Escapism

The ‘C’ Word

I’ve spent the past two days in and out of consciousness. The double threat of Covid and Chemotherapy has left me feeling pretty out of it. It’s a shame because the weather is really beautiful outside, but I have been managing to enjoy it here and there. I’ve tasked myself with leaving the house at least once a day to walk Lucy and I’ve managed that both today and yesterday.

Last night I woke up suddenly to the taste of bile in my throat and I thought I was choking on it. I panicked, reached out for the water by my bed and started to haphazardly drink it, occasionally stopping to cough more. I then dug out some medicine that the hospital gave me a few cycles ago, which I swore I would never need. It’s an anti-acid and paracetamol combination medicine that worked a charm on settling down my throat. How the hospital knew that I would contract Covid and need medicine for my throat is beyond me, but I’m not going to start throwing around accusations just yet. They are helping me in many other ways. I had also complained to them that my throat was consistently hurting in the mornings and I wasn’t sure why, but… damn, I’m making excuses for them. Stop trying to be a nice guy, Dan. Just accept that the hospital spiked you with Covid because they feed off your unhappiness and lust for your suffering. Giving you the medicine was just their way of reigning you back in when it eventually struck. You’re such a sucker.

After the coughing/choking episode, I was feeling pretty shaken up. My nose had also been bleeding, something which seldom happened to me before starting chemotherapy. I made my way downstairs so I wouldn’t disturb Anna. The time was about 1:15am. It’s been a while since I’ve had to grab the blanket and knuckle down on the sofa. What followed was pretty much consistent with everything that has been happening to me this week – I floated between lucid dreaming and loose consciousness, struggling to establish what was really happening and how long I had been asleep or, not asleep, in mental limbo. There is a comfort in knowing that when your body is at its most overexerted, the default reaction is to intermittently slip in and out of a sleep so deep you start to doubt your grasp on reality. It takes away all that complicated thinking stuff and just leaves you as a shell of a human, thoughts and feelings merely reflections of a consciousness that you have lost all control of.

My head was pounding as I lay there; my eyes were shut and they felt like they were a meter away from each other on my face. My feet felt like they were a mile away from my head. Everything was discombobulated. It felt like there was enormous space in the room but I couldn’t quite fit into it. I pulled the blanket over my head and cocooned myself inside. At some point, I fell asleep.

For some reason, I kept dreaming about being back in Philadelphia. I used to run on a trail next to the Schuylkill River nearly every day. I remember looking at Philadelphia on a map when I was first told that I was going to be working there for a few months, and being totally puzzled at the name of the river. It looked so out of place compared to the names of everything else on the map. For the first 3 months that I was out there, I avoided saying it for fear of making an idiot of myself. Over time, I discovered that you can pretty much say anything with a British accent in Philadelphia and people will only ever find it either endearing or entertaining. I learnt the name of the river, and it became my favourite place to run.

The trail runs for miles alongside the river before coming to an end in the city. Pretty much every running route I did would use it in some capacity. It was just down the road from my apartment and was the most pleasant space for running in the city. I remember doing intervals on it during the sweltering summer months and almost collapsing at the end of the workout. There were little bar pop-ups on the grass by the river bank at the time. They were cordoned off by small wooden fences and full of people drinking overpriced beers. It was Saturday afternoon so there was a good vibe. I shouted over the fence to a guy standing behind the makeshift bar – “Can I buy a bottle of water please, mate?” He told me that they were only taking cash. I’m not sure I used cash once in all the time I lived out there. I told him this, and, to my surprise, he gave me the bottle of water for free and told me to bring my mates back for a beer later that day. I had every intention of doing so, but I didn’t.

On my favourite 10K route, I’d run to the end of the Schuylkill Trail and come off at South Street. There’s a ramp from the trail that meets a bridge that goes over the river. You’d regularly see people doing hill repeats on it. I’d head along South St and up Spruce St, through the university on the Woodland Trail. It took you to a nice little graveyard called The Woodlands. The graveyard has a small semicircle road around it which was good to run around. It was at the top of a hill overlooking part of the city and running there at night was always peaceful.

I remember seeing an episode of the Netflix show House of Cards where one of the main characters, Claire Underwood, was running through a graveyard. A random stranger shouts “Do you have no respect?” at her, stopping her in her tracks and leaving her looking despondent. Every time I ran around the graveyard, the scene would occur to me and I’d worry that people in the states might be more sensitive to someone using a graveyard as a running track. One time when I was running the route after work, I came around a corner obscured by some trees and heard a scream over my headphones. Upon looking up, I saw a woman squatting over and peeing in the middle of the trees. Her friend stood laughing and covering her face with her hand, she might have even been filming but I’m not sure. “It’s perfectly natural! I’m not looking,” I shouted as I realised what was happening. I felt vindicated of any worry that I was doing something wrong by simply running in there – I’d never pee in there.

