Countdown to chemo

How can you want something so badly and yet completely dread it at the same time? That’s how I feel about chemotherapy.

I’ve been here before. When I beat cancer ten years ago the chemo was worst part of the treatment.

Now it’s about to start all over again.

I’d already failed once to persuade the consultants I was well enough for it to begin. So a few days ago I was delighted when they said that I was chemo ready.

It wasn’t the fact that I was looking a lot more like the old me; that I’d put on bright red nail polish or even that I had the energy to wash my hair before the appointment.

No, I was genuinely well. I was also mentally ready.

Ironically since then I’ve had some of the worst pain following surgery. Thankfully it’s now easing off.

Next Wednesday I’ll have to go into hospital for my first session of chemo. They’ll hook me up to a drip of drugs that’ll slowly slip into my veins over the course of a day.

I’ll get the maximum dose of the stuff every three weeks and there’ll be six sessions in total.

Having the chemo is the easy part. It’s what comes afterwards that’s hard to deal with. It builds up in your system. As the weeks go by you just feel worse and worse.

Imagine having the hangover from hell, arthritis, the flu and chronic tiredness all at the same time. That’s what chemo was like last time.

It’s not just the sickness I’m worried about. I’m sad too about the chunk of time it’ll take away from me.

On the morning of New Years Day I was live on BBC TV outside the Olympic stadium talking about what promised to be an incredible year. I could never have imagined that just a couple of months later I’d be diagnosed with cancer.

Putting the treatment dates in my diary was pretty depressing. It made me realise that I won’t finish chemo until the Olympics are over.

I had managed to get tickets for a couple of events but they’re a few days after chemo session number five. I doubt that I’ll make it back to the Olympic Park. By that stage I probably won’t even be well enough to watch it on the telly.

Apparently chemo is not so bad these days and the drugs for the side effects are better. Maybe. But still it’s going to be horrendous. I’ve been told that I should be prepared to feel very ill.

And then there’s my hair.

It all fell out last time and probably will again. It’s the thing that I’m finding the most upsetting.

Every time I brush my hair I wonder how much longer I’ll be able to do this for. Worst case scenario is that it’s gone by June.

Despite all this I just want to blast those microscopic cancer cells that are probably still lurking inside my body and so I can’t wait for my first toxic cocktail of chemicals.

15 thoughts on “Countdown to chemo

  1. Hang in there Helen! It’s the best that I can say. You’ve been through it once beofre, so at the very least you know what to expect. I’m sending you my love, support and loads of happy thougths. If you can think of anything helpful that I can do – I’m only a phonecall away.

  2. Dear Helen
    So glad you’ve made the grade! Real progress although you must have mixed feelings about it. Sell your Olympic tickets for a huge profit and buy yourself something really nice.
    C x

  3. Stay strong! I’ve just had my 5th round of fec chemo, the sickness on the first was bad – but they adjusted my anti-sickness and it’s been fine since :) I was diagnosed with BC 2 days before Xmas, at the age of 37 I never could have imagined I’d be doing this this year!!! But we are aren’t we? We have to! Keep strong, chin-up, handle the dark days and beat the b**t**d. Much love x

  4. Good luck Helen! I guess beginning the chemo brings you closer to its end, however hellish the journey. I’ve put Wednesday in my diary to try to send some positive vibes your way. P x

  5. We are all behind you, Helen. Willing and wishing this cancer to go.
    Chemo isn’t *that* bad, I just had session 5 of 12, mine are two-weekly.
    Yes, my hair has gone, but it’s all part of the cure. I am being mended, as you are too.
    Very best of luck.

  6. Its great news that you well enough to go to next stage. Its progress and if you keep going forward nothing can beat you. I remeber seeing you outside the Olympic stadium and its a shame you won’t be ready but you will be for Rio in 4 years so plan to go there .

  7. Phew.. reading some of these comments has made me think just how lucky I am. I’ve realised i’m such a wimp complaining at my shoulder injury I recieved going down that water slide at Raches 40th Butlins do!…All the best with your treatment Helen, Cheryl and Sarah-Marie too

  8. Lovely Helen, You are very brave. So sorry for what you are going through. Thinking of you. You WILL beat this. Much love and a huge hug xxxxx

  9. Helen, from what little I’ve learned about you from reading your blog, I’d say you have whatever it takes. Good luck for the next few months but I believe we mostly make our own luck, and that’s what you do by writing and reading and eating well and sleeping lots. You are stronger than it.

  10. Helen – no two ways about it Chemo is GRIM. My heart goes out to you.
    Please think about anything I (or indeed anyone) could do for you to help you thru this. I feel confident that many people would be more than willing to help you.
    Can I bake you a cake – for the post / pre chemo days?
    Can I send you some music or film recommendations for those times when you are alone?
    Can we bake ginger bread to help with those anti sickness feelings?
    What about a foot / back / head etc massage to relieve any anxiety?
    Or have hand made / personalised head scarves for those dreaded no hair days?

    SO many people care about you, and wish to help but we feel helpless.
    Please just ask – it is not easy ….. but …..

    Big HUG Phil xx

  11. Helen, wishing you all the best for what you are about to go through. But you have beat it once before, you WILL beat it again.
    Wishing you all the best

  12. Hi Helen
    I just wanted to say good luck to you with the chemo. I’ve been there too as I have myeloma (Incurable cancer of the blood plasma) and was doing the whole chemo thIng last year before a transplant. I ‘get’ what you say about wanting something that badly but hen totally wondering why when it all starts and makes your life turn upside down. But it does the job so I just wanted to wish you all the best and say that I hope that you can cope with it and that it doesn’t make you feel too bad.
    Debs x

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