The Email Announcement

I receive an unexpected call from the consultant’s secretary asking me to go and see him for an appointment the following afternoon at the private hospital. He’s a really lovely chap. He came out to greet me and asked me how I was as we walked to the room.

“I’m good, thanks. How are you?”

He was a little taken aback. I think both about my response and also my question to him. I guess not many people ask the doctor how he is. He asked me if I knew why he’d asked me to come in for an appointment. I shook my head. He proceeded to tell me that he asked me to come back so that he could explain again what would happen but that also in all the years of him doing this and delivering bad news to people he hadn’t ever experienced a reaction like mine yesterday. How lovely. I guess he thought that I was in shock and maybe hadn’t really heard or understood just how BIG this is – how lovely of him, but this is indicative of the type of caring man he is. I explained that I’d known since Christmas Eve and had done all my crying and wailing waiting for the results, so the fact that I wasn’t terminal was really the only thing that mattered – I could cope with everything else. I know it won’t be nice, BUT I’m a battler and I will win. He smiled, and in truth, I’m not sure he knew quite what to make of me.

I’m still trying to ascertain the best way to deliver my happy news en masse.

Recognising that I would be needing a wig sent me out shopping – I know I’m a girl but I really dislike shopping at the best of times. I’d like you to say out loud, “I need to buy a wig because I’m going to be bald.” Bloody awful, isn’t it? That’s my current reality and forgive the pun but something it’s going to take me time to get my head around. The wig shop I went to was closed. How? On a bloody Saturday? Anyway, I got the number off the internet of a place in Cambridge called Scruffs and made an appointment to go and get fitted. NOT what I thought my January would be looking like. I’m still trying to ascertain the best way to deliver my happy news en masse. I’ve got loads of people to tell, family, friends, and clients. Now I’ve test driven a couple of approaches on a couple friends over the weekend. Their reactions ranged from sharing with me every case study feedback of everyone she’s ever heard of ever that’s had ever had breast cancer – with varying degrees of outcome (not overly helpful or inspiring if I’m truthful) – to considerate thoughtful comments from people who had seriously thought through what to say. So what’s the best, most consistent message that’s concise and gets me the outcome that I need, which is normality. I need normality. As I mentioned before, I do not want a pity party. So, the plan. AN EMAIL.

Yes, I know you just cringed. It’s the most impersonal, thoughtless and horrific way to deliver the news BUT I need you to consider this. I’ve learnt that people only hear a little bit of what you say when they go into shock and then some of them make the rest of it up to suit themselves. This is not what I need and frankly, I’m literally not built to keep repeating myself. It’s boring… oh, and it just makes it that tad more real.

It’s also dawning on me that I need to sort out the work situation and get my old manager back. We’ve kept in touch and her Facebook posts about work aren’t exactly inspiring so fingers crossed she comes back. It’s not going to be too much of a problem to meet up with her, but I’m going to have to admit to her that I NEED her. Now that’s going to be a tough one, but I’ll worry about that later.

Now back to the hair situation – someone suggested to me that I did a ‘brave the shave’ and raise some money for charity – what a fabulous idea. I’m big into charity and over the last 6 years have raised over £38,000 through charity balls that we’ve held through work, so it’s a superb suggestion AND it means I’m taking control and not waiting for the imminent hair falling out trauma.

So by January 18th I bite the bullet and write and send my email to my friends and family and then have an anxiety attack – I’m literally papping my pants, unsure what to expect as I press send.

Hi

Firstly I’m really sorry to send this news to you via email but as you read this you’ll understand why.

I found out on Christmas Eve that I had a form of breast cancer……excellent Christmas present……I got the detail last week of what it is and what needs to happen. The only thing I’m really bothered about is that I won’t die…..well not from this anyway………so for me, anything else I can cope with. So the plan: I need chemo, then an op and then radio. I had every intention of not telling anyone but as I’m about to lose my hair I think there’s a slim chance people might notice lol.

We all deal with things differently and all need different things in situations like this. What I need above everything is normality. I have no desire to go over the detail of it, the repetition bores me, the conversation is negative. I won’t die from it……nothing else matters in my head. I’ve got great support from my closest friends whom I intend to rant at if the mood takes me lol. The boys are fine, understandably upset but we’re close so have each other. I’ve sorted some support for them and told their schools…..pisser timing wise with A levels and GSCEs but they’ll get special dispensation……not like our day hey?

What I need from you. Nothing other than how you usually are with me. If I see you daily, weekly, monthly or annually great let’s keep it that way. I don’t want or need sympathy or a poor me badge it won’t fix me and the negativity of it won’t inspire me at all, I have everything I need with my support team….lucky buggers hey??. I know you’ll want to help and I appreciate that enormously but you’ll help me by being the same with me….nothing has changed I just have a new challenge to deal with that’s all……oh and I’ll be fucking bald……I need positivity and happy conversation please ….lots of laughter. I’m sure I’ll have shit days but doesn’t everyone? this just gives me a great excuse that’s all. 

I can’t cope with being fussed over or being told what to do. I don’t need to hear about case studies of who survived and who didn’t. This will sort, it’ll be fine just bloody inconvenient and did I mention I’ll be bald? FFS!!! Because of this, I’ve decided to shave my hair off and to do it for charity, before I lose it and would be grateful if you would sponsor me…this way I don’t need to advertise to the world my situation….. I’ll email the detail when I’ve had time to set it up….. It will be to coincide with the start of the chemo. I will NOT be advertising this on Facebook and would be extremely grateful if you could all avoid putting anything on there relating to my condition please and respect my request to not advertise this to the world. I want to contain this as much as possible for a gobby cow I hate everyone knowing my business.

So it’s not the best news I guess BUT for me, I’m genuinely thrilled……two weeks wondering if you might have a terminal illness means this news is brilliant. I’m fixable……nothing else matters.

Hope all’s well with you all and I’ll see you when I do. Again – forgive me for emailing ….but my time’s a bit sparse at the moment with the hospital demanding my attendance lol 😃

You can imagine the variety of the replies I got, but I have to say on the whole I got exactly what I’d hoped for. Strong, positive supportive responses.

So having decided to shave my head for charity – not only for great causes but it saved me the horror of it falling out in the shower. I am not emotionally equipped to deal with that. So I set up a ‘giving’ page and tried to be rather clever about how I worded the ‘sponsor me’ bit on the page. Someone had very kindly shared it on Facebook (they meant well, I know they did), but there was a comment on there about me having the big C, so my fabulous idea about keeping it to myself wasn’t really working. So Facebook erupted, I decided I would just have to brave the whole thing and so I posted this:

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I’m getting braver and figured I’d better just suck it up and get on with it. I can’t begin to find the words to describe how it’s made me feel. I’ve had the loveliest comments, messages, texts and emails, and my money begging page has been shared by loads of people. I’m truly humbled, overwhelmed and dumbstruck by how benevolent people are. WOW.

