Look into my eyes

“Don’t worry I won’t make you bark like a dog.”

Now those are the kind of reassuring words you want to hear when you’re about to be hypnotised.

I get my next evil chemo cocktail tomorrow. After round one I now know just how bad it’s going to be. To help me cope with the chronic pain I’m trying hypnotherapy. Prescription drugs and daytime TV are not really doing the trick.

I went to hospital for the hypnotherapy. It felt like we were in the basement next to the boiler room. I lay on an examination table covered by rough blue paper to protect me from the previous person’s germs.

The woman who was about to put me under wore academic looking glasses and a conservative suit. She explained that this was nothing like stage hypnotism and that she was medically trained.

Part of me was disappointed that it wasn’t Kenny Craig, the character from Little Britain with too much guy-liner, telling me to look into his eyes.

I was lulled into a trance and told to think of a special location, real or imagined. The first place that came to mind was my old flat in Kiev which looked out onto a row of Soviet-era tower blocks.

Nope, I need somewhere much more exotic so I thought of my perfect desert island.

Apparently the hypnotherapy will help to stop the chemo pain by getting my brain to tell my body to chillax. Or something like that. Whatever happened on that tropical island, it felt lovely. I’ll have a couple more sessions but so far it seems like the pain has eased.

What’s even better is that this is free. It’s what I like to call a cancer bonus. It’s rubbish going through all this but you do get some nice stuff to make it just a little bit easier.

Last week I took part in a pampering session. A charity called Look Good Feel Better holds workshops to help women deal with the changes in appearance caused by the cancer treatment.

I was feeling tired and emotional when I arrived. Insomnia caused by the chemo means that I cry very easily these days.

A group of us sat around a long table. We each had a mirror so I was able to watch the tears rolling down my face. Beauticians gave us all a big bag of expensive make-up and advice on how to do things like draw on eye brows that have fallen out.

By the end of the session, my mood had lifted and I looked like I was ready to party. It was a shame that I was so exhausted and had to go straight home.

With my make- up taken care of, I need to concentrate on my hair.

Since I last updated my blog it has properly started to fall out. If I run my fingers through it, whole handfuls of hair come out. I found it very upsetting yesterday but then I’d only had two hours sleep that night. Today I’m not so worried. I realise that it’s just part of the process of getting well again.

I think it will take a few days for it all to drop out. It’s a good job that I should get to choose my NHS wig tomorrow.  It’s another cancer bonus I’d rather not be getting but I’m quite excited to see what I’ll be wearing for the next few months.

Because of this I’m not dreading chemo number two quite so much. Hopefully I’ll be able to post some pictures so you can see my new look for summer!

22 thoughts on “Look into my eyes

  1. Dear Helen, naturally my thoughts are with you. I do admire you. I respect your bravery, even though I know that you have little choice.

    I detect a slightly brighter tone in your post, which is fantastic. Dont loose sight of this. Little steps that I can detect remotely, may be lost to you as you struggle day to day (stuck indoors staying away from the glorious sunshine) fighting the pain sickness and gamut of physical and emotional turmoil.

    Good luck tomorrow – and dont get your hopes up too high with the selection of NHS wigs on offer – at least I remember my wife being hugely underwhelmed !! But try to see the funny side. I do like the positive thought that losing your hair is a sign that the chemo drugs are getting all round your body searching our those rogue cancer cells.

    Will be thinking of you xx

  2. Hypnotherapy! you are so bloomin brave (and I’m a big old wuss!) but I’m very glad to hear that it is helping! Hope the wig session helps too – I’m a big fan of Buff’s too. Ask Corrie Corfield, also a Buff lover, and you’ll have heaps of funky head wear to keep you cool in the summer and warm again in the winter.

    Will be thinking of you on Sunday as I plod round Plymouth Half Marathon…and hoping that you have more good days and a smile on your beautiful face. James Bond had better be on top form, hunting out the bad cells.


    • Good luck for the half marathon! Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll try some of those. I need to start building up my collection of headwear. It’s a bit too painful to smile at the moment (I didnt realise chemo would hurt my face this much) but I’m not in total agony this weekend which is great. xxx

  3. Ruddy hell they don’t make it easy, do they? Whoever ‘they’ are. I’ve always thought, if I start to lose my hair, I’ll just shave it all really short – or, as an short-haired friend of mine says, ‘go right down to the wood.’ I affect a devil-may-care attitude, but in fact a dodgy haircut can put me in a mood for days. So I have been trying to imagine what it must mean for you – and failing. For what it’s worth, I think your bob looks fine. I’m impressed by how matter-of-factly you’ve approached hypnotism; I confess it would worry me quite a bit. I love the way you simply say, ‘I was lulled into a trance.’ I’m guessing that means you didn’t resist! Brilliant that it seems to help the pain, here’s hoping it gets more effective the more you have it, it must be tempting to say, “Look, just keep me in a trance until this chemo thing finishes, would you?” Anyway, if strength and well-being and pain relief can be sent via some sort of mind-power, I’m transmitting as hard as I can! Given how amazing you manage to be through all your troubles, it seems the least I can do. Though I wouldn’t give up the hypnosis.

  4. Helen, I am thinking of you.
    It’s very hard when your hair starts to fall out. I chose my wig from the NHS, I did pay more for it though, the weave on the first one I tried was like a Tesco Value product! Awful.
    I had my hair shaved down to a 0.5 grade. And the best news is, it only costs a fiver in the barbers, as opposed to £75 when I have my own hair. Brilliant! These past few days in the hot weather I have bitten the bullet and not worn it. Even to go shopping. Get me!
    Sending positive thoughts and strength your way. If I can cope with this, I am sure as heck you can.
    You are amazing.
    With love

    • Woah that’s very impressive Sarah Marie!! I’m looking forward to saving lots of money but I fear I may spend it all on a big collection of wigs. Thanks for the tip, I will watch out for the weave!

  5. All the best for chemo 2 Helen. Hope Breakfast are reading your updates. You’ll be back on the sofa talking about your new book in no time! Looking forward to your next blog. Tris x

  6. Dear Helen, you are awesome! So glad you are getting hypno and it’s helping. I had it for chronic insomnia and it worked at least 90% – if you get the same result that will be fabulous. Keep being brilliant and writing the blogs,
    Christine xxx

  7. Thinking of you tomorrow Helen. You have so much support and your blogs are so positive. The beauty session sounded like a real lift. I really hope the wigs also help you to feel a little more human. Sending you strength to help you through your next session x x

  8. Dear Helen,

    I do so love your blog and can’t wait for the book. I’m so glad the hypno went well and that pain was alleviated for you. That’s the worst part to read – that you’re in pain :-(

    ok girl, looking forward to seeing you in your new ‘do’!….now, are the NHS doing Beyonce wigs? Because if they are, I will have to concede that you are in, fact, Beyonce. GRRRR.

    All my love XXX

  9. Ah, I’m so glad you found Look Good Feel Better. Our website, FacingCancer.ca is sponsored by the same people for the Canadian Look Good Feel Better, and it’s about continuing that experience of community and conversation. (everyone’s welcome, by the way)

    So – thank you for sharing about the hypnosis! Wish I’d read this post before the other (and requesting a post, whoops) but nevertheless am glad to have learned more.


  10. I hope the crystal wig fitting was a success. Look forward to seeing the new look. I still think barbarella should make the odd appearance too! It suited you!

    • Barbarella is on stand by!!! Crystal is still in the box but she has some serious competition from the other wigs that have been selected for me.

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