Did I promise laughs in my next blog update? This could be a struggle. I’m sorry. Chemo 2 has seen its own distinct set of challenges that I have left me, in the main, reaching for the cover-up or the sick bucket or a packet of tissues.
The spots that erupted after chemo 2.1 were reminiscent of a comedy sketch from a bad 80s American movie. There were so many they looked drawn on, I was pizza face extraordinaire. Spots that covered my face, neck, chest, back and scalp. The crunch point for me was my scalp bleeding from the power of the shower jets. Fortunately the oncology team agreed that this was a very severe reaction and I've been off the cetuximab since that first dose. It'll be back for chemo 2.5 and hopefully the 'rechallenge' will be okay.
Other than that chemo 2.0 has seen the usual round of stomach cramps, sickness and fatigue but (dare I say it) hasn't been too bad. I've thrown up in a handbag (pure class), outside the house (still got to work on time) and in my trusty bucket. I've been so tired I can hardly stand but I've coped and continue to cope.
Emotionally it's the usual grind. Mostly I manage by pretending that it isn't happening and I'm not prepared to accept the incurable diagnosis yet, but at times it hits me and I cry.
It's very hard to explain what it's like constantly putting a strong face on it to those that don't have an incurable illness. Every mention of age, every plan that's in the future seems like a threat or a dream. I try and be positive and create happy memories for the children and Al but sometimes it's all too much and I’m a grumpy old cow.
It can feel like cancer has trashed my skin, my figure and my future. What remains are some fragments of self-confidence gleaned through a loving family and a brilliant job, but even they are regularly challenged. And I get the odd hour or even two when I forget that I have cancer. Never for that long but I am regularly distracted.
My oncologist thinks I'll see Rosie start school in September 2014 and I am glad for that time, but it really doesn't seem enough. I want proper wrinkles, I want white hair, I want to go deaf, to have my arm held when I walk down the road. I want to be old. And I desperately want to see my kids leave school, go to university, get married, have children. All the stuff other people take for granted.
Cancer isn't fair. Most of the time I pretend I don't have it and that I'm like the rest of you, but the reality is that I can't forget and that really really hurts.
On the positive side, myself and a colleague won a challenge to produce the best corporate pitch at the Institute of Fundraising conference, Ziggy (the dog) came fifth (we were robbed) in the most handsome dog at the Battersea Old Windsor Fun Day. Zak can do a front flip, Rosie has let me put her hair in bunches on more than one occasion, Ilias has a very cool new haircut and Al is exceptionally buff these days! I knew I’d get a smile in here somewhere.