Oncology, Private Healthcare & Free Tits

Monday 18th January

Today is January 18th and I’ve met my oncologist, and like the other consultant, she is just lovely. Very considered. I’m having to learn lots of new words, but frankly, some of the information is just too much to remember. I got packed off with books and books from the original ‘you’ve got cancer’ meeting a couple of weeks ago, which I’ve no intention of reading – how very dull. The plan: we start the chemo on Thursday 5th February. That’s all I need to know.

Private healthcare – what an absolute godsend. Not only do I get seen quicker and the process expedited but I also have the HUGE bonus of chemo at home. Okay, it wasn’t exactly what I had on my Christmas list BUT it’s made my day. I’ll be allocated a nurse and a plan. Phoning up to speak to the insurance company was actually far less horrific than I expected it to be.

I genuinely thought you had a policy, you get the dreaded lurgy, and you get paid out.

I’m still struggling to say the words, it’s becoming more real every time, but the lady I spoke to was fabulous very considerate and kind. Which is more than can be said for the delight I spoke to about my Critical Illness cover. I’d taken the policy out about 10 years ago when I used to smoke. I stopped 6 years ago but this didn’t stop her from very coldly asking me how many fags I used to smoke. I explained that I honestly couldn’t recall; when you stop you tend not to focus on the quantity of nicotine you inhaled daily. It upset me, actually. It was like she was trying to imply I’d created this cancer myself.

Furthermore, the policy I’d taken out was a smokers’ policy so I honestly couldn’t see the relevance of this. I explained this to her in my usual gentle manner, whilst she held onto her throat. We seemed to understand each other from that point on. She explained that the claim would have to go to the underwriters for a decision. Now, this did surprise me. I genuinely thought you had a policy, you get the dreaded lurgy, and you get paid out. Anyway, least of my worries right now, I’ll let fate determine the right outcome for me.

I might have mentioned that being in control is important to me so I decided the clever thing to do to help me through this journey was to keep a kind of diary of how I felt each day after each ‘spa treatment’ as I’ve renamed them – kinda of makes them more palatable, I think. I figured I needed something that I could refer to that I could see if there was a pattern. So I brought a whiteboard home from work, one of the girls from work had very kindly put some black tape on it so I could mark off the days of the week. What I did was date it and fill in relevant events from the first week of February through to the end of March. Then each day I could add a smiley face or a sad face and score my days. Whilst this sound REALLY childish, I cannot tell you what a great idea it was. It helped me to see patterns of good days and bad which then enabled me to plan more effectively.

 

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My mood board

I’m delighted to say that my operation date was brought forward to accommodate the dinner I was looking forward to on the 22nd.

 

Wednesday 20th January

What a result! FREE TITS!!!

So January 20th started with a lovely trip to the city hospital to have some dye injected into my nipple. Yes, you read that right. I can’t even begin to describe what happened simply because I didn’t want to watch. The horror of seeing the needle stabbed into a very delicate part of my anatomy was not something I needed to experience. Today’s operation is to remove a lymph node so they can send it off to ensure the cancers not escaped, the dye is to highlight the lymph node for surgery. I arrive at the private hospital having had nothing to eat all day except water. The anaesthetist, the consultant, the food nurse, the ward nurse and the ‘I’m here to help you nurse’ all paid me a visit. The anaesthetist wasn’t thrilled that I’d been drinking water – in truth, I hadn’t read the letter properly – typical me, I’m afraid. It was a bit touch and go as to whether they would operate but I managed to convince them I’d be just fine. Which of course I was.

Back from surgery within a blink of an eye – actually closer to 2 hours, but it didn’t feel like that for me. The surgeon came in and explained again what they had done and why and that we should get the results within the next week or so and for me not to worry. He’s a real sweetie. He also told me that after the chemo I’d have an operation to remove whatever’s left of the cancer and he would rebuild my boob.

“Sorry? Are you telling me I’ll get new tits?’ I demanded.

“Erm… yes Vicki, I am,” he replied, somewhat bashfully.

“Oh my God, can I pick the size?”

“Erm… yes, you can.”

“And will you make them point in the right direction?” I’m nearly squealing by this point.

“Yes, I can.”

“You, Mr. G have just made my made my day. A boob job. Oh my God, how lucky am I?”

I genuinely couldn’t be happier. Big boobs like mine aren’t exactly the prettiest things you’ve ever seen, a bit like oversized saddle bags that quite frankly have never pointed in the right direction. In fact, I had investigated and paid a deposit to have an uplift about 6 years ago but bottled it, not because of the pain but I really didn’t fancy having more scars to add to my body. What a result! FREE TITS!!!

I wasn’t allowed to leave until I’d eaten, drunk and had a wee. If they’d have let me I’d have been gone within half an hour; I’d completed all the tasks. My recovery from anaesthetic is remarkable, always has been (my life on the orthopaedic ward back in 1990 after my motorbike accident enabled me to perfect this), but they needed me to stay a further hour just to be sure. I wasn’t sore at all and felt right as rain.

Eyebrows Tattoos & Hair Shopping

Sunday 24th January

Today was a GREAT day. I met up with Sarah, the manager at work who had left at the beginning of December to work elsewhere. I’ll be honest, I hadn’t realised just what a good job she’d done and it’s the age-old ‘you don’t realise what you’ve got till it’s gone.’ She held the team together, motivated and inspired them and, the most important part, enabled me to get on with my job, which is about growing the business. Since she’d been gone I’ve struggled to get on with my job because I’ve been too busy helping the staff and the new team leaders. It turns out that she’s struggled with her new manager because she’s so vague… hilarious.

I’m learning that this journey for me is about learning new ways to behave and digging deep into the emotional box.

I think because I’m SO direct any normal person appears vague. Sarah’s been a bit disgruntled about a few other aspects too and she wants to leave. Even though I knew she would come back at this particular part of the conversation I made the decision to tell her stuff that normally I would have skirted around or avoided saying. I‘m not overly good at sharing my feelings or feeling vulnerable and as you can appreciate I run a business and I know how to manoeuvre a conversation to get the outcome I want. But I’m learning that this journey for me is about learning new ways to behave and digging deep into the emotional box so I told her that I needed her, that it hadn’t been the same without her and I’d like her to come back. Know what? It wasn’t that difficult, and it felt quite good. She knows how hard I find that sort of thing and replied by saying she wanted to come back. So for me, it was a superb result. I have someone I can rely upon, whom I trust with my youngest baby and who won’t let me down. BRILLIANT. So that’s something struck off the list.

