Back to the future

Yay I survived my first day at work since the stupid cancer! I’m shattered now but in a good way.

It was such a fantastic feeling walking into BBC TV Centre. Almost as soon as got to the correspondents’ desk I was handed a story – it was great to be back. Yesterday made me realise just how important work is to my identity. It felt like a part of me that was missing had returned.

Seeing everyone again was brilliant. I haven’t done that much talking and hugging for a long time. I’m sure it was all much easier because of this blog. People knew that I had cancer but gave it a good kicking; now I’m healthy and happy.

It was such a warm welcome, like a celebration. And of course, there was cake.

My correspondent colleagues were very good to me. Fetching me as much coffee as I wanted. I could get used to this!

There were times when I was exhausted. Just getting into work was hard. There are two flights of steps from the reception to the newsroom. Before I’d hardly noticed them, yesterday they left me totally breathless.

I felt so relieved to be back. It seemed just the same but also at times very different.

Thankfully it wasn’t a manic day. I managed to delete a few emails. Some were invitations to events that had taken place ages ago. I was erasing part of my life that never happened.

Back in March I went from being diagnosed with cancer to having the operation very quickly. It meant that my next shift after getting the bad news became my last shift. On that day I felt such fear for the future. I didn’t know for sure that I’d be able to return.

But I made it.

To be back at the BBC without any of these worries was incredible.

To be there without any hair wasn’t a problem at all. My new wig was as comfortable as it could have been although that’s not saying much. At times it was hot and kept my cheeks rosy red. I had lots of comments about looking well. I was glowing in more ways than one.

I needed to get a new ID pass as mine wasn’t working. For this I had to get my photo taken. In the picture I appear healthy with shiny hair. Now, every time I use my new pass it will remind me of my first day back.

Returning to work

This is one of those big moments that proves I’m really getting my life back. Today I’m returning to work! It’s exciting to be normal once again.

Cancer steals your usual routine and replaces it with something alien. For months my job was beating the stupid cancer. I’ve done that, had all the evil chemo side effects and now finally it’s time to move on.

I was a bit nervous about going back but not so much anymore. Yesterday I saw a totally new consultant. There are a few medical things I still need to sort out, problems caused by the treatment. Somehow my notes hadn’t turned up so I had to tell this doctor my entire medical history.

It made me realise that being in the newsroom after so much time off is not nearly as scary as any of that awfulness.

Also it made me see just how far I’ve come. Like when I was in hospital after the operation and I virtually had to re-learn how to walk. Back then I couldn’t even imagine that I’d ever be well enough to do my job again. I’d wanted to work during my chemo but my consultants advised me not to. Sadly, I knew they were right.

So it’ll be strange being back at BBC TV centre after such a long time away. Strange but lovely. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone. That’s one of the things I’ve missed the most. I’ve been promised plenty of hugs and cake to welcome me back.

I’m going to enjoy getting ready for work. My day will have a purpose and structure which doesn’t involve anything medical or daytime telly.

At the same time, it’ll be a test for my immune system. I’ll be armed with anti-bacteria wipes and hand gel. What I’m most worried about though is how I’ll cope physically. I’m having a phased return to work which will make it much easier to deal with the tiredness.

I hope that no-one will find it awkward knowing what to say. Do you mention the C word or not??  I don’t mind either way.

After everything I’ve been through, I think that people may be surprised at how well I look. Appearances can be deceptive. Even when I was in intensive care I didn’t look that ill at all.

Today I won’t be blonde. Raquel and Babarella will stay home. I’ve decided that I’m going to wear my new wig. The darker one with no name. The wig that’s the most like my old hair. In many ways I’ll look like nothing happened. And that’s just fine by me.