Hello chemo, again

Oh chemo, how I haven’t missed you. It’s only been 21 weeks since we were last hooked up. I didn’t think you’d have me back so soon.

It’s been a strange few days as I’ve been preparing to start this toxic treatment again. You may have read about this blog in some of the newspapers following my post on Friday. Wow, what a response. It’s been incredible. Thanks for all the messages. Sorry that I can’t reply to each and every one, it’s just been overwhelming. But they really do help to lift my spirits.

Seeing the facts in black and white somehow made them seem even more shocking. It was as if they were talking about someone else. How can something so terrible be happening to me when I feel so full of life? The headlines were about my ‘months to live’. Yes, that’s a possibility but my focus is firmly on the ‘years to live’.

I’m sure it was difficult too for those close to me. Although some of my friends found it amusing that the papers had used an unflattering photo of me. They knew I wouldn’t like it and they were right. I think it’s great that my friends can still make fun of me. This is lovely, if slightly embarrasing, normality.

Anyway, just to redress the balance, here’s one of my favourite pictures of me. Here I’m reporting for BBC Breakfast. If there are any more stories about me then I hope they use something like this rather than a screen grab from the TV!

Many people have offered to help me with my List for Living. This is fantastic. I’m still working on that list; it’s getting longer and longer. Plenty of people have selflessly offered to help me find unsuitable men. Thanks also to all the unsuitable men who have put themselves forward!

So, it’s chemo #1. As this is the third round of the treatment I’m not especially worried. I’ve had this chemo drug before and I know the drill.

When I was here before I hoped I’d never need any more evil chemo cocktails, now I know this is part of my life forever. The best way to cope with this is not to see it as a big deal. I’m going to think of chemo in the same way as I used to think about the gym. It’s something I have to do every week. I don’t really want to go but I know that once I’m there it won’t be too bad; it’ll help keep me healthy and only take an hour or two. Chemo is my cancer-kicking workout.

Just like before, it will be a chance to catch up with friends. I know I shouldn’t admit this but last time I had so much fun with my friends during our chemo coffee sessions. I actually quite enjoyed being at hospital.

Mind you, there’s going to be one significant change. There will be no cake. Last year I ate lots of it so that cake would be forever associated with chemo and I wouldn’t fancy it anymore. We called it chemo-cake-therapy. Well, it seems to have worked. I just don’t want to eat cake anymore.

As usual I spent the night before chemo thinking about James Bond. Of course this is Daniel Craig as 007. I visualise him killing the cancer. This time it’s a whole lot more violent. James Bond has the biggest baddest machine gun. I picture him pumping the tiny tumour full of bullets. Obliterating it.

As regular readers of my blog will know I have a thing for Bond. I even managed to go to the premiere of Skyfall last year.

It was in October, slap bang in the middle of a glorious few months when I was recovering from treatment and cancer free. I’d give anything to be able to go back to that time.

But I have to think about the future.

I’ve been really inspired by the messages that I’ve had from fellow cancer fighters. The people who’re still alive and defying the odds. One lady in her sixties told me how she’s been beating ovarian cancer for almost fifty years. Others have described how they’re living well despite having a looming best before date.

These are people who’re not just surviving but thriving. I’m having this chemo so I can become one of them.

Back to the future

Yay I survived my first day at work since the stupid cancer! I’m shattered now but in a good way.

It was such a fantastic feeling walking into BBC TV Centre. Almost as soon as got to the correspondents’ desk I was handed a story – it was great to be back. Yesterday made me realise just how important work is to my identity. It felt like a part of me that was missing had returned.

Seeing everyone again was brilliant. I haven’t done that much talking and hugging for a long time. I’m sure it was all much easier because of this blog. People knew that I had cancer but gave it a good kicking; now I’m healthy and happy.

It was such a warm welcome, like a celebration. And of course, there was cake.

My correspondent colleagues were very good to me. Fetching me as much coffee as I wanted. I could get used to this!

There were times when I was exhausted. Just getting into work was hard. There are two flights of steps from the reception to the newsroom. Before I’d hardly noticed them, yesterday they left me totally breathless.

I felt so relieved to be back. It seemed just the same but also at times very different.

Thankfully it wasn’t a manic day. I managed to delete a few emails. Some were invitations to events that had taken place ages ago. I was erasing part of my life that never happened.

Back in March I went from being diagnosed with cancer to having the operation very quickly. It meant that my next shift after getting the bad news became my last shift. On that day I felt such fear for the future. I didn’t know for sure that I’d be able to return.

