On the Home Straight!

“Hi hoh, Hi hoh, it’s off to chemo I go!
When this is done, I’ll only have one!
Hi hoh, Hi hoh, Hi hoh, Hi hoh..! “

It always feels like I’m getting ready for a ten day holiday a few days leading up to chemo. Getting the house in order, making sure all the ironing and washing are done, including finally doing the hand washing that always lingers at the bottom of the laundry basket, fresh sheets on the bed. Ok, ok, so I can see the “Brave Man” reading this thinking, “oh she’s full of it, ironing, making the bed???”

So I say…, “so what if the ironing lady and the cleaners do it, I still ring them and organise it.”

Anyway, it’s definitely not the kind of holiday I would prefer, there’s no warm sunshine, banana lounges or welcoming cocktail. Or is there?

I pack my bag and take a few comforts from home, my own pillow, home knitted shawl, and family photos. I put a little mascara on the remaining eyelashes and find a big scarf I can wear around my neck that will cover up the ‘cummerbund of fat’ that seems to be accumulating around my neck. It’s like a built in bean bag for the head. Comfy I guess, but not the most attractive look I’ve had!

Like every time that I leave for chemo to stay overnight in hospital, I choose a little present to put under my fairy’s pillow and write a promise note that I’ll be back home tomorrow. I also leave my fluffy dressing gown that she loves to cuddle up to when she sleeps. I tell her that even though she can’t see me, I’m always with her and sending her my love and kisses through our special rainbow. She likes this and it’s always comforting for her, to know mummy’s always there.
August 2011
A little note from Sienna left on my pillow
Sienna goes to school and the Brave Man and I go to see my ‘Health Stylist’. The Brave Man parks in the church car park, and we hope this is a sign that we might get some positive vibes out of the church door as we head into chemo across the road. Either that or we’ll have a big fat Brighton Parking fine smacked to the windscreen when we come out. Yes, it’s true, just because you have cancer doesn’t mean you’re immune to even more bad luck.

My ‘Health Stylist’ is running on time today, which is unusual for him. I always wonder how he does it, day in and day out, delivering life changing news to people. Having people relying on him to save their lives, including mine of course! And then going home to his own family and not bringing his day with him.

Ever so welcoming we walk into his rooms. The “Gary’s” greet each other with a solid hand shake and make their standard jokes about me wanting to book holidays and reminisce about the one I booked where we lost $5,000 because I got sick again, yes that was really hilarious,  “stupid party pooper cancer” I say. Then it’s onto ‘the wives’ spending too much money on sensless shopping.  Which I personally think is a positive sign that we’re both well enough to shop. Not to mention our selfless effort to shop the world out of the global financial crisis! No pat on the back for that I guess, nor any mention of nominations for a Nobel Peace Shopping Prize.

Anyway, even though I’m under strict instructions not to book a holiday, I have worked out a way to bring the ‘holiday’ to us…. more on that exciting news later!

My ‘Health Stylist’ taps my back, listens to my heart and lungs and we’re done. It’s still not resolved as to why my breathing is so laboured, but I guess having your lung wripped out, scrubbed and put back in with talcum powder (twice) not to mention fluid around it and lack of exercise, doesent’t help the ‘sitcho’ (situation). Oh, and the litres of chemo that goes through your system which is equivalent to, what I imagine as swallowing a bottle of Draino or two. Yes it all takes its toll on this little brave body of mine.

So it’s one more to go, and I’ll just pretend I didn’t hear my ‘Health Stylist’ say the word “maybe”. Then another scan. My friend mentioned that I might want to consider some gentle arm exercises just to build up the strength to wear all my lucky charm bracelets to scan time. Not a bad idea I think!

If my “Health Stylist” announces after the next scan that there’s no sign of the big ‘Caboranara’. I will officially crown him the ‘CANCER WHISPERER!’

With a hug and a reassuring smile, we say our goodbyes until another three weeks, and make our way to day oncology.

I’m reminded of the time I’ve spent fighting this thing, as the ‘Blue Angel Nurse’ puts my medical file beside me. I notice how thick it is, not to mention being marked in big red writing “Volume 2”….. I’m determined not to have a Volume 3!

It was a quiet day for me as the ‘health nectar’ filled my body … That was until they called a little code ‘baby blue’, just a bit of chest  tightening, breathing difficulty. More or less it felt like an out of body experience. The “blue angels” came from everywhere, hovering around like a bunch of concerned mothers helping a child who’d just fallen off the monkey bars.  I went on the oxygen, and was given several injections of something that made me sleepy. All was ok and after a while I lay back and listened to the ‘health nectar’ pumping away once again. I closed my eyes and went back to imagining the holiday I was pretending to be on.
“Blue Angel Jo” brings the
Sunshine and the Welcoming Cocktail

My Banana Lounge Awaits Me
The hospital was busy today and the rooms were full, I was told I had to share a room, I said I would rather go home and teared up like a spoilt child. Not sure where that all came from, it was quite embarrassing in the end. The “Brave Man” just told me that I had been lucky enough to be in business class all this time, and it was ok to spend just one short night in economy. He’s right, yes he’s always right. So I stayed.

The curtain was pulled across and I felt comfortable hidden behind the ‘burqa’ like barrier. It was ironic that I was embarrassed to show my bald head to another bald headed woman.    
August 2011
Sienna’s view of her mum

The “Trooper Parents” picked up Sienna from school and dropped her off at the hospital. She sat on the bed as I listened to her read her school books, whilst “The Brave Man” worked away on his Ipad, tapping out emails.

I had a very inquisitive nurse on tonight, wanting to know my background, how I discovered ‘the lump’, was there any history in the family, how did my husband cope. I understand her wanting to know the history, but after the 100th question I felt like I was on “who wants to be a Sickenaire” and I was about to tell her to “phone a friend”. Her last question to me was, “what was my prognosis”, to which I answered, “pretty good thanks”. I’ve never been told nor have I asked what my prognosis is, I don’t know that would change anything, I just want to live no matter what.
Fortunately she spied the maltesers that I had bought for Sienna as a treat, and asked if she could have one, I was relieved that she was feeling so comfortable in my prescence, so I told her to take the whole bag.

Sienna and I sat up in my bed and ate dinner, thanks to our friends at the Pantry. As we enjoyed our culinary delights, we talked about what we did in our day. I enjoyed the moment very much. I think Sienna did too.


“Hi hoh, Hi hoh, it’s off to sleep I go
With one to go, I’m better I know
Hi hoh, Hi hoh, Hi hoh, Hi hoh..! “
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