So it turns out I was a little cocky about radiotherapy. A bit, “Meh, it’ll be fine, after chemo I’ll breeze through it…” And I did for the first couple of days. Sure, it’s dull and boring going into hospital every day, finding a parking spot (inevitably on level 3 or above), waiting for the lift to arrive, waiting in the reception queue to check in, waiting to be called, waiting in your gown for the machine to be free… But I felt well enough in the afternoon to go to physiotherapy as usual, referee the kids’ school holiday dramas, cook dinner etc etc.
However, by the weekend I was convinced I was coming down with the flu – achey limbs, shivers and hot flushes (nothing new there), and the overwhelming feeling of walking through treacle.
On Monday, I was so exhausted after two visits to the hospital – for radiotherapy and oncology clinic – that I was struggling to stand up without feeling dizzy so I went to lie down in bed. Which is when I started having chest pains and feeling sick. So of course I did what any cancer-ridden hypochondriac does in times of crisis and consulted Dr Google. My symptoms – sweating, chest pains, feeling sick and panicky – pretty much confirmed a heart attack was imminent, so without mentioning anything to Pete (who was busy wrangling kids and making tea) I took myself off to the GP. And for probably the first time ever, I was able to get in last-minute to see the doctor (hysterical woman on verge of tears can get you past the receptionist, it seems) who confirmed that I was not having a heart attack but was probably a bit overwrought, stressed out and knackered (that’s the medical term). Either that, or I had the failsafe GP diagnosis: a virus.
In my defence, one of the possible side effects of one of the drugs I’m on – herceptin – is damage to the heart, so my rushed self-diagnosis wasn’t totally off the wall. Plus, when you’ve already had two cancer diagnoses, you tend to gravitate automatically to the worst possible scenario, i.e. I do not want to have gone through all this shit just to die of a heart attack. So I am grateful to the GP for saving me an excruciatingly embarrassing trip to A&E which would have resulted in the diagnosis: Drama Queen/Time Waster.
So the moral of this story is: Don’t think you can skip your way through radiotherapy. Side effects cannot be avoided by willpower. Accept that you need to rest. And stop it with the Dr Google consultations.