But I made it.

To be back at the BBC without any of these worries was incredible.

To be there without any hair wasn’t a problem at all. My new wig was as comfortable as it could have been although that’s not saying much. At times it was hot and kept my cheeks rosy red. I had lots of comments about looking well. I was glowing in more ways than one.

I needed to get a new ID pass as mine wasn’t working. For this I had to get my photo taken. In the picture I appear healthy with shiny hair. Now, every time I use my new pass it will remind me of my first day back.

Returning to work

This is one of those big moments that proves I’m really getting my life back. Today I’m returning to work! It’s exciting to be normal once again.

Cancer steals your usual routine and replaces it with something alien. For months my job was beating the stupid cancer. I’ve done that, had all the evil chemo side effects and now finally it’s time to move on.

I was a bit nervous about going back but not so much anymore. Yesterday I saw a totally new consultant. There are a few medical things I still need to sort out, problems caused by the treatment. Somehow my notes hadn’t turned up so I had to tell this doctor my entire medical history.

It made me realise that being in the newsroom after so much time off is not nearly as scary as any of that awfulness.

Also it made me see just how far I’ve come. Like when I was in hospital after the operation and I virtually had to re-learn how to walk. Back then I couldn’t even imagine that I’d ever be well enough to do my job again. I’d wanted to work during my chemo but my consultants advised me not to. Sadly, I knew they were right.

So it’ll be strange being back at BBC TV centre after such a long time away. Strange but lovely. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone. That’s one of the things I’ve missed the most. I’ve been promised plenty of hugs and cake to welcome me back.

I’m going to enjoy getting ready for work. My day will have a purpose and structure which doesn’t involve anything medical or daytime telly.

At the same time, it’ll be a test for my immune system. I’ll be armed with anti-bacteria wipes and hand gel. What I’m most worried about though is how I’ll cope physically. I’m having a phased return to work which will make it much easier to deal with the tiredness.

I hope that no-one will find it awkward knowing what to say. Do you mention the C word or not??  I don’t mind either way.

After everything I’ve been through, I think that people may be surprised at how well I look. Appearances can be deceptive. Even when I was in intensive care I didn’t look that ill at all.

Today I won’t be blonde. Raquel and Babarella will stay home. I’ve decided that I’m going to wear my new wig. The darker one with no name. The wig that’s the most like my old hair. In many ways I’ll look like nothing happened. And that’s just fine by me.

Good cold, bad cold

If you had to pick a time of year to have a chemocation then I suppose autumn/winter is perfect. A chemocation is rather like a staycation. Only this is no holiday at home but chemo enforced time off. And I can’t wait for it to be over.

Thanks to my incredible tiredness I’m still mostly stuck indoors. One of the perks of an A/W chemocation though is being able to have quality time by the log fire at my parents’ house. There are worst ways to spend an autumn afternoon.

But really I’d rather not be stuck indoors. Slowly I’m building up my stamina so that I can spend more time outdoors getting cold and wet.

The chilly weather means that when I do go out I can easily wear a hat over my shaved head and it doesn’t look out of place. I like my new number 3 hair cut but I’m not going to be showing it off in public anytime soon. That would just take too much energy. It’s less stressful to just blend in.

Raquel, Candice and very occasionally Barbarella are also helping keep me warm. I quite enjoy wearing my wigs. They still itch like crazy but over heating is no longer such a problem.

Ten years ago when cancer last made my hair fall out, it was all very different. Back then I told hardly anyone, I was so embarrassed. I didn’t even have a name for my wig. It was identical to my old hair. I didn’t like wearing it and I never realised how handy it would be on my travels.

I’d just moved to Moscow for the BBC and it was the very start of winter.

Snowy sunset from the BBC Moscow Bureau

Russia was properly freezing, exactly how you’d imagine that it should be. I’d wake up every day hoping that it had snowed overnight and often I was excited to find that it had. At times just being outside was painful; as you breathed in, the icy air would scratch your throat and made your lungs feel like they were on fire.

One Sunday afternoon, not long after arriving, I ventured out to a market on the edge of the capital. It was next to one of the furthest stops on the metro. On the way there I sat opposite a pensioner. The woman with dyed red hair was dressed in fur from head to toe. She eyed me suspiciously and then gave me a right telling off.

My crime? Not wearing a hat.

As way of an apology I said that I was English. I didn’t feel like revealing my lack of hair to a random stranger. However she was right to chastise me. It was so arctic outside that within minutes of getting off the metro, my mobile phone had frozen.

