Friday, 7 December 2012


It's definitely straws that break, or at least seriously pressurise, camel's backs. 

This should be, and in many ways is, one of my best weeks ever. On Tuesday I was awarded Staff Member of the Year at the Best of Battersea awards - baring in mind some of the phenomenal people that I work with, this is a massive honour. The fundraising team have been so lovely in their congratulations; and I've been invited to Downing Street to celebrate on Monday. This is all amazing stuff. 

So why did I spend the first hour of chemotherapy crying? Sadly rather than being concerns over world peace, the plight of starving children or senseless cruelty towards animals, my big blubby moment was caused by bad skin.  I have a red and spotty face, I've put on weight, and half my skin seems to float a few centimetres from the surface - it's very dry and sore. I look crap and it makes me feel ugly and unhappy. 

Cancer is rubbish. It makes you feel tired and causes pain. It puts a ticking clock behind your ear and turns the volume up at the happiest moments. The treatment that keeps you alive chips away at your health and produces a new symptom every week. But today  it's vanity that has made me cry. I have never been the prettiest girl in town but I didn't ever imagine wanting to hide away to this extent. It's an odd situation when the thing that counts the least has the biggest impact. This is clearly what the old proverb means. 

While the spots and steroid bloat are trying this camel's back - I am trying to remember that whilst they aren't that great to look at, camels do have great reserves and keep going for a long time. And, for all the tears and despite this little 'pity party' (you've got to love daytime TV for a catch phrase) I will get over this hump - geddit?!. See I'm better already. 

Monday, 3 December 2012

A red eyed panda?

Red eyed panda

No this isn't a new endangered species. This is my latest and if I say so myself most bizarre and creative of chemo symptoms.

Last week chemo decided to be kind to me. The usual nastiness seemed to be kept at bay. I worked a full day, every day - which for post-chemo week is something of a novelty. My nose didn't bleed. The cramps weren't too bad and even though I had to stop and be sick in a dog poo bag on the way to work, I wasn't actually that ill. No split skin, no bleeding heels. Even the spots seemed less awful.

Ah but chemo is a cunning one. It waits round the corner, giving a sly smile if you relax, then whacks you round the head with a surprise blow designed to fell you at the knees or anywhere else you haven't protected. My arrogance in assuming I had escaped chemo pain has been resoundingly slapped down and sneered at.

This complacency has been rewarded with a whole new look. Tight, sore, red skin under my eyes means that I not only have steroid bloat but puffy swollen eyes too. It's a long way from glamorous and to be honest I can't see it taking off this season.  Oh and I have the chin of a 14 year old who spends every free moment in KFC.

Fortunately I have an incredibly supportive boss who said I can work at home today. It's lucky he's agreed this as whilst I love Battersea my unattractive new look means that I have might have found myself getting rehomed as a St Bernard albeit one with spots.