“I disappear down a chemo rabbit hole and hibernate.”
“Slav gypsy” by Marina – photo by (c) howlzap Cologne

Tuesday is usually the day I get my chemo – it’s Mitomycin C but we call it “purple rain” because it’s made of purplish-blue crystals. For non-muscle invasive bladder cancer, it is used intravestically (by inserting it into the bladder). It’s held in the bladder for two hours and then peed out – living up to the purple rain name.

The treatment is a long haul; the induction lasts eight weeks of weekly instillations and the maintenance lasts three years with it instilled once a month, cystoscopy check-ups every three months. It’s done as an outpatient and is extremely quick: catheter inserted, “purple rain” potion instilled, catheter removed, done. We’re in and out again in less than half an hour.

The first time, my biggest worries were lasting the two hours without peeing and the side effects. I’d read on a forum to reduce fluid intake the evening before – this helps manage the two hours. Another tip is to start drinking tea and water before peeing to start the flushing process. Side effects affect everyone differently, I get flu like symptoms that start to creep over me after about three hours and my bladder starts to burn and ache like a bladder infection. Day 1 is all about fluid going in and out and feeling increasingly worse, drinking a lot of fluid is important. I’m completely out of action for four days and properly back on my feet the following Monday. I disappear down a chemo rabbit hole and hibernate, sleeping ten to twelve hours a night and resting lots. Doing yoga and meditating help the chemo brain and walking around the house or on the spot helps the extreme tiredness. My partner is my protector from the outside world and supplies constant tea and tlc. As with most cancer related things listening to my body and being patient are best.

Another twelve sessions to go, next one tomorrow!