As you can probably imagine, the last week has been pretty crazy, filled with consultations, scans, bendy cameras, and various noxious chemicals. I’ve swapped my data tables and marketing consulting skills for reams of trashy waiting room magazines and could comfortably quote top tips for an “Ideal home” circa 2007 (it’s all about the Paisley print) or relay the horrors of “When I discovered what my future husband was really doing in the pig shed”. No new news as yet, although I’m still waiting on the results of my chest scan. But in any case, the plan of action is the same. Tuesday 31st January 2pm my chemo treatment and my battle with the alien(s) – very fitting terminology I’m borrowing from my dear friend Charlie Easton – begins. Bring it on.
The rules of engagement
The chemo will be a combination therapy of Oxaliplatin & Capecitabine – a proven combo for my particular species of alien. Every three weeks I’ll go to the Churchill hospital and get hooked up on a drip for a couple of hours, then I get packed off with a job lot of tablets to take for the following 2 weeks. 1 week off, then start again. Five or eight lots of three week cycles in total, depending on how it goes. Most notable side effects being a trashed immune system, tiredness (no sh*t!) and tingly hands and feet that get cold easily (well as a diehard winter cyclo-commuter I’m used to that one already).
But I’m not scared. Those of you that have ever seen me push myself on a bike – or indeed in any other walk of life – will know my pain threshold/ level of psychotic determination is pretty impressive. The first signs are the increasingly amusing contortions of my ‘overly elastic face’ – as my primary school teacher once put it. Then comes the relentless stream of random swear words, sitting a little at odds with their ‘Surrey accent’ gilding. I may be small but I pack a bigger punch than you think. If it’s doing the job then hit me with all you’ve got. I’ve never been good at doing things by halves – too determined/ bl**dy minded (delete as appropriate) for that. I fully intend to treat this – as my good mate Will suggests – as a bigger, badder version of the trans alps – and naturally come out on top. Being 31, fit and healthy may not have saved me from getting this nasty thing in the first place but it’s got to give me the best possible fighting chance when it comes to defeating it.
And now for the other 180 degree life switch I’m going to have to get used to. Those of you that have ever caught me in the act of loading my trolley in Sainsburys or filling up my plate at lunchtime will know that fruit and veg form, er, a rather substantial part of my diet. Not any more. Sadly, one of the major disadvantages of having a small alien setting up shop in your digestive system is that it gets rather stroppy about what you put in there. Which means from here on out – bizarre as it sounds – junky processed food is in and healthy fibrous food is out.
So it’s cake, fish and chips, pizza and ice cream all the way, at least until things settle down. I’m sure this sounds like a dream diet to most but quite a major step change for me. I am at least allowed to eat tinned fruit so I’m currently undergoing a little regression to my penniless student days when I filled my bike panniers with so many tins of 9p value peaches I was a serious hazard to car drivers as I wobbled my merry way home.
The recent road has made for a bumpy ride – no two ways about it – but one made infinitely easier to travel thanks to the amazing show of support and encouragement from each and every one of you. The messages, the calls, the flowers, the visits, the food parcels – all of them have truly brightened up my day and given me renewed strength as I face each day. Thank you – with an army like this behind me, I feel like I can move mountains. And when, Sisyphys-like, I get tired of rolling this rock, I know I have Sam behind me to give it an extra boot. I am a very lucky girl – and I mean that without irony.
“Via vi” – a way through strength.