Yet my wig was brilliant. My fake brown bob kept my head beautifully warm.

These days I tend to wear hats a whole lot more, even when I’m inside. It turns out that my internal temperature gauge has bust.

I am officially cold.

All those evil chemocation cocktails are to blame. My body thinks that I should be around 35c. Unless I’m in a swelteringly hot room I tend to spend much of the time shivering. According to my hospital handbook, my temperature is a code red and I should alert the on-call oncologist straight away.

Ever since my cancer operation my feet have been a bit numb and never that warm. Now they are like blocks of ice. It’s like I’ve just come in from the cold after a day braving the elements in Moscow. So I wear thick ski socks at all times and I have a selection of hot water bottles which get a lot of use. Sometimes I sit in the living room wrapped in a duvet next to the fire.

But apparently my low temperature is nothing to worry about. The problem should just improve all by itself. In the meantime I’ve been told to wear lots of thermals. Here’s some freaky logic. It may be warmer inside but I tend to shiver less when I’m outside.

Maybe this is my body’s way of saying that I need to get out more as the chemocation is coming to an end.

I am so lucky

Now that my cancer treatment is over it’s time to start celebrating.

One of my friends organised a picnic in Hyde Park in London yesterday evening. Hot sunshine turned into a beautiful sunset as we drank champagne. Then Kylie Minogue sang for us.

It was just a group of friends and Kylie. Oh and tens of thousands of other people.

Okay this was Proms in the Park and we were actually celebrating my friend Louise’s birthday.

It very much reminded me of going to the Olympics. There were plenty of union jacks in the park. Plus this was something I wanted to go to but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to make it, coming so soon after having chemotherapy.

Birthday girl Louise is on the left

Louise had invited me along months ago. I was determined that by this weekend I’d be feeling well enough to go. It was good having such a lovely deadline to aim for. Even so we both wondered if the build-up of the toxic chemical cocktails would beat me.

The day before the event I spent about 15 hours in bed to ensure I wouldn’t be exhausted. One of the girls brought a canvas chair for me and I sat for most of the concert.

It was inspiring watching Kylie on stage. She looked stunning as she performed live in front of so many people. As a fellow cancer fighter, she’s been through something similar to me and has come out the other side in style.

However the most important thing was being able to take part in my friend’s birthday celebrations. If it had been just a picnic in the park it would have still been brilliant.

It’s not a proper picnic without some patriotic cakes!

My celebrations actually started a few days ago.

Another of my friends popped over with pink champagne. Well maybe not quite popped over as she lives abroad and has a high powered job which keeps her very busy. While I was going through the cancer nightmare she helped to keep me entertained by texting with amusing tales about that stressful yet very successful life of hers.

And she wasn’t the only one.  I had so many – just thinking about you, hope you’re not feeling too bad – messages which often included a random slice of life. Friends who were up mountains or had just burnt their kid’s cauliflower cheese or were stood outside a petrol station waiting to go live on the BBC news.

Of course, there have been more colourful ones too. Some friends have kept me right up-to-date with their…err…more outrageous exploits!

I’ve loved all of the messages. I may have been incredibly ill for half a year but at least I was able to live vicariously through my friends. Everything was on hold while I focused on killing the cancer. It seemed like I was an outsider, only able to watch what was going on around me but not join in.

I made it!

My friend’s birthday do was the first social thing I’ve been to since my chemo ended. I was completely shattered after last night but glad I made it. After so long on the side lines it’s amazing to finally feel part of normal life again.

Olympic victory

Yes I made it!

Not long after my last session of chemo I actually got to see the Olympics. I still can’t quite believe it.

The day before I’d been shattered. I wondered if I could even make the journey across London. But there was no choice. I wanted to go so I had to feel well. After months worrying about tumours, rogue cells and being so agonisingly ill, it was great to focus on something totally unconnected to cancer.

Mum and I had tickets for basketball but our first event of the day was show jumping at Greenwich Park.


To get to the venue we did it like David Beckham and sped along the Thames by boat.

I have to admit I was nervous about the day ahead. I hadn’t done anything requiring this much effort for such a long time. Despite being determined not to be beaten by the chemo, I knew I was going to have to take it easy. But this wasn’t about what I couldn’t do; it was about enjoying a glimpse of normal life and how things will be when I’m all recovered.

Because of this I thought there was no better time than to wear a wig for real. Say hello to Raquel! This is a Raquel Welsh wig and so it becomes my Raquel. It was quite surreal suddenly going blonde.

