Evil. Thats the only way I can describe chemotherapy. My second cycle of the treatment was horrific. Not the day itself. That was fine, fun in the usual speeding time with special people chatting, drinking coffee and trying to ignore the drip that was feeding me the toxic cocktail of drugs. No, it was the days afterwards that were hard to handle.

As the steroids wore off, the horrific-ness kicked in. It was one of the worst chemo hangovers that I can remember having. My mood felt as awful as the physical symptoms. The last time I felt that ill was last year when I was in intensive care following major surgery and a brief, unexpected, flirtation with dying.

The only positive thing I can say is that there was none of the nausea of chemo no 1. I didn’t have any projective vomiting yay! Thanks to everyone who tweeted me suggestions about what anti-sickness medicine I should try. The new tablets are working beautifully.

Then it lifted. After almost a week, the nasty chemo symptoms just left me. I’m still tired but at least I feel human again.

Luckily this happened just as I was due to do a day at work. Okay, it was down to more than just luck. I had thought that I’d be recovered by then.

You may be wondering why I still want to do my job. It’s totally my choice to work. I don’t want the cancer, the chemo and the uggggggh feelings to be the only things in my life. Besides, I really enjoy it.


On Monday I was reporting on the impact of the storms for BBC News. It wasn’t feeling ill again that I was worried about but more the windy weather. This was my first day wearing a wig again. Not such perfect timing.

When I was stood outside I had the straps inside the wig on their tightest setting. It was a vice like grip and it hurt a bit but at least it kept my wig secure on my head. There would be no chance that a cheeky gust of wind would give it lift off!

It’s the same wig as I wore on TV before, only my hairdresser Angela has given it a new look. I do have a whole new autumn/winter collection of wigs to wear but I want to start off with something I’m comfortable with.

My hair seriously started to fall out just as I was feeling so desperately ill. Great big handfuls of my lovely, new hair. I almost had a proper fringe. It seemed that most of it slid off at night and onto my pillow. Previously my hair has slowly left me so the speed at which I went bald this time was a shock. It took about a week before all I had was some lonely tufts. It looked as horrific as I felt.

This is one of the hardest parts of the treatment. You understand that you are going to be very ill but it the fact you lose your hair as well is very upsetting. You no longer look like yourself. The chemo takes away your identity.

I knew there was something unpleasant I had to do. A few days ago I had what remained of my hair shaved off. There is nothing left. My appearance has gone from poorly to pop star. Now I look like Jessie J when she shaved her head. Ha! I’m only joking. My head looks all white and weird however it is better than it was. Most importantly, instead of letting the chemo do something to me, I took charge. And this makes me feel strong again.

No 41 on the List for Living

41) Be a model and work the catwalk

Wow the response to my List for Living has been incredible. Some people have now come up with their own lists of the things they’ve always wanted to do. A BBC friend has been so inspired that she’s in Africa right now! I can’t get over how many people have contacted me offers and suggestions. Thank you so much. As I’m shattered from the chemo, most of it will have to wait a while. But not everything…

After hearing about my list, a woman called Adele got in touch to ask if I wanted to be a model. Every year she organises Tea for Ovacome, a champagne afternoon tea and fashion show to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and funds for the Ovacome charity. Like Adele, the other models all had personal experience of the disease. I didn’t need to be asked twice!

I’d put this thing to do on my List for Living as I wanted to celebrate who I am now. Cancer changes you in so many ways. Not just medically and emotionally but also physically. It can make you ever so skinny. Or, as in my case, you go large.

When the disease came back a year ago, I was fit and healthy. But the chemo, the steroids and the not doing too much has meant that I’ve put on weight.

The clothes that we had to model were all on the small side but luckily I found a couple of dresses that I could squeeze into.

I may not look like I used to but my body has done a brilliant job in keeping me alive. Far too many women die within a few years of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Amazingly my body has beaten the odds. It manages to keep battling against the stupid cancer every time it comes back.

Compared to choosing my clothes, getting my hair sorted out was a lot simpler. My lovely hairdresser Angela offered to prepare Candice. The WAG wig was demanding some serious TLC. I left her with Angela. After cutting and curling she was beautiful again and runway ready.