A Sunset in the Woodlands Graveyard – Taken 18th March 2019

After running around the ceremony, I’d run over to Walnut street via the university and head back towards the city. There’s an American BBQ restaurant called Baby Blues BBQ one street over from where I’d run on Walnut, located on Samson St. I’d heard a lot about this place, it being a favourite of many coworkers of mine who had spent time in Philadelphia. I’m vegetarian, so I didn’t have a huge amount of motivation to go to this particular restaurant, despite having an expenses budget and regularly eating out. I couldn’t imagine there would be a tonne of options for me at an American BBQ restaurant because, well, isn’t that the point? Meat meat meat! No lettuce to be sent out without bacon fat having touched the leaves. Put pork fat in the salad dressing etc. I had no problem with it, but it was never created to appeal to me.

I did eventually go to Baby Blues BBQ once. It was for my birthday, funnily enough. Some of the directors were on site for the week, and there was a larger cohort than usual wanting to eat out. One of the directors suggested that we go out for my birthday, which I was happy to oblige. The idea of Baby Blues BBQ was floated to the delight of some of my colleagues. Some of my other colleagues were telling me to take a stand against it. “Dan – you can’t let this happen! You’ll be surrounded by meat on the one day you have any clout to eat somewhere else!” These people clearly didn’t know me well. I’m a martyr and a saint – never shying away from public persecution. I saw it as an opportunity – finally, tick it off the list and be done with it. I was pretty sure they’d have some vegetarian options at least. There was one other vegetarian who regularly worked with us out there, and he reassured me that they have ‘a great selection of sides’. I didn’t find a lot of solace in this but he had eaten there before, so surely he his claim was going to be substantiated to an extent.

He didn’t have a point. The sides were fine, but I wasn’t running laps around the restaurant informing every customer that they simply must order more of the irresistible sides. I don’t think they were particularly focused on the sides either, as large hunks of meat towered across their plates and dared them to finish their meal. I ended up ordering a salad and had to reiterate a few times that I didn’t want any of the meat on it. To be fair, it was a nice salad… the kind of salad where the dressing completely defeats any health benefit you thought you’d get by ordering a salad. I’m still pretty sure I walked out of that place with the lowest calorie count, though. I was also the only person using that as a metric of how successful the meal was. I’d found my angle and I was sticking with it.

I’d then run along Walnut St and finish in Rittenhouse Square. There I’d usually pick up something to eat before heading home. If it was a nice evening, I’d sit and eat it in the square itself and watch the world go by. It’s a great spot for people-watching, with plenty of benches, trees and water features. One critique I have of Philly is that it doesn’t have a lot of green space, but I feel like Londoners are spoilt in this regard. Perhaps it is an unfair critique.

The next thing I knew, I was awake again and back in the room. My head still felt like a void between my shoulders and my mouth was begging for moisture. I reached out to find that all of my water was gone, so reached for another glass that someone had left on the table from the night before. I sipped it conservatively, seeing that there wasn’t much left and knowing that I didn’t want to make the short trip to the kitchen any time soon. It didn’t matter what time it was. I repositioned the cushion under my head, turned onto my side and closed my eyes. Let’s try this again.

Covid, Meet Chemotherapy

The Chemotherapy Diaries

It finally happened, I’ve tested positive for Covid. After avoiding it for an amount of time which can only be described as unfashionable, it’s finally got my number. I had my suspicion that this would happen. Anna tested positive a week ago today and we had been isolating from each other around the house. It all seemed to be going quite well. Saturday morning, treatment day, I was still testing negative and feeling fine. Knowing that a major impact of the chemotherapy on the body is that it impacts your immune system, I did speculate that the defence my body was currently putting up was probably about to diminish. It may have just taken this long to establish itself anyway; I had kissed Anna 10 minutes before she first tested positive, which was the most confusing part for me. However I caught it, I’m now finally part of the ‘C’ club. Not the Cancer one, the Covid one. Although I am part of the cancer club too, and I’m on chemotherapy. I even have a series called The ‘C’ Word series that tries to avoid talking about cancer. I’ve also noticed that I frequently sleep in a C shape now because it seems to cause me the least pancreatic pain through the night and in the morning. I bend my back like I’m bracing for impact on a plane, then tuck my legs into themselves. It’s very comfortable. I’m starting to feel a bit like Jim Carey’s character in The Number 23 where he starts to obsess that the number 23 appears everywhere in his life. The Alphabetical C with Dan G.

