Better believe it

Something amazing has happened. I went into hospital today and it was okay. Really okay.

For the first time since the big operation I walked through the entrance and didn’t feel like I was about to collapse.

I was able to stand up straight and I didn’t need to hold onto someone’s arm. I felt bright and alert like I was starting a day at work, rather than just finishing a tiring night shift.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not well. I need a fist full of tablets every few hours and even that doesn’t quite get rid of all the pain. I still can’t walk fast or very far.

But I’m much better than I’ve been in a long time. It seems like the cloud of exhaustion is starting to lift.

Perhaps more importantly I’m now starting to believe that I’ve actually got rid of the cancer.

I know that technically I don’t have any lumps left of the evil disease. The surgeons made sure of that. For the moment let’s forget about the possibility of teeny tiny cancer cells that may be lurking inside me.

This morning as I wandered past the hospital cafe along the pale blue corridor towards my appointment I realised that I no longer saw myself as someone who belonged there.

Up until recently I’ve been so focused on my recovery that I haven’t had much energy left over for anything else. Also I felt too ill to be able to convince myself that I’d really beaten it. Now that’s changed.

I’m able to say I had cancer, not I have cancer. And really mean it.

Of course that’s brilliant. But before I get carried away, those teeny tiny cancer cells that may or may not exist still have to be sorted out. It’s the potential danger they pose that had brought me back to hospital today.

I needed more tests to determine if and when I’m able to start chemo. I so desperately want it to be soon.

Last night Mum asked me how I was feeling. For a moment I couldn’t work out why she’d just said that. Then I remembered.

I should find out next week whether I’m well enough for chemo.

Until then I’ll be trying to forget that I’m in the middle of treatment for cancer. I’m just going to enjoy feeling normal.

Waiting to nail chemotherapy

This was supposed to have been a big day for me. Right now I should be recovering from my first dose of chemotherapy. But I’m not.

My consultant has decided that I’m not well enough so chemo has been delayed for a couple of weeks. It’s unbelievably frustrating.

It might sound strange but I was looking forward to being pumped full of toxic chemicals.

All the bits of my cancer have been removed. The surgeons searched and destroyed anything that looked bad.

Potentially though, there could still be some microscopic cancer cells inside me. They need to be killed by the chemo which is why I’m so keen for it to begin.

I dressed smartly for my hospital appointment. I wore make-up, a rare thing these days and I even painted my nails bright red.

I was determined to look chemo-ready.

But I couldn’t fool my consultant. I’ve known him for years and he could see the tiredness in my eyes.

Just travelling to the hospital had left me shattered. It reminded me of the feeling I sometimes get after doing overnight shifts at the BBC.

If there’s something big happening you’re totally rushed off your feet. Often in the dead of night you travel to the location of the story and then report live for Breakfast TV and BBC radio.

When it’s all finished you make your way home to bed just as most people are starting their day at work. Feeling pretty exhausted and kind of dazed, you move slowly and know that you could fall asleep at a moments notice.

For my consultant it’s not just the tiredness that’s a problem. The pain is back in a big way and my body hasn’t quite healed as much as it should have done.

I know he is right but it doesn’t make the delay any easier to deal with.

I need to be properly prepared for the onslaught of chemo. It would be really awful to start and have to stop before the end of the treatment. There’s also a whole array of horrible things that could happen to me if I’m not well enough.

So I wait.

Over the next two weeks I’m going to be sleeping lots, eating healthily and thinking positive thoughts.

Plus there’s going to be plenty of time to paint my nails again.

A bit of pain is no bad thing

I’m feeling much more like me, it’s as if I’m finally waking up from a long nightmare.

Very slowly, I’m getting better. I still sleep plenty but the glimpses of normal life are starting to join up.

It’s strange to have days stretching out in front of me with a whole load of nothing to do.

Before being diagnosed with cancer I packed so much into my already hectic life in London. Now my pace has slooooowed right down.

I’m still too weak to do many things. I can’t walk very far, it’s impossible for me to stand up long enough to cook a meal and I’m too tired to even watch daytime TV.

As for lifting something heavy, like say a kettle, forget it.

Luckily I’m being looked after by my parents who live in the countryside. I’m back in the place where I grew up and I’m sure this is helping with my recovery.

These days I spend great big chunks of time in bed just staring into space. My view of the world is a massive field that leads to a wooded escarpment.

Not long after I came out of hospital, I watched as the light faded from the warm evening sky. Under the cover of dusk, small black objects began to dart around.

A pair of bats seemed to dance outside the window. The light from my bedroom had apparently attracted a feast of moths.

While the bats moved just slightly too fast, making you doubt what you’d seen, the next wildlife surprise was not so speedy.

Sauntering across the field a few days later were four roe deer. The young animals didn’t seem to care who saw them. But then we are in the middle of nowhere.

When the small deer got to the hedge at the edge of the grass, one by one they leapt about six foot into the air and disappeared into the next field.

I’m glad to have distractions like these as last week was awful. Horrendous, in fact.

Since the operation the pain has been bad but bearable. I haven’t been in agony. But that’s all changed.

Intense pain has become a close friend of mine. Day or night, it has wanted to hang out with me.

It has an unpredictable personality. It can be stabbing, shooting or squeezing with a vice like grip. You think you’ve got it under control and then it pops up in a different place.

I knew this was going to be a painful few months but I didn’t realise that second time round the cancer treatment would hurt so much.

It’s thanks to actual real friends that I’ve manage to beat the worst of the pain.

A couple of them suggested things to try, the GP agreed and so another friend drove around late night chemists to get the prescriptions for me.

I’m still in some discomfort. But compared to how terrible it was, it’s such a relief to once again only have to deal with good old fashioned low level pain.

That’s something I can easily cope with.