I’m still so deliciously happy at properly getting rid of the cancer.
Yesterday I had more chemo as it was back to the business of keeping it beaten. Today I’m feeling oh so incredibly sick. I still have a few more months of treatment to go but at least I’m now officially half way through!
To celebrate here’s a blow by blow account of what I go through every three weeks. There’s much more to it than having a bunch of nasty drugs…
Tuesday 19th June – Preparing for chemo
9am: Wash my hair in tepid water so that it’s ready for the frozen hat on chemo day. Depressingly loads of it comes out.
10am: Start drinking.
Sadly it’s only non-alcoholic. I need to make sure I’m not dehydrated. Apparently it’s good to drink milk. What’s better than milk? Chocolate milk.
11am: Hypnotherapy at hospital. Once again I go to my imaginary tropical island and somehow it appears to work. The bad but bearable leg pain that I constantly get seems to go.
Lunchtime: Rest at Maggie’s Centre. It’s a beautifully modern building in the grounds of the hospital. Run by a charity, it’s for people dealing with cancer. I curl up on the big sofa in the living room.
2pm: Get a taxi to a different hospital in another part of London. We drive past BBC TV centre. I really want to stop the cab and go to work. I could be starting a late shift rather than another round of medical appointments.
2.30pm: At the chemo unit I get given a pink laminated card and wait for blood tests. It’s like a speedy boarding pass and means I can jump the queue. The tests will determine if I’m well enough for the horrible treatment.
The man taking the blood tells me I have chemo veins. They’ve gone into hiding but he manages to hit one first time. I accidentally watch as he wiggles the needle and then plunges it deeper into my arm to make the blood pour out. It’s pretty gruesome but I don’t actually feel anything.
3pm: Appointment with my lovely consultant, the Professor. As I wrote in my last post, he gives me all sorts of brilliant news, a big hug and sends me on my way.
4pm: My friend, Chantal the flower girl gives me a lift home in her big flower van.
On the way to my flat she has to make an emergency delivery.
5pm: Ring the hospital. Happily the results of the blood tests are good so chemo will go ahead. Rest on my own sofa.
10pm: Start the steroids. I have to take ten of these tiny tablets. They stop me from being sick but they make me feel wired.
Midnight: Still awake. The steroids also make me eat peanut butter on toast and ice cream.
Wednesday 20th June – Chemo day
7am: More steroids. Another ten tablets and I’m wide awake despite only having about three hours sleep
10am: Back at the hospital, this is where I have to sit. All day. I share the room with five others.
10.30am: I cover my hair in conditioner and the chilly hat goes on. My hair has to freeze before the chemo can begins. It hurts like hell.
A nurse puts a needle into a vein on my left hand. I’m attached to a drip that will deliver the anti-cancer drugs. First though I’m given even more steroids and other clear liquids to stop nausea, pain and any allergic reactions.
These make my face feel funny, like I’ve drunk too much vodka. As the dizzying drugs race around my body, I start to get a puffy face.
11.20am: The chemo finally starts. It’s so toxic that my nurse use gloves to handle the clear plastic pouches. I have two types of chemo, this first one takes a few hours to slip into my veins.
I have to wear two wrist bands. White to say who I am. Red to make it clear that I have a drug allergy. That’ll be the drug that almost killed me after surgery.
11.30am: Listen to my chemo mix tape and attempt to sleep in my chair under a white hospital blanket. I feel so tired and cold.
2pm: A friend comes over for a chemo coffee. She brings a big bag of sweets. I’ve eaten so much cake, chocolate and sweets since I started this treatment. Opps!
2.30pm: I get the second type of chemo; this is the most dangerous one. It makes your hair fall out among other awful things.
3pm: Sleep. As I drift off I try to dream of Daniel Craig and his army of James Bond cancer killers. But instead I keep thinking of the fantastic things I’m going to do when all this is over.
4pm: The last drugs pouch is empty and all the evil of chemo cocktail is now in my body. I’m unhooked from the drip. My hair is frozen to the cold cap so it has to stay on for a bit to allow it to warm up.
4.30pm: I have to go for a chest x-ray. Walking just a few metres makes me breathless so The Professor wants to make sure it’s nothing serious.
5pm: The flower girl picks me up and I start the long journey back to the house where I grew up. My hair is still defrosting. You don’t have to look too hard to see one of my bald patches.
I don’t feel too bad considering but the side effects of the chemo are like a time bomb and you never know when they’ll go off.
8.30pm: Still feeling kinda normal as I arrive at my parents’ home in the countryside.
I know that I may not lose my hair.
But I don’t quite believe it so again I’ve packed Barbarella just in case.