Skyfall – The Premiere

When you’re told that you must use the red carpet you just know it’s going to be a special night.

The 007 premiere was held at the very grand setting of the Royal Albert Hall. Neither the venue nor the red carpet was hard to miss. Even so, with the tickets we’d also been given a map embossed in gold to show us where we had to go.

As we turned into the red road, there were thousands of people lining the route ahead of us waiting for the stars of the show. The sight took my breath away.

As this was such a big occasion I wore Candice, my long blonde WAG wig. This was the kind of event she was made for.

I’d been given two tickets so I took along Chantal, my friend the flower girl. We’ve known each other for a few years now. We met at hospital because she too is a cancer survivor.

This was my way of saying thanks to Chantal. She came with me to many of my hospital appointments and chemo sessions. My friend drove us there in her massive van which is normally filled with flowers.

When I became critically ill after the operation, Chantal put her work on hold. Mum stayed with her for weeks and together they visited me as often as they were allowed to. Chantal was at hospital during the very worst moments, when it got so bad that we both wondered if I’d pull through.

I wish that somebody had told us back then that a few months later we’d both be stood on the red carpet for the world premiere of a James Bond film.

With lights, cameras and so many celebs, it was all pretty surreal. Beforehand I’d been quite nervous but once we were there this soon melted away. It was almost like we’d wandered onto a movie set. Or we were in some kind of dream.

Yes, we saw Daniel Craig and yes, he was just as handsome in real life. I certainly didn’t dream that part of the evening!

The red carpet was surprisingly long, wide and busy. It was packed with people all dressed up in black tie. It wasn’t just me but everyone around us looked excited just to be there. It was as if we were all heading towards a very special party.

Along the way we had to be careful not to bump into the Bond stars while they were still hard at work.

I thought that our seats for the premiere might not be too good but they couldn’t have been much better. We were in the stalls with film company executives in front of us and X Factor finalists behind us.

As the Albert Hall went dark, my heart skipped a beat. I could barely believe that I was actually there.

The atmosphere was incredible. There must have been several thousand people. I’ve never seen a movie on such a large screen and with so many other people. It felt exhilarating.

I loved Skyfall and thought Daniel Craig was brilliant as bond.

The film made me very aware of just how far I’ve come. I thought a lot about James Bond during the chemo but I’m not sure why I choose this character as my cancer killer. Although seeing 007 on the gigantic screen made me realise he’s the kind of hero everyone needs when they’re fighting their hardest battle. Nobody does it better.

Did we go to any of the premiere parties? Well, we didn’t intend to but somehow we ended up in a fancy hotel bar where there were a few familiar faces! This is what most people were drinking.

Of course we had to have one too. Shaken, not stirred.

This was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. It’s something that I’ll never forget. I was only able to go to the movie premiere thanks to the wonderful charity, the Willow Foundation. It’s their aim to create special memories for the future. They certainly did that for me.

The night was a celebration too. All the horribleness is over now. If the disease does come back then this will be something lovely to remember. But I truly hope that I’ll be able to look back and think of this an occasion when I was celebrated beating cancer for ever.

Over the past few months I’ve written a lot about being exhausted. On the premiere night I drank a bit too much, wore stupid high heels and stayed out far too late. All the kind of things I haven’t really done since I was diagnosed.

I was shattered the next day but for all the right reasons. I didn’t feel great and that’s a great feeling. It means I’m having a normal life again. I feel very glad to be alive.

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.


My last chemo. Ever.

Whooo hoooooo! Finally it’s over. Yesterday I completed all my cancer treatment.

The day started well. On the ward you usually have to share a room with three or four others but I got to turn left instead of right as I was given my own side room. In the world of cancer having the superbug MRSA gets you an automatic upgrade.

My friend Tamsin came with me to the hospital. She may not be having chemo but as a surprise and to show her solidarity Tamsin wore a vivid purple wig. Normally part of a fancy dress witch outfit, it was almost like Halloween had come early! Seeing her fake almost florescent hair certainly helped to ease my anxiety.

As it was such a big day I wore my Candice wig for the first time. She’s reserved for special occasions and it was certainly one of those.