I’m still full of bruises on the back of my hand, under my arm and my belly where they stabbed me with the heparin. Feeling a bit battered, bruised and bit bodily abused. But hey it’s going to get worse, I’m sure… this is a bit like the calm before the storm, I think.

Tattoo Tuesday 26th January

Another day skiving off work. Off to Ramsey to get my eyebrows tattooed on. What a superb experience but yeah, it did hurt. More scratchy than hurt I guess, BUT they look amazing AND they’re perfect.

Whilst I might not be Cheryl Cole, I’m sure she puts her hair extensions and makeup artist through her business.

OMG, I can’t tell you what a great idea this was, but £450 later and a teeny bit sore, I’m sure I’ve made THE best decision. One of the things I find weird when you look at someone who has no facial hair is their lack of eyebrows and eyelashes that makes them look like Martians. Yes, I know it’s not very PC and not very kind, but it’s factually accurate and I’ll be in their club soon so I feel I can say it. Again, having this done is about me taking control of the fact my eyebrows are going to fall out and stunt double for a Martian isn’t really my thing.

Eyebrows tattooed, I’m back on with my day. I’m still trying to get my accountant to agree that I can claim things like this and my wig through my business. Whilst I might not be Cheryl Cole, I’m sure she puts her hair extensions and makeup artist through her business. Why should I be any different? I might not be as slim or as glamorous, but I am the face of my business and I doubt my clients would be thrilled to see me without hair. I’m not sure I’d be confident enough to do that anyway, this process is already making me question things that I’ve never even thought about before.

My youngest had a hospital appointment this afternoon, which always results in a MacDonald’s. This is where we were sat when I got the phone call to say the chemo starts on the 5th. It’s now becoming real.

Wig Wednesday 27th January

Today started with a day of scans. I had a CT and a bone scan. In itself, it was not a problem but I was surrounded by REALLY poorly people, this hadn’t really dawned on me if I’m truthful but that was depressing. I’m okay if I can’t see the horror of cancer. I looked seriously out of place – I have hair, I have colour in my face and I’m walking. This was distressing. I had to wait for 4 hours for one of the scans so I did some work and had a meeting with the Cancer Ward sister about fundraising and about putting her in touch with the ‘Something To Look Forward To’ charity so that was good.

I had a few tears in the car but decided to replicate my current style – not because it’s nice but because it would enable me to look the same.

After the scans, the trip to Cambridge for hair fitting commenced. I drove down there and it wasn’t until I parked up that I actually thought about the sort of ‘hair’ I wanted. In truth I hadn’t thought about anything other than getting there, getting parked and finding the place, which is rather typical of me and how I don’t deal with things properly. I had a few tears in the car but decided to replicate my current style – not because it’s nice but because it would enable me to look the same. I met Garry (yes, I spelt that right) and he was absolutely fantastic. He listened, took the time with me and miraculously managed to find me a similar hairdo. We struggled to find the style with the right colour so he suggested I come back for a fitting after he’d ordered it from Germany. The hair was amazing it even had roots to make it look more authentic!! He also offered to shave my head, which was extremely kind of him, when I came back for collection.

I’ve been completed overwhelmed by the number of shares my Facebook page has had. Twenty-four and currently donations stand at just under £3000. How amazing are people? It has dawned on me that I’ve not really given this cancer thing the respect everyone else has. Nor do I intend to. How ridiculous. I like a battle and I always win. Nothing has changed.

Becoming Public Property

Friday 29th January

Friday was a bit confusing I arrived at the wrong hospital for an oncology appointment. Not the end of the world but I hate getting things wrong. I’m starting to feel a bit hormonal (just the time of the month) so I guess I was a bit flat. Karen the oncologist explained that the scans were completely clear other than a small cyst on my liver which she said could have been there from birth nothing to fret about. I asked her what a cyst is and she explained that it’s just a sack of fluid – I asked if it was full of wine. She laughed and said it was highly unlikely. So all good. I don’t think I’d displayed quite the right reaction. I know it’s great news and that I’m all clear and it’s not anywhere else but shit this is becoming REAL. Each day, each result, each appointment I’m getting one step closer to the bloody chemo, the nasty stuff, the real-life bits, the stuff that’s going to make me feel ill. Yes, it will fix me but I’m going to feel shit and for someone who’s always so healthy this is a mental battle. The side effects are beyond hideous. I had a couple of tears as I left, not a lot, just enough to register how I’m feeling, but it’s just part of the journey. I left the hospital drove to meet Catherine for dinner in Lincoln.

Saturday 30th January

On Saturday 30th, I met a friend at Rutland water for our 26, yes, 26-mile walk. I’d already committed to doing the Belvoir challenge at the end of February but I needed to know that my body was capable of doing it, I’ve never walked this far before. So that IF I can’t complete it I at least know it’s because of the chemo not that I can’t do it. The day was great and it took us just under 7 hours. Got home and was asleep by 8.30 and I ached…but not as much as my friend did, which offers me hours of piss-take. I’m the cancer victim, he’s a fit 40-year old that got me into this endurance walking and HE struggled… or maybe he’s just saying it to make me feel good.

Reading stuff about me on Facebook makes me feel like Mother Teresa…

So I’ve posted lots of stuff on Facebook about the charity head shave in the last week or so and have bullied my clients into parting with their cash and so far I’ve raised about £7500 for two very well deserving charities; Peterborough City Hospital and ‘Something to look forward to’. I’m sooooo pleased and it makes this poorly shit so worthwhile. People have been extremely kind and said some really lovely and encouraging things with their donations which is so kind, but I’m struggling a bit. I’m not really one to dwell on nice things that people say and in truth, there’s a collection of other things that aren’t so lovely about me, which quite honestly balances out the loveliness. Trust me, I’ve struggled quite a bit with this to be truthful. I’m just like everyone else; I get cross, I shout at my kids, I get moody from time to time. Reading stuff about me on Facebook makes me feel like Mother Teresa…it’s important to stay real, I think. I LOVE the positivity and kindness. It’s been great and there are one or two ‘sad/sympathy’ statuses to contend with, but they’ve been minimal.

Now I have to confess that the thought of doing this head shave is beyond distressing. I seriously do NOT really want to be bald, I don’t really want all the garbage that goes with this bloody long arduous journey of chemical warfare I’m about to endure, where my body is not my own anymore. Nothing is sacred now. I’ve had my tits out more in the last 6 weeks than I have in the last 6 years!!! PLUS I’m struggling with being ‘public property’. I’m not a fan of everyone knowing my business, it makes me feel vulnerable, but I do need to feel like I’m in control of this cancer thing so by doing this and not having the horror of big clumps falling out in bed or in the bath. As I said, it’s the best option for me to be able to cope.