As we rehearsed on the big day, Candice made herself comfortable. A couple of hundred people had bought tickets to the charity event which was at one of the fanciest hotels in London. In just a few hours they’d be watching us strut our stuff.

I have to admit that I felt like a right idiot to start with. I wasn’t exactly graceful. I’m pretty tall and so normally I don’t need to wear killer heels. However it felt empowering to be with so many strong women who had such similar stories to me. We each had two looks to model. Daytime and then night wear.

Just before the show began, I felt a bit anxious, nothing too bad but it did make me wonder why I’d wanted to do this. I think that most of us had the jitters. As we chatted nervously one of the models pointed out that we’d all been through a lot worse.

So true. This time last year I was in hospital after my massive operation, I’d been in intensive care after I came close to dying and I needed a Zimmer frame to help me get around. Now I was about to sashay down a catwalk.

We waited in our daytime outfits in a long, narrow corridor which was lined with abandoned furniture. Then one by one we headed out into the opulent room.

By the time it was my turn, it felt like my heart was beating as loud as the music. Wearing a summer dress and a big smile I walked out in front of the audience that included mum and some of my friends.

Being a model, just for a few seconds, was a surreal but I loved it. And the people watching sounded like they were enjoying the show too.

When I came off the catwalk I felt quite emotional. Backstage we all hugged each other before rushing off to change our outfits. My night time look wasn’t exactly subtle.

This time as I waited for my catwalk cue I felt much more confident.

It was fantastic doing something else from my List for Living. We all worked that catwalk although Kate Moss certainly has nothing to worry about!

We might not have been supermodels but we were something much more powerful, we were all cancer survivors.

What I like about my list is that you get much more than you bargained for. Thanks to the charity event I’ve met some very impressive women who’ve beaten cancer or like me are living well with the disease.

It also dramatically shifted my mood. In the days leading up to doing no 41 I’d been quite miserable. The relentless treatment and tiredness is tough to deal with. But that high from the fashion show is still with me.


Despite a busted thumb, Chantal, my friend the flower girl, offered to drive me to hospital in her van. Although she looked like she was the one who needed treatment and not me. Chantal apparently dislocated her thumb while doing some extreme gardening. Who knew that potting a plant could be so dangerous!

Before chemo we met for lunch at a local pub. There we spotted something unusual on the menu – homemade tonic water infusions. They were kept behind the bar in giant coloured glass bottles with labels written in biro. Designed to be served with gin, the tonic had been infused with things like celery and lemon, cucumber and mint, green tea and pickled ginger.

Tempting as a G and homemade T sounded; I knew that my body would soon be awash with poison so thought it best not to try one. What I didn’t realise is that it wouldn’t be long before I’d get my very own infusion.

It’s been another tough week with plenty of side effects. An almost constant nose bleed, mouth ulcers and a sore throat. Oh and of course, tiredness. A few days ago I felt so shattered that I wasn’t sure if I could make it out of the living room to bed. I desperately wanted to lie down but I feared that if I stood up I’d collapse. Thankfully I did make it to bed without any drama.

An afternoon of deep sleep later and I was feeling better. I didn’t think much more of it. I try not to dwell on the awful stuff. I’m glad that I still have options even if that means a bit of pain and getting through lots of bloody tissues.

There are some side effects that are easier to hide. My hair is just about starting to fall out, again but because the chemo is weekly I shouldn’t lose it all at once. While I still have some left I’m enjoying not wearing a wig every day. My hair is super short hair and when it’s cold outside I cover up with a hat. Even when there’s a beautiful blue sky.

As the chemo cocktail bar is well heated and then some, I left my hat in Chantal’s flower van. Before the treatment can start your blood is tested to check how your body is coping. I was told that I was well enough to continue but I’m low on magnesium. Ahh, that makes sense. It explains all the fatigue.

As always I was hooked up to a drip and promptly went straight to sleep. I woke up just as the chemo finished and was given another bag of clear liquid. This was a magnesium infusion. It wasn’t in a fancy coloured bottle or quite as nice as a proper drink but hopefully the effect of this hospital tonic should give me a boost that lasts for days.