I’m still getting used to wearing a wig again. They’re quite hot and itchy even when you wear a wig liner over your head. My wig liner looks like a foot has been cut off a pair of American tan tights. It has a snug fit. Pull it down over your face and you look like you’re ready to do a bank job. After a couple of hours I had enough of the wig and ditched it in favour of a headscarf.

My friend Chantal, the flower girl spent the afternoon with me. She didn’t bring a wig instead she borrowed Candice. Seeing it on someone else was quite surreal. It’s such a massive WAG wig – I’m really glad I picked it!

I was so excited that after six months of treatment this was my last ever chemo. The hours seemed to speed past in a blur of coffee, cake and thinking about James Bond. It was his final tour of duty for me. Maybe one day I’ll be able to thank Daniel Craig for doing such a great job. Every chemo I have imagined that a whole battalion of Bonds were shooting the tiny but deadly cancer cells inside me.

As always I had several bags of cold clear liquid slowly dripping intravenously into my veins. Then at about 4pm it was all over. No more evil chemo cocktails. We punched the air with delight. I finally got to flick the V sign at cancer. I said goodbye and farewell plus other choice words beginning with F.

Now I had officially beaten this killer disease.

But I couldn’t go yet. The chemo is so dangerous that it doesn’t discriminate between the good and bad stuff in your body. It’s now destroyed my magnesium levels. To stop side effects like numbness and tingling in my hands I had one last bag of liquid to give me a magnesium boost.

By the time it finished it was past the opening hours of the ward. Some of the nurses had already changed out of their uniforms ready to go home. They didn’t look like medical professionals anymore. As I walked out I realised that they would no longer see me in the same way either. I had stopped being a cancer patient.

Outside the fresh evening air somehow seemed much more wonderful than normal. It was an incredible feeling to leave that chemo unit and know that I wouldn’t be coming back again to have my veins filled with poison.

Dad and I headed for the car park. We went past a small square of grass surrounded by wooden benches. This is where you go for a quiet cry. It’s what me and my cancer fighter friends call the garden of tears.

But at that moment I was full of joy. The days of needing this hidden green space felt like a lifetime away.

As we drove us back to the countryside, the sun was starting to set on what had been a brilliant day. The dazzling weather on the motorway home matched my mood. The sky was ablaze with dusky pinks and gold that stretched all across the horizon. Enjoying the view it suddenly struck me – now I’m really going to live.

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.

Huffing and puffing

I have a hot date later today!

Hmmm sound familiar? Well that’s because my wig-man turned up wig-less yesterday. Mind you it’s not the first time I’ve had a disappointing date.

He’s promised that today at hospital he really will come up with the goods. So I should get to choose my new fabulous wig. He knows that I want to be much more Kate than Princess Di. Plus he’s going to let me try on some WAG wigs.

I could end up with some seriously big hair. Hopefully.

As I prepare for the next evil chemo cocktail I perhaps should warn you that I’m writing under the influence of steroids. I’ve just taken a handful of the tiny drugs. They normally make me feel wired; right now they make me feel weird. In a good way, it’s like my face is drunk and I keep laughing. I think I’m going to need a disco nap before getting ready.

Anyway after I choose my fake hair, I’ll start chemo session number four. Yayyyy once I’m hooked up to the drip I’ll be two thirds of the way through!

And there’s some more great news.

This bad boy doesn’t let any air in

My breathless tests are now all done. I needed this pair of nose clips for the last one.

Yesterday I had to sit in what looked like an old phone booth, wear these and blow into a blue rubber tube. It was quite surreal. The woman putting my lungs through their paces stood on the other side of the glass door telling me when to inhale, exhale and pant. Yes pant.

The results from all the scans, the x-ray and the panting shows that everything is healthy. Both my heart and my lungs are normal.

It’s such a massive relief. I didn’t realise how worried I’d been. I’d feared that my breathing problems could have be caused by a dangerous blood clot, a killer disease or even more cancer. Instead it seems that it’s probably down to the fact that I’m still not recovered from the huge operation and the chemo could be making this worse. Once this is over then I should just get better.

It’s brilliant that I’m not seriously ill with something else and I only have the orginal cancer to deal with. I can now breathe easy.