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.

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.

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.

Bob, Me and the HGV

Being bald isn’t actually that bad. It’s amazing how quickly you get used to it. I find myself taking Bob off when I leave work and drive home. I’ve had some funny looks but to be honest I really couldn’t give a shit… so what??? And it’s soooooo comfy. I do seem to spend a lot of time touching my head which is a bit weird I guess. Now we’re all different, but I can’t bring myself to buy one of those “look at me, I’ve got cancer” headscarf things. I just think it’s a bit tragic. If I’m truthful I don’t think I look that bad and apparently I have a “nice” shaped head. As IF people say that to me!

I’d completely forgotten I’d left Bob on the passenger seat so when I opened the window to ask what was wrong the look on his face was absolutely priceless…

Now, I haven’t mentioned this before but my really good friend Karen had a stroke a couple of weeks ago so we’ve now changed who visits who. She’s clearly the most poorly. What I didn’t appreciate is that a stroke isn’t a one-off incident… it’s a forever illness. She has some issues down her left side with her leg and face (she’s always had problems with her face though, lol). What has been amusing is our conversations. We are very similar; we’re both usually a million miles an hour and cram in as much as we can to our day, and night for that matter. What this also means is that her brain, like mine, is usually so active and we both talk way too quickly. But due to her stroke and my chemo brain we’ve had some hilarious nonsensical conversations whereby we either forget the word, forget what we were saying, lose our train of thought or say the wrong thing. I told her it was Monday when I meant Thursday so nothing too important, but potentially changes the outcome of the conversation. All good sport and we’ve laughed so much about it.

So I’d decided to take a drive over to see Karen again. I was busy chatting on the phone to my friend Heather whilst I was navigating my way through the back roads to get across to the A43 and then the A14. While I was gassing, I arrived at a junction and was waiting for traffic. Directly opposite the junction was a bald Spanish lorry driver who was out of his cab and dodging the traffic to cross the road to me. I asked Heather to wait a moment and I wound down the window as he asked in broken English whether he could get his HGV down the road I’d just travelled (no chance, by the way, much too narrow). I’d completely forgotten I’d left Bob on the passenger seat so when I opened the window to ask what was wrong the look on his face was absolutely priceless…he was faced with a bird who was as bald as he was. His English, which by the way was actually very good, was somewhat stunted as his brain processed that I was without hair… really amusing!

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Friday 8th April

Gosh, time is flying. It’s now the 8th April and it’s chemo day 4 again, which means in my head I’m over halfway. In fact, I’d go for 60 per cent and only two left after this one. However, I’m really dreading this if I’m honest. I’ve felt SO well this last time, almost back to normal. I’ve had to look after myself and be careful about having early nights, eating sensibly and not doing too much, but I’ve just felt great. I’m changing from Docetaxel to a drug called FEC; means nothing to you or me but apparently what happens is the cancer realises you’re trying to murder it so the same chemo stops being effective. I’ve been assured this one is easier but I guess everyone is different and we all react in different ways. I’m staying positive, naturally, but there’s always a ‘but’. I’ve planned to have this next week off as I usually do so it almost doesn’t matter what happens… but I’d so like to stay feeling well AND keep my eyelashes.

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Wednesday 13th April

Five days later and we’ve got to 13th April. It’s not been too bad. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I feel OK. The nausea has relented a bit but I feel so thick, a bit like when you’ve got a mega hangover and your brain can’t process information properly. I find it embarrassing. I can’t hold an intelligent conversation and my ability to recall what I was saying or even finish a sentence properly has been compromised. Still, it’s not forever. Another weird thing: My teeth hurt. And the tips of my fingers. Really is the most obscure feeling ever.

I’m not sure that’s what you do to someone on their birthday never mind someone who’s ill…

I got a text today from the ‘friend’ who posted the Facebook comment that had upset me back in February regarding the head shave. I was due to see her on Friday but she was texting to let me know she wasn’t coming because she was going to work – arguably not important, but Friday is my birthday and whilst I might not be ready to party, frankly I’m not sure that’s what you do to someone on their birthday never mind someone who’s ill… It’s the strangest thing but I get the feeling that there’s a cabinet reshuffle on the horizon – I’ve got a couple of ‘friends’ who seem to have got lost along the way. This journey really is a ‘buckle up and let’s see what happens next’ ride and not for the faint-hearted! Not only is it having a dramatic effect on my mind and my body but some of the people whom I thought were friends have been a bit of a disappointment.