From chemo cocktails to cosmopolitans

Could there be a more perfect way to celebrate?

After so many evil chemo cocktails in hospital, it seemed only right to mark the end of my cancer ordeal with some real drinks in an actual bar.

I know I’ve had a few celebrations already but quite frankly I’m going to be very greedy and I’ll be having a whole load more. Don’t worry though I won’t be writing about every single one!

It’s been a few weeks since my last ever chemotherapy and I finally felt well enough to go out with friends. We arranged to meet at a bar in Chelsea. My long blond WAG wig that I like to call Candice was all ready for an occasion just like this.

This was the first time that I’d worn Candice for a night out.

And what a difference it made. Suddenly I’d gone from almost bald to really blond. Putting on the wig not only transformed the way I looked but somehow made me feel better too, almost like a different person.

Lately I’ve been living in headscarves. I find them easier to wear than wigs although they have a certain cancer chic about them. I think I look more like someone who is sick when I have a headscarf on.  

As me and Candice rocked up at the bar I nervously checked out my reflection in the window next to the entrance. Surprised at what I saw, I smiled back. Something special had happened, I realised that I looked totally normal and I haven’t felt like that for ages.

I knew that both my friends, Kath and Anna were going to be late so I ordered myself something. Seconds later, a man at the bar started to chat me up. Really it was just seconds, my drink hadn’t even been poured!

Wow was that down to me or Candice?! Whatever the reason it was my welcome back to single life in London.

I didn’t have to wait too long for my friends, just enough time for the French banker to give me his number. Normally I would have been happy to stand at the bar but there was no way that I could manage that right now so we found a table.

Drinking Cosmopolitans, Bellini’s and the odd Strawberry Mule, it could have almost been a scene from Sex and the City where the girls meet for drinks and gossip in a glamorous bar.

Only, there were three of us. We were English and this wasn’t New York. Although Kath and I have eaten cupcakes from the Magnolia bakery made famous by the TV series. If that counts…no, thought not.

Anyway that was ten years ago. We were in New York to celebrate me beating cancer the first time round. While we were there we came up with a plan about how I could do some some of the things on my list for living. During chemo I’d come up with this crazy list of things I wanted to do when I was well. Within weeks of that holiday I’d moved to Moscow.

Now here we were celebrating again.

Just like back then we talked about the future and it felt good that I can now get on with living.

Before, the most exciting thing I’ve had to look forward to was my next trip to hospital. The chemo has taken place every three weeks. If that had continued then I should have had another session a few days ago.

Knowing that around this time I’d normally be feeling incredibly ill thanks to the evil chemo cocktail, made the drinks taste even better. Compared to the toxic treatment, the side effects were far more pleasant too.

 

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.