A scientifically-factual account of my insides.

When I was a lot younger than I am now, I looked forward in fevered anticipation to the time when I’d need my first x-ray. Not because in some horribly sado-masochistic way I was hoping for a broken bone, but because I thought it would be then, and only then, that I would be confirmed as special. Not just brilliantly unique, but scientifically “Get the President” kind of one-in-a-million. I was convinced that my body was more likely to be made up of Fraggles and Doozers than bones and joints. That I would be lying there watching as teams of ever-more-important Doctor’s and Surgeons were ushered into the X-Ray theatre to review the miraculous findings as the prints were sent off to Britain’s equivalent of Area 51 for comparison. It was through snorted disdain that when I finally did require such tests I was ushered out of the hospital without so much as a “Sir there’s something we need to discuss with you, but first a call from The White House…”.

You see, my point is, that by and large we don’t change an awful lot. We grow and we mature and we learn (so far so Jeremy Kyle) but essentially I’m still the precocious little shitflap who can’t see any reason why he shouldn’t be the best at everything he turns his hand to. And this includes Chemotherapy. My hope going into my treatment was that the symptoms so commonly associated with ‘Chemo’ (sickness, fatigue, hair loss, ulcers, etc.) would not appear at all and I’d be first in history to sail through untainted by it’s toxic hand. Initial signs were not great.

My treatment consists of 3 ‘cycles’ of drug therapy.

The irony of my t-shirt was completely lost on my first day at hospital.

Each cycle starts with a period of 5/6 days in hospital where I am pumped full of Ifosfamide, Etoposide and Cisplatin for 20 hours each day before being sent home to rest for 2 weeks before the next cycle. It’s in the period of ‘rest’ that your white blood cell count drops and you are left to feel the full (side) effects. My first few days in hospital were a breeze of friends, family and food. The next few were pretty ropey.

My temperature soared and I could barely get out of bed. The worst part of it all is that, for all but about 4 hours of the day (and night), you are connected to a drip. I can’t tell you how quickly I lost patience with my bladder’s insistence that, despite deliberately not having drunk anything for the past few hours, it would very much like now to deposit as close to a litre of liquid into the bathroom. ‘A litre’ you ask? Yes a litre. ‘How do I know’, you definitely don’t ask? Well I’ve been told to ‘log’ (sorry) amount going in with the amount going out in case my kidneys pack up from treatment.

Thumbs up. N.B. The coil of tubing. Cute, yes? No.

Anyway, I was finally unplugged and sent on my unsteady way, accompanied by my sister back home to stock up the fridge and prepare to hibernate.

Except that’s not really how it’s worked out. Other than a couple of days where I’ve spent most of the day sleeping, I’ve been pretty much ok. I’ve managed to get out and I haven’t yet been sick. I have experienced some cravings and changes in my taste-buds. But this is no worse than expecting a lime chilli taco and getting a mouthful of oyster-hammock. In fact the worst part so far has been the fact that for the first week my brain has been replaced by a satchel full of fog and wet wipes.  I’ve developed a sudden incapacity to remember where I was coming from or going to. Like walking into a room and not only forgetting why you’re there but wondering how it is that gravity works. This goes for conversations too. Beyond simply losing track of your train of thoughts, I have got to the point where I find myself looking in on my on conversation watching the whole thing implode in a cloud of ash and ‘WTF’. Everything seems to take a lot longer, and generally needs restarting (e.g. I began this blog post in 1989). Now, where was I? Oh yes, The Cuban Missile Crisis

What? This old thing? How embarrassing.

So far, so to be expected. Then I ran out of a couple of my anti-sickness drugs (one of which my oncologist said was ‘total shit’ anyway) and for some strange reason I have now returned almost completely back to normal. I should emphasise the ‘strange’ there as well, given that I was left  a message from said oncologist this afternoon who told me that after my blood was taken yesterday, they’ve found that my white blood cell count has dropped prematurely and that I was most likely experiencing chronic fatigue. I listened to this message whilst enjoying a meal at Wagamama‘s shortly after a 30 minute run. I’m now beginning to wonder whether in fact the bags full of toxic chemicals weren’t mistakenly replaced by a large pouch of Um Bongo.


Through the course of the final week before I was due to go into hospital I must have looked like a ‘bucket-lister’. Every meal I had, or friend I saw was ‘the last before treatment’. I rushed around seeing as many people as I could, packing in as much fun as possible. I even raced up to Norfolk with a friend the day before hospital to drive an old sports car to the beach where I lay wondering if it might be alright if we could all ‘forget about the whole cancer thing thank you very much’. But it came. And went. As did hospital. And you know what? It’s not been that bad*.  So here I am, almost 2 weeks down. 7 weeks to go. I’m about to go to the gym. At least I think it was the gym. It was the gym or Button Moon. One of the two. Let’s just hope I don’t break anything and need that X-Ray.

(*this line will be deleted if it gets really bad – never, ever quote me on it).