It’s not quite what you expect to see but there to greet us at the entrance to the chemo unit was a bird of prey. It wasn’t long after lunch and the kestrel had just killed a vole in the hospital car park.

Like the bird, I was about to do something pretty violent, in my own way, in order to survive.

Rather than feeling squeamish, I enjoyed seeing such a powerful creature. It seemed like an inspiring sight just before chemo#7. I didn’t realise why until I did a little research while waiting for my chemo cocktail to be mixed up.

Some people apparently see the kestrel as a warrior or a warlike symbol and in battle they use its image believing that it gives them prowess. The bird represent success, victory and rising above a situation.

Wow – I’ll take all of that thank you very much.

The skill of the kestrel is to hover in the air, locate its target and then choose the right moment to strike. According to a mystic on the internet, they are all about focus. When you see one it’s a sign that you should focus on your goals and do what’s necessary to make your desires become a reality.

The bird’s timing was perfect. I’m now entering probably the hardest part of my treatment. The side effects are getting worse and yet it seems like there’s no end in sight to the chemo sessions. Still 11 to go after this one. Even if none of the kestrel stuff is true, it was lovely to see something so special.

It was almost a relief to get back to the business of fighting cancer. This week has been a nightmare thanks to the actions of one person. I don’t even know if they are a man or a woman but The Idiot has caused me lots of trouble. And yes, they know that I have cancer.

I have wasted hours worrying. I even spent a whole day of my precious life just crying in bed. This big stressful thing has come along just when I really don’t need it. I won’t go into details as it’s complicated and I’ve had to explain it far too many times.

The day before chemo I didn’t put on much make-up as I knew I’d probably end up in tears. Ahead I had some horrible hospital tests and the prospect of throwing away huge chunks of time on the phone because of that big stressful thing.

I decided to base myself at Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre. It’s a place offering coffee and support. It’s right next to a hospital but it doesn’t look or smell like one. There are a number of Maggie’s Centres around the country, mine is a beautiful oasis, designed by a famous architect. I was hoping for some friendly words of advice and perhaps some cake. I got that and much more.

make upI was already on my phone talking about the actions of The Idiot when I walked into Maggie’s. I could see that one of the staff wanted a word with me. Once I’d finished my call, I was asked if I wanted my make-up done by a professional. Oh, let me think about that for a few seconds.

The make-up session at Maggie’s was only interrupted twice by my mobile and that big stressful thing. However getting some smokey eyes certainly relaxed me.

Later when I ended up sitting in a hospital corridor with only a couple of cotton gowns to cover my dignity, I looked a lot more glam than usual. I continued to take yet more phone calls relating to The Idiot but I felt stronger. Thanks to some very lovely people, hopefully it’s being sorted now.

From the random make-over to the magnificent bird of prey, life didn’t seem quite so bad. Then during treatment I got an upgrade from chemo club class. I didn’t have to sit in a big pink chair; I had a proper bed in an en-suite room.

Perhaps I got the side room as I was living dangerously. Once again I had opted to cut my steroids. Now I’m on a quarter of a dose. Reducing them before didn’t give me any problems. Mum and my friend Chantal, the flower girl, kept an eagle eye on me. But it was fine. I just slept in the comfy bed covered by a thin blanket.

I dreamed of the kestrel. My warrior bird of prey hovering in the sky, waiting for the perfect opportunity to swoop on my tumour. Attacking it and killing the cancer.

Normally I focus on 007 doing my dirty work. Could it now be a case of move over James Bond there’s a new bird in town?

20 thoughts on “Chemo#7

  1. Hi Helen, how are you this (early) morning? My email informing me that this weeks blog is online has just arrived, timed at 05.33. Are you, like me, awake at this time, or is the sending of emails out of your hands? The workings and wonders of the internet are way beyond my understanding, I am afraid.
    I hope that “the idiot” is not responsible for you being up at this hour, if in fact you actually are up.
    Some people are verbally violent to others, some naturally stupid and others just speak or do things before thinking. The result to the person on the receiving end is exactly the same, as you know all too well. I have a couple of well known sayings that always come to mind when having problems with idiots. I am sure that you will have heard them both many times during your working life
    Don’t let the b******* grind you down. Very useful I find, covers just about everything and everyone. When I think of this, I am thinking, I may have had a setback now but I will be back bigger and better than ever
    The other little saying that always comes to my mind when dealing with idiots is, Don’t get mad, get even. You may, or may not actually get even but, I find that thinking what you would like to do really helps.
    Its good to hear that you have cut down on the steroids again without ill effects and that James Bond has a feathered helper. The both of them along with the thoughts and wishes of all your followers and you are almost there.