The Olympic day was planned like a military operation. I’d slept as much as I could since chemo. I’d organised my medicine so that I was taking the max pain killers at the right time on the Sunday. Most importantly mum had hired me a wheelchair.


There was a torrential downpour as the morning session of the show jumping started but it didn’t matter. I’d managed to get to the games. It was an amazing feeling to be part of the Olympics.

For Team GB it was the beginning of an historic gold medal winning performance. I was also finding it quite tiring. Plus the super strong tablets had left me drowsy. As the final horses finished I had a sleep in my wheelchair. I was very grateful for that chair. There was no way I could have managed without it.

It had been mum’s idea to get the wheelchair even though it meant that she had to push me. I thought that we might only manage the morning. Mum had had other ideas and we headed for the Olympic Park. Luckily she’s very fit and when we had a clear stretch of pavements we whizzed along. If there were people walking the same way as us, mum enjoyed overtaking them.

It was definitely fun but shocking too. It made me understand just how much of an impact the cancer, surgery and chemo have had. Thankfully I know that I’ll recover.

Spending all day in the wheelchair also left me stunned. It was as if some people had never seen a wheelchair before. As we tried to navigate busy areas, some just starred and stood in the way. When we needed help few people offered any assistance.

The people working at the games however were brilliant. At the Olympic Park we were given a lift on a golf buggy. The wheelchair was strapped to the back. Our driver tooted his horn and shouted, “Team GB on board” as we made our way through the crowds.

The last time I was there was back in January. I was reporting live for BBC News on the start of the Olympic year. Just a few days before I had symptoms that made me think that something could be wrong. So much has happened since then but it’s almost all over. I’m so glad that I made it. This feels like I’ve come full circle.

Incredibly we managed to stay to the end of the evening session of basketball. I was knackered, of course and in some pain but delighted. This was good pain, the kind that you get from doing too much. It’s taken days of sleep to recover.

Since the opening of London 2012 I’ve been watching Team GB with so much pride. Now the Olympics has helped me to achieve something that was way beyond my expectations and I feel very proud of myself too.

Soldiering on

I thought I had it all sorted.

I have the chemo; James Bond kills the remaining cancer cells. I’m slowly poisoned as I imagine my own personal army of special agents blasting away at the enemy inside me. I try to carry on as much as normal while I visualise the 007s carrying out this covert operation for me.

But it turns out that I’m at war too.

Following my scary setback last week I had to see The Professor. Despite being totally exhausted, it wasn’t quite as awful as I felt during my emergency stay in hospital. With the infection launching a full on assault, my immune system dropped so low it was almost non-existent. Even he had to admit that it was impressively bad.

As I chatted to my consultant in a small clinical looking room I could hardly think straight. I was so shattered. It was such an effort just to sit on the plastic chair. Really I wanted to have a nice lie down on the medical couch that I could see behind a flimsy curtain. It was so inviting.

I had the appointment with The Professor at my usual hospital yesterday as I’m due to have chemo today. I had to convince him that I was ready to take the battering that you get from the drip of dangerous drugs.

Luckily the blood tests confimed that I was well enough. I’m so glad that it’ll continue as planned even though I still feel shockingly ill.

This will be my fifth session of chemo. After today, I’ll have just one more to go before it’s all over. The Professor reassured me that what I’m going is awful but nothing out of the ordinary. I’m not sure why but having someone else acknowledge just how horrendous things are somehow makes you feel a bit better. It was a welcome boost.

It’s not that I’ve been feeling down. It’s just that I have little energy to do much more than focus on finishing my cancer treatment.

It’s incredibly traumatic, it’s as if I’m in a warzone, my consultant explained to me. For six months now I’ve been under attack both physically and mentally. There’s the pain, the fatigue and the fear. You’re not sure if you’ll make it out alive. The last time I was anywhere near a warzone as a BBC foreign correspondent it was pretty stressful and I was only there for a week or so.

It makes sense – this is a fight for my very survival. While I think of myself as battling this killer disease, I’ve never seen myself as an actual soldier on the frontline. I’ve left that part to my gun-toting troop of James Bonds.

To be honest the fog of tiredness has meant I’ve considered myself to be more like a zombie but I must change that.

It’s much more positive to imagine myself as a solider and a successful one at that. The Professor took great delight in telling me that according to the very latest test results I’m still clear of cancer. So I’m already winning the war!