Now that chemo#6 is over it means that I’m one third of the way through my treatment which is brilliant. I now know that I’m pretty much able to deal with the cancer-killing drugs. It feels like the right time to start focusing on the future. However long that may be.

So I’m finally finishing my List for Living. I reckon that I’ll do a post on my new list towards the end of next week. In the meantime I’m looking for some examples of inspiring bucket lists. If you’ve seen any great ones I’d love you to leave a comment for me. Thanks x


I have a confession to make. The last two blog posts have been written under the influence. I didn’t realise it but both times I was on a steroid high. Chemo#1 and chemo#2 have gone something like this…

Tuesday – Have chemo along with a load of steroids to help my body cope with the toxic side effects. Tuesday night – Insomnia.

Wednesday – Feel so energetic that I go for a little run. I know. A run – the day after chemo! Wednesday night – Horrific nightmares followed by insomnia.

Thursday – Feel miserable.

Thursday night – Sleep returns to normal.

Friday – Wake up feeling like me. No high, no low, no desire to do any running.

On Wednesdays I felt amazing and was bursting with energy. The real problem was with that awful Thursday comedown. Both times it’s hit me hard and I have months of treatment to go. I couldn’t work out what was happening until I mentioned my mood swings to a doctor.

If I really needed to have so many steroids then I’d just deal with it but why put up with something that can be changed?

Red band spells steroid danger

Before I started chemo#3 I asked if I could get the moody drugs reduced. It caused a bit of a kafuffle. Not many people opt for this. Steroids are used to reduce this risk of your body from having a bad reaction to chemo; like that patient did last week. Apparently it’s rare but a really bad reaction can be deadly. Cutting back on the steroids was a gamble although the doctor on the ward preferred to call it a calculated risk.

I knew that my body copes well with chemo. Oh yes, it’s one of my hidden talents. But I still wasn’t sure and neither were the medical staff. In the end we agreed that I’d have half the usual steroids and be closely monitored.

If something scary is going to happen it will do so in the first 15 minutes or so. I wanted to be awake to watch and worry however like before, the chemo cocktail put me straight to sleep. I didn’t even have time to take my wig off. I was relieved to have my friend, Chantal the flower girl at my side.

So what happened? Nothing. I was totally fine and slept all the way through the critical period and beyond. I’m still writing this after all!

It was quite stressful though. Not exactly what you need. I’m trying hard not to turn chemo into a big deal. I want it to be just part of weekly life.

As I’m keeping everything normal I offered to work an early morning shift before chemo in the afternoon. Getting up at 4.30am wasn’t great. But that was the whole point. I was playing mind games with myself and it worked. My brain was more annoyed about the stupidly early hour rather than the prospect of chemo.

It was a busy morning at work doing live TV reports and interviews for the BBC News Channel. I didn’t have time to think about my impending trip to the chemo cocktail bar.

I can see why my consultants have encouraged me to continue to work if I’m able to. The morning made me realise more than ever just how important it is to do the things you really enjoy. It gives you a sense of purpose that you’ll never get from a trip to hospital.

Also work is a big part of my identity. I may have cancer but that doesn’t define who I am. Being active is another part of my identity which has nothing to do with the disease. Earlier I went out for some exercise. I used to be very sporty and I’m keen to get fit again. Playing netball again is on my List for Living which I’m still working on.

I think that I’m now having much less of a steroid rush. The insomnia wasn’t so bad last night. The steroid highs made me feel like I had boundless energy. Today I managed to jog for two and half minutes with great difficulty. It’s good not to feel so hyper but just happy, tired and rubbish at running again.

Chemo #1

I walked into the hospital with a sense of dread. This was my third round of chemo. I wasn’t worried but I just didn’t want to be there. I shouldn’t have to do this again.

There was a big queue to get checked-in. People were crowded around the reception. The hospital reeked of cinnamon, for me this is the sickening smell of chemo. I felt like I was going to collapse from the stress of it all. I wanted to shout, I’m going to faint if I have to stand any longer. Don’t you know I have cancer? But then so did everyone else so I kept quiet.