I was mortified. Comments appeared like wildfire.

For a gobby bird, I’m actually quite private and do not like to share my innermost feelings with the world (you’re now wondering why I wrote this. Yes, I know – me too, but I’ve done it for you). So you can perhaps imagine how traumatised I was when one of my friends took it upon herself to post something on my Facebook wall for everyone to see. I’ll give her the benefit of doubt and say it was with the best intention. As we explained to people on my behalf that the fundraising wasn’t a publicity stunt, she explained how distressing I would find it and virtually started a petition to stop me from doing it saying that I didn’t HAVE to do it. I was absolutely livid, not because she hadn’t told the truth but because I felt like she’d exposed my innermost feelings and thoughts. Facebook for me is about the fun stuff, the nonsense of life, and I simply DO NOT share my real thoughts and feelings with the bloody world. I win by fronting this cancer thing out and stay emotionally detached from what I’m doing. I was mortified. Comments appeared like wildfire, all very lovely but discussing me, making decisions for me, suggestions about what I should or shouldn’t do. I know people mean well but I honestly did feel like my life was not my own. And because I hadn’t worded the post I wasn’t able to control what they were saying in their response.

I am unsure about shaving my head. Christ, who wouldn’t be.

All my posts had been VERY carefully worded to encourage a happy positive comment not some droany negative shit and my wording did not create an open forum. I TOLD them what was happening. I had no idea how to take this new post down – I’m not overly technical and I didn’t want to upset her either. I felt a bit stuck. I did totally overreact, but I couldn’t stop the flooding; I cried a lot and couldn’t work out what to do for the best. It’s weird how much I feel like I need to control this and what people see. I don’t mind my innermost feelings being shared with my close friends but not Facebookers – they are all people I know but they’re people I’ve worked with, met on nights out, etc., not all proper full-on friends. I guess we all know that. I am unsure about shaving my head. Christ, who wouldn’t be. Yet I know it’s better for me than the other option of it falling out. I need their money for the charities, not their sympathy or opinions about what I should do for the best…ggggrrrr.

First Day of Chemo

Thursday 4th February

Thursday 4th February and it’s National Cancer Day. What a not so fabulous co-incidence and yet arguably a perfect date for a charity head shave and the arrival of Bob. This is the name I’ve given to my wig. I HATE the word wig it conjures up thoughts of being bald to me so I figured Bob is just a cute way to refer to it. However, the joys of a head shave couldn’t start before I’d had yet another visit to the hospital. Today was to check if I had a heart, something to do with the second bout of chemo drugs and they need to make sure that everything functions properly. The scan was pretty insignificant but what as lovely was that my private nurse, Janice, who had been assigned to me for the chemo process tracked me down at the hospital and delivered to me the batch load of drugs that I needed to start before the chemo. Steroids are taken for the first couple of days and I was given a collection of meds that are supposed to help with side effects of the chemo. She advised me to speak to the doctors about getting some sleeping tablets. It’s getting more real by the minute.

I laughed through the whole thing. So that was that – hair gone. I’ve got a buzz cut.

After that, I took the train to Cambridge to go back to Scruffs to see Garry who I’ve now renamed ‘Two R’s’. He has to be the most incredible man. I’m not the best with people being too nice to me. It upsets me. I’m built for fun, laughter and piss-taking that’s how I cope and he got the balance just right with me. He mirrors his clients beautifully. You know what? It wasn’t so bad – I laughed through the whole thing. So that was that – hair gone. I’ve got a buzz cut. Painless, unemotional and it actually looks ok.

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Bob arrived and I can honestly tell you I love it. It feels unusual but then again I’ve never had to wear a wig except for fancy dress parties and it will take some getting used to but as I left the saloon to meet the couple who run ‘Something to Look Forward to,’ I had Bob on and it just felt really ‘normal’. I’m not sure what I was expecting but I certainly didn’t get any weird looks at all. Funny, what we envisage will happen and the reality is so different. We had dinner, with lots of wine back on the train and was tucked up into bed for 1.30. I’m buzzing, the steroids have kicked in and have given me so much more energy so took a sleeping tablet when I got home and woke at 7.30 am.

Spa Treatment Friday 5th February

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Nothing new today. I just have a Cancer Nurse in my house administering me chemo. Who would have thought? My Facebook time hopped today to a few years ago when I’d taken the boys to Orlando for 10 days. How times can change.

I felt fine and full of energy, not how I expected to feel.

Nurse Janice arrives. She preps and then she starts with saline to flush the vein. Then I’m given an anti-sickness drug before finally the chemo. I was fine for about 15 minutes then I struggled to breathe. It felt like someone was standing on my chest and my face was on fire. It happened so quickly, I just didn’t have time to say anything. Fortunately, she noticed and stopped the drip. She told me it’s quite normal to have a reaction. I guess our bodies weren’t really built for all these chemicals. Puriton and an anti-cortoson were administered and we’re good to go again – she did check with Karen, my oncologist, though to just be sure. Karen wanted to talk to me and said that they had found something on my hip in the scans so I need to go back and get rescanned just to make sure that it’s nothing of concern; better safe than sorry.

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And that was that. Finished by 12.30 pm. I cooked lunch and did a load of jobs. I felt fine and full of energy, not how I expected to feel. Sally came over to meet Bob, the boys came home for school, I caught up on all my lovely messages, text and work emails and awaited the arrival of my friend for a lovely catch up, followed by a couple of glasses of wine in bed for about 10.30.

So the first spa treatment day was done and dusted. It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I expected. You have such ideas in your head about chemotherapy and how your hair (or what’s left of it) will just immediately fall out and you’ll be instantly ill.

Saturday 6th February

Saturday; Oddly I’ve woken up after a good night sleep feeling fine. It’s weird because you really don’t know what to expect but so far so good. I’ve been warned that after the steroids stop I will feel a bit down so we shall see what Sunday and Monday brings. My plan is to have no plans, this way I won’t be disappointed, but I’ve got Catherine over shortly after I get stabbed with an immune system booster then we’re off for a dog walk. I’ve completed my whiteboard with a smile 😊

Sunday 7th February

On Sunday, I woke up feeling fine. Sent my family an update email. Only my sister-in-law replied – she had cancer last year and had a double mastectomy so I guess she has an understanding of where I’m at. It’s weird, it’s like waiting to be ill. Walked the dog for 4 miles. Cleared the kitchen for the decorator’s arrival tomorrow. Clips came with two bags: one full of yummy goodies like prosecco, crisps and chocolates and one packed with healthy options including green tea, ginger, and the most amazing toothpaste ever. It’s called Biotene and trust me is just great. Another friend Jo came with a chicken and leek pie and Cornish pasties and Alison made the boys a Sunday lunch which they collected. I had a bath and then felt VERY, VERY ill. I sat in bed about 7ish and snoozed on and off until 11.30 pm only to be wide awake again for an hour or so. I felt a bit nauseous, my bones ached as they’d said, predominantly my breast bone and my thighs. I felt like I had a huge weight in my stomach. Not sure a Cornish pasty and a piece of toast could really make me feel like that. It’s a weird type of ill, is all I can say.

