Mark: No, thanks.
Juliet: Thank God. You would've broken my heart if you'd said yes.
Mark: Oh, right. Well, lucky you.
Now for those of you who tune in on a regular basis, and there are a few (special warm wishes my friends), then you will be more than familiar with Dr O, so can I just ask you to bear with me for a moment whilst I get any newbies up to speed – thanks.
Now, for those who don’t know, Dr O is my Oncologist – my cancer-chemo-chap. I call him Dr O, not ‘O’ because he is my 'O'ncologist, but because he is Dr Oh-so-luv-ver-ly. Now, I should point out that this is not just solely my opinion but lots of others too ... though admittedly ... most of these are women ... And I should confess ... I luu-urve my Dr O. No ... no ... not in that kind of way ... but in a healthy-professional-Health Professional-Patient kind of way. I luu-urve him because he is kind and compassionate. He is really interested in your wellbeing, your concerns ... he listens ... and is just a jolly nice kind of guy.
But ... having said all that ... if Dr O was lying here ... right now ... alongside me in my sick bed ... obviously in a healthy-professional-Health Professional-Patient kind of way ... I am not sure what I would be sorely tempted do to him. Would I pick up one of those accumulating bottles of medication, which seem to have magically mushroomed on my bedside cabinet over the last few weeks, and bop it over his head? Or ... would I take a stick and pin a Kleenex to it ('cos health professionals recommend you use disposable tissues these days rather than cotton hankies) and declare “I am a Cancer Patient ... get me out of here.” Yeah ... you’ve got my drift ... I am fed up ... I don’t wanna play ball no more ... and if I could I would pick it up and stomp off home ... except I can’t ... ‘cos I am already at home. And besides I wouldn’t have the energy to pick up the ball ... let alone stomp.
Chemo number seven went ahead last Thursday. Yes ... before you ask ... another new chemo nurse ... CN H. Very nice chap ... talked about his cholesterol issues and poppy vein problem. After he had 'dripped' me up I went into the lounge and spent my hour reading my magazine and half listening to the ‘professional blood transfusion crew’ chit chatting. It was all quite upbeat and cheerful actually. And, as I sat there, I obviously mulled over whether it would be my last chemo session – when I see Dr O in a couple of weeks would he follow through his earlier suggestion of knocking the last treatment on the head? Part of me concluded he will ... surely he wouldn’t cruelly get my hopes up ... but then again he might not. And ... whatever he suggests ... I will go along with it.
Yes, unbelievably as I sit here moving from the usual wave one of side effects – the achy joints, tiredness, grotty eyes, steroid rage – to the second wave of hacking cough, swollen throat, horrific internal and external chemo chemical burns – I will totally accept whatever he recommends. So is it true love after all? No. No, although all this gruelling treatment is an extreme endurance, which would push the limits of the physically and mentally fittest athlete, reality dictates that if Dr O believes there is still a single little iddy diddy cancer cell remaining in my body, only one, which could be paralysed by that final treatment, which would prevent the tumour returning to my breast, or even worse allowing a new one to sprout up elsewhere, then I will grit my teeth and sweetly nod my little head at him.
OK ... so you can probably tell ... things do feel a bit grotty at the moment ... but on a positive note ... every cloud and all that ... literally ... the weather over the last week has been so totally dire I haven’t felt too resentful about holing myself in bed with my books, iPod, computer and TV. I have consoled myself by imagining how torturous it would be if it was summer ... sunny, warm and balmy ... daytrippers taking to the beach, friends merrily flitting off on holiday ... the smokey odours of bar-b-qs drifting through my bedroom window. Nah! Let's face it, I think a lot of people, given the choice ,would have done the same and tucked themselves in bed with a nice cuppa and a hot water bottle. The difference is that I have a full-blown guilt-free pass to do so. Which is probably just as well as the 'pitty' outburst might have been really embarrassing if I was out in public. “Err ... the pitty outburst ....?”
Yep, it is official. The hair is on the way back!! Yes, yes, yes! Now, once more I don’t want you to get too excited about this ... when I say 'hair' ... I am talking about a ... err ... presence. On the one hand it is not a lot to write home about .... but then again girls you wouldn’t want this tufty stubble stuck to your thighs. The little prickles have been joined by a definite dark five o’clock shadow. Actually ... the prickles are now more wiggles ... it looks like it might be coming back curly. Not sure where this leaves my desire for the return of the little urchin-pixie-crop-thing which I had before it fell out. I might end up with a very dodgy Kevin Keegan 70’s permed style barnet ... not what I really had in mind ... but heck at the moment I am grateful for anything ... even pit hair.
Yep ... you heard ... pit hair! That is why I am so confident that it is growing back. My arm pit hair was the first thing to cleanly evaporate and has not made an appearance since ... until a few days ago. There I was, sat in the bath ... as you do ... doing things you need to do ... and something caught my eye ... a hair ... no two ... maybe three! Yes! It must be coming back ... I have pit hair ... hurrah! How ironic, one of things that I used to hate ... a bain in my life ... became a cause for celebration. I now need to apologise to all those people who had misfortunate of being in the wrong place at the wrong time ... i.e. at my house ... and had to witness me whizzing down the stairs, semi cloaked in a slightly wrapped towel, and had to endure the vision of my underarms within two inches of their faces ... and pretend they could fully appreciate my hysterical euphoria of three little pit hairs ... all I can say is that you can get away with quite a lot when you are having treatment for cancer.
But then if you have to put up with cardboard mouth then probably anything is forgivable. “Cardboard mouth?” Yeah, cardboard mouth. Of all the side effects I think it is the one I that detest the most. It comes on just a day or so after chemo and lasts about ten days. Basically your tongue is really sensitive and sore – waxy - the first time I got ulcers too – and your palate is just well and truly buggered. Everything tastes weird, or nasty ... or of nothing. And of course the ironic thing is that you are pumping all these ruddy steroids ... to prevent the horrific side effects from the chemo (well, that is the idea) ... and this ... along with the boredom factor ... and comfort eating factor ... gives you this incredible urge to eat.
Now, I ain’t a 'sweetie'. I can’t remember the last time that I indulged in a Victoria Sandwich, or wrapped my chops around a Hob Nob. Me? I am totally and uttterly savoury bird. A pure carbohydrate kind of girl. Pasta, potatoes, pizza, olives, bread, cheese, risotto. Ooooooooh ... myyyyyyyy ... God ... yes, yes, yes! Cheesy risotto ... mmm ... think ... When Harry met Sally ... in the restaurant ... no, not the hot/cold apple pie and hot/cold custard bit ... the more 'expressive' scene ... ten minutes later. Ooooh ... that is what cheesy risotto does for me ...
I can hear you saying: “Oh well, at least you are losing those few pounds that you have been moaning about for ages?” But ... err ... well ... sadly, probably not. Because I have gone over to the dark side. “The dark side?” Err ... yes. The one thing that I have found I can eat ... issssssss ... my sister’s banoffee pie. Can you believe it? No, not that it was made by sister and that I like it ... but that my new unabashed-can't-get-enough-of-it craving is sickly sweet, creamy caramel, crunchy bottomed banoffee pie. And you should be forewarned ...woe betide anyone who comes between me and my pie ...
I can safely say that if Dr O was lying here ... right now ... in my sick bed next to me ... obviously in a healthy-professional-Health Professional-Patient kind of way ... his dessert fork heading towards my bowl of yummy banoffee would certainly disappear pretty rapidly ... in a very NON-healthy-professional Health Professional-Patient kind of way ...
OK, so this ain’t me ... but I am thinking of printing it out and pinning it to the fridge door.
Food for thought.