Donating Blood, Self Isolating and Life Update
I say 'life update', but I really don't have much to update on. Half my hair is currently purple, the new job is going well, I'm currently self-isolating but WE'RE ALL FINE, I'm fully vaxxed, and I'm very happy that the sun is making an appearance after our very long, dreary May.
Cancer-wise, I'm doing very well, I think! My last scans were stable (no more shrinkage, but no growth so yay!), but I have had to transfer to a lower dose of cediranib. I got quite unwell again with stomach aches/diarroeah, so I'm now taking 24mg instead of 30mg a day. My next scan should be in a month or so, so we'll find out then how this reduction has affected my lungs. So far, this dose is much better for my stomach, and although side-effects haven't completely subsided they are way more manageable. I was quite determined not to have to reduce my dose, feeling like I should just hack the bad side effects as I know people experience much worse on many cancer drugs. But the difference is, I will likely be on these meds for a very long time. It's not like I'm on a regime where we intend on taking me off the drugs once I'm 'cured' as that's not going to happen unless there's some kind of miracle. So, it's a case of balancing risks and benefits with these drugs - if we can reduce the dose to make the side effects and my life more manageable, whilst still seeing stable scan results, then that's what we'll do! At the moment, the cancer itself doesn't cause me any pain or grief, so ideally I don't want to be on a too-harsh treatment that makes my life miserable. Likelihood is I will be on much harsher treatment at some point in the future so I'd rather delay that for as long as possible, thank you very much.
I am quite disappointed in myself for not blogging in May. It just wasn't the most motivational, inspiring month. If you live in the UK you'll know what I mean. The sun just did not want to come out of its slumber and it rained a hell of a lot. I am definitely someone whose energy is really influenced by the weather. A through and through summer baby. Also, in the UK society opened up a little bit more this month and restrictions have eased a little, so alongside settling into the new job I've been busy trying to catch up with all the socialising we've all missed out on over the last year.
Though, it is precisely this socialising that has resulted me in having to self-isolate. Somehow, this whole year I've managed to not have to quarantine at all, and I realise that I have been extremely lucky. I got a notification last week from the NHS track and trace app, informing me that I'd been in contact with someone who'd tested positive for covid and that I needed to self-isolate for 7 days. Grrrr. It did not come at the best time - I was away on annual leave visiting family - though, it could have been worse timing, and to be honest it's never a good time to be housebound, is it? Especially with the Portugal debacle right now I do not feel in a position to complain.
I do not cope with being cooped up well at all. It takes probably fewer than 24 hours for me to start going a bit stir-crazy if I've not left the house. The boredom hits me hard, nervous energy builds up that I just cannot expend, sleeping patterns get thrown off, and I get extreme FOMO - "Everyone else is out having fun living their best life and I'm stuck here!". Those kinds of thoughts. I consider myself a fairly positive, optimistic person, but lord knows it's not always possible to uphold such positivity. Again, though, the sunshine helps so much. We have a lovely garden so I've been able to enjoy some sun and fresh air sitting out in the garden, and I've had time to get into a good book. I am actually nearly free from this period of self-isolation so I really do need to stop complaining!
June 14th is World Blood Donor Day. So next on my agenda is to convince you to donate blood. Blood transfusions save millions upon millions of lives worldwide. More awareness needs to be spread worldwide of the importance of blood donation, as many developing countries have severe shortages. The key message of this year's WBDD is "Give blood and keep the world beating".
Did you know?
One blood donation could save up to 3 lives!
The day originates from the birthday of Karl Landsteiner, the bloke who discovered blood types in 1900. Along with Alexander S. Wiener he discovered the Rh (Rhesus) factor, which, according to a quick google enables 'physicians to transfuse blood without endangering the patient's life' - how cool is that?! The first World Blood Donor Day was in 2005, founded by the World Health Organization. This year Rome, Italy, is hosting the day and in honour of the day they are lighting up the Colosseum. Obviously, the events will be live streamed because of the pandemico, and in the evening there is even a live concert! I mean, what more convincing do you need to go donate blood???
In the UK, from 14 June 2021 more people may be eligible to donate blood as the eligibility criteria is changing - i.e. men who have sex with men will now be able to donate blood, which has not always been possible previously. Frustratingly, the rules will still be that you can only donate blood if you have been with a stable partner for 3+ months, or if you abstain from having sex for 3 months, as the risk of sexually-transmitted infections in men who have sex with men is higher than in other groups. Caution has got to be taken when it comes to blood as you do not want to be spreading infections. Nonetheless, if you were not eligible to donate blood previously, it is always worth checking whether you are now.
The NHS need nearly 400 new donors a day to meet the demand for blood. There is currently an increased demand for rarer blood-subtypes commonly seen in black people, so the NHS is calling for more black donors. This blood is being used for regular transfusions needed to treat blood disorders such as sickle cell. It is important that people from different backgrounds donate blood so the right blood is available for everyone that needs it.
If you want to find out if you can donate blood, go ahead and visit blood.co.uk now. Right now. Leave my blog. I won't be offended,
Did ya do it? Did you come back to me? Shucks...
Finally, if you are worried about donating blood, that is completely understandable. I have a huge fear of needles so would be terrified. The process will be explained to you beforehand, and you can find all the information you need online. And if the motivation of saving lives isn't enough for you - just think of the sugary treat you can have after donating blood! Hmmmmmm biscuits....
In sum, donate blood. Why?
You get sugar afterwards.
You can gloat about being a good person.
Because lots of people want to donate blood but CANNOT as a result of health issues out of their control.
You never know when you might need a blood transfusion. No matter how healthy and careful you are, you just never know what might happen.
Let me know if this blog has convinced you to donate and I will be your best friend forever :)
Thanks for reading!
Until next time, M x
Sign up to donate blood: www.blood.co.uk
Donate money to Blood Cancer UK: https://bloodcancer.org.uk/
Join the Stem Cell register: https://www.anthonynolan.org/