Diary of a chemo girl

I’m still so deliciously happy at properly getting rid of the cancer.

Yesterday I had more chemo as it was back to the business of keeping it beaten. Today I’m feeling oh so incredibly sick. I still have a few more months of treatment to go but at least I’m now officially half way through!

To celebrate here’s a blow by blow account of what I go through every three weeks. There’s much more to it than having a bunch of nasty drugs…

Tuesday 19th June – Preparing for chemo

9am: Wash my hair in tepid water so that it’s ready for the frozen hat on chemo day. Depressingly loads of it comes out.

10am: Start drinking.

Sadly it’s only non-alcoholic. I need to make sure I’m not dehydrated. Apparently it’s good to drink milk. What’s better than milk? Chocolate milk.

11am: Hypnotherapy at hospital. Once again I go to my imaginary tropical island and somehow it appears to work. The bad but bearable leg pain that I constantly get seems to go.

Lunchtime: Rest at Maggie’s Centre. It’s a beautifully modern building in the grounds of the hospital. Run by a charity, it’s for people dealing with cancer. I curl up on the big sofa in the living room.

2pm: Get a taxi to a different hospital in another part of London. We drive past BBC TV centre. I really want to stop the cab and go to work. I could be starting a late shift rather than another round of medical appointments.

2.30pm: At the chemo unit I get given a pink laminated card and wait for blood tests. It’s like a speedy boarding pass and means I can jump the queue. The tests will determine if I’m well enough for the horrible treatment.

The man taking the blood tells me I have chemo veins. They’ve gone into hiding but he manages to hit one first time. I accidentally watch as he wiggles the needle and then plunges it deeper into my arm to make the blood pour out. It’s pretty gruesome but I don’t actually feel anything.

3pm: Appointment with my lovely consultant, the Professor. As I wrote in my last post, he gives me all sorts of brilliant news, a big hug and sends me on my way.

4pm: My friend, Chantal the flower girl gives me a lift home in her big flower van.

On the way to my flat she has to make an emergency delivery.

5pm: Ring the hospital. Happily the results of the blood tests are good so chemo will go ahead. Rest on my own sofa.

10pm: Start the steroids. I have to take ten of these tiny tablets. They stop me from being sick but they make me feel wired.

Midnight: Still awake. The steroids also make me eat peanut butter on toast and ice cream.

Wednesday 20th June – Chemo day

7am: More steroids. Another ten tablets and I’m wide awake despite only having about three hours sleep

10am: Back at the hospital, this is where I have to sit. All day. I share the room with five others.

10.30am: I cover my hair in conditioner and the chilly hat goes on. My hair has to freeze before the chemo can begins. It hurts like hell.

A nurse puts a needle into a vein on my left hand. I’m attached to a drip that will deliver the anti-cancer drugs. First though I’m given even more steroids and other clear liquids to stop nausea, pain and any allergic reactions.

These make my face feel funny, like I’ve drunk too much vodka. As the dizzying drugs race around my body, I start to get a puffy face.

11.20am: The chemo finally starts. It’s so toxic that my nurse use gloves to handle the clear plastic pouches. I have two types of chemo, this first one takes a few hours to slip into my veins.

I have to wear two wrist bands. White to say who I am. Red to make it clear that I have a drug allergy. That’ll be the drug that almost killed me after surgery.

11.30am: Listen to my chemo mix tape and attempt to sleep in my chair under a white hospital blanket. I feel so tired and cold.

2pm: A friend comes over for a chemo coffee. She brings a big bag of sweets. I’ve eaten so much cake, chocolate and sweets since I started this treatment. Opps!

2.30pm: I get the second type of chemo; this is the most dangerous one. It makes your hair fall out among other awful things.

3pm: Sleep. As I drift off I try to dream of Daniel Craig and his army of James Bond cancer killers. But instead I keep thinking of the fantastic things I’m going to do when all this is over.

4pm: The last drugs pouch is empty and all the evil of chemo cocktail is now in my body. I’m unhooked from the drip. My hair is frozen to the cold cap so it has to stay on for a bit to allow it to warm up.

4.30pm: I have to go for a chest x-ray. Walking just a few metres makes me breathless so The Professor wants to make sure it’s nothing serious.

5pm: The flower girl picks me up and I start the long journey back to the house where I grew up. My hair is still defrosting. You don’t have to look too hard to see one of my bald patches.

I don’t feel too bad considering but the side effects of the chemo are like a time bomb and you never know when they’ll go off.

