Thursday, 25 February 2010


Session number 2.
It really is very horrible sitting there watching these gallons of chemicals getting shoved into your veins, but the nurses are so fab that you just end up chatting away as if you're having a cuppa.

In the days of the dreaded breast clinic waiting room, you sit there quietly worrying; studying the faces of other women quietly worrying. Whenever I was there, there always seemed to be another young woman there. She always had her elderly mother with her, and I always had my lovely husband, and we never spoke to them. Neither of us knew how the other was doing.

At the first chemo session, I was sitting there getting the dreaded chemicals, and I spotted the girl's mother first, followed by her daughter. The mother's face lit up like a beacon when she saw me, with a mixture of what looked like relief, recognition and happiness - like meeting an old friend.
I guess that sometimes, without realising, a million things can be said between people without uttering a single word.

She was there again today - and we have become chemo buddies, comparing notes on hair, and various other side effects. She seems to have had a rockier ride than me in the last 3 weeks, but she's doing ok. In fact, she even has the same wig as me! How wierd is that!

After the chemo, I was rewarded with an aromatherapy back massage - what a delight! The gorgeous lavender oils took me somewhere off to the South of France for a while. I wasnt quite glugging red wine and eating garlic prawns, but the freezing snow, tufty head and pink cricket bat did drift away for a little while at least!....

Monday, 22 February 2010

Some You Win Some You Lose

My 8 year old plays football for a team that lose a lot. When they win, the kids savour the moment and dine out on the victory for weeks. I know how they feel.

3 Losses

I'm starting to lose my hair. Big tufts and clumps are coming out. I'm starting to look like Rhianna - sadly not the singer, but our moulting hen.

The 6 year old lost her first tooth. She's growing up.

The fairy took the tooth, and left a quid under the pillow. She dropped the tooth on the tooth-coloured carpet. She can't find the damned thing anywhere. It's lost.

1 Win
The 6 year old did a football course for 3 days in the holidays. She was so brave on the first morning - walking into the changing room full of little boys. I overheard one lad muttering - 'She'll be rubbish,' as she took a seat on the bench. I wanted to grab him and say - 'She's not rubbish, you little squirt - she's my gorgeous little girl who brings me breakfast in bed and keeps me smiling all day long...' But I didn't. I managed to say simply, 'Just you wait and see.'
I watched her for a while at the end of each session. Even the 8 year old was impressed, as he watched his little sister getting stuck in.
The last day was presentation day. She hadn't won anything in the final tournament, but she'd run her socks off, and her knees were caked in clart. She was absolutely knackered.
Prizes were awarded to the winning teams, best players, most improved players etc. Nothing for my brave 6 year old. Suddenly, the coach announced that there was a special prize for a player who had done nothing but smile, run, chase and enjoy. My 6 year old was called to the front and presented with a brand new shiny BIKE! She'll be rubbish-boy's mouth dropped to the floor. I didn't say 'Told ya!!' but I quietly thought it...

Friday, 12 February 2010

Bats, Spats and Hats

I managed to venture out yesterday with half a bottle of cover up on my face. I had to collect the kids from school because the 6 year old has to be taken to a swimming lesson, and the 8 year old does athletics.

I really don't like the playground at the BEST of times. I find it intimidating, with huddles of gossiping mothers - all of whom had beautiful skin yesterday!

I managed to find the 6 year old, but couldn't find the 8 year old...until I noticed a commotion going on next to the Friendship Bench. A large group of kids gathered around a little lost soul with tears streaming down his face and a teacher holding a plastic cricket bat.

The little lost soul turned out to be my son, and the cricket bat turned out to be the weapon he'd used to bash one of his classmates.

He'd been teased about his 'pink' bat (which had been red until he'd left it outside for the last few months!) Bashing kids isn't usually something my 8 year old prides himself on and so his teacher has asked me to meet with him soon to see what we can do.

We both left the playground in tears - the 6 year old a little bemused.

We got to the swimming lesson, but my son wasn't up for his athletics. Instead, we had a good cuddle in the cafe, and looked through the lovely collection of hats that my good friend had brought for me.

Its half term next week. We'll watch some films, eat some pizzas, have breakfast in bed and forget all about bats, hats and spats for a while...

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

A Spot of Breakfast

Well the acne is just unbelievable now. I look like I've got 3rd degree burns on my face its so red, and it feels so hot and sore!

My GP has given me some good strong anti-biotics to try and clear it, but in the meantime, until that happens, I'm staying indoors with a NO ENTRY sign painted on the door.

The kids, meanwhile, are starting to learn a bit of tact.

'Your face is really spotty, mum.' said the 8 year old. 'But you shouldn't be embarrassed about it.'

The 6 year old just keeps studying me closely. I know that she's desperate to say - 'Oh my God, mum, your face looks bloomin awful. What a mess!' But thankfully she hasn't, and in fact, this morning - just as I was about to get out of bed, she appeared, with a tray. Balanced on the tray was a bowl of rice crispies, cheerios and a handful of raisins.

