I was cocky as hell when I went for the latest annual mammogram; laughing and joking with the receptionist that I couldn’t wait to squish my boobs in a fridge door again. I was even a little blase and lighthearted – “oh, here we go again, another mammogram. Tut. I can’t wait to be off the Tamoxifen.”
Keep Calm and Carry On
As I became accustomed to the fact I’d be dealing with this thing for a long time, I also resolved to beat it. I was still really scared, but the hopelessness was ebbing away.
Side Effects, Wigs and Losing my Hair
Having swallowed a good load of pills and had a reasonably good night’s sleep, (despite crying myself off to sleep, still thinking “WHY?!”), I was feeling a little better the next day. Besides, I had to get up for Mollie. I just kept taking domperidone pretty much all day. I remember just feeling …well, chemical. I was more nervous about having to give myself the injection.
This blog has an unusual name because at the time I started it, I didn’t want to commit to blogging about a single topic. I decided I was going to write about my experiences with cancer, perhaps some genealogy and a little Salesforce. The cancer story got to ten chapters before my goals changed and suddenly I was only blogging about Salesforce. I guess it was inevitable that the two topics I had kept so separate would eventually collide.
The first chemotherapy session was booked in to start at lunchtime on Friday 8th November 2013. The day before, after I’d had my hair cut short, Harriet came to the flat to take a blood test and to give me some tablets to take before the first session. It was called Emend, an industrial-strength anti-emetic, and it came in a pack of three. I had to take one tablet 1 hour before my appointment, a second the day after and the third on Sunday. Harriet explained that this was so that I wouldn’t feel so sick, but that they would still give me more anti-emetics before and after the first session. I remember thinking, Jesus, they’re really laying it on thick here…but believe me, I needed everything I could get.
After the appointment with Dr Shah, whereby he had told me I would lose my hair, I became determined to lose it on my own terms. The thought of losing my hair became hurtful, like a stab in the heart; since I had always had long hair and had been working so hard to grow it for the wedding, it felt like I was taking a kicking whilst I was down. Still, it wasn’t going to be a permanent thing and I had to focus on preparing for the task at hand – evicting my squatter. So, the day after meeting Dr Shah for the first time, I made a decision. I was going to cut my hair short so that when it did fall out, losing it wasn’t as hard to come to terms with. Better still, someone could make use of my hair, so why not donate it?
All Systems Go
Little did I know that this was probably going to be the busiest week I had ever known – there was so much to do. When we got back from the doctors that evening we were full of positivity; this was going to get sorted out. They knew what to do with it and it hadn’t spread.
Dr Shah and Lady Stark
Sitting in the waiting room at Pinehill that evening I tried to remain calm. I’d been given the name of a Dr Shah; at the time I had no idea he was an oncologist; I’d had to ask the receptionist and when she answered me, she looked surprised that I’d not even looked him up. It was me, Mum and Andy sat there; we’d been in silence for most of the wait. It wasn’t long before a lady came out of the office with her husband, wearing a headscarf, looking a bit worse for wear. I tried not to look because I knew that was shortly going to be me and I was too angry to look.
CT Scan, Board Games and Cancer Face
The next morning I think I woke up with a sense of disbelief. I had my appointment at 11am to have my CT scan and I had a number of things I had to do to prepare for it.
The results took a good week or so to come back. Again I tried to put it out of my mind; tried to relax and focus on the future and this awesome new opportunity that was coming my way. I handed in my notice at Capgemini and spoke to the HR director at the new place to ask them a few questions about the private healthcare benefit; Dr Raza had said I’d probably need surgery so it was reasonable to expect that I would probably have to use the health benefit to pay for the surgery. My old boss was understanding; he asked me if I would be willing to take time off in lieu of notice, seeing as I wasn’t working on any projects, so I gratefully accepted a few weeks’ gardening leave before I started the Big New Job.