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  • Writer's pictureAja McDonald

GiveALittle Update

Here is an update my husband, Phil, posted yesterday on a bunch of things since I finished chemo. This will sum up some of the time since my last update I shared going through chemo.

F#*k Cancer The Catch Up-to-date including a Covid Plot Twist by Phil McDonald 21 May 2023

So it’s been about 5-6 weeks since I posted here.. maybe even longer.. sorry! The weeks have very much blurred and rolled into one. Since I last shared quite a bit has happened! I’ll do this in chronological order to keep it easy to follow. AJA FINISHED CHEMO! 20 weeks of chemo finally came to and end and while that in and of itself was a huge victory, it really marks about 1/4-1/3 of the journey.. About a week to 10 days after chemo was finished, Aja had the chemo-port (her Borg addition) removed from her chest too. RADIATION TREATMENT Has begun, getting to meet the radiation team at Oncology in the Dunedin Public Hospital was great, and luckily Aja was able to be booked in -retry swiftly after she finished her bouts of Chemo. (Mercy doesn’t have this facility, and the only other option would have involved Aja travelling to Christchurch for 3 weeks alone and staying at Daffodil House) You may have seen the ODT articles I shared about the state of Radiation Services in Dunedin so we were very fortunate, we know not everyone has been so lucky w the timing of their access. Radiation is 3 weeks of daily sessions, this takes place in a machine that takes a mini CT scan every time it is used, and Aja breathes through a snorkel to create more separation between her heart and the area being radiated. It’s very daunting parking and walking into perhaps the most mundane grey building in the hospital. There is a weight that hangs in spaces like this.. a tension of palpable consciousness.. this is a place where people have two extremely diverse outcomes.. it’s either being used to shrink cancer pre surgery in a hope it’s operable or it’s to help wrap up treatment and tie of loose ends like in our case.. those who are hoping for the former, have an understandable graveness to them. The solemn reality is a reminder of the preciousness of life, I feel so blessed to be a passenger on the other journey. The staff have all been exceptional, friendly, bubbly professionals who like at Manaaki, genuinely care for the well-being of their patients. BONE DENSITY TREATMENT & DENTISTRY This is a whole new player for us. One of the side effects of the ongoing (Multi Year) hormone treatment that Aja is now receiving due to the hormonal triggers for her cancer cells is that her literal bone density is likely to lessen, so for the next 2 years she will be on a mini chemo treatment for that. (Regular top up visits to Manaaki for this, so it’s at least a crew we know so we’ll already) The biggest drawback to this is that Aja has had to initiate a cleaning and full dental review w her dentists (The amazing team at Smart Dental 🦷) as once she begins this treatment it will be 7 (Not a typo) years before she can be seen again. So now, in the middle of all of this cancer treatment another unforeseen cost; probably about $3-4k worth of dental work to be done; couple root canals, couple extractions and a re-construction of a tooth and post via plate.. “hooray” (please note the sarcasm dripping here as I type that) PLOT TWIST – COVID 19 finally claims Aja. So.. 3+ years of managing to avoid the dreaded ‘Vid’ Aja finally succumbed just on Sunday.. meaning a whole week of her treatment and all her scheduled dental etc has to be pushed back for 7 days.. Aja managed to avoid catching it even when I had it last year in the same household, and our house mate has also never had it, so home is full of sanitizer and surface sprays etc this week, luckily Housemate & I both can work from home so less external exposure to others this week. It hasn’t ALL be doom and gloom; to celebrate the end of Aja’s Chemo treatments; we used flight credit from a cancelled trip last year and spent 2 night/3 days in Nelson over Anzac Day. Nelson was chosen as they had an art show of Gary Baseman’s ‘Momento Moa’ he is one of Aja’s favourite artists and the show was everything we could have hoped for, and the flights and weather were fantastic and easy too. It was a very welcome reprieve and respite between the cycles of hospital visits & treatments. Aja also has started Pilates thanks to a targeted class subsidised through one of the many cancer foundations and run via Back In Motion. This, along with The Wellness Centre (who she was able to secure a referral for via her oncologist) will give an awesome gateway back to physical health and recovery from all the sedentary nature that this whole journey creates. This is one heck of a journey so far and to think we still have so much to go is daunting at times, but having emotional support and the financial help you give means the world. Thanks for reading, and thanks again to those that give donations. It is needed, and it is humbling. XX Phil & Aja and the fur-kids. Pic is a collage of Radiation Treatment bits n bobs & Aja being her bubbly self, sending me a selfie from one of the days I didn’t go with. ❤️

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