Breakfast in bed for the leper. What a treat, and what a gorgeous thing to do. I'm the luckiest leper in the world.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Complaints Department

A few days in from the first chemo, and I really do feel ok - mouth's a bit sore, fingernails feel a bit brittle, I've still got my hair, so I can't really complain. BUT, my FACE has erupted into the most horrendous teenage acne! If I don't look in the mirror, then I'm ok. If I look in the mirror, my morale plunges to rock bottom and I feel like hiding under a duvet, or wearing a ballaclava thingie.
Even my foundation cream which is as thick as cement won't hide it!

But why should this matter? I've been given a golden ticket that says I'll be ok at the end of all this treatment, and I should be grateful and thankful!

I am grateful, I am thankful. But please allow me the luxury of complaining - just today!

Monday, 8 February 2010

Diamonds in the Rough

Well, its 3 days since the nasty drugs went in, and I'm feeling not so bad.

Sunday is my 8 year old's cricket coaching afternoon. I decided that I'd take drive him there and give hubby a break. The coaching place is very near the coast, so the 6 year old appeared, and asked if I would take her 'gambling.'

I have to stress here that the gambling that she was wanting was NOT an afternoon spent in the bookies with a load of old gadgies. Gambling to my 6 year old is an afternoon spent in the 'amusements' shovelling 2 pence coins down a slot in the hope of winning more 2 pence coins, or even better - a fabulous plastic prize.

Armed with a jar full of 2p pieces, we dropped the 8 year old at cricket and made for the local amusement arcade. Dingey, seedy, grubby, tacky - YES! These places are all those things, but we LOVE them, and we spent a good 45 minutes trying to win a huge pink, glass diamond balanced precariously on a ledge of coins.

With only a few coins left in the jar, we finally hit jackpot and won not 1 but TWO glass diamonds. The 6 year old was delighted, and clutched her prizes tight - 1 in each fist, as we made our way back to the car.

She's off to school with her winnings this morning. The 'show and tell' basket will be full of teddy bears, fancy drawings, photographs and other lovely stuff, but I like to think they'll look a little rough next to our 2 beautiful gambling diamonds!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

The Chemo Shop

Been for the first chemo.

What a wierd experience. There was a young staff nurse there who had the job of putting the hoofchoof into my vein. When you go to the chemo shop for the first time, you want the nurse to say - 'Hi, I'm Vera, I've been doing this for 27 years, youre gonna be fine.' But this young lass said 'Hi, I'm Jo, I've just started here and I'm having a really bad day.' Oh my God!

Needless to say, she had a 'mare trying to get the doofah thing in, and made me bleed everywhere. I did feel sorry for her, cause everyone has to learn in 'real life' situations. But I have to admit, I was glad when she disappeared to make some tea and nurse who knew what she was doing took over and got the doofah in no problem.

Bit of saline solution in first to test it, then in go the anti-sickness drugs, then the chemo drugs - the first one is like the monkey blood sauce you get on ice cream. I told the nurse I could taste raspberry in my mouth at this point and she believed me - just for a minute.

There seemed to be about 157 syringes in total, but they finally came to an end.

An 'alternative therapy' lady came to see me next, and offered me a nice aromatherapy massage or some reflexology for next time, so I booked in - all funded by donations from former patients and their relatives - amazing.

I'm home now - waiting for the kids to boole in and say - 'WHAT'S FOR TEA?!'

Nothing like a bit of normality after a trip to the chemo shop!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Great Walls and Wigshops

Well the 6 year old has given the new wig an 8 out of 10. Thank goodness for that! It looks like my 'old' hair, and not a bit like the tangled Dolly Parton wig that is now draped over the back of the kitchen chair.

What she doesnt know is that I have bought another one that is short, pixie-like and a bit like the hair I've got at the minute! I intend to wear this one when she's at school, then plonk the other one on my head for when she comes home.

The wig shop was amazing. I was given first class attention by a girl who had worked there for 22 years. She was only 40 years old, which meant that she'd been there since the age of 18.

One thing with this breast cancer malarky, is that you get to meet some truly fantastic people. I have been lucky enough to do a lot of things in my life - visit the Taj Mahal, sleep on the Great Wall of China, marvel at the Grand Canyon...but up until now, I had never had the experience of the wig shop in our local town. I shall now add it to one of my own wonders of the world.

Monday, 1 February 2010

I Will Always Love You

I love the honesty of kids sometimes.

Adults are just so bloomin tactful and diplomatic, whereas kids just say it how it is without thinking anything of it.

My chemo starts this Thursday, so I thought I'd do a bit of prep work. I booked in with my lovely hairdresser who I've known for years, explained what was happening, and we decided that it would be a good idea to have my shoulder-length, wavy, brown locks chopped short - especially since I've been instructed by the physio to do so much cleaning. I really wouldn't want to upset her by blocking the hoover when my hair started falling out.

And so I returned home looking like a little pixie/elfling thing. I thought my little 6 year old would be impressed. Not so.

'Oh my God, mum, you look horrible. You're not my mum anymore.' Followed by tears.

In an American movie, I would've said the following -

'Of course I'm still your mom, honey - I'll always be your mom no matter what I look like, and remember I will always love you...'

But I didn't. I just cried as well, said nothing and gave her a cuddle.

Later, I was going to suggest that she should bunk off school and come with me and Grandma to the wig shop to help me choose the right style, when she appeared with her blond 'Dolly Parton-like' wig that had been stuffed at the bottom of her dressing up box.

'There's a few tats in it, mum, but if we brush them out, you could borrow this...'