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.

The Final Spa Treatment

Friday May 27th

Friday May 27th and I’m so done, in every single way. I had my last spa session yesterday, just nine days or so to get through. I’m currently sat in bed after a long sleep and I feel OK this morning. I’ve got a collection of visitors to keep me entertained again today. I’m delighted to say that this session was just one cannula and they took their time to shove the chemicals in. So now I’ve just got to batten down the hatches have lots of sleep and take care of myself.

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One thing you don’t think about is your veins. I know that’s weird, isn’t it? But you don’t and I cannot tell you how sore they become. Certain parts of your arms become so sensitive to touch because I’m guessing they’ve been so badly damaged throughout the excessive chemical warfare they’ve had to cope with. I’ve been to a therapist and had a couple of oncology qualified massages – which by the way have been fabulous. They exist so don’t miss out on some real spa treatments. Go and find someone who’s qualified to deliver, it really does help. The only issue is when they massage your arms – I kept forgetting to tell her just how much it hurt and it’s a weird pain – a bit like toothache – hard to describe but excruciating just the same.

Thursday 2nd June

I’m free – June 2nd Karen and I jet off to Spain – I know really I shouldn’t be going anywhere I’m not even a full week after the last chemo but as I said I’m at maximum coping capacity with all of this and I just need to believe and feel like it’s over. So a holiday seems like a great way to do that. Sadly however my emotions aren’t exactly playing ball and I’ve done nothing but cry since I got to the airport. Now please don’t misunderstand me, my kids have been absolutely amazing as have my friends, but this has been a battle. MY BATTLE. And whilst I might not want to moan about it continuously it has taken its toll on me.

I hadn’t actually mentioned this little jaunt to Spain to the clinical staff or the consultant. I just didn’t want to be told I couldn’t go.

I just need some time out to get over what’s happened. On the huge positive I’m a whole stone lighter and feel psychically great. I don’t think I’ve been on holiday feeling slim in years so that’s a huge positive…just better make sure I don’t eat too much whilst I’m away. I’ve packed my trainers and hope to walk 7-8 miles a day. I need the training for the 46-mile trek I’m doing at the end of the month. So I need to do it for that, but it also gives me headspace.

3 June

It’s been a great remedy to clear away all the horror of this. I hadn’t actually mentioned this little jaunt to Spain to the clinical staff or the consultant. I just didn’t want to be told I couldn’t go. I’ve not even bothered finding out if I can get insurance. I mean, what’s the point? I’m sure I’ll be fine and to be honest for four days what could go wrong? Famous last words I hear you say, but thankfully everything was fine.

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The time away was just what I needed, although I spent the first two days crying. Poor Karen, I’m not sure she knew what to do with me. I’d like to blame the FEC but in truth, I think I needed to just get it all out of my system. I’ve realised that my coping strategy is about ploughing through with utter positivity and then when it’s over I have an enormous meltdown. Thinking back, this is how I’ve dealt with virtually every horror story I’ve had to go through. Who cares? It works for me. Healthy or not, it’s the way I’m built and I’m not going to give myself grief for it either. So I’ve cried for two days – so what? Although I should have bought some shares in Kleenex first, I think…

Monday 13th June

So here we are, June 13th and that’s it, chemo done. In my view, the biggest horror is over. Now for the good bits: my brand new boobs and the radiotherapy.

I saw the surgeon last week and we’ve sorted out my new boobs. I can’t tell you how pleased I am about that. Mine currently weigh-in at a large 36F and whilst I do have some beautiful underwear, I’ve had to spend a fortune from specialist shops, so I’ve requested a pair of double Ds. I noticed that you can virtually get anything in a D cup and I’m a bird that likes choices. I was unaware that they do your poorly boob first then after the radiotherapy they wait six months. Apparently, the radiotherapy not only burns your beautiful new boob but it can take six months for it to get back to normal. But you know what? I don’t really care. I’m better off than many women who lose their boobs, so for me I’ve just got to have some patience…another skill I’m embracing.

Sunday 31st July

It’s the 31st July and I’m mindful that I’ve neglected my blog updates for some time. For that, I apologise but I’ve been busy getting on with my life; holidays, trips away going to see my friends, and completing the 46-mile walk. The best bit is that we came 14th place out of 280. Not bad for a cancer-ridden chemotherapied bird!!!

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