Chemo #2

For my second week of treatment I was out for lunch. No,really, I went out for lunch half way through my chemo day. I escaped from hospital although I did it with permission from my nurse.

Weekly chemo is supposed to be quick and easy. Ha! That’s more hope than reality. The day starts with blood tests; this is to prove I’m well enough for what’s to come. It takes about half an hour for the results to come through.

It’s only once the doctors get these, that my order is put in at the chemo cocktail bar. The clear liquid has to be mixed. Shaken not stirred. This then has to be delivered to the chemo ward. The process takes around a couple of hours.

As I knew that there was a long wait ahead, I decided that the best time to leave would be straight after the blood tests. I snuck out with Mum and my Aunt Rose who’d come up to London to keep me company. My friend, the blogger joggingjenny, also joined us although instead of running there, she did actually get the bus! For a couple of hours I was free.

For a stressful day, it was lovely to go out for lunch. It took my mind off things. I wasn’t surrounded by medial sights and smells. Plus Jamie Oliver has a far better menu than the hospital canteen. It felt strange, almost like I was skiving from school.

Afterwards I was able to start my treatment with a really upbeat mood. That lasted about oooh a few seconds until the moment the needle went into my hand for the IV drip.

“I just need to push it in a bit further,” my nurse kept repeating.

Before I had Tamsin promising to pinch me as a distraction, this time I thought of yellow. Bright, warm, sunshine yellow. It may seem odd but I’ve been reading an interesting book called The Yellow World by Albert Espinosa. He had cancer as a teenager and is now in the clear. But not before he had more than 8o sessions of chemo. In total I’m only on number 14.

The Spanish author has a big thing about the colour yellow. He reckons it’s very special. As I looked away from the nurse I saw a woman in a yellow jumper…maybe he’s onto something. Albert Espinosa also believes that if you think – this will hurt – then it will. Following his advice, whenever the word pain popped into my head, I replaced it with pavement because it’s a word that’s totally unconnected with pain. And it worked, a bit.

As the drugs started to flow, my friend Louise stopped by for the chemo coffee club. With a posh paper bag, she came carrying contraband. Louise broke the no-cake-it’s-chemo-again rule! The fancy cup cakes been sprinkled with blue sparkles and were inside a box tied with a long pink ribbon. I’m trying to be super healthy but the cakes tasted amazing so all was forgiven.

However just being there, squashed into a small cell of the stuffy chemo unit, made me want to cry. I was so tired and my hand was in real pavement. It was that bad I had to take my wig off.

One thing that helped me was a comment on my blog from a woman called Mary, who I think is from Australia. She was told she had five days to live. She was given some advice by a woman in the next bed to her who was also dancing with cancer.

Now three years on she wanted to share this advice with me. First of all try to think of chemo as your friend, as something incredible, like liquid gold flowing through your veins. Yet more yellowness. Accept it and welcome it. Secondly, instead of thinking why me? She suggests that it may be more helpful to try considering, why not me??

She’s right. I’m coming to realise that self-pity is such a waste of valuable energy. I’m sure that no-one thinks that they deserve to get this killer disease. But I have it and I need to focus on the fight.

Then something terrible happened on the ward. A patient near me had a serious reaction to the chemo. The drugs are so toxic that there is always the chance your body will reject them with frightening consequences. After some emergency care the paitent was fine. Not well but no longer in danger.

While the only problems I had came from my hand hurting thanks to the drip and the side effect of sleepy drunkenness. I didn’t say a word about them. I’m just so grateful that my body is still strong and can take the kicking it’s getting from the chemo. Long may this continue.