My day started with a homemade cake delivery from my dear friend Bryony. When a day starts like this, how it can it be anything but sunshines and rainbows?
Bryony helped me set off on my merry way to the Churchill hospital. I got the bus from the Park & Ride and sat on it, face wrapped up in bandana like a Japanese tourist with swine flu paranoia. (Days 5-14 after chemo your immune system dips substantially so you have be really careful about exposing yourself to nasties.) No doubt the people on the bus thought I was mad but then I’m kind of used to inspiring that reaction in people!
At the hospital, I had a first meeting with my assigned Macmillan nurse, Harriet. Yet another great arm to the awesome cancer treatment service we have in this country – you have your consultant and attached nurse who deal with the nitty gritty of dealing with the alien itself but you also get to lean on the Macmillan guys, who work with your GP to help you deal with the day-to-day stuff like the side effects of your poison cocktails, your emotional needs and so on. I had a good old chat with Harriet who is going to look into tweaking my anti-sickness medication, which has been firmly established as the cause of the ‘blind as a bat syndrome’. Fortunately, since I’ve stopped taking them I haven’t felt sick and more importantly my vision has come back so feeling a whole load better on that front.
Next stop was a discovery of yet another amazing ‘benefit’, if that’s the right word, of being a cancer patient. I went to the Maggie’s centre, based in a portakabin on the hospital site – this amazing hub of support, advice and friendly faces for cancer sufferers. Another chat over a hot drink and a biscuit later, I discovered that I am not the only freak sporty 31 year old with bowel cancer, there’s actually another one called Christian that dropped in the other day. So there you go, proof again that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to this odd & insiduous little disease.
While I was there, I signed myself up for one of their free ‘2 hour pampering and make-up masterclasses’ in March. Apparently you get not only a full blown tuition session on self-beautification, but also £200 worth of goodies donated by leading make-up companies. I’m sure this news will cause no end of amusement to those of you familiar with my typical grooming routine – e.g. splash face with water, let hair dry by flapping through the vents in my cycle helmet when I ride to work in the morning – however, if there’s anything I’ve discovered over the past few weeks, simple pleasures come in all shapes and sizes and you have to seize them while you can.
It’s funny in a couple of weeks how your perspective can change. I’ve swapped two wheels for two walking shoes and been on some of the most beautiful walks with Sam, out and about around our village. Happiness is a homemade apple & blackberry crumble with custard in a cosy country pub sitting opposite the man you love. Happiness is sharing the excitement of an extra inches of snow in Tackley compared to Oxford on a snowy countryside walk with two good friends. Happiness is realising that you’re surrounded by people you love and that love you back.