Friday, 4 December 2009

The train now leaving platform 5….

At times like this, continuing with one's life seems impossible... and eating the entire contents of one's fridge seems inevitable. I have two choices: to give up and accept permanent state of spinsterhood and eventually be eaten by Alsatians... or not, and this time I choose not. I will not be defeated by a bad man and an American stick insect! Instead, I choose vodka. And Chaka Khan.

I had a party to go to this week. No, not one of my exclusive cocktail parties ... that was last week. This was a real party. You know the type - one with other people – guys in dickies, chicks in pretty frocks. There was a bit of food, some drink, celebrations and dancing. Not only that, it was in London! A party and the chance to get away for a couple of days. I’ll explain …

It all started back in July. What feels like eons ago for me. BBC (Before Breast Cancer) time … when I was still enjoying my tick-along-life … little knowing that the Yukky Lump had unsuspectingly started squatting in my warm and welcoming boob. In fact, by then it was probably so comfy I can imagine it was laid out in a gently swinging hammock, legs crossed, sun hat on and chewing on a grassy straw.

My organisation had been invited to nominate itself for a prestigious national award. I had been meaning to fill in the application for weeks but it was quite lengthy and it kept slipping to the bottom of my ‘to do’ pile. It got to 5 o’clock on the day of the deadline – the Friday afternoon of a long week. I wanted to go home and put my feet up with a glass a wine, but I had promised myself, and others, that I would give it a go. In the end I spent the evening glued to the computer and eventually submitted my application at half eleven – 30 minutes before the midnight deadline.

I received the call to say that we had been shortlisted during the horrid grey and gloomy ‘no man’s land’ between my Dr’s appointment and my diagnostic visit to the Breast Care Unit. It was probably the only occasion during that awful period to bring a smile to my face and a cheer to my voice.

A couple of months ago my director wrote me a letter to say that there were a handful of places at the actual award ceremony and that he had nominated me to go as I had made the original submission. I was delighted ... and touched ... but had to send him an e-mail to say that there was no possible way that I could attend. For starters it was only a few days on from the first cycle of Killer Chemo, just as the side effects were due to kick in. But that was only the beginning. If I was to go then I would have to get the train up to London – sitting with a hundred or so possibly infectious people – plus more coming and going along the carriage. Then, once in London, I would have to get on the underground. At rush hour. A definite no no. And then, once I had struggled up and down the escalators with my luggage I would need to get from the station to my hotel. In reality if I made it to Marble Arch then the chances are I would be found lying on my back asleep with commuters throwing their spare change at me, making comments that I would make more money if I adopted a dog or played an instrument.

If ...  if I did miraculously make it to the hotel ... then I would for sure be asleep before the hors d'œuvre were served. However .... with the steroids I have been on ... I would be awake at 3am just as everyone else was sloping off to bed. I have this image of me going downstairs after my nap, and with renewed vigour, forcing the tired DJ who thought he was about to go home, to commence a little private disco. Me standing there isolation in my pinky jim jams, BJ style, singing “All by myself”

So of course I didn’t go. Mr Campbell went in my place – here he is letting his hair down. Beforehand I was quite benevolent ... I sent him a text saying “I accept I can’t be there so I hope you and the gang enjoy yourselves.”

Well ... that was until I found James Nesbitt was there. Yes! James Nesbitt. Cold Feet’s James Nesbitt! Now, I luuurr..vv..e JN.  No … not in that kind of way … but he is such a cheeky chappy .. with an Irish accent to boot. Though … in hindsight … it is probably just as well I didn't go. Knowing me, I would have got tiddly on a glass or two or champagne and told him how much I cried when Rachel died and asked him to put a rose, or any kind of foliage to hand, between his “cheeks” …

So instead I remained at home waiting for my side effects from Killer Chemo to kick in. What one of my BC chemo cyber friends described as “a 125 hitting me”. And yes, my train arrived on Saturday night ... joint and muscle pain gripping my body. I had backache, then earache, tummy ache, then pains in knees and so on.  In fact pains where you just can't imagine ... well,  places that you are fortunate to know exist ... if you know they do ... As well as a sore throat, sensitive gums and cardboard mouth ... which I still have even now ... so food is tasteless and I can’t eat bread or pasta ... not even pizza.

I am gutted I couldn’t make it to the bash, but, like Bridget, I am adamant that I won’t be defeated. I think in the next day or two I might put my party frock on, pour a little vodka, put some music on and dance around my bedroom. Cos let’s face it ... it doesn't matter what I currently look like or feel like ... I am sure you will agree ... I'm every woman ... I'm every woman ...


  1. Thanks red (can I call you red?) for that -just what I needed on a wet saturday morning waiting for the downstairs heaters to warm things up. I started at the beginning and am up to novemebr 5th - loved the 'cogs' entry.

    Hope things are going well for you - it's quite a ride isn't it?

    love kx

  2. Paula - Simon and Corinne let me know about your blog last week. I have been reading it this week, and wanted to say how beautifully written it is. Everyone at the SHA is thinking of you, and sends all of their love.

    Very best wishes and I look forward to the next update.

    P.S. - congrats on your myriad of awards!

    Kate(Knight) xx

  3. Never miss a chance to dance! Gather your friends, and, dance, Paula, dance. Dance in celebration of yourself, and yes, dance for every woman. And I, my friend, I shall dance for you!


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