It was just a small wobble and I had my friend Tamsin with me for support. We drank cappuccinos and talked about happy things, anything other than cancer. Tamsin had brought me some lovely presents including a notebook to write my new List for Living.

The staff on the chemo ward were pretty much the same. Last time I was there I had my own hair. Despite wearing my Raquel wig for chemo#1 some of them still recognised me.

“Hey how you doing? You look well,” one of the nurses in a dark blue uniform said to me with a smile. I wanted to reply that I was only visiting, that I’d popped in to say hello.

“I’m back again for more.”

“Oh…..” Her smile disappeared.

Not much had changed at the chemo cocktail bar. The patient patrons were still mostly pensioners but at least there were some new high-tech reclining chairs.

Setting up the medical equipment, my nurse found it hard to get a vein. The chemo is delivered through an IV drip via an orange tube. My veins are rubbish and seem to run away at the sight of a needle. As my arm was gouged by the nurse, I looked away and towards Tamsin. She offered to pinch my other arm to take my mind off it. Now that’s what friends are for!

The chemo is so toxic that a collection of other things are pumped into you first to prepare your body. I was warned that one of them would make me sleepy. It actually made me feel drunk, properly end of the night and need to go home drunk. And I hadn’t even started on the evil chemo cocktail.

I pressed the recline button and settled back into my chair. I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer.

It was time to visualise James Bond shooting the crap out of my tumour. It seems that I’m not the only one. A woman called Nicky sent me a message to say that when she had chemo she imagined Vera Duckworth from Coronation Street running around her veins killing the cancer with a rolling pin!

I slept almost all the way through the chemo. Now that’s my kind of a cancer kicking work-out.

I was woken by a loud man on the other side of the room who was visiting an older lady. I felt dizzy and disorientated as I came round. I watched the loud man talk to the nurses and other people’s visitors. He alternated between patronising and sleazy. What an idiot. If you’re visiting a cancer ward, then please shhhh, don’t shout. You don’t want to get on the wrong side of someone who’s under the influence.

As soon as the drugs were done, my friend and I made a swift exit.

Like before, I’m recovering at my parents’ house. Last night I slept in my childhood bedroom – the same place that I retreated to after all the previous cancer treatment. It’s very sad to be back in my old bed again because of chemo. But at the same time I have amazing parents who look after me. Not everyone gets that kind of support when they’re ill.

And very importantly I’m lucky to still be alive. I first had the disease when I was in my late twenties, since then I’ve been living under a cancery shadow. There are many times when really it should have killed me. Despite doing this all again I feel so very fortunate. I still have options.

Earlier I walked around the frosty garden a few times. When I’m recovering from treatment I always try to do some exercise. Compared to when I first did this after my massive operation last year, I now have masses more energy. I even jogged the final lap. Just because I could.

Most of the day has been far less energetic. It’s passed in a tired and dizzy haze. There’s a certain type of Ukrainian vodka that makes me feel like this and so I’m pretending to myself that this is just a hangover.

However this is a happy hangover. Getting a third cancer diagnosis was a huge shock but now I feel empowered. I’m back on the chemo cocktails and blasting that tiny tumour.

Back to the future

Yay I survived my first day at work since the stupid cancer! I’m shattered now but in a good way.

It was such a fantastic feeling walking into BBC TV Centre. Almost as soon as got to the correspondents’ desk I was handed a story – it was great to be back. Yesterday made me realise just how important work is to my identity. It felt like a part of me that was missing had returned.

Seeing everyone again was brilliant. I haven’t done that much talking and hugging for a long time. I’m sure it was all much easier because of this blog. People knew that I had cancer but gave it a good kicking; now I’m healthy and happy.

It was such a warm welcome, like a celebration. And of course, there was cake.

My correspondent colleagues were very good to me. Fetching me as much coffee as I wanted. I could get used to this!

There were times when I was exhausted. Just getting into work was hard. There are two flights of steps from the reception to the newsroom. Before I’d hardly noticed them, yesterday they left me totally breathless.

