There is hair EVERYWHERE in this house. Having had my hair cut earlier this week, it’s now falling out pretty quickly. Have you ever had it when your hair hurts? Your actual hair follicles? It’s odd. My hair has gone from being very much alive and shiny, to dull and dying in a matter of days. I can’t touch it, it itches and in another week I’ll have barely anything left. My new hair is being made but def won’t be here any time soon, I think I’ll be very lucky to see it before Christmas. Which is ok, I have a wig on standby (that luckily I saved from last time, ‘just in case’, without ever thinking I’d actually need it), today I’ve started wearing a hat which you’ll probably see me in for a while and the new tresses will be here before you know it.
I feel very much like a cancer patient again and it’s shocked and saddened me how quickly that’s happened. I’ve spent the last 14 months, arguably the last almost-three-years, not really feeling or acting like one and within days, my new ‘identity’ has settled on me without me even noticing. And it’s not just the hair, that’s actually only a small part of it – remember this is the second time I’ve been through this. And yes the first time was miserable and I hated it but I really did think that it would only be temporary, I was told and believed that for the horror and inconvenience of losing my hair would come the reward of getting better. After 6 measly months out of treatment, recovering, getting my life back on track, it came back. And this time, my reward of ‘getting better’ would cost me one left boob. But OK, it’s not ideal, but if that’s the price this time then so be it. Sign me up.
This time there is no trade-off apparently, no deal I can negotiate, no compromise I can make. And that, I think, is what having cancer feels like to me at the moment. The realisation that I’m kind of largely at the whim of a disease that I have finally come to understand wants me dead. And miserable in the meantime. This cancer patient now sees that she is likely to die of this disease and it could even be relatively soon if this drug hasn’t worked (sorry I know no-one likes to read that, believe me I don’t like typing it). However, this cancer patient also sees that she is fighting, literally, for her life in a way she never really has before. Along with the hair, the side effects of this drug, Christmas to get through without weeping every couple of days, is also the knowledge that my scan will soon be here when we’ll see if this new drug is doing anything. Can you believe how quickly it’s come round? Shocking isn’t it? Well times that by a hundred and you might have an idea of where my head is at. I’ve only really started to process the fact the last one failed, I haven’t even begun to think of what will happen if I have to change drugs again, and how many are even left after this.
So I’m not. I’m going into lockdown, I’m only dealing with what I need to do today. That means keeping everything calm and on a plateau. No highs, no lows. Almost just numbness. Not forever, just for now while I have so many things to just somehow drag myself through over the next few weeks. Talking to a friend about how I thought this was the only ‘coping strategy’ I have at the moment, she said “like, zombie Fran?” which is spot on. Or maybe just a bit quiet. I’m not in despair, I’m not depressed or in a mess – yet – I just need to stay peaceful and devoid of any excitement for the moment. I have finite resources of energy – mental, physical and emotional – I need to do whatever I can to keep up this fight and right now, that means just bunkering down and not really playing at normality for a while. Going on autopilot. I have no doubt that when my hair’s gone, my new hair arrives and I’ve got one good scan under my belt and I know where I am with this new drug, I’ll absolutely be back in the game and I’m looking forward to that but for now, this cancer patient is just going to be a bit quiet and still for a bit.