I quite like Mondays. It’s the start of my super short week. I’m now so incredibly tired that my week only lasts for two days. Basically I feel sort of normal on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then the treatment begins again. Weekly chemo feels relentless. I’m spending most of my time in bed. I just want it to end. Last week it nearly did.

A couple of days before I was due to have chemo#13 I thought something I hadn’t thought before. For a few brief moments I decided that I didn’t want to continue.

I felt so ill and frustrated by the horribleness of it all. It’s not just the toxic drugs that are so awful but all the other stuff too. Last week I spent around 12 hours over three days at hospital with scheduled appointments, procedures and tests.

When I woke up the next day after the wobble, my symptoms seemed to have faded a little. I wasn’t so exhausted and I knew that really didn’t want to end it early. Even so I came up with a list of pros and cons. I realised that there is only one thing that matters, it’s first on the list and outweighs everything else.


*It’s hopefully helping me to live longer

*Chemo makes me feel that I’m doing something to fight the cancer

*Somehow it makes my skin glow. I know this is totally ridiculous but everyone tells me that I look really well when I actually feel so ill…


*Extreme fatigue, most days I’m close to collapsing

*Lots of random pain all over my body, especially in areas that I’ve had surgery

*Fingernails and toe nails hurt and feel like they’re going to fall off

*Fingertips are a bit numb, meaning I’m clumsier than normal

*Painful pins and needles in my feet and hands

*Breathlessness, I can’t really walk and talk

*Painful to walk and I can’t exercise like I used to

*It’s making my hair fall out

*My eyes are watery and sticky as I only have a few eyelashes are left

*Constant bleeding nose

*Comprised immune system and I could end up dangerously ill if I get an infection

*Steroid induced mood swings


*Disgusting taste in my mouth

*Dizzy spells


*Always starving thanks to steroids

*Chemo weight gain

*Mouth ulcers and sensitive teeth

Now that’s some list. The treatment is truly horrific. You need to be totally convinced this is what you want. I am but it doesn’t stop me from sometimes pretending that it’s not happening.

Before chemo#13 started there were lots of things I had to do at hospital. They required me and mum to navigate the confusing corridors which link the mass of buildings together. On our way back to the ward we made a break for freedom!

Instead of following the signs we left the hospital for an outdoor detour. The morning sun warmed my skin and I felt amazing. For a moment I wasn’t a patient. I was someone out for a walk with their mum, trying to convince us both that we weren’t lost.

As we weren’t that lost, it was soon back to reality. It was the first time I’d faced the toxic drugs after questioning whether I wanted to carry on. As I was hooked up to the drip I knew I wanted to continue.

Some people have been in touch with me on the blog to say that their elderly relatives are refusing to have anymore chemo and they don’t know what to do. I can only really talk from my own experience.

For me the most important thing is being able to have a good quality of life. Aside from the cancer, I’m a fit and healthy 41 year old. I feel very resilient. Despite the long list of chemo cons, I’m lucky that my body is capable of withstanding the treatment and I’m coping well. However, I know that I’ll probably need more and more evil chemo cocktails after this course finishes and in the future I may feel differently. There may come a point when I decide that I’ve really had enough.

This is such a personal decision. I’m convinced that I’m doing the right thing. I feel that I have so much to live for. Whatever it takes, I’m going to make it through the remaining five sessions of chemo.

Cancer makeover

Chemo number four was very different. This time I was sat in a hospital ward with a lively group of chatty women. All of us with various stages of hair loss.

My friend Tamsin joined me for some chemo coffee. It made me realise that maybe it’s not my confidence that’s been effected by all this treatment. It could be that I just spend so much time on my own.

With gossip, cake and fancy chocolates, I was soon feeling like myself.

The wig-man did keep his promise even though he was almost two hours late. I’d never normally wait that long for a man but this was no ordinary date. Besides I had a needle in my hand and a toxic cocktail on ice.

By the time he arrived we were ready for some fun.

I had the fittings in a side room that’s mostly used for private consultations. The kind you never want to have. If there’s something that a doctor can’t say to you on the ward then it’s likely to be horrific news. I was so glad to be in there for a happy occasion.

And it was happy.                               

I’ve finally come to terms with my falling out hair although I’m going to hold off getting it shaved off. Hopefully not until the chemo is over. I like still having hair while I’m so ill. Somehow it makes me feel not quite so bad.

It’s crazy that it’s been so difficult. When I last had cancer I wasn’t nearly so worried. Perhaps because it was another sign that I really did have cancer again.

I was determined to have long light brown hair, similar to how I used to look. I wanted to be able to hide behind my old hairstyle.

But as I was feeling much more like me and a whole lot braver, it didn’t quite work out like that. I may soon be bald but I’m also going to be blonde and bold.

My new look!

But not like this one below. Woah, I’m back in 1980s.

That’ll be a no then

Tamsin had difficulty taking the photos as she was laughing so much. But not at the next wig.

Oooh big hair

Wag-tastic, I had to have this one too!

It’s almost like my Barbarella wig, only a bit less of a bouffant. It’s something that could be straight out of the TV show, The Only Way is Essex with a touch of Kate.