8.30pm: Still feeling kinda normal as I arrive at my parents’ home in the countryside.

I know that I may not lose my hair.

But I don’t quite believe it so again I’ve packed Barbarella just in case.

Hair today but not long now

Well it’s still here. Mostly.

My hair is now falling out ever so slightly. It’s hard to work out if this is normal and or down to the evil chemo drugs. I know it’s really the later but I’m trying to pretend otherwise.

Just because I lost it all once before it doesn’t make the prospect of this happening all over again any easier.

Through a fog of chemo pain and tiredness I’ve been thinking a lot about my hair. We’ve been through a lot together. I’ve realised that it’s the bad hair days that mean the world to me. And some of them were truly horrific!

It was ten years ago that it last fell out thanks to cancer. Back then, inspired that I had a second chance at life I came up with a list of things I wanted to do once I was better. It was my list for living.

One of the things was to live abroad. Not long after my treatment ended I set out on my big adventure. I was still bald, so me and my wig moved to Moscow to work at the BBC bureau.

A few months and an inch of re-growth later and I ditched the wig. I unveiled my brand new hair at a New Year’s Eve party.

The temperature that night in the Russian capital was about -30. You can see why I’m already well-practised at having a freezing cold head.

Also on the list was working as a foreign correspondent. I was doing just that in Estonia when I thought that my hair was long enough for its first cut.

A friend was helping me translate. Unfortunately she didn’t know how to say, please don’t make it a mullet.

I was beginning to understand that bad hair dos were part of the experience although it couldn’t prepare me for my next hair don’t.

A year or so later and I’d been working like crazy covering the mass protests of Ukraine’s Orange Revolution as the BBC’s Kiev correspondent when I decided as a treat to get my hair dyed for the first time since it’d fallen.

I went in for subtle highlights. I left with bright orange hair.

There was no time to have it corrected properly because a big story broke while I was still in the salon. I had to leave before it was even dry. A few days later and still in shock I got it toned down.

It was with trepidation I got my hair cut and coloured in all sorts of places. It was never quite that awful again although I have blanked out an encounter with a hairdresser in Kosovo who had a very liberal attitude when it came to peroxide.

Now I’ve had to have my long hair cut short. It’s an attempt to stop it all falling out. Apparently it was putting pressure on the follicles. I got it chopped at the hairdressers in the village.

All those memories from my foreign adventure were left in a heap on the floor. I picked up some of locks and stuffed them into an old envelope.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with them but I didn’t want them all to be just swept away.

I have to do everything I can to encourage it not to fall out. That means I have to avoid washing and brushing it too much. Then maybe I’ll only lose some of it.

So I’ve got a short bob now. I’m getting used to another hairstyle that I didn’t want. But I’m not sad. This symbolises another important stage in my life – beating cancer again.

A license to kill

I woke up early, stupidly early. I was so excited about the start of chemotherapy. Finally it was about to begin and soon this nightmare would all be over.

It’s made me realise just how far I’ve come. A few months ago I thought the cancer might be terminal. Now it’s all gone. I feel incredibly lucky.

There are many things I could do to prepare for today. Thanks for all the brilliant suggestions! My teal nails are painted; I have a bag of snacks ready and downloaded enough TV shows to keep me entertained for weeks.

It was still dark as I lay in bed waiting for the middle of the night to turn into the early hours of this morning. So I did some visualisation. Hey I know it sounds a bit new age but bear with me on this.

Apparently visualisation boosts the immune system by relieving anxiety and helps the body to function properly. I’m willing to try almost anything.

I tried to think about what it would be like when the drugs went in. I turned every drop from the drip into a killing machine. A kinda James Bond. I imagined my own microscopic army of special agents.

Just in case you’re wondering, I’m thinking Daniel Craig as James Bond. I have to admit that 007 often came with us on the road to most stories when I was the BBC correspondent in Bosnia and Serbia.

I travelled around the Balkans with my Dutch journalist friend who had a thing for him too. I’ve great memories of us full of nervous energy listening to Bond movie music while driving across amazing mountain ranges onto our next adventure.

Anyway, I’m picturing my troops being launched into the killing zone with charm, cunning and a wry smile. Their mission is to destroy any rogue cancer cells.

Now on the chemo ward at hospital I’m settled into a Joey from Friends style comfy chair.

With the foot rest up I have what the doctors like to call an infusion. It’s a nice way of saying that my body is being slowly poisoned by chemicals which can’t discriminate between good and bad.

But, I will be thinking of James Bond who can.