Last week I had my oncology assessment to ok my next few rounds of herceptin. My heart function is still holding very well (for those of you who know what I’m talking about my LVEF is holding steady at 64) so they have no concerns about continuing with the herceptin at this time. They still want to do another CT scan before Christmas just to check on things so I am awaiting an appointment for that.
I talked to them about my increasing lethargy and fatigue and they said it wasn’t surprising given to all intents and purposes I have been in treatment for over two years and they said although herceptin doesnt have the same side effects as the more heavyduty chemos it is treatment all the same and even if it isn’t affecting my heart function levels it can still be having an effect on my energy levels.
I told them what decision I had come to about my university studies. My degree is a four year full time degree and I have done the first year full time but have gradually been getting more and more fatigued as the year goes on – some of which is natural study fatigue but is compounded by treatment fatigue. What I have decided to do is drop back to part time for the next two years – that is do my 2nd year papers over a period of two years and concentrate a little bit more on my physical health, fitness and energy levels. I have been using all my energy this year us on mental, intellectual energy and have had no energy left to try and get exercise etc. My oncology registrar summed it up by saying by dropping back to part time I will be giving my body both time to rest and time to exercise. She said trying to add more exercise on top of a fulltime schedule was just going to make me more fatigued. She also agreed with my assessment that even if I worked on my health and fitness over the summer break (3 months) it wasnt going to give me the long term fitness that I need, where as working on it slowly over the next two years will set me up much better for being fitter and healthy going into the 3rd and 4th year full time study including 2 3-month full time practicuums.
We also discussed that the next two years are the danger time for another recurrence but if I am doing only part time study then even if something does pop back up I can probably do both study and treatment.
I also had a meeting with the lecturer that was acting as our academic advisor for our first year. He said the university staff see a lot of potential in me as a Social Worker and anything they can do to help me achieve my degree, they will do. That was lovely to hear but I did end up bursting into tears when talking to him because in some ways I do feel like I’m letting myself down by dropping back to part-time and frustrated that, even though I know I am making the right decision for me that I can’t do it full-time and even though I am in remission, ‘Gertrude’ is still putting limits on my life.
One of the things that really made me realise that I needed to drop back to part-time was my relationship with YD. Even though she no longer lives at home I usually spent Sundays with her, usually every second Sunday. As the year has gone on and the fatigue got worse I started resenting having to spend time with her because I was so tired. When I spend time with YD I need to be constantly ‘On’ and I started dreading spending time and feeling even more tired. I love YD and don’t want to feel that spending time with her is such a chore. Last weekend having had a week off after exams I spent the day with her , having fish and chips at a regional park and going for a walk around the park and sitting on the beach after. Here are some of the views on our perimeter walk around the park. they were taken with the camera on my phone so aren’t great quality
It was a lovely day and I want more of those, where it’s a joy rather than a chore.
Dropping back to part-time study for the next two years has been a hard decision for me to make but ultimately everyone, family, friends, hospital and university think it is a lot healthier for me in the long run and the best decision I could make for myself at the moment