Monday, 1 February 2010

wearing down but bearing up

I'm in that lovely midway patch between chemo sessions when I feel relatively unencumbered by all the side-effects of it but not too close to the next one to be dreading it yet. Which meant that I could thoroughly enjoy Saturday evening celebrating Liz's 60th birthday, together with a glass and a half of wine and a glass of champagne which had no obvious adverse effect on me whatsoever. Which is nice.

Although the snow overnight is very pretty it has slightly put paid to my fantasy of doing a bit of gardening (well that's exercise I can get without having to worry about what's on my head and whether it will fall off - if it does there's only the builders next door to see it, and I'm better looking than all but one of them without my headgear anyway). I am beginning to notice (and be a little worn down by) some of the permanent features of being poisoned, like a slightly vacant expression which I have realised is because my eyelashes have almost completely run away without my noticing and my eyebrows have started to thin. So if you think I'm turning into AmIbovvered when you talk to me, it's that. My skin's taking a bit of a pounding now too - a bit aged looking and frequent itchy spots over my face which isn't fun. And a cough which I can't shift and which is starting to remind me of a horrible feature of cystic fibrosis that someone once told me about, which is where you are woken up by a violent cough because it's about to choke you - not nice! It's because in amongst the hair loss are the cilia, microscopic hairs that line the respiratory system, which makes congestion harder to shift. They also line the digestive system which is apparently what accounts for the heartburn, acid stomach etc although I'm not really suffering much from that, touch wood.

One thing I am really struck by is how many people are telling me how strong I am. It's a very difficult comment to react to, although it's usually said admiringly, which is nice, but I confess to being a little puzzled by it at times. I suppose it's because over the last few years I have indeed learned how strong I am, particularly through those (often horribly lonely) years after splitting up from John, of taking entire responsibility for my home and the kids when they're with me and working mostly full-time as well. The situation I'm in at the moment, for all it's with an awful and scary disease, is actually a lot easier on me than it would have been had I still been at work (and just one reason why I am so glad I made the decision to leave the SFO). I have a lovely warm house, two wonderful fun children whose lives go fascinatingly on developing, Mike who is a tower of strength and a great cook to boot, John who has picked up with the kids when I have needed it at the drop of a hat and a sterling bunch of friends who have been wonderfully supportive on practical and emotional levels. An awful lot of people go through this sort of crisis without any of this support which I think is the main thing that is helping me. Perhaps they are really the strong ones?

I have also the benefit that I was about to make a new start when all this happened, and I still am when I am not feeling tired or unwell. So I'm quite buoyant no matter how many spots and splutters because I am still in that very lucky position that I was in before. And in the same way as it can be a bad reflection (I remember being genuinely affronted at an electricity bill plopping through the door of my university flat within days of my dad dying), it is also a good one that "life goes on". It doesn't all start revolving around the cancer, even if the cancer is a huge and nasty distraction. Thankfully!


  1. Belinda,
    I've now read your blog: fascinating, powerful, moving, positive, informative - and funny! Extraordinary under the circumstances!
    You are an inspiration!
    I'll be thinking of you next Wed - and beyond.

  2. Ah, thank you! It was lovely to see you the other night at Liz's party - perhaps we can coincide for a meet-up in London sometime?