One down. Five to go.

Several big bags of clear fluid later and my first session of chemo is over. But let me rewind my nine hour day and show you how it started.

This is a photo of me taken just before the treatment. Pretty normal, if a little tired. But this picture is important as it might be my last with a full head of hair for some time.

Just before chemo kicks in

Sadly the toxic chemical cocktail didn’t come with an umbrella and a slice of pineapple on the side so instead I had a couple of friends over for chemo coffee. Mum was with me all day, just like before during my nightmare stay in hospital.

I thought about James Bond some more. I hope that the boys did the business.

The most uncomfortable part was the cold cap. A helmet of ice that helps stop chemo attacking the hair follicles, and can leave you with frostbitten ears if you don’t protect them. It was the most painful things and could only maybe prevent my hair falling out.

To add insult to injury, it didn’t even match my clothes.

The big freeze. Minus 5 degrees to be precise.

So how did I pass the time? Some chat, some sleep and some home comforts. Plus of course reading words of support from outside the four walls of the ward.

Morale boosters

Plenty of time to read messages

So far I’m not too tired or sick but I think that’s just the steroids talking. The evening they have also been shouting at me. The steroids made me eat a burger on the way home. Ha, so much for the healthy diet.

When they wear off then I’ll be left with the evil side effects of chemo. By that point I’ll be back home with my parents and back in my old bed.

19 thoughts on “One down. Five to go.

  1. Helen, you look beautiful. Even with the mismatched hat…how on earth could they not have given you a gorgeous teal one to match the nails? It’s not on – complain to the management! I hope JB has gone to work in there…go go 007!

    jem x

  2. Its great to see you looking so good and I know you always will. As you shine with your smile not your hair. Hope 007 works his magic (what a wonderful way to look at it )

  3. Loving your nail varnish. I hope you are not feeling to bad this morning. I am studying Psychology at UWE and I have a statistics exam this afternoon. Seeing you looking so brave before your treatment with your very cold cap on, has certainly put my exam into perpective. Stay strong and say hello to your mum for me. I always think of sausage sizzles when I think of your mum ;0) speak soon ali x

  4. Loving your blogs and photos!
    A friend of ours had the cold cap on too when she had her chemo, she didn’t loose her hair.
    Hope your feeling well today and stay positive! xoxo

  5. I’m sure the last thing you want to be told is that you suit a cold cap, but anyone who can look that good in one of those is simply in possession of classic looks. If you’re missing work, I’m spending the morning in a hot, sweaty radio car watching the Leveson inquiry unfold minute by tedious minute. We’re hovering over the PCs, waiting for a significant sound bite from Lord Rothemere, but so far, nada. Andy Coulson should be better this afternoon, just hope the chocolate Hobnobs last ’til then. Look after that immune system; Hobnobs have got to be good for it, right? aka A Little Of What You Fancy, chemo allowing.

  6. The cold cap is indeed a bit of a fashion no no, yet if you keep your lovely hair, it will be worth the effort. Keep thinking of Daniel Craig…. I am sure this will have positive benefits

  7. One down – that’s your first step toward the finish. I hope you continue to feel alright.
    In regards to the cold cap, while I never had it during my treatment, I sat alongside several women who did, and they never lost their hair. When I asked the nurse about it, he said that they had very good results in their ward with cold caps. So I reckon there’s a fair chance you’ll keep your hair.

    Good luck with the oncoming months. Cross one off the list.

  8. wow Helen big salute to you for wearing the cold cap – did you really wear it for the entirety of the treatment. I lasted maybe 10 seconds with it on ! You are one tough cookie. I have only met one other person who could bear to wear it – and she did keep her hair. Amazing.

  9. Hey Helen,

    I just started reading today, we shared some adventures in Moscow and many laughs, one in particular springs to mind – sitting in a cafe (or was it a bar) with Lena and you and Vicki recounting a story about some sound equipment that got left on accidentally and may have recorded an ‘inappropriate’ conversation…I laughed so hard I nearly peed myself :0) I think your blog is amazing, I think it will help a lot of people, some that you know and some you don’t – when my step dad had cancer he felt like no one really understood what he was going through, but reading the blog of some random guy who had the same thing really helped. Good luck with the next round of chemo, I know you and 007 will smash it, will be thinking of you from Down Under xxx

  10. Hi Helen I was one of the other patients in the same bay as you in the hospital (the one with lots of bottles of water, kettle chips and a fat tummy) for a few days and stumbled upon your blog. I am so pleased you have made it onto the next stage of your treatment. You look amazing in your photos and seem to be dealing with it with the amazing grace and good humour that you displayed in the hospital after your horrid ordeal, where despite everything you managed to light up the ward and keep everyone else’s spirits up! I just wanted to wish you all the best for your chemo and I hope it isn’t as bad as you think. It sounds like you have some big fans cheering you on!! Love Clare x

  11. Hellebelle, you still look fabulous with that cold cap, you are such a brave lady! And I think the Kosovar shampoo, which we got from our lovely hairdresser in Pristina, was ten times worse! ;-). Hope you feeling ok. x

  12. Hey Helen. I think you look great in your cold cap. My friend recently had a bone marrow transplant and lots of chemo to go with it. He used it as an opportunity to go out and buy a stylish fedora. I bought one too out of solidarity. They all said his hair would fall out. But it got slightly thinner and that was all. And then it all came back again very fast. Hope you’re not feeling too horrible! Gx

  13. The cold cap is certainly not no 1 fashion item, but if it helps you kept your hair, wow it will be worth it. I didnt use it, but know lots that have with great success. First step taken to killing off this cancer once and for all. Sounds like you have wonderful support, so let them spoil you for a while, you deserve it.

  14. Helen !!! Greetings from a night-shift at TVC. Just me and the mice….. Your blog and attitude are a right old kick up the backside for an inveterate moaner like me. I’m reasonably certain that in your situation I’d be wallowing in self-pity, but I’d quite like never to get the chance to find out! I had no idea about chemo caps. But then, I had no idea about your obsession with Daniel Craig. I’m not sure which is more distressing (no-one can ever displace Sean, surely?). Order your mum to give you a hug from me – and as David Cameron would apparently write: LOL Jo-Anne xxxxxx

  15. Channelling positive JB vibes your way, all the way. The cold cap gives new meaning to the expression ‘brain freeze’ but why make them red? Is it just in case you might forget and walk out with it on? Still you make it look good gorgeous girl. One down and counting Jx

  16. Perhaps a very low day….. just thinking of you.
    Hope you have the love of your family and dear friends by your side.
    Those same folk love you so much, and care for you.
    Take care xx

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