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It took a couple of days before I got a response to my email to Dr S. stating that I was having another week of feeling very tired with no energy to do anything, and feeling nauseous all the time. I simply could not continue with the chemo regime I was on. He agreed to lower the dose of paclitaxel but did not say by how much. I did not get an answer to how much until I was in the chemo day stay ward. After waiting for well over an hour – they were very short of nursing staff again – I was taken to the usual room and I began the discussion on what the dose would be. At first they thought the chart indicated another full dose, but a check revealed that it had been reduced by 20%. Only then did I agree to go ahead with the fifth round of chemo.

I am now hoping the reduced dose will give me a week which includes days of feeling okay.

I am now on two slow-release morphine tablets a day and this is keeping the pain at bay extremely well. This week I resorted to having a few puffs of cannabis twice a day which has largely dispensed with the nausea I have been experiencing that was making life so miserable. It also helps me feel hungry, a rare treat these days. I am at the lowest weight I have ever been. I have used cannabis on and off all year to try and deal with the increasing pain and discomfort, and to stimulate my appetite, but it works best for me in controlling the nausea.

Tomorrow the family is travelling down to Ngaruawahia to celebrate my youngest son’s 23 birthday at my second son’s place. I remember making the journey last year and wondering whether this would be the last time I got to celebrate his birthday. Today marks 14 months since I received my diagnosis – and I am still here, determinedly hanging on for a few more months in the sunshine.