Chemo#15

Merry Christmas from the chemo ward! I’m not sure why but the coffee cups now come with a seasonal greeting.

The weird thing is that it could well be Christmas for all I know. When you’re going through intensive treatment which lasts for such a long stretch, time seems to be elastic. Months melt into each other. You lose track of the seasons. Each week is pretty much the same and mostly spent inside.

The first ever time that I had chemo more than 11 years ago I found this so hard. I really missed the elements in a way I never could have imagined. I longed to feel the rain on my face, to get cold waiting for a bus.

It wasn’t until then that I understood how much the weather helps you to feel alive. It doesn’t matter if it’s good or bad. In fact I think that bad is better.

That’s why one of the things on my original List for Living was to experience extreme weather. And I certainly did that. When I was based abroad as a foreign correspondent I lived through some of the coldest temperatures on record. There was plenty of snow, ice and all sorts of wonderful wintery weather. Perhaps that explains how come I’m not quite so worried about being disconnected from the weather during this lot of treatment.

Even so, I do what I can to be out in the elements. Before chemo#15 I had lunch outside with my friend Anna. I wanted to absorb as much of the sunshine as I could before an afternoon in the not-so-great indoors.

Once on the ward, watching the sunlight bounce off the bricks, was as good as it got. This kind of view only adds to the feeling of your life being put on pause. But last week I found out that I’d actually managed to turn back time.

To make sure that the toxic drugs aren’t doing too much harm to your body you have various tests. One horrible side effect is that it can seriously damage your bones. A while ago I had a scan to check their density. I’ve now discovered that amazingly I have the bones of a 20 year old!

At hospital there was some more good news. I was told that I won’t have the week of chemo which I missed tagged onto the end of my treatment. It means that I’ll finish in just over a week as planned. It’s like getting a week back which is brilliant. I’m so incredibly overwhelmingly tired of it all.

I’m relieved that my third series of anti-cancer treatment will be over soon. I always seem to have chemo at the same time of year. With bank holidays and the start of spring I know that once again, it will be over soon.

There’s another sign that it won’t be long ’til the end of chemo – Sasha the dog has had her winter coat trimmed. She is all ready for lots of sunny days outdoors where once again she’ll be helping me to recover from the past few months.

Let it rain

What fantastic weather we’ve been having!

This afternoon I watched an angry rain storm drench the garden from the comfort of the living room. As the wind howled down the chimney I sat and enjoyed the show.

I’m too ridiculously tired to do much else. Mornings don’t really exist for me anymore. I sleep for at least 12 hours every night and still my limbs feel like they’re made of stone.

When it’s wet there’s nothing like being indoors and knowing that you don’t have to go outside.

Besides, now that the Olympics Games are over the bad weather is proving good entertainment. It’s still a couple of weeks before the Paralympics start. Even Sasha the dog is missing Team GB.

However cosy and dry it is inside, part of me would love to be out there going about my normal life. It’s amazing what you crave. Being stuck inside for so long means you lose touch with the elements. You understand just how much the weather makes you feel alive.

These days I’m never too hot or too cold. Unless of course I’m coming down with an infection. Sometimes if there’s a blustery shower I’ll put my wellies on and wander around the garden so I can feel rain drops on my face.

The first time I was treated for cancer I also really missed the weather. It was confusing as I lost track of the seasons. Experiencing extreme weather was on my big list of things that I wanted to do after chemo. It was one of the reasons why I loved living in Eastern Europe.

And I certainly got a whole load of extreme weather. Snow, ice and bitterly cold temperatures I had it all.

One day I was live on the TV news while stood outside in what seemed like artic conditions. When I came off air I realised my lip gloss had frozen.

At the time this was all part of my foreign adventure. Maybe I was packing in lots of wild weather back then so I wouldn’t be too frustrated now. Even so I’d quite like some more of it. Sorry in advance if you get caught in a sudden downpour but I’m going to be stuck at home for a little while yet so I’m really hoping for some more truly awful weather!