effects. I mean, afternoon fatigue induced kips where I wake in what might be a pool of sweat or perhaps saliva drool (mm sexy hey),  is at least still manageable with a sun & salt fix ocean swim or bean bag mung under the trees to get me temporarily back on track until the next wave of fatigue rolls in (or surprise spider heart attack occurs).

And I guess despite feeling pretty awful from the toxic shit floating around my blood stream that’s hopefully kicking the shit out of cancer, ironically I feel cleansed when I’m outside. The healing powers of mother nature never cease to amaze me, but that’s another post all together…

So one’s things for sure, as long as the sun is out, the ocean is salty and the huntsman spiders are spawning, I wont be letting the chemo side effects have me by the short and curlies, tucked away inside with my life and summer tan on hold.

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