Cancer and other stuff


So much for my breezy “I’m moving on, there’s more to life than cancer, la la la, skippity skip” gubbins. I’ve been smacked right in the face today with the harsh reminder that the minute you decide to do that, it tiptoes quietly up behind you, taps you on the shoulder and pokes you one right in the eye. Then runs away leaving you wondering what the hell just happened.

The facts: I had my scan results today which showed that the chemo I’ve been on since May, the one that’s worked really so far, has been outwitted by the little fucker (sound familiar?). The things in my lungs have got worse although thankfully there is no sign of spread anywhere else. Gutted. Thing is, I’m not that surprised, I knew this drug wouldn’t work forever, I just thought and hoped and prayed this day wouldn’t come so soon.

Next steps: there is another drug Alison wants to put me on, and soon, which it sounds like she has been saving for “emergencies” but which is likely to make my hair fall out again. When I was diagnosed with secondaries, I was adamant this was the one thing I wasn’t going through again. I can almost hear a chorus from lots of people reading this… “it’s only hair it’ll grow back!”. Tell you what then, how about I come round to your house, shave your head and eyebrows, pull all your eyelashes out so you look like a boiled egg, then 2 years later, when you’ve got over the embarrassment and humiliation of people tilting their heads in pity at you, and hating what you see in the mirror, and you’ve just about starting feeling normal again, come round and do it all over again. Except this time, not give you an end date so that there’s a probability that you’ll look like that for months and years. Oh and by the way, you’re probably going to die after a few years anyway. Sound good? Exactly. I went through the trauma of watching my beautiful, long hair come out in my fists, having to be shaved by a hippie at Glastonbury who probably thought it was ‘far out, man’. The itchy wigs, the “who and what the fuck have I become?” feeling for the best part of a year, because I knew there WOULD be an end and I could hand over 18 months of my life for the end result of getting better and never having to go through it again. I barely left my flat for a whole year as I was so ashamed about what had happened to me, how I looked, how I felt. Then there was the period of regrowth – the GI Jane, the Steve Macdonald, the Dermot O’Leary, and my personal favourite, the “auntie Jan”. I was blissfully ignorant the first time round, I too thought ‘it’s only hair, it’ll grow back’. But it’s not only hair, it’s part of my identity, how I conduct myself, how I get on psychologically with this word ‘cancer’ that seems to have tattooed itself on my brain. And the major thing, obviously, was that I went through all that because it was supposed to make me better. I think we all know by now that, barring a miracle, I’m not going to get better. Whatever drug they give me is only going to prolong the inevitable so is it better to just focus on staying normal rather than throwing yet more toxins at my already knackered body in the hope of just one more year or two? One or two years where I have to walk round with the indignity and humiliation
of looking like a cancer patient (sorry to anyone with cancer reading this, it’s just how I feel – it is my blog after all).

Aside from the hair, the little question I’ve had in the very darkest corner of my mind for so long – ‘what is this all for anyway?’ has today become very big and I’m now facing the fact that I’ve been on 4 different drugs in just 14 months and I don’t know how many more there are left or how much more I want to put myself through. I really don’t. That’s probably enough for one day, there is lots to think about and some big decisions to be made over the next week. Help anyone?


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