Drugs Play Havoc with Your Taste Buds

Monday 8th February

This is a weird ill. It’s like nothing you can even describe.

On Monday I woke up after a good sleep at about 5.30 am, proudly achieved without the aid of the sleeping tablets, but I’d slept from 8 pm so it was a long one for me. I feel okay. Not great, but okay. I’ve got a sore throat and a bit of a cough so I’ll keep an eye on that. The decorator is in today so I intended to get up and take the dog out. That didn’t happen. Today’s been tough. I’ve had bouts of feeling okay and then utterly shite. They warned me that the lack of steroids would plummet me through the floor. They were right!!! Christ, today’s been a roller coaster. I feel rough, way worse than a hangover.

All my friends have checked in today which is just yummy. This is a weird ill. It’s like nothing you can even describe. I feel hungry but full, my throats sore, odd bits of my body ache, my mouth is sore and my eyes have leaked a couple of times. The boys and I ate the chicken and leek pie tonight, let me tell you just how great it was even with a slight tinge of metal – that’s me, not the pie. The drugs play havoc with your taste buds. I’ve eaten a lot today for me, but I think my body probably needs the energy. I’m close to rattling with the painkillers, Senna tables, anti-sickness and thyroxin.

Tuesday 9th February

And so to Tuesday. God, I hate to say this just in case it doesn’t last, but I feel so much better than yesterday. I’ve still got a sore throat and coughing a bit but I feel a lot more ‘with the programme’. I’m wondering if I can make it to a meeting in Boston I’d booked. Got up showered dressed, got Bob on, make-up done (I look shit, by the way) and arrived in Boston early.

I struggled to get the car in the garage – took me 8 attempts, I feel quite disorientated.

When I was introduced to the client, I laughingly told them all that they were ‘the enemy’ and that I couldn’t shake their hand for fear of infection, before sitting there with my water and antibacterial hand gel. It was a good meeting, although I noticed that my brain wasn’t functioning very well and I seem to lose my train of thought and forget the words I want to use. It’s rather embarrassing, to say the least. I’m renowned for being a million miles an hour and this is somewhat debilitating for someone like me. Came home utterly and absolutely exhausted. I struggled to get the car in the garage – took me 8 attempts, I feel quite disorientated. Saw my parents in the afternoon. They’d just returned from six weeks away and went through the expected conversation. It’s all a bit awkward, to be honest. We have an odd relationship – maybe this journey will help us with sorting it out. Who knows! All I know right now is I feel rough as hell and I just want to get into bed.

Woke up about six times in the night with a really poorly tummy. I’d had to take some of the medication yesterday they’d given me to help me go… yeah, sorry! Who wants to chat bowel movements? It wasn’t the best night I’ve ever had, I must say.

Wednesday 10th February

Thank God for Murder She Wrote, is all I can say.

Wednesday began. Such a beautiful day, the sun streaming through the windows. It was just beautiful. Shame I didn’t look or feel the same. Okay, so I accept I completely overdid it yesterday. My bad, I’ll learn. And as punishment, I’ve spent the whole day sat in my pit, festering and feeling poorly. I feel sick, upset tummy, earache, sore throat. In fact, my whole bloody body aches. Ankles, breast bone, it’s mighty weird.

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Kobe looking after me

Oh my God, I could just moan all day; such a shame there’s no one here to listen to me whine. Thank God for Murder She Wrote, is all I can say. I can do my classic watching skills and just half watch it. This afternoon I just feel progressively worse. Conor came home and we took a gentle walk with the dog into the town which was good and great to get out. Stayed in the rest of the day and by the time 8 pm arrived I can honestly tell you I felt like my body was dying. The only parts of my body that didn’t hurt, ache or was in pain were my toes and fingers. Everything else including body parts I’ve never even felt before hurt. I’m not much of a crier as I’ve mentioned, and I think I’ve got quite a high pain threshold, but let me tell you, today I’ve sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. Unbelievable. Whilst I’ll never give in, I have to say that I can completely understand why people would rather just die than go through this. It’s indescribably awful.

Thursday 11th February

On Thursday I woke up feeling sort of okay, but then got progressively worse, slept on and off till about 9 pm. Honestly, I just wish I could articulate and explain exactly how this makes you feel. I guess the only thing I can say is that it’s like your body is dying from the inside out. Arguably that’s what cancer does, I know, but the chemical infusion I’ve had just feels so toxic and heavy and, well, just wrong.

Friday 12th February

I’m happy. I’m feeling brighter – the storm seems to have passed.

OMG what a great day Friday was! I feel soooooooo much better. Took Bob out for a visit to see a client in Chesterfield with Sarah, who by the way is doing an amazing job. This experience so far has started to teach me many things about myself that I need to change. Control has always been important to me (has that come across yet?) but having been able to do literally nothing this last week and just leaving Sarah to it, she’s just excelled. She’s got some new business in, been to see some clients, looked after the team, made some great decisions and I simply couldn’t be happier. I’m excited at the same time. It’s been like party central here this evening, friends with food – a girl can’t complain about that. I’m happy. I’m feeling brighter – the storm seems to have passed.

April 25

 

Cancer Means People Make Room for You at the Bar

Well, they said I’d suffer with insomnia. They didn’t lie. I think I’ve managed about two hours sleep tonight. I purposely didn’t take a sleeping tablet because I don’t want to rely upon them… epic mistake!! And I’m supposed to be testing out my new walking shoes tomorrow with the 26-mile crew. Still, I guess that being awake rather than being ill is a bloody bonus. Oddly, I feel great.

I’m simply overwhelmed with people’s kindness.

My cough doesn’t seem to be shifting but it doesn’t seem to be getting worse either. I’m keeping an eye on it. I’ve no desire to be in the hospital. The nursing staff have explained that because my immune system is getting blitzed that the chances of me catching something is really high and the last thing I want to do is be ill. The cacophony of drugs seems to be working but the nausea remains.

