Hooray hooray it’s the end of my chemo holiday. It was lovely having a week off. What amazing weather for a spring break.

After treatment was cancelled last week due to a bad skin reaction I was given some new medicine to take which was knock-out. Literally. I was so drowsy. But it seemed to have done the trick.

After a week off from the usually toxic drugs I thought that I’d feel great but it was only on the last day or so that I started to feel normal-ish. It was just like a typical vacation where you only start to relax, just as you’re about to go home.

I worked over the weekend and ended up reporting on the London Marathon for the BBC News Channel. I enjoy working as it’s time-out from all the cancery stuff.  Physically it’s hard but mentally it’s brilliant to step back into my old life. To a time before I needed all this treatment again.

As I was still on a chemo holiday I decided to try something that I’d been thinking about for while. I had a CFD – a cancer free day. I didn’t mention the disease and if anyone spoke to me about it, I just told them about the CFD. I didn’t mind talking about the chemo and how I was feeling but not any of the bigger things.

I’m coming to terms with my advanced cancer in my own way. I think about it a lot but when I’m not, I don’t want to talk about the horribleness of my situation. People want there to be a happy ending. I don’t like having to say that, no, I’m not going to beat the disease, it’s going to kill me. Despite all what I’m going though I still enjoy life pretty much most of the time. However these conversations can leave me feeling sad. A CFD is sort of like a mini-break for the mind. In the future I’m going to be having a lot more of these days!

On my way home from the BBC, I saw several runners on the tube. All skimpy lycra and shiny new medals. I too was exhausted. Considering how ill the treatment makes me feel, being able to do a shift at work is a big achievement. I ended the day tired but smiling. It was like I’d just done a marathon myself.

I was so glad when I was told that I was well enough for chemo to resume. The rash on my arm had cleared up nicely although we may never know for sure what caused it.

This week I had my chemo cocktail with Rache, my friend who I’ve known since we did A Levels together. She’s the one who loves a bit of fancy dress. I was delighted that we got an upgrade at hospital. I had my favourite side room without a view, as everywhere else was full.

Rache didn’t want to miss a call so she came prepared. She actually admitted that she’d left mobile number five at home!

My friend has visited me in hospital before but she’d never been to this part of the building so I explained where everything was.

Perhaps most importantly I pointed out that the hot drinks trolley was parked in the corridor, just outside the room. Rache said that she didn’t need to know as she doesn’t drink tea or coffee. I replied that I was showing her in case she fancied making me a drink, you know, the patient that’s lying in bed all hooked up to a drip!

We were having such a good time that it was easy to forget why we were there. It was lucky that we were in a private room on our own as we spent most of the time laughing. It was good way to end my chemo-cation.


I have a confession to make. The last two blog posts have been written under the influence. I didn’t realise it but both times I was on a steroid high. Chemo#1 and chemo#2 have gone something like this…

Tuesday – Have chemo along with a load of steroids to help my body cope with the toxic side effects. Tuesday night – Insomnia.

Wednesday – Feel so energetic that I go for a little run. I know. A run – the day after chemo! Wednesday night – Horrific nightmares followed by insomnia.

Thursday – Feel miserable.

Thursday night – Sleep returns to normal.

Friday – Wake up feeling like me. No high, no low, no desire to do any running.

On Wednesdays I felt amazing and was bursting with energy. The real problem was with that awful Thursday comedown. Both times it’s hit me hard and I have months of treatment to go. I couldn’t work out what was happening until I mentioned my mood swings to a doctor.

If I really needed to have so many steroids then I’d just deal with it but why put up with something that can be changed?

Red band spells steroid danger

Before I started chemo#3 I asked if I could get the moody drugs reduced. It caused a bit of a kafuffle. Not many people opt for this. Steroids are used to reduce this risk of your body from having a bad reaction to chemo; like that patient did last week. Apparently it’s rare but a really bad reaction can be deadly. Cutting back on the steroids was a gamble although the doctor on the ward preferred to call it a calculated risk.

I knew that my body copes well with chemo. Oh yes, it’s one of my hidden talents. But I still wasn’t sure and neither were the medical staff. In the end we agreed that I’d have half the usual steroids and be closely monitored.

If something scary is going to happen it will do so in the first 15 minutes or so. I wanted to be awake to watch and worry however like before, the chemo cocktail put me straight to sleep. I didn’t even have time to take my wig off. I was relieved to have my friend, Chantal the flower girl at my side.

So what happened? Nothing. I was totally fine and slept all the way through the critical period and beyond. I’m still writing this after all!

It was quite stressful though. Not exactly what you need. I’m trying hard not to turn chemo into a big deal. I want it to be just part of weekly life.

As I’m keeping everything normal I offered to work an early morning shift before chemo in the afternoon. Getting up at 4.30am wasn’t great. But that was the whole point. I was playing mind games with myself and it worked. My brain was more annoyed about the stupidly early hour rather than the prospect of chemo.

It was a busy morning at work doing live TV reports and interviews for the BBC News Channel. I didn’t have time to think about my impending trip to the chemo cocktail bar.

I can see why my consultants have encouraged me to continue to work if I’m able to. The morning made me realise more than ever just how important it is to do the things you really enjoy. It gives you a sense of purpose that you’ll never get from a trip to hospital.

Also work is a big part of my identity. I may have cancer but that doesn’t define who I am. Being active is another part of my identity which has nothing to do with the disease. Earlier I went out for some exercise. I used to be very sporty and I’m keen to get fit again. Playing netball again is on my List for Living which I’m still working on.

I think that I’m now having much less of a steroid rush. The insomnia wasn’t so bad last night. The steroid highs made me feel like I had boundless energy. Today I managed to jog for two and half minutes with great difficulty. It’s good not to feel so hyper but just happy, tired and rubbish at running again.