ALF (Aggressive Little Fxxker)

I don’t much like cancer; I don’t suppose you do either.

As time rolls on it zaps increasing numbers of family, friends and acquaintances with a cruel and unforgiving randomness that is tough to rationalise.  Growing older is an obvious part of the picture and lifestyle decisions put some of us higher up the batting order with some cancers than other people which is fair enough. Some cancers though just hit the unsuspecting out of the blue with no apparent lifestyle mistakes to blame it on. One such is breast cancer. For every woman who is stressed, breast fed, didn’t breast feed, put on weight, on HRT, not on HRT, lost weight, vegan, carnivore, not stressed, hereditary, non hereditary………… well, you get the idea, whatever the latest fashionable reason du jour is, I can show you another girl who wasn’t / isn’t. Frankly, I don’t think the doctors have a scoobie why it targets who it does. It’s just bad bloody luck. The only mitigation is to check frequently and the excellent care and treatment that is available if you’re in the right postcode and actually, survivability amongst friends has been excellent. Indeed, my mother-in-law has seen off two different types of cancer. Cancer v my mother-in-law? Easy call there; the 3rd Soviet Shock Army couldn’t dent my mother-in-law, never mind some dodgy cancer cells.

We’re all though in awe of family and friends who wander into the operating theatre and the endless chemo cycles with a sense of purpose. Some exude grim determination and tenacity, some cheerful optimism while others adopt dark and amusing trenches humour to see them through. Many sufferers do a bit of each depending on where they are in the chemo cycle. I have a dear friend who is tackling the issue with such outrageous humour I thought, with her permission,  I would share some of her updates. Let’s call her Rosie. Rosie was recently diagnosed with breast cancer…………………………………

First and foremost - thank you all so much for the heavenly messages, texts, letters, cards and flowers that have poured in from near and far:  cannot tell you how much it means to me to know that there is this astonishing blanket of support out there that I can wrap myself in at any time.  Yes - makes me howl - but in a good way and I think this is definitely an occasion where everyone needs "permission for lower lip to wobble".

Forgive me for not replying to each and everyone of you individually yet;  I will get round to you all eventually I promise, but for now, en masse seems to be the way forward:

So - the beginning of the end of ALF (Aggressive Little F****r) commenced on Wednesday 26th August with Cycle 1 of 8 and drain cleaner administered through my newly-acquired bionic accessory embedded in my chest : the Portacath.....  Quite the scariest thing I have ever done and the temptation to tell everyone to f*** off and leg it across the car park was overwhelming. John, however, was magnificent and talked me down from the ceiling and I am now full of Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide and an entire medicine cabinet to combat side effects. So far so good - holding up reasonably well and no nausea or sickness.

I have, sadly, discovered "Chemo Fog" which renders me insensible:  A stealthy, synthetic grey fug that muffles everything..... taste, touch, acuity, reflex and leaves one feeling at least 2 steps removed from everyone and everything.  It also makes me horribly forgetful and stupid. Sleep has become my new best friend and the chemical cosh kicks in with monotonous regularity... Whoever invented the siesta deserves a medal and my bedtime is currently 9pm. I have decided the way forward is to hibernate for the winter and sleep my way through chemo....

Thankfully, it does get better - much better.  The fug recedes and rather excitingly, I managed to remain conscious until 10.30pm the other evening. I have no doubt that by the time I reach the end of this cycle in a few days time I will feel bloody marvellous - just in time for the little men in white coats to administer Cycle 2.

Currently I am preoccupied with hair - or rather no hair... After much research I decided not to try the "Cold Cap" - a grim contraption resembling an old Soviet-style swimming hat that 'freezes' the scalp and hair follicles thus preventing hair loss.  For some it works brilliantly, others less so. After discovering Epirubicin is so toxic, it pretty much destroys everything in its path and I was at risk of developing the "Friar Tuck" or "Donald Trump Comb-Over" as a hair style AND the hat is painful to wear, it was a "no" from me (and my over-active imagination running wild with the thought that if I were a cancer molecule, a frozen hair follicle would be the perfect place to hang out....)  Thus far, the hair on my head is still with me – every morning I give it a gentle tug - but I think the end is nigh as elsewhere is in dire straights and falling out hand over fist.  I am not quite sure if I'm a porn star's dream or a feminist's nightmare....  All is not lost though as I have hair (an 'heir'?!) waiting in the wings: 2 very pretty wigs - 1 for the more casual, 'everyday me' and 1 for more glamorous occasions...

Otherwise, trying to continue as normally as possible : I have obviously taken a giant step back from work, but I am hoping to hang on to my regular clients and work exclusively from home. I promise I will endeavour to keep you all updated as and when -  In the meantime, much, much love and once again, many thanks for all your good wishes, love and luck.  I leave you with.....

The Good : White wine cunningly concealed in a coffee thermos is essential when purchasing a wig...

The Bad : Raising eyebrows at The Nuffield Hospital, Guildford by wearing an outrageous pair of bright red lacy nickers with the backless hospital gown that never does up...

The Ugly :

Face down in a MRI with one's trousers round one's knees is never a good look...

xxxxxxx

 

What a great girl; she should have been a soldier. There is obviously a television comedy in there waiting to break out but I can't see television luvvies being brave enough to do it................ perhaps that's just what cancer education and treatment in this country needs. It's a scary thing and as the motto of the old Parachute School said, 'Knowledge Dispels Fear.'