I’m simply overwhelmed with people’s kindness. I’ve had texts, emails, phone calls and cards. I can’t tell you how touched I am by how lovely and supportive people have been. It’s also really hard to keep up with everything and feeling this rough, I don’t feel that inspired to communicate, but I think if they’re kind enough to contact me I really should get back to them. I’m also bright enough to recognise that people naturally get bored after the excitement of a poorly friend wears off. A bit like when you have a new baby. The communication will diminish and I’ll be left with the die-hards, the ones that truly love me. I don’t have a problem with this – it’s natural – but it’s something to watch out for. I’ve been here before with the excitement of the near-death experience from my motorbike accident. People genuinely mean well but lack in consistency sometimes when the drama wears off and the monotony arrives.

Sunday 14th February

Sunday! What a great day. I woke up about 7 am and I’ve not had to take an anti-sickness tablet all day. I’ve felt amazing, although I do appear to have a bit of a rash on my right hand and my neck. They did say my skin might be sensitive. I’m seeing the nurse tomorrow so we shall see.

They make room for you at the bar, give you the reserved table and are very smiley and lovely.

My mouth feels better today. My friend Karen drove over from Rugby with the most amazing chocolate cake. We walked for 8 miles, ate lunch at the local pub, and I chilled out the rest of the day. I feel well!!! Oh, and my hair’s not gone yet. Oh, the irony if I don’t lose it. Know what though? No regrets from me. My final tot up of charity donations was just under £8600. Not bad for someone with shit hair. As my eldest said: “Who would have thought your hair would have been worth that much money?” He’s right.

24 July

It’s odd. When you’ve had your head shaved that people behave very differently towards you. In a good way, I might add. Both last night and today at the pub people seem to clock the hair and make a mental calculation that no one would do that from choice, so either I’ve had cancer or getting over it… and they make room for you at the bar, give you the reserved table and are very smiley and lovely. A little ‘pity’, but I guess that’s normal on the basis that it’s not the best thing to have. I’m not used to people being soft with me. It’s quite nice, actually. I think I quite like it. It makes me softer too. This process is making me less aggressive, I think, which is not a bad thing.

So I’d like to list for you the positives I’ve got from this so far:

• Enabled me to release the reigns at work and to trust the team and Sarah to get on with it. This means I’ll have more chance of being able to sell it within the next couple of years.
• I get new tits (beyond excited), new underwear, my bikinis will fit better – size Fs like mine are a challenge to cram into the triangle bikinis I like to wear
• I’m getting softer, less irritated by things
• I don’t feel as ‘angry’ about life and I’m swearing less (have you noticed?)
• My hair will grow back thicker – which is awesome my hair has never been my finest asset

Monday 15th February

OMFG it’s Monday! Back to work for me; how fabulous. I feel GREAT. Normality – wooooo-hooooo. Had a fab day, although I only stayed for the morning. Back to earth with a bump, though. I had to hold a disciplinary meeting. I’m disappointed about this. I know everyone has their issues but I really could have done without this sort of thing on my first day back. I had the nurse in the afternoon and also had a new TV arriving (the first one I bought recently was damaged so had to go back). I’m learning that some things are more important than work and whilst I’ve got a superb and supportive team behind me, I don’t need to be breathing down their necks and I can leave them to get on with it. So I did. And I had a stream of visitors before I went for my hip scan to see what my ‘hot spots’ are all about, then it was dinner with some great friends. Feel sooooooo happy.

Tuesday 16th February

Tuesday was another busy day of hospital visits and work. Sat at the hospital, there are two ladies yakking on and on and on about world politics. Donald Trump. It’s funny really, who gives a shit? How can their opinion impact the world? What will they do about it? How will they make themselves heard?

Why in God’s name do some people DECIDE for you that it’s the bloody end?

Oddly, this brings me nicely onto the decision I made yesterday about how I’m going to change the way people react to those three little words. “I have cancer” has inspired me to think about how I can change people’s reaction to cancer. It’s so easy to see how cancer sufferers end up feeling depressed, sad, down and convinced they’ll die. Lost in a spiral of negative thinking. I cannot tell you how many people have made comments to me like, “If anyone can beat it, you can, Vicki,” “Stay strong,” “Are you sure you’ll be ok?” and “I THINK you’ll be fine!” These, by the way, are NOT positive comments, they’re not helpful and are fucking aggravating. At no point when I got my diagnosis did they say “It’s touch and go” or ” You have a 50/50 chance of survival,” so tell me why in God’s name do some people DECIDE for you that it’s the bloody end? Now if I’d have said “I have mutating cells and need treatment,” no one would decide my days were numbered. So I’ve decided I’m going to change the world and I’m thinking of contacting GMTV at some point, that’s after I’ve turned this into a mini- book/blog.

Hair Loss and a 26-Mile Walk

I’ve had a fantastic week. I feel great being back at work but I’m not doing full days – I’m surprised about how tired I’ve been. Walked for three hours on Saturday and went to an 18th birthday – it was a great night. I decided to wear Bob AND I fitted into a dress I’ve not worn in years, which I’m really chuffed about.

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I expected to gain weight during the chemo – naturally, I’d asked the oncologist, and I wasn’t thrilled with her response as she explained that most people do put weight on during treatment. Great. Bald AND fat – I can’t wait! Weirdly, I’ve eaten more but lost weight. It’s simply down to the fact that I’m not drinking wine, which at a guess I probably managed to consume about six bottles a week. Wine makes me order pizzas at 11 o’clock at night and makes me eat crisps and dip by the bucket load. It also makes me swear a lot so I’m thinking wine’s pretty much the enemy to be fair.

Sunday 21st February

Today was Sunday 21st February and I feel a bit gutted today, to be honest. My inch long hair has started to fall out. I know I shouldn’t be surprised. I KNEW it would go but I had kind of hoped I’d keep it till next week when I do the Belvoir Challenge – the 26-mile walk. I’m going look a right twat in my hat and I feel embarrassed and bald and all the things I thought I’d feel and more. This is humiliating.

Sunday 28th February

Sorry, I fear I have neglected you. It’s already 28th February, but I’ve had such a great couple of days just doing my thing, seeing friends, and it feels great. NORMALITY. It’s been fabulous, so much so I’ve just not had anything significant to tell you. It’s like there’s nothing wrong with me. My friends would argue differently hahaha. Anyway, I’m proud to share that on Saturday I completed the Belvoir Challenge and the casual 26-mile walk. I walked it with two chaps from the same building as me. OMG, it was great. Don’t get me wrong, it’s tough going and the terrain is something we hadn’t really prepared for – up hills and very muddy – just like your classic cross country at school.

she’d said, “You know you don’t have to do it.” But in my head I did.

