Pippa Rea

Pippa's Journey with a Brain Tumour

Coping with Chemo

on January 22, 2014

Pippa’s 12 month chemo cycle is supposed to be 5 days on, 3 weeks off starting every 4th Monday.  The late drop of bloods in the 4th week of the cycle however has meant that this has not been the case and with each cycle we have had to wait until Pippa’s blood test results are at a level where it is safe for her to receive chemotherapy.  The outcome of this though is that it has made her behind on her 12 month, 4 weekly cycle and thus, this is why her doctor is adjusting her doses to try and enable the chemo to be taken monthly.

This of course is all written in sand anyway and lead by Pippa in how she responds and copes with the chemo and results of current and future MRIs.  Thus, we are zig-zagging along learning as we go with not really any  guide book to show us the way.  But that’s OK we seem to be managing quite well.

The first day of Pippa’s last cycle was the second last day of 2013. After that night I was definitely not looking forward to any form of New Year celebration at all.  I gave Pippa the 2 (new levels of) doses of chemo and within 1-2 hours she was in all sorts of pain and discomfort along with awful waves of nausea.  Needless to say, Taylor Swift and heat packs were called upon.  Her body was aching and he tummy was twisting in knots.  I could see the hurt in her eyes.  She was exhausted from the day anyway so curled up in a ball while Taylor Swift sang her to sleep but she tossed and turned all night.

The next day I decided that I would have to resort to using the really strong painkillers I have in case  the side  affects of chemo become unbearable.   Pippa is so strong; she didn’t want them on the first night but I couldn’t watch her writhing like that again.  We had stayed in Melbourne due to our long day at the hospital and driving back I thought like I always do.  (A lot of thinking is done in the car while Pippa sleeps. )  I hadn’t been expecting the pain to be so extreme the first night and wondered what I could do to help.  I decided to put in place a routine for the next night.  I knew that once we need to use the painkillers we have reached a threshold so to speak and there is no margin for adjustment in treatment if her doctor needs to do so.  

Day 2 of the cycle and at 4.45 I gave Pippa her first dose of chemo, at 5.15, her second, at 5.45 we ate a healthy dinner of protein and vegetables.  After dinner she had a deep, warm bath.  Pippa then stepped out of the bath and onto a massage table for a 45minute massage and then into bed.  This meticulous routine was followed for the remainder of the chemo that week and Pippa did not have even a hint of pain.  Most mornings she woke with a sore belly, but that has been normal and even continues for a few days after she finishes the chemo. That pain is easily fixed with a heat pack.

Having been able to cope with the different dose of chemo in this way means we are not at our maximum and if we need to get more aggressive the room is there to do so.  The pain killers are still up my sleeve, I’m not afraid to use them but I am fully aware of what I am dealing with.  Pippa is taking it in her stride and by me changing the way I help her do that we are still well and truly on the front foot.  Hopefully we can manage the next cycle in the same way.


3 responses to “Coping with Chemo

  1. Nicki says:

    You are amazing, thoughtful, resourceful, adaptable, capable and truly inspirational. No wonder your daughter is so amazing. She has such an incredible role model in her mum. Love to you both xx N

  2. Du Toit family says:

    Wow! You are totally amazing Virginia. Not to even mention Pippa.
    In all the rush of our move, forgot to let you know that the phlebotomist (Carmel) who I recommended, works on Tuesdays and Thursdays from the centro clinic. She recalls in fact meeting you once at the Occipiniti’s. Hope that helps.
    Ilse

  3. Emma Crichton says:

    well done, we are all so privileged to have you share this with us x

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