Here we go again

Chemo is coming. Again.

It was meant to be this Monday just gone, but as that’s delayed by a few days, I’m sat here, not for the first time, wondering what to do with myself.  Chemo time will, of course, keep me busy.  I can treat it like a job: enduring it, taking the tablets, seeing to basic needs and trying to manage symptoms enough not to end up in A&E too often.  Anything more, like making it out of the house or sitting down to write, is a bonus.

But a few days pre-chemo is a strange place to be in – like the calm before the storm or those few days in between Christmas and New Year when everyone forgets what day it is. 

December was very very busy, what with work, gigs and a load of social engagements, hastily arranged with my incoming treatment in mind.  So the running routine has failed to reestablish itself and after the excesses of the festive season, my waistline is demanding I start again in earnest, no matter how cumbersome the waddle.  Standard behaviour for the new year but when treatment kicks off, I’m expecting to be unable to train much if at all.  That’s what happened last time round anyway.  I think it’s been well established that I don’t last too long watching box sets.  So I have started running again and am building up the mileage, even if I’m realistically going to be stopped in my tracks.

I’ve also gotten round, finally, to spring cleaning my flat, throwing out a dozen black sacks in the process.  Clearing out the parental home a few months ago has given me a ruthless aversion to hoarding as, sooner or later, my family will need to sort through my accumulated possessions and decide what’s worth keeping.  So I may as well start the job myself.  It’s pretty simple with everything that has sat in drawers for over five years gathering dust – I’m unlikely to use it again.  Likewise with the cycling gear – that’s something I haven’t done seriously for a long time – if anyone wants my £1,000 trek domaine (54cm frame), they’re welcome to it.

It’s a strange thing to consider objects you’ve kept but not used and reason that you never will again.  With every chemo cycle, there is a greater chance that I’ll be a bit more disabled.  If the treatment doesn’t get me too badly, the disease will – my liver cancer is now over an inch in diameter.  So what about the 60kg bar bells, running shoes or even brass instruments?  Or that baritone ukulele I’ve been getting round to learning but don’t really have time to get past that awkward beginner phase.  What about the old backpack from travelling days (that’s over a decade ago now)?  Will I be allowed to leave the country again?

Having felt so well recently, I’d just about gotten used to living like a normal person.  You’d be hard pressed to guess that I have a terminal illness and I’d almost forgotten.  But no – here comes an extra strong dose of my newfound bleak reality.  However, in some ways, it’s different now.  Last time round, I didn’t know this particular devil but now the familiarity breeds a little foresight as well as contempt.  I know it will be difficult but not every day will be hell.  In theory, one week out of three will see symptoms easing off and I’ll be able to get out and do a bit of free range living, even if the tingles are worse in the cold.

I thought about going away somewhere before chemo, but ended up so exhausted from a long autumn term that it’s been fine to sit at home and regroup, readying myself for another lengthly battle with cancer treatment.  So I guess I’d better get round to filling in my tax return – last year’s was completed whilst in agony in hospital.  This week’s mission is to get my flat clean and tidy enough to maybe host any visitors.  I imagine it’s just as strange for everyone else working out what a second block of chemo means.  I’m aware that there won’t be as many messages of support or offers of help this time round because people know that I survived the last one and came back to live independently and like normal.  That means that I’m going to have to do more asking for support when I need it.  I’m not very good at that but maybe stating this will make it happen. So if you do get a message from me, please remember it probably took quite a lot for me to reach out.

I write this having gotten back from hospital for tests and pre-chemo prescription chasing.

It’s a sad indictment of the system that patients have to push for this stuff, but nonetheless if I run out of colostomy bags, that has unpleasant consequences that I’ll happily avoid.  Plus I took the opportunity to run in between the errands and your average cancer patient wouldn’t be able to use going between hospital, GP and Pharmacy as an opportunity to work off the holiday’s indulgence.

If anything, I’m just a bit grumpy about going in for chemo again.  It was coming, I suppose, and is long overdue really but that doesn’t make me wild about the prospect.  Happy new year to me!

I can but hope that this necessary evil gives me another healthy summer.

1 Comment

  1. I will be hoping with you!

    Good luck!


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