Chemo #2

For my second week of treatment I was out for lunch. No,really, I went out for lunch half way through my chemo day. I escaped from hospital although I did it with permission from my nurse.

Weekly chemo is supposed to be quick and easy. Ha! That’s more hope than reality. The day starts with blood tests; this is to prove I’m well enough for what’s to come. It takes about half an hour for the results to come through.

It’s only once the doctors get these, that my order is put in at the chemo cocktail bar. The clear liquid has to be mixed. Shaken not stirred. This then has to be delivered to the chemo ward. The process takes around a couple of hours.

As I knew that there was a long wait ahead, I decided that the best time to leave would be straight after the blood tests. I snuck out with Mum and my Aunt Rose who’d come up to London to keep me company. My friend, the blogger joggingjenny, also joined us although instead of running there, she did actually get the bus! For a couple of hours I was free.

For a stressful day, it was lovely to go out for lunch. It took my mind off things. I wasn’t surrounded by medial sights and smells. Plus Jamie Oliver has a far better menu than the hospital canteen. It felt strange, almost like I was skiving from school.

Afterwards I was able to start my treatment with a really upbeat mood. That lasted about oooh a few seconds until the moment the needle went into my hand for the IV drip.

“I just need to push it in a bit further,” my nurse kept repeating.

Before I had Tamsin promising to pinch me as a distraction, this time I thought of yellow. Bright, warm, sunshine yellow. It may seem odd but I’ve been reading an interesting book called The Yellow World by Albert Espinosa. He had cancer as a teenager and is now in the clear. But not before he had more than 8o sessions of chemo. In total I’m only on number 14.

The Spanish author has a big thing about the colour yellow. He reckons it’s very special. As I looked away from the nurse I saw a woman in a yellow jumper…maybe he’s onto something. Albert Espinosa also believes that if you think – this will hurt – then it will. Following his advice, whenever the word pain popped into my head, I replaced it with pavement because it’s a word that’s totally unconnected with pain. And it worked, a bit.

As the drugs started to flow, my friend Louise stopped by for the chemo coffee club. With a posh paper bag, she came carrying contraband. Louise broke the no-cake-it’s-chemo-again rule! The fancy cup cakes been sprinkled with blue sparkles and were inside a box tied with a long pink ribbon. I’m trying to be super healthy but the cakes tasted amazing so all was forgiven.

However just being there, squashed into a small cell of the stuffy chemo unit, made me want to cry. I was so tired and my hand was in real pavement. It was that bad I had to take my wig off.

One thing that helped me was a comment on my blog from a woman called Mary, who I think is from Australia. She was told she had five days to live. She was given some advice by a woman in the next bed to her who was also dancing with cancer.

Now three years on she wanted to share this advice with me. First of all try to think of chemo as your friend, as something incredible, like liquid gold flowing through your veins. Yet more yellowness. Accept it and welcome it. Secondly, instead of thinking why me? She suggests that it may be more helpful to try considering, why not me??

She’s right. I’m coming to realise that self-pity is such a waste of valuable energy. I’m sure that no-one thinks that they deserve to get this killer disease. But I have it and I need to focus on the fight.

Then something terrible happened on the ward. A patient near me had a serious reaction to the chemo. The drugs are so toxic that there is always the chance your body will reject them with frightening consequences. After some emergency care the paitent was fine. Not well but no longer in danger.

While the only problems I had came from my hand hurting thanks to the drip and the side effect of sleepy drunkenness. I didn’t say a word about them. I’m just so grateful that my body is still strong and can take the kicking it’s getting from the chemo. Long may this continue.

16 thoughts on “Chemo #2

  1. Someone said to me on twitter yesterday they regarded chemo like tough love from a parent. Hard to take at times but always in your best interests. It’s difficult isn’t it not to fear that bag of clear liquid, but you’re so right; where would we be without it? Stay well. Rory x

    • You’re so right, it’s tough love. You don’t want it but you know it’s good for you. When I made my break for freedom yesterday I was thinking of you x

  2. the streets and pavements of chemo are lined with gold. i think your yellow thoughts may be slowly inspiring me to get back in to my studio after my last chemo. will show you any developments if and when. keep strong.

    • Oh that’s such a lovely way of putting it! Thanks. Glad it’s inspiring you. Yes I’d love to see that :) Good luck for your chemo x

  3. You never cease to amaze me. I can’t wait to see you in a couple of weeks, you need to bring the blonde wig out for it!!!!! Love you xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  4. Hi Helen,

    I am a new reader of your blog, found you via the recent press coverage. I am not a member of the C Club but do spend a huge amount of time in hospital as I have a young son with multiple disabilities. I know exactly what you mean about feeling almost as if you are skiving when you combine treatment with a “treat”, always seems odd when you then go back into the parallel universe that is life in hospital – the world outside carries on whilst inside the building life and death battles are fought. Hard to deal with when you are feeling low.

    Hope chemo treats you gently – sending positive thoughts your way. xx

  5. Hi Helen, you have me hooked waiting for each new post, I checked my in box Monday afternoon & then every couple of hours up to now.
    Your friend Mary is so right when she says that no one deserves this terrible, horrible disease. It is especially hard to understand when it is someone in the prime of life, as you. I am sure that if all the good wishes and thoughts from all your followers/friends here could effect a cure, you would be as fit as a butchers dog by now. Sadly we can’t, all we can do is to send you our love, thoughts & best wishes.
    I realise that it is hard & some days are very hard indeed. Think about James Bond carrying the liquid gold around your body, zapping every cancer cell in sight.
    You may not think so now as you are in pain but even by being offered chemo, you are a lucky lady. Not everyone gets this opportunity, some people don’t qualify because the disease is too far advanced. Other people are passed over because of their age. I am so sorry to say that my Dad fell into the latter category.

    I have gone on for far too long now. Take very good care of yourself & keep on fighting.
    Already waiting to hear from you again!

  6. You are such a positive person I have never met you but feel that I have through the blogs that you write take care xxx

  7. Yellow always reminds me of sunflowers, which my adorable and tiny wife and her equally tiny and equally adorable sister say makes them really happy.

  8. Wonderful, informative blog. Keep strong Helen. Following your progress and rooting for you :)

  9. I’ve just been having a long moan about my life at the moment and then I read about yours and feel bad for moaning. You are really strong and I hope you get through this, out the other side and then conquer the world because you seem to have the potential to do so. Thanks for brightening my life with news of yours.

  10. sending you lots of good thoughts – I am on day 1 of my 6th round of oral chemo,which I’m sure is nowhere near as horrid as iv chemo -I get to keep my hair for one thing- but this seems to be my future-until it stops hard to get one’s head around. I resent the tablets yet they are going to help me. Scan coming up too. I’m having a margarita though,and that’s excellent medicine :-)

  11. Sending you lots of postive vibies. I am not having a great time of it at the moment but your fight is inspiring to stop feeling sorry for myself and keep going.
    Keep fighting

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