5. Getting Started

It has been a long and frustrating week in some ways, seemingly dogged by delays (medical) and technical difficulties. But we are finally at Friday and I had my first chemotherapy treatment yesterday. It lasted from 12 noon until 1a.m. this morning and was non-stop toxic chemicals flowing into my system through the IV. Curiously, one of the most distressing things was the background vibration of the pumps pushing the drugs in. It seemed to permeate into my very bones, and possibly made me feel more sick than the drugs. Well that was what I thought until this morning :-) Give it up for anti-nausea drugs!

More of that in a moment.  Rewind to the previous evening. Hospital time exists in its own continuum. Whoever dreamed up the schedule needs a good slap. I like to think I am more of a morning person than a night owl, but I find drinks at 7.00, breakfast at 7.15, lunch at 12.15 and tea/dinner at 5.15 all a bit much. It feels very much as if we are rushed through the system to suit working hours of the (very lovely) ancillary staff at the cost of a more sympathetic and natural timescale. 8.00  comes and it’s all over bar the shouting as this is when the last drinks trolley of the day comes round. Now – the lovely night nurse gave me the most fabulous up-to-the-minute news the other night, considering this might become my second home for a while. She asked me what I wanted to drink. Fatal. It’s good to get out of this Rice Krispies, turkey pie, fruit cocktail kind of existence once in a while (is it ever good to get INTO it?!) so I couldn’t help myself. I just couldn’t stop it coming out – ingrained habit, sorry! ‘I’ll have a nice large glass of cool chardonnay please.’ To give her credit she absolutely cracked up and so did the lovely other lady who had just ordered her tea – and clearly thought she had missed her opportunity to get something a bit more exciting. Apparently at Christmas the doctors organised a drinks trolley on a couple of days, and in their infinite wisdom  – and they are all-knowing, right? – they decided to instigate a Sunday night drinks trolley. Result! Shame I might be discharged by then, but I’ll be sure to put my order in early when I’m next in.

It is now the day after chemo so I have time to reflect on my first serious brush with Big Pharma. I usually avoid doctors and drugs as far as possible but in this situation I very much want to live using whatever resources are available, as opposed to die by my principles. I felt my heart sink as I read the enormous list of chemicals that would be given: for every drug that kills the cancer there has to be another which will alleviate its toxicity. It was the strangest feeling, watching bag after bag being pumped in: I was grateful to be in the hands of experts but upset at the invasion of my body. I tried to meditate during the IV process and be accepting of the moment but the drugs made me very woozy and sick. Going up to the place where I usually meditate was really uncomfortable and ungrounded so I had to stop.

I was talking to one of the nurses about this conflict and she told me of another patient who sees the drugs as good soldiers who have come in to kill the bad guys. It was suggested to me that I could add the condition ‘and do as little harm as possible’, which makes a lot of sense. I am hoping I can get to a place of acceptance – and less hostility – towards all this, as the important thing in the end is that it works. It is a very big lesson for me and I am gently tweaking at the edges of it to find out more. I do have many dark moments, and it is healthy and a recognised stage of grieving to allow the anger out. There is a growing feeling of why this, why now and of course, why me? I will never be the same after this. For any cancer patient there is always the shadowy threat of regression from which you can never be free, and that has fundamentally changed my thinking.

Today (Friday) I am pumped full of drugs and to be honest I will need a supermarket trolley to take them all home. Which will be tomorrow!!! My blood tests are all back and fine so I’m outta here. Until next week when I come back for a blood count check.

For those of you who followed my madcap dash across Hampshire for the PET scan – we just got the results and it is clear. Relief is too small a word for it. There are apparently a few weird teeny weeny lumps on my head but they can look at those when my hair all falls out, which will be in about 10 days. Much too much hair around at the moment. See – always a silver lining!

And guess when my next treatment starts? A Thursday. Which means……I will be still be in on the Sunday for the drinkies round!


About Margaret Cahill

After diagnosis of Mantle Cell Lymphoma in 2013, I started this blog to stay in touch with friends, family, and and an ever increasing network of lovely people who sent me healing. The readership increased and I ended up blogging for all I was worth to try and stay sane through the chemotherapy and stem cell transplant. Then after I went into remission (thankfully) I was enjoying the writing so much that I have carried on, and the blog seems to have become a bit of a resource for people, which is lovely. The original year of blogs have now been made into a book, Under Cover of Darkness: How I Blogged my Way Through Mantle Cell Lymphoma. It fills in a lot of the gaps between the blogs, and the tone falls somewhere between graveyard humour and explicit details of chemo treatments. I do hope you enjoy it :-) Mxx
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19 Responses to 5. Getting Started

  1. Baris Ilhan says:

    Thank you for sharing yourself Margaret.


