On Friday 26th October I did my last (as far as I know) all-day chemo session.. While I was waiting at just before nine o’clock, an instantly congenial couple came in … about my age . She was in a wheelchair, overweight, nice ‘Cider with Rosie’ face, and a cascade of carelessly spread, untreated grey hair. He, too, had a nice face and was comfortable in a shaggy grey jersey covering a coach-driver’s paunch. We were the only ones there so it was easy to say ‘Hello’ and get going. He said it was Mary’s first go and was it mine? ‘Oh no’ I declaimed, with the assurance of the chemo vet. So I lit into the wheres and wherefores all very positive. ‘When I was a kid, the word cancer was a death sentence but these days it’s like going to the dentist.’ He explained with admirable forbearance that that wasn’t quite the case with Mary. She had a huge tumour on a lung and it had spread elsewhere as she hadn’t caught it early enough. She showed how the pain had started down her left side but, when it shifted round to her back and became more painful, she went to see the doc. Her cancer was inoperable and terminal. The chemo, presumably, was to give her more time. They both laughed at how attentive the children had become. Couldn’t leave her alone. ‘They only come to borrow money’, Mary laughed.
And at this point I learned something about cancer. Rare for me, I was tongue-tied. What questions are crossing your mind?
Mine … How long have you got?
What are you planning to do?
How will your husband cope?
And, I think for obvious reasons, I couldn’t ask any of them. And no other questions appeared. So I just sat there like a puddin’. At the same time I learned why some friends and neighbours find my cancer difficult to address.
One rumour I’m looking into is that the side effects of chemo get worse as you progress. After my fourth and final all-day treatment I’m more tired than previously.
One thing I’ve noticed because of my infirmity is just how many relatives, friends, and neighbours and their friends and neighbours have cancer or know someone who has, and how many of them are in the generation following mine.
On Monday 29th October a sure sign that I’m getting towards the sharp end. At Jimmy’s ‘Natalie’ painted an indelible purple spot below and to the right of my navel and covered it with a plastic seal. It’s where the stoma will go … the nipple. Mr Jain said the likely date for the op was 5th December. A side effect of the op is that the penis doesn’t only lose its urinary function but also its sexual function.
On Friday 2nd November I had my last short chemo session. I recently read a review of an autobiography by a Spanish bloke who’d had more than 80 sessions. My heart goes out to him.
So … next, a radiology scan then a final consultation with Dr Jagdev then a pre-op assessment. Gettin’ there.
Sinister thought: Despite the fact that I gave up sugar some time ago sugar-lust has returned with the chemo. I have to fight temptation, usually unsuccessfully. In ‘Anti Cancer’ Dr David Servan-Schreiber reveals that cancer thrives on sugar. I’m also eating less salad and greens but making it up via capsules. Is the cancer working against the chemo?