I felt so relieved to be back. It seemed just the same but also at times very different.

Thankfully it wasn’t a manic day. I managed to delete a few emails. Some were invitations to events that had taken place ages ago. I was erasing part of my life that never happened.

Back in March I went from being diagnosed with cancer to having the operation very quickly. It meant that my next shift after getting the bad news became my last shift. On that day I felt such fear for the future. I didn’t know for sure that I’d be able to return.

But I made it.

To be back at the BBC without any of these worries was incredible.

To be there without any hair wasn’t a problem at all. My new wig was as comfortable as it could have been although that’s not saying much. At times it was hot and kept my cheeks rosy red. I had lots of comments about looking well. I was glowing in more ways than one.

I needed to get a new ID pass as mine wasn’t working. For this I had to get my photo taken. In the picture I appear healthy with shiny hair. Now, every time I use my new pass it will remind me of my first day back.

Returning to work

This is one of those big moments that proves I’m really getting my life back. Today I’m returning to work! It’s exciting to be normal once again.

Cancer steals your usual routine and replaces it with something alien. For months my job was beating the stupid cancer. I’ve done that, had all the evil chemo side effects and now finally it’s time to move on.

I was a bit nervous about going back but not so much anymore. Yesterday I saw a totally new consultant. There are a few medical things I still need to sort out, problems caused by the treatment. Somehow my notes hadn’t turned up so I had to tell this doctor my entire medical history.

It made me realise that being in the newsroom after so much time off is not nearly as scary as any of that awfulness.

Also it made me see just how far I’ve come. Like when I was in hospital after the operation and I virtually had to re-learn how to walk. Back then I couldn’t even imagine that I’d ever be well enough to do my job again. I’d wanted to work during my chemo but my consultants advised me not to. Sadly, I knew they were right.

So it’ll be strange being back at BBC TV centre after such a long time away. Strange but lovely. I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone. That’s one of the things I’ve missed the most. I’ve been promised plenty of hugs and cake to welcome me back.

I’m going to enjoy getting ready for work. My day will have a purpose and structure which doesn’t involve anything medical or daytime telly.

At the same time, it’ll be a test for my immune system. I’ll be armed with anti-bacteria wipes and hand gel. What I’m most worried about though is how I’ll cope physically. I’m having a phased return to work which will make it much easier to deal with the tiredness.

I hope that no-one will find it awkward knowing what to say. Do you mention the C word or not??  I don’t mind either way.

After everything I’ve been through, I think that people may be surprised at how well I look. Appearances can be deceptive. Even when I was in intensive care I didn’t look that ill at all.

Today I won’t be blonde. Raquel and Babarella will stay home. I’ve decided that I’m going to wear my new wig. The darker one with no name. The wig that’s the most like my old hair. In many ways I’ll look like nothing happened. And that’s just fine by me.

Hair we go

Something strange happened. I was taking off my make-up recently at the end of a long day.

Make-up is the cancer fighter’s friend. It helps you to look kinda normal and feel good. It fills in the gaps, giving you eyebrows and lashes plus a healthy glow – all the things that go missing.

After my chemo hair loss, I stopped looking at my face too closely and put my make-up on using a rubbish tiny mirror. I didn’t want to focus on what wasn’t there.

Anyway, that night I was removing my make-up. The eyeliner was proving to be quite stubborn, it just wouldn’t come off.

I found a proper big mirror that was well lit. I stared at my eyes and rubbed harder. Then I realised that it wasn’t smudged make-up. Ohhh no.

Amazingly, it was my actual eyelashes. They’re back!!

I was so surprised to suddenly see them again. I thought that it would take much longer. Not only that but I also have eyebrows again! Even the hair on my head has started to come back thick and fast.

I now have a brown coloured scalp. It’s like snap-on Lego hair. It’s way too short to go wig-less. Besides, I didn’t choose to have this very severe hairstyle; this is what cancer did to me. That’s why I don’t want to be seen out in public like this. I’m sure no one would care if I did but that’s not the point.

