It is seven weeks since I had surgery for breast cancer and 11 weeks since making that first phone call to my GP which changed everything.
Life certainly took a turn and there has been pain, tiredness, sickness and swelling. As a frequent visitor to the Royal Free Hospital in north west London during a pandemic, I collect daily stickers proving my temperature, tracing my steps and sit endlessly in crowded masked rooms waiting for consultations and dressing changes.
Recently emerging from my extended lockdown, like many, one of my first stops was the hairdresser where in preparation for chemotherapy, my lockdown curls were cut to their shortest since student days and I decided now would be a good time to explore life as a blonde – worrying about bleach ruining my hair is no longer a concern!
Every new hairstyle needs a new pair of sunglasses, which kick started some much needed and most enjoyable retail therapy.
Overall, I think I’m doing OK, but the surgical team disagree, my wound just hasn’t healed sufficiently to undertake chemotherapy. The decision was made to attach me to a KCI Vac, which had to be carried in a messenger bag and worn at all times. I named it Kevin, he was annoying, heavy and made loud socially awkward noises, but did help me keep things distanced whilst starting to get out and about. Kevin stuck around for a week and was then changed for his smaller, more portable and quieter side-kick Perry. Perry and I will remain attached for the next 4-6 weeks, hopefully drawing out fluid and stimulating cell growth from within.
Not healing correctly and living with a large open wound has resulted in chemotherapy being put on hold for a couple of months. It has felt like I’m taking several steps back and although not sorry to delay the inevitable side effects, the end of this journey moves further into the future.
I’ve had to readjust my expectations and try to stay positive, in many senses I have a reprieve, and until I start chemo, nothing really changes and I get to be blonde for a little longer.
What’s important for me now is what has always been important – life. I have started to use this time to raise my fitness, become stronger to front chemo, socialise and pickup my camera, starting with some self-portraits.
It’s not quite business as usual, but it’s important to try and get back to a normality and live by that, which for me is to enjoy life, the people and places that surround it.
Life may be shit at times, but it’s still one that I love to live and try to have fun with, if you fancy joining me for a walk or a meetup, get in touch, I’d love to hear from you.