By the first checkpoint, I could honestly have given up. I felt a bit rough but I reckon the bottle of wine I drank on Friday night wouldn’t necessarily have helped me. I know, I know wine is the enemy lol. So once I’d walked that out my system I have to tell you it was great. It was fab. We made sure we all crossed the line together. One of the hardest things about endurance walking is walking at a faster or slower pace than your companions. I seem to walk quite quickly – in fact they called me a robot. I was so lucky I only got a teeny tiny blister but nothing much else to whinge about. I ache a bit today but nothing much. I’m now looking forward to a 46-mile walk in June.

The oncologist wasn’t thrilled about me doing the walk initially when we discussed it. It had been at the very first appointment and she’d said, “You know you don’t have to do it.” But in my head I did. I had committed to doing it and do it I shall. She wasn’t too chuffed about the fact I’d moved the chemo date to suit the walk. I know, I know, not quite the attitude BUT I need something to look forward to and to feel I have achieved something. I’m pleased I did it and we had a really good laugh in the process.

Monday 29th February

Monday 29th February sees my second dose of chemo. It really should have been Friday but as I mentioned I’d asked them to put it back to today so that I was able to do the walk without any hiccups, which is great, although I’ve now realised my next few will clash with some social things I have planned so I’ll see if we can change it back. I’m not trying to be difficult, but I honestly don’t want this cancer drama to take over my whole world and I seriously think it should fit in around me. I can’t stay at home moaning about how ill I feel. I want to out enjoying life and doing all the things I love.

So I had a batch load of Puriton this time which has made me very tired, got some anti-sickness patches too so fingers crossed I won’t feel so bad this time. The nurses are just great, they can’t do enough to make sure it’s as OK as it can be. So let’s see what this week brings.

After hibernating through the last batch of chemo because I didn’t know how I would feel, the days were so very long so I’ve decided to ask for visitors this time. I figure the more time I can be entertained, the quicker the days will go and quicker I get back to being me.

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Tuesday 1st March

It’s Tuesday. I feel OK, a bit rough but nothing too much to moan about. Had a couple of visitors today which was lovely but exhausting. My hair although very short is very thin now… it’s weird, you expect it all to go in one fell swoop but it’s just not the case. All my hair just seems to be thinning.

Janice the nurse came today which was great. She just came to check up on me, and to stab me with an immune drug to boost my system. She told me that she’s told the oncologist that I’m always so positive and smiley and upbeat, like a light bulb, she said. How cute. Little does she know I’d passed out for 90 minutes when she’d gone. I’ve got some big beast nausea tablets, some small ones and patch and yet I still feel sick. My boob has changed shape it’s quite weird… it looks like it has tucks on it now. Weird.

I’ve had a tot up of the donations and I’m astonished at just how much we’ve raised – I’m seriously touched so I thought a BIG thank you was in order.

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(HTs – hormone twins – the affectionate name I gave to my kids)

The Most Boring Person in the World

Wednesday 2nd March

I feel OK today, not great but OK. I can live with OK. My hair is way less and I think if I’d have left it long and unshaved it would look utterly dreadful and patchy. I’m pleased I’ve shaved it but it is very sparse, to say the least, but this gradual process has made it way more palatable for me. More visitors – I’ve no idea what we talked about and if my life depended upon it I’d seriously struggle to repeat anything. I don’t think I make much sense either but everyone’s being so very kind and gentle with me. I really am blessed.

Thursday 3rd March

Well, I didn’t wake up till 10.20 am; virtually unheard of for me. I’m exhausted BUT I don’t feel ill. My mouth’s going through the usual unpleasantness but nothing to complain about. I’m tired but I can live with that. I’m thinking fish and chips for dinner today…

Saturday 5th March

Saturday. I was supposed to be meeting a couple of friends but simply didn’t have the energy. It’s weird. By the afternoon it was like the fog had lifted and I was pretty much back to normal, just lacking in energy. It’s really wiped me out. I can’t believe how much I’ve slept. I feel like THE most boring person in the world. I’ve nothing to say, I’ve not been anywhere, done anything… this bothers me. I’ve never been dull and whilst I accept it’s part of the lesson it’s very boring.

I’ve been more tired this time around simply because of the walk; it must have taken it out me. One of the REALLY hard things to cope with is my inability to think clearly, retain information and process questions. Sarah’s been emailing me asking me questions about decisions that need making for work – I honestly can’t think clearly enough to be able to offer her any help. In fact, I’ve said to her that I’m utterly thick at the moment and I’ll just live with whatever she decides. I simply do not have the capacity to be able to process anything other than what I’m going to eat or watch on the telly. I HATE IT. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so dense in my entire life. I struggle to remember what I’m saying, lose my train of thought and struggle with questions like, “What day is it today?”

Chemo brain is like having fog as a replacement for your mind. It’s so hard to function, to think, to do anything. It’s just awful and scary, I’m worried I’ll never be back to my idea of normal.

Monday 7th March

On Monday I went into work for the morning which was great but I was home by lunchtime knackered. Tuesday I didn’t even manage to get to work. I don’t think I’m eating enough, but I just don’t fancy anything. It’s hard to want to eat when there’s nothing I fancy, but I must.

I’m learning so much from this process and to be honest whilst I’m not thrilled I’ve got cancer I feel like I’m growing so much as a person.

This lethargy is just horrific. I’ve also suffered from some, erm… anal bleeding – sorry, yes I know, who wants to chat about bleeding piles, but it’s part of the journey so if it happens to you don’t panic. It’s just because of the constipation you suffer and then the obvious pressure when ejecting what you’ve saved. Not pretty so be warned. I’ve used the Senna tablets they gave me but they cause me such bad stomach cramps and clearly don’t work as they should. Instead, they have prescribed me with something that I thought they called “Move it all.” Turns out it’s actually called Movicol but hey, it does the same job so fingers crossed it will work better.

Thursday 10th March

Had a fab week at work, I felt great. I did a full day’s training on Thursday which I just loved – I felt back to being me again, personality back, multitasking brain functioning and I know I did a good job. I found the last chemo a bit scary – my personality literally flatlined. I’m usually so bright and happy and upbeat with plenty to say – this one, probably because of the mammoth walk, literally removed my personality and made me exceptionally dull.

Screenshot (46)I’m learning so much from this process and to be honest whilst I’m not thrilled I’ve got cancer I feel like I’m growing so much as a person. I’m not resisting everything that’s changing which trust me, for a control freak is quite hard but I’m just going with it and feel great. This is all part of my journey, part of my learning to get me to where I need to be. Being the sort of person I am, I perhaps wouldn’t have listened or made changes if I’d had a bout of the flu – I’d have just been frustrated and wouldn’t have heard or seen nor accepted the lesson.