  2. Cindy Chapelle says:



  3. Cathy says:

    So thrilled for you about the PET scan results – just brilliant news. May see you tomorrow if you need a lift home, if not have a lovely, relaxing, sleepy weekend. Will no doubt be pestering you on Monday with lots of work queries so be prepared! As you know I’m a numbers person so I’m not as eloquent as your literary friends but you know we are all thinking of you.
    Lots of love and hugs xxx


    • Thank you so much for all the support you give. I know you brush it off but you are a vital part of the business and I know you don’t realise it but trust me – I give thanks for your friendship and caring on a daily basis. Lyn and John were in the area so they did the hospital run, sorry I didn’t get a chance to let you know. It is fantastic to be home! Talk Monday x x x x


  4. Bernadette says:

    God or Goddess bless you Margaret for your courage.


  5. Judy says:

    What Mario said about loving your cancer is an interesting approach – and one that’s served him well while living with ‘terminal’ cancer for 20 years. You know how amazing and full of life he is (his blog at http://blog.marioreading.com/blog/ is fascinating and so full of insights). Maybe seeing the rogue cells as naughty schoolboys who’ve got out of control and need to become more disciplined and stop wreaking havoc would be the way to go? The drugs are rounding them up and putting them in detention until you can restore order and show all parts of your body that they are loved and cared for? Opening the earth star chakra beneath your feet and your base chakra would help with the meditation, grounding you in your body so that the healing power can flow in and assist the drugs. Just a thought… worth a try.

    Can’t wait to see you in a fluffy pink hat to match your duvet cover and towels holding that glass of Chardonnay. Good timing for the next visit.

    Heal well xxxJ


    • Hey yes! Good suggestion! The isolation wards are really cold so I will need a hat……so it obviously has to be pink. They all loved the duvet cover and slippers, and Fenella Flamingo (pink of course) attracted attention. One of the nurses asked why I stopped there and didn’t carry on to a shag pile rug. Hmmmmm…… :-)



  6. Darrelyn Gunzburg says:

    So pleased to hear the scans are clear. Good Job, Cahil!!! Step One achieved. Onward! xxx


  7. Neil says:

    Loved the soldier reference. How’s that for an Aries South Node soul with Mars there? Turning around the warrior energy to heal now. Right there by your side, congratulations on getting through your first treatment, my brave spiritual soldier!


    • Thanks Neil. Isn’t it interesting the way the Mars/SN thing is finally coming out? Despite all the hard work it is still unresolved. Maybe this will all shunt me into my North Node! Onwards! Mx


  8. Jeni Powell says:

    I have only just logged onto your blog ….Wow, what a week you have had! I am so pleased that the scan came back clear. I must admit you have made me laugh with the antics of the hospital staff – I almost feel as though I know Dot and your roommate already! Hmm think Judy is onto something regarding the mantle hiding the love …will do some work on it!!!! The other comment about “asking for the least damage possible to be done to the energy system” whilst the chemo is in force is also a really good idea.

    I was treating a cancer patient a while ago and Guisseppe suggested to them to drink pomegranate juice – perhaps there IS something in it!???

    Anyway, apologies that I haven’t popped into the ward to see you (fluffy cat slippers and all!).
    Let me know when you are up to visitors at home! Keep up the positive vibes. xxx


    • Please thank Giuseppe for his wisdom. The benefits of pomegranate juice seem to be popping up all over the place so I am collating them into a fledgling article over on the rhs of the page. Hopefully! Have blood test on Weds which will show how the blood count is going, so after that I will know about visiting and will let you know. Big hugs Mxx


  9. Kris Brandt Riske says:

    Fabulous news about the scan results!!! Enjoy some peace and quiet during your days at home – on your, not the hospital’s, schedule. All good thoughts for continuing good news. xoxo


  10. Hakan Kirkoglu says:

    Hi Margaret, my mom went under this PET scan a few years ago and it was clear, she recovered rapidly well, and happy to learn that good news coming in already, stay in good vibes, XxX


  11. Judy says:

    How interesting that you dont feel like fighting, Aries South Node and Mars is the old way of course. Now you get to do the Libra North Node accept support and share mode. Restore balance and equilibrium by making friends with your body and getting it to work with you not against you – same principle as making friends with Dot. Isn’t it great that you get to live out your chart so graphically? What’s next? I’m all for a miracle. You can do it!

    I trust you are safely tucked up in your own bed sleeping like a pink fluffy babe. Have a great night.
    Big hugs xxJ


    • Isn’t it fascinating? I am tired of the old ways…of forging new paths ahead, doing what hasn’t been done before – I’m not tired of Wessex, just the approach I had. That is now outdated and I guess I was so slow to realise it that I guess the Universe had to give me a shove. Mxx


  12. Caron Rogers says:

    I’m totally with you, I too usually avoid doctors and drugs as far as possible but you are right to live using whatever resources are available, as opposed to dying by your principles. I liked the other patient’s analogy of seeing the drugs as good soldiers who have come in to kill the bad guys, makes a lot of sense. Cx


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