    Take care and all the very best wishes from one early riser to another xx

  2. You look fabulous! F#%^ the idiot. I had breast cancer 6 years ago and was living with an idiot at the time who made it all more stressful. F£&@ them all! Hang in there xx

  3. Helen, you look amazing! This hair-do is fantastic…would like to see that one out on the town next time! All my love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  4. Wow , Helen, keep strong….your words are very powerful. I am feeling a little bit low at the moment and you inspire me to stay focused and strong. I love your analogy of the the Kestrel. We had a pair nesting at Frocester in an old oak tree when I was young and they are indeed magnificent creatures. I hope you get your ‘big stressfull thing’ sorted out it makes me angry that someone is causing you stress at a vulnerable time….however it is how you get back up that counts, and you have proved over and over that you can do that;0)x I love your makeover, Maggies certainly sounds an uplifting place to go to. Sending you love and strength. x x

  5. Morning Helen – I have discovered how to follow you now! So am sending all my love and strength and look forward to seeing you xx

  6. Wow, that’s amazing, to see such a fabulous bird up so close! And I’m sure the Kestrel thought so too! Keep on keeping on girl. Clare xx

  7. Maggies sound like a great place. We have Cancer Support Communities here in the US. Mine in central NJ is in an old farm house from the 1800’s. It is so warm and cozy just like the folks who run the programs.
    You look wonderful by the way. Hope the Idiot situation gets resolved.

  8. You know how sometimes you know you want to say something, but you don’t know what to say?

    That’s how I felt when I read about the idiot. As you don’t know if ‘it’ is male or female I’m guessing twitter, or at any rate the internet. Whoever they are, a completely inconsequential human being who has probably achieved nothing and should be pitied, but the last damn thing you need.

    Still read your blogs every week, but very often I end up thinking :I can’t say anything useful so I won’t say anything’ others who post seem to put things better than me, particularly those who have had cancer themselves, which mercifully isn’t me.

    Anyway love always triumphs over hate, so whoever it is you are worth a million over them.

  9. Loved the story about your “Chemo Kestrel”. I see injured and orphaned ones occasionally at a wildlife center where I volunteer. Of course the favorite part is when they have recovered or grown sufficiently and we release them back to the wild. I’ll think of you next time!

  10. Wonderful post, you are a special, clever, beautiful and kind woman. Wishing you all the very best and thank you for your blog posts. Xxxxxxx

  11. How come on the odd occasion when I have had to wear a hospital gown, I NEVER looked that good??!! You look fantastic and as the gentleman said earlier, “foxy”. As for “the idiot” -they are just that “an idiot”!! Best wishes for a really good week ahead.

  12. I was going to use the same quote as Russ above as it gets me through most “Idiot” situations in life “Don’t let the b******s get you down” I know its difficult but you, and looking after yourself, are more important than this. Maggie’s has excellent reputation – good to hear they lived up to it with you. Love the kestrel – bring him flying in on the bad days to hover there seeking out and catching his prey. Stay strong when you can my dear – and when you can’t there’s nothing wrong with having a good cry because life’s a bitch! I wish you nothing but good things xxx

  13. Hello Helen

    I heard you on the radio today while I was driving, and I haven’t stopped thinking about since. I too have cancer and am at the point where I need to decide how best to go forward with it. I have been despairing the last few days about everything.
    This morning I woke feeling completely numb, I felt like nothing was worth going through all the treatment again, not even the faces of my beautiful kids made that feeling go. I am very private as regards my illness and the fact that I look perfectly well makes it hard for other people to appreciate just how ill I am.
    To hear you speak today was the kick up the arse that I so badly needed. You sounded so positive and determined just to make the most of what you have and the time you have left.

    You made me feel humble and to realise that life, no matter how long or short it might be, is worth every ounce of fight inside of us. You sound like a very special lady, and today you are responsible for setting me off in the next chapter in my life, and who knows, you may very well have saved my life.

    I will never forget your courage and will use you as my inspiration. Thank you so much

    With love


    • Wow Aimee thank you so much for your wonderful words. Going thru all this is so so hard. I’m so happy that I’ve helped to inspire you. In turn what you’ve said has helped me feel really good :)

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