Countdown to Chemotherapy

I have said it before, I am a lucky woman. Nevertheless, during that time when I knew chemotherapy would need to be endured, I resented it. I resented the fact that I had had no symptoms from the breast cancer, but that I knew I would have symptoms, or side effects from the cure. It seemed unfair and ironic. Cancer is not fair.

I took great joy from the continuing good wishes of family and friends  and the huge number of cards and continuing bouquets of flowers that I received.  They were so pretty and they filled the house with colour and  light. It was so lovely to have so many vases in use!

Still, occasionally my husband and I would have a moment or so of tension or worry as we looked into the unknown and the void that is chemotherapy.  My husband works full time, he works 12 hour shifts at a time. Luckily, he had a day off on the day my first chemotherapy was scheduled. I was thrilled that I would have his support and company.

Funnily enough, during this period I got the most amazing help, supprt and advice from a man I have never met!

My friend Jane and I go line dancing to classes run by the amazing Danny and Sadie Kerr. Jane has taken me to hospital appointments that I would otherwise have to attend alone. It is wonderful to have company. Jane is particularly knowledgeable about hospitals and cancer treatments in particular as her brother, Michael, has been treated for many  cancerous tumours. I doubt there is a treatment that he has not endured.  Sadly, Michael has now been told that there are no more treatments that can help him. Michael’s condition is terminal.  

When I think of this I get embarrassed by my own moaning and frailty. Michael, through Jane, explained to me some of the side effects of chemotherapy. He explained to me the trauma of hair loss when it falls out in clumps.  His advice: to get it shaved off before that happens.

Jane explained to me how Michael had suffered severe pains in his joints. That the taste of his food changed and was so tinny.  Then Jane told me the most poignant thing that Michael had said.  The last time he finished chemotherapy he had said he never wanted to suffer like that any more.  Now he has been told that chemotherapy cannot help him any more he feels he is not ready to go yet. He would take chemotherapy or anything that would prolong his life.

I view this as a year of inconvenience. A scary and strange journey. I have learned a lot from Michael. I salute him and thank him for sharing his experiences with me. It was generous.

The flowers help to raise my mood and decorate the house.   The chemotherapy is scary but is a means to defeating this potentially deadly disease.  So roll on chemo: surely my imagination cannot be worse than reality.

Valerie Penny

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