Friday 18 July 2008

The science bit.

Let the games commence! I've been at the hospital all afternoon and have come out with so much new info that I feel like I've had a crash course in another language. (Parlez vous chemo?) The next time you get a difficult cancer question at the pub quiz, consider me your phone-a-friend.

Aware that today marked the entry point to phase two of The Bullshit, I made the emancipatory move of ditching my mastectomy bra for the first time, and proudly wore my slightly wonky chest in a favourite batwing top and bust-skimming pendant necklace with jeans and my I-can-take-anything-on-provided-it-doesn't-mean-walking-far wedges. Cancer may take my hair, but it'll never take my fashion sense.

I tottered precariously into the hospital and was handed a pristine-looking file with my name on it that had to accompany me up to a different floor. Being a nosy cow, I had a good look through it while waiting for the lift: it was divided into neat, (currently empty) sections like 'histology', 'chemotherapy reports' and 'radiotherapy reports'. As the lift doors opened on my floor, I noticed two things: not everyone's files were so pristine (apparently cancer treatment takes it out on you and your folder), and I was the youngest person in the waiting room by about, ooh, 100 years. My wedges were wasted on this lot.

After the routine up-the-nose MRSA test and 20 minutes spent watching my feet turn blue in a far-too-air-conditioned consultation room, in came The Cavalry, AKA the curly-haired professor and his stunning second-in-command (she'll be a great help when I'm in full George Dawes mode – couldn't they have found me a real troll of a consultant instead?). And they were both brilliant: the perfect mix of straight-talking (without the scariness) and empathetic (without the head-tilting).

The Curly Professor explained that my CT scan would be early next week, as the results would have no bearing on the chemotherapy I'd be having. Whatever the CT shizzle, he's assuming that there will be cancer cells elsewhere in my body (thanks to so many lymph nodes being involved) which, oddly, came as quite a comfort. At least now I know that, whatever the scan reveals, I'll be having the right treatment to zap the arse off it all anyway. All that said, their serious looks made all of this feel more real than it has at any point so far. I wanted to stop them mid-flow and say, 'Hang on, let me get this right. I've got breast cancer? And you're about to give me chemotherapy? That's pretty fucking hardcore, no?' Up to now, all of this has been a comparative blast when you take a look at the months of toxic treatment ahead. What a bastard. (Sorry, Dad, the Tourettes is back.)

So here's the science bit: I'll begin with three sets of three-weekly cycles of one type of chemo, then have the same number of cycles of a different type. The side effects that Curly Professor listed didn't exactly read like a menu of spa treatments, and Glamorous Assistant nodded along sagely throughout (actually, she did offer a conciliatory head-tilt at the hair-loss part – her lovely curly locks rival the professor's). Thankfully they've agreed to fix my chemo cycles so my brother's wedding falls in my good week (the third week of my cycle), so I can return the favour of dancing with him to an indie classic, and look as glamorous as is possible with no eyelashes and a wig. 

I got to have a quick look around the chemo room, too. And, I'll be honest, it was hardly soothing music, essential oils and people in fluffy white dressing gowns. But nor was it a scene from The Exorcist. Some poor sods looked pretty bloody poorly, but others looked like they'd just waltzed out of Selfridges. Ever keen to do things my way (or no way at all), I've decided not to be a cancer patient, but instead a guest who's booked a relaxing day in the Therapy Suite. I'm going to turn up in huge sunglasses, comfy jeans, a kick-ass T-shirt and my sparkly new Converse trainers, with my Marc Jacobs tote in one hand and my iPhone in the other. Breast cancer just got fabulous.

But, until then, it's a mere three more days with long hair and six more days until the fun begins. And, at some point between that time, I've got to squeeze in a date with Dave Grohl. It's going to be a busy week.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loving the new pimped up look - less star wars, more Cath Kidston goes cancer... nice one. Tillie xx