This will be my going out wig.

And it won’t stop there; I’m going to get a whole wardrobe of wigs. When I’m bored of being blonde, I may go red, blue or black. Whatever takes my fancy. So much for fading into the background.

But before I could do any of that it was time for my chemo to start.

The treatment is getting tougher. After a couple of hours, the drugs made me so dizzy that I had to get into a hospital bed and sleep for the rest of the day.

It still feels like I’m a long way off from being well enough to wear the wigs for real. But at least I’m now on the home straight.

My race for life

I blame my friend Rache.

Rache likes to stand out in a crowd

If there’s an occasion that requires us to dress up and look a little bit stupid, then she is at the front of the queue dragging us with her.

When I discovered I had cancer a few months ago, it was Rache’s idea that a group of friends do the Race for Life and that they do it for me. I was honoured and signed up too.

Rache suggested that we wear the dodgy outfits that we had for an 1980s themed weekend away last year. That’s how we ended up at Cheltenham Race Course early on a Sunday morning wearing bright pink tutus and matching legwarmers.

Relax – it’s only 5K

I’d hoped to be able to walk the course but as the event got nearer it was clear that just turning up was going to be a major achievement. The last round of chemo has hit me hard. As well as being tired and in constant pain, I’ve also been feeling sick and very dizzy. It’s taken until now for me to feel half way human.

Even so by the time we walked from the car to the starting line my legs hurt and I was totally out of breath.

It was all very different not too long ago. Before this cancer nightmare I’d do an hour or two of exercise every day. I was so fit that three years ago I ran the same 5K Race for Life in just over thirty minutes.

Doesn’t everyone dress like this on a Sunday?!

As everyone lined up for the race this year I have to admit I was quite jealous.

When my friends set off, I sat down at the side of the race track. I watched as thousands of women in pink snaked their way around the beautiful landscaped course. This event was for Cancer Research and my team managed to raise loads of money. I even persuaded some people to sponsor me just to turn up.

All the girls though did complete the course. I joined the them right at the very very end and together we all crossed the finishing line. I may not have walked far yesterday but I was so exhausted that when I got home I went to bed still wearing the whole outfit and slept for several hours

But I’m very happy that I went along. Plenty of people were taking part in memory of loved ones who’ve died from cancer.

Being there with friends reminded me of just how incredibly lucky I am to have beaten the disease. To be able to actually see them doing the race for me.

My friends had my name on their backs

Afterwards we looked through our photos. There were some shockers of me in silly poses. I asked Rache not to put the really awful ones on Facebook.

“Of course they’re all going up,” she told me. “But I’m ill,” I joked with her. “Yes you had cancer. Had, as in the past tense.”

Brilliant, I’m now well enough to be totally embarrassed by my friends.

It made me realise after all what I’ve been through that is a pretty good feeling. Even though I’d still prefer that those photos never see the light of day!

Rache and Claire with their Race for Life medals

Chemo hangover

Imagine running a marathon without any training. Afterwards you go out and drink a load of cheap red wine, the nastier the better. You have a couple of hours sleep when something makes you jump out of bed. As you quickly wake-up, your whole body is in agony.

Well that’s kinda what chemotherapy has been like.

It was more than a week ago that I had the anti-cancer drugs. It’s only now that I’m feeling almost human again.

The hangover from this special toxic cocktail didn’t kick in straight away. The next day it crept up on me slowly, so slowly that I’d thought I’d been lucky. Then wham, it got me.

I’ve been chronically tired. Just sitting in a chair was a massive achievement. Moving around made me breathless and dizzy. It also felt like I was going down with the flu.

Worst of all has been the horrendous pain in my legs and joints. Some of time I could barely stand up or walk. It felt like my legs were going to break but if I didn’t get up occasionally the pain would become more intense.

No matter how much I concentrated on James Bond, it didn’t stop the evil effects of the chemo. Maybe too much time thinking about Daniel Craig had something to do with being breathless and dizzy??

Anyway, along with strong pain killers, I found that plenty of hot water bottles and daytime TV helped the most.

As usual I’m staying with my parents in the countryside. I know this might seem strange but Mum has been microwaving a small bag made out of material and stuffed full of wheat and oats.

When you put this thing where you have the pain, it does actually work. As long as you don’t mind an overpowering smell of warm flapjacks.

In this roll call of horrible reactions something is missing. Amazingly I haven’t felt sick unlike last time. If that changes I’ll have to ditch the hot bag, I’m not sure I could deal with the sickly sweet smell.

Thankfully most of the side effects from my chemo hangover are easing although I’m still tired and breathless.

And yay – I still have hair. It wasn’t supposed to have fallen out by now anyway. Or perhaps that red hospital hat is working its frozen magic.

But there’s something else that’s worrying me. My immune system has been compromised by the chemo. Apparently right now it’s going into free fall and won’t start to recover until the end of the week.

It means that I’m easy prey to germs. If I get an infection it could lead to my chemo being postponed. If there was an Olympic medal for hand washing I’d win it.

The start of my chemo marathon has been bad but I’d feared it would be much worse. So until the next round I’m going to be really enjoying every minute that I feel well.