It might not be obvious but I’m a VERY impatient person and tend to want and have usually got everything I want on my terms at my timescales. I fill my life with people, going out socialising (drinking copious amounts of wine) and generally overfilling my days, but now I find myself changing and find that:

• I’ve really enjoyed spending time at home and not being out every night or all weekend
• I’m learning about me and what’s important to me
• Looking after myself and pushing myself less gives me better thinking time and time to come up with better ideas (when my brain is functioning, of course)
• Listening to people I respect and admire and doing what they suggest/listen to advice has made me realise I’m not on own in the world
• I’ve learnt that having consistent behaviour/support is really good and enables me to feel safe and that I can rely upon people
• What will be will be
• Everything happens at the right time for the right reasons
• I’m not really able to offer anyone anything at the moment
• I’m really grateful for the support I’ve received from Cath, Clips and Karen… and in fact all my friends; from those that cook tea for the boys to those that sit and listen to me speak garbage for a couple of hours during chemo week
• I’m very grateful to be alive
• The spa treatments are lethal and boring so spending time with people helps me
• My friends are absolutely amazing. I’m completely blessed and extremely lucky and grateful
• Workwise I need to be doing more thinking and less doing – I need to change my strategy and not ‘do’ but work out how to structure my team to get the best outcome.

I’m Grateful for My Eyelashes

Friday 18th March

I’m thankful every day I wake up with my eyelashes. I know that’s vain and arguably the least of my worries but it’s great that I can still put mascara on and I don’t look so hideous. I’ve now got spots on my head which is really attractive, as you can imagine, and I’m thrilled about. Although I’m Mrs Baldy, I have some very short spiky strands of hair which oddly ‘hurt’. It’s quite bizarre, and if I lay on my pillow in the wrong position it’s really sore. How odd is that? Normal apparently but really weird!!

I’m a million miles an hour usually and feel like a snail with a hangover.

It’s Friday and having felt back to me yesterday, I now find myself at the doctors as my backside is bleeding again. Yes, I know it’s gross and really you didn’t need to know, but this is all part and parcel of the joys of chemo, cancer and generally having a broken body! I’m also back at the hospital later on for an MRI scan. They still haven’t quite determined what the “hot spot” is on my pelvis. Naturally, I’m praying that it’s nothing.

As I’ve mentioned I’d decided that for the second spa treatment I was going to see more people. I purposely avoided everyone the first time but it was so mind-numbingly boring that I think I need to get people round. Even if they just talk about themselves for a couple of hours the time will pass quicker AND I’ll have something to talk about… if I can remember any of it. It really is simply THE most boring experience I’ve ever endured. And the lack of energy has been weird for me. I’m a million miles an hour usually and feel like a snail with a hangover. My sense of humour and personality seem to vacate and I just flatline/exist for the time it takes the chemical warfare to get through my system. I can barely even muster up the energy to think about what I want to eat. But I know I must eat because it gives me energy. Which reminds me, I’ve done nothing but crave sugar which is bizarre because I don’t usually have a sweet tooth. I’m more of a savoury girl. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many chocolate bars, biscuits and cakes in my house EVER. Maybe it’s my body saying it needs more energy… well, that’s my excuse.

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Tuesday 22nd March

OK so we’re on day 5 post chemo, it’s March 22nd. I’m WAY too scared to tempt fate BUT I feel fine; bit sick, bit tired, the joys of a metallic mouth but I’m nowhere near as bad as I was the first or second time. I’m wondering if they’ve given me a bloody placebo… I doubt it, I’m not sure that would be something they’d do, but I do I feel fab. I’ve been up, showered, Bob on every day, I even walked the dog for half an hour today. But it’s with trepidation that I view this; I just don’t want to be disappointed or dead on my feet tomorrow.

This is definitely a life-changing experience and without doubt one that I very much needed.

I’ve had visitors galore, though. I know it sounds bad but I’ve booked them in for 2-hour slots. They arrive, I manage to make them tea or coffee, we chat, they leave and I don’t remember a thing they’ve said. I’m beginning to find this rather amusing – I’ve even told them all “I’ve no chance of remembering but please carry on regardless.” I find that I repeat myself constantly and am still forgetting words. Oh, the joy of chemo brain.

What is strange is that I don’t have any negative feelings at all at the moment. I feel like I’m clearing out some much overdue mental debris… but without actually doing anything. This is definitely a life-changing experience and without doubt one that I very much needed.

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This week has been something else. I’ve felt great. I spent Thursday at the seaside with a mate and it was fab. I’m convinced this cancer thing for me is about sorting things out, giving myself some headspace to work out what’s important and what’s not. I feel so calm. I feel so at peace with myself and I’m still grateful every day for my eyelashes. It’s such a weird thing to be grateful for but every morning I look in the mirror and say thank you.

Monday 28th March

Ten days post chemo and its March 28th, a perfect day to complete a 35-mile walk – arguably crazy but I’ve had the best chemo session ever. I’ve not felt particularly ill… nausea isn’t too bad. I’ve experienced the usual clogging up of my internals and I do feel more tired than I normally would do but honestly, it was a breeze in comparison to last time. It was a great day.

I literally had candlesticks at one point when I bent down to stretch my back out. 10/10 on the embarrassment scale.

Even though it chucked it down and we took a few wrong turns, we completed it within nine hours. It was a HUGE challenge with or without having chemo in your system but I did it. I did, however, seem to mislay my personality at about hour six and was virtually mute by the end.

My feet hurt, my brain had flatlined and all I could think about was BED. On the way round though, I can’t tell you how much I’d sniffed and how much my nose kept leaking… never experienced anything like that before. After I’d dribbled my way through 3 packets of tissues, I ended up having to ‘cuff’ it. Not a ladylike thing to do nor something I’ve ever done before but needs must at the end of the day. I literally had candlesticks at one point when I bent down to stretch my back out. 10/10 on the embarrassment scale. This has never happened to me before I just couldn’t quite work it out.

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The funniest moment though was in work on Wednesday. We’d started having a conversation about cancer and chemo, etc., and one of my team asked me whether I’d lost my ear hair because her grandad had. I did explain that females generally speaking don’t suffer from ear hairs. She then started talking about his nose and how that had gone too. I couldn’t stop laughing – not at her grandad but that’s clearly what had happened to me, wasn’t it? My nose hairs have vacated, hence the dribbly nose. The things they don’t tell you!!

Wednesday 30th March

It’s Wednesday 30 March. It’s the treatment halfway point and I’ve been for an ultrasound today after three sessions of chemo. I don’t really know what I expected. In fact, I just rocked up without really thinking about the appointment at all. I seriously cannot tell you just how I struggled to keep the tears back when they told me its shrunk by half. I’m literally delighted. I didn’t think it would be such great news. Halfway, half the size… thoroughly delighted. I feel like celebrating with a cup of tea.

How life has changed.

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