The toxic treatment takes away much of your identity but it also gives you a chance to experiment. I think that why I’ve enjoyed being blonde. I’ve had fun being Raquel and Candice which came from the hospital’s wig man.

I decided that it was time to see what else was out there and went wig shopping. I tried on plenty of new styles but there was only one that I wanted.

So, what did I get?


Candice, Raquel, the new wig and Barbarella

I chose to be me again. My new wig is just like my old hair. A bit shorter and slightly lighter but very very similar to what I once was.

It feels much softer and more natural than any of my other ones and moves almost like real hair. For my fellow wig wearers – it has a monofilament top and comes from the Vicki Ullah Wig Boudoir – hey get me!

Right now, my new wig has no name. I can’t think of anything that seems suitable. Maybe it’s because this isn’t a new identity. This is me.

But, don’t worry, I won’t be putting the other wigs back in their boxes just yet. I’m now going to a part time blonde.

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.

Good cold, bad cold

If you had to pick a time of year to have a chemocation then I suppose autumn/winter is perfect. A chemocation is rather like a staycation. Only this is no holiday at home but chemo enforced time off. And I can’t wait for it to be over.

Thanks to my incredible tiredness I’m still mostly stuck indoors. One of the perks of an A/W chemocation though is being able to have quality time by the log fire at my parents’ house. There are worst ways to spend an autumn afternoon.

But really I’d rather not be stuck indoors. Slowly I’m building up my stamina so that I can spend more time outdoors getting cold and wet.

The chilly weather means that when I do go out I can easily wear a hat over my shaved head and it doesn’t look out of place. I like my new number 3 hair cut but I’m not going to be showing it off in public anytime soon. That would just take too much energy. It’s less stressful to just blend in.

Raquel, Candice and very occasionally Barbarella are also helping keep me warm. I quite enjoy wearing my wigs. They still itch like crazy but over heating is no longer such a problem.

Ten years ago when cancer last made my hair fall out, it was all very different. Back then I told hardly anyone, I was so embarrassed. I didn’t even have a name for my wig. It was identical to my old hair. I didn’t like wearing it and I never realised how handy it would be on my travels.

I’d just moved to Moscow for the BBC and it was the very start of winter.

Snowy sunset from the BBC Moscow Bureau

Russia was properly freezing, exactly how you’d imagine that it should be. I’d wake up every day hoping that it had snowed overnight and often I was excited to find that it had. At times just being outside was painful; as you breathed in, the icy air would scratch your throat and made your lungs feel like they were on fire.

One Sunday afternoon, not long after arriving, I ventured out to a market on the edge of the capital. It was next to one of the furthest stops on the metro. On the way there I sat opposite a pensioner. The woman with dyed red hair was dressed in fur from head to toe. She eyed me suspiciously and then gave me a right telling off.

My crime? Not wearing a hat.

As way of an apology I said that I was English. I didn’t feel like revealing my lack of hair to a random stranger. However she was right to chastise me. It was so arctic outside that within minutes of getting off the metro, my mobile phone had frozen.

Yet my wig was brilliant. My fake brown bob kept my head beautifully warm.

These days I tend to wear hats a whole lot more, even when I’m inside. It turns out that my internal temperature gauge has bust.

I am officially cold.

All those evil chemocation cocktails are to blame. My body thinks that I should be around 35c. Unless I’m in a swelteringly hot room I tend to spend much of the time shivering. According to my hospital handbook, my temperature is a code red and I should alert the on-call oncologist straight away.

Ever since my cancer operation my feet have been a bit numb and never that warm. Now they are like blocks of ice. It’s like I’ve just come in from the cold after a day braving the elements in Moscow. So I wear thick ski socks at all times and I have a selection of hot water bottles which get a lot of use. Sometimes I sit in the living room wrapped in a duvet next to the fire.

But apparently my low temperature is nothing to worry about. The problem should just improve all by itself. In the meantime I’ve been told to wear lots of thermals. Here’s some freaky logic. It may be warmer inside but I tend to shiver less when I’m outside.

Maybe this is my body’s way of saying that I need to get out more as the chemocation is coming to an end.