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The day before chemo #2

I am due to have my second (of six) chemotherapy sessions tomorrow morning.

It's a Bank Holiday today and so I was not able to go to my local hospital for my pre-session blood test to check that my white blood cell count has recovered enough.

Instead, we first have to go to Slough early tomorrow morning for the blood test and then on to Windsor to await the results.

Found, one mojo

During 2008, I lost a total of 70 lbs. I decided that I would dye my hair in greens, like my Second Life avatar, Poot Dibou, once I reached my goal weight.

I stopped calorie-counting and put on weight. I am about 20 lbs from my target weight. But it occurred to me that, if I am to wear I wig, I can wear a green one, because I Am Worth It.

The boringness of apathy

It's been a week since my first FEC chemotherapy.

Physically, I feel mostly fine - 90% fine, I'd say

I took the three days of anti-sickness drugs I'd been given. I seem to get two short bouts of mild nausea a day (like travel-sickness), constantly cold hands and feet, some sleep disturbance and occasional odd sensations in my throat and nose.

I should be very pleased that my side-effects are so manageable. But, in fact, I don't feel much at all.

Chapter 7: First chemotherapy

Once or twice a month, I meet with some of my neighbours from where I moved in January for tea, cake and chat. When we had to move house, one of the reasons I wanted to stay nearby was because of these very good friends I'd made.

I'd rescheduled today's get-together to yesterday so that I could host it. I made a variation on a lemon meringue pie that I'd been thinking about for months: chocolate and lime.

On and on

Since I first discovered the lump, I have always been waiting for something or other.

For the screenings, for their results, for surgery, for its results.

And now for chemo.

Tomorrow the weeks of waiting will transform into months of enduring.

I realised that waiting had become a full-time activity; one can seemingly get on with one's life but really, it's just treading water - lost in a limbo - waiting for the next appointment which might change, yet again, my life's path.

Showing appreciation

I know that the nurses and doctors are "just doing their job" but, when they are dealing with people's dignity, let alone their lives, I can't help but appreciate a job well done.

They made my life comfortable - saved my life, even - through their skill; it seems appropriate that I show my appreciation using my own skill, through my jewellery.

Chapter 6: The Oncologist

This morning Frank and I went to see the oncologist - a doctor who specialises in cancer - to find out about my treatment.

My appointment was for 10:50am but the Breast Care Nurse that we'd seen at the post-surgery results last week said that Tuesdays were very busy and that, even if we arrived late, we'd be waiting for them, not them for us.

Chapter 5: Best news ever

This morning I had an appointment at the breast cancer clinic in Windsor to remove my dressing and to find out the tissue results from surgery, two weeks ago.

The results would determine whether I would need further surgery and whether my cancer is likely to have spread.

I have a lump where my lump was

So, nine days ago I had a 27mm lump and some lymph nodes removed from the left side of my left breast.


With no ill-effects from the anaesthetic, no surgery pain (except the sharp tugging of skin by the dressing) and no restriction in movement, it crossed my mind more than once that it was a conspiracy, that I hadn't actually had any surgery.

Chapter 4: Getting the biopsy result

Frank had previously bought a ticket to go see the Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Opera House because he loved Prokofiev's music for the ballet.

When we realised that the appointment for the biopsy result was for the next day, I told Frank that he should still go to the ballet, that I didn't need him to hang around at home with me and that I'd rent some films.

Chapter 3b: Scans and biopsy

At the breast diagnostic clinic, I was ushered down a corridor into a room on the right. The corridor ended in a tiny room in which a dark-blue-uniformed woman sat, facing scans mounted on a back-lit wall.

She smiled feebly to me; it must be grim having to analyse a series of tumour scans and imagining the impact on the faceless women whose scans they were.

Back home and feeling dandy

I got back home around 7:30pm from my lumpectomy and sentinel node biopsy today.

I cannot believe how amazingly easy the afternoon has gone and how well I feel.

The nurses on the short-stay ward at Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot are so lovely.

I tried to chat with all of them and collected origins: I had a Hungarian anaesthetist, and sweet nurses from Goa, Delhi and Ghana.

I have been thinking that I will make and send them some earrings as a thank-you (healthier than chocolates and they last longer!).