Saturday’s treatment was quite straightforward. The hospital seemed quieter than normal. I remember it being similar around Christmas time when I was in for treatment. I had asked my nurse that day why it was so quiet and she had replied that many people don’t have treatment around Christmas time, especially if their treatment is palliative. They opt to enjoy more time with their families instead. I wondered if that same principle would apply around Easter weekend too, with there being 2 public holidays on either side of it in the UK.

I arrived a little late after sleeping in until 7:40am. Oops. We usually leave the house at around this time, so it was considerably later than normal. We were only 7 minutes late to the hospital though, so it wasn’t too bad. I apologised for my tardiness as I signed in at the reception, then had to explain was tardiness was to the receptionist. She originally thought I was apologising for having a mental ailment which was extremely embarrassing for me; perhaps I’ll stay clear of using the word tardy so liberally in future. It is such a nice word, though. My name was called about 5 minutes later and I made my way upstairs to the ward.

It was all pretty non-descript from here. They weighed me, stuck the line into my port in my chest, and treatment had begun. For the first time since starting chemotherapy, I actually did very little during the session. I didn’t even use my headphones. I was just sitting watching videos on Youtube with subtitles on instead. I’m not really sure why – usually I get a good 2 or 3 hours of writing time in, and will read for at least 45 minutes. I did notice that I am becoming a bit of a chemo veteran as I eavesdropped on the various conversations going on around me. Straight across from my bed, there was a man who was attending his first session that day. He still had the dressings on his neck where they had inserted the port. I heard him say it had been installed Thursday morning. That was the exact same timeline as mine – Thursday morning they installed it and Saturday morning I was at the hospital, receiving my first dose of treatment. It felt strange thinking of all that had gone on between then and now. He seemed to be dealing with it well, though, and I hoped that was because his diagnosis wasn’t too bad.

I also heard a woman in a bed next to me boast that she was on session 7 and only had one more to go. She was dishing out advice on how to cope with some of the more uncomfortable side effects. My competitive side was kicking in and I was tempted to shout over that I was actually in the process of hitting the double-figure mark – session number 10. Maybe I’d sign an autograph for them or dedicate a blog post to them, where I impart all of my learned wisdom to them. She actually had better advice than me and was stating all sorts of hacks for the morning of treatment, the day before etc. Perhaps what I was starting to feel was inadequacy. She was recommending being extra healthy the day before your treatment; that’s usually the day I want to scoff as many takeaways and run as far as possible before I have to deal with the chemotherapy fog again for another week or so. Maybe she’s right. I should have asked for her autograph. She might have even had her own cancer blog that I could have followed. Damnit.

I left the hospital with little to report. I had baked the nurses some Almond and Raspberry slices, a recipe that contained pastry. I’d never made my own pastry before and fancied a challenge. Friday morning I did my first batch to test on my family and friends and they seemed to go down very well. Feeling confident that I was a natural – Pasty Dan the Pastry Man – I returned to the kitchen that evening to make another batch for the nurses. It went well, almost too well. As I handed them over to the nurses I said something attention-seeking and pathetic like “it’s my first time making pastry so approach with caution”. There was veiled confidence in the whole thing and I knew they looked good. Low and behold – I got ABSOLUTELY NO COMMENTS ON THEM. Of course, that’s fine. I bake for the nurses because they genuinely deserve it for being amazing people who dedicate themselves to a very tough and emotionally volatile job… but I’d be lying if I said I also liked the comments on how nice the baking was and how flattered they all are. As I left, one nurse said “I can’t wait to try one during my lunch break”. That’s what it was, they’re all waiting for lunch to eat them. I slept easier after convincing myself that was true. I’d tried them, I knew they were good. My dad had eaten nearly all of them after about an hour of them being baked, but that isn’t always a reliable test of how good something is to eat. More how easy it is to eat at that exact moment in time. It passed that test with flying colours.

The rest of the weekend was very chilled. For once, the sun came out to play on Sunday, so myself and the family had a BBQ and lay around in the garden. It was very nice. I basically spent the entire day sitting outside on the swinging chair and relaxing. Going through chemotherapy is much easier now that the weather is a bit warmer. It was quite miserable in November, constantly getting pins and needles in my hands and face and constantly trying to avoid going outside. If you want my advice, try not to get diagnosed in winter. A summer diagnosis has far more to offer the individual.

Lucy in the Sun on Sunday

It was Monday when I started getting a little suspicious of my body. It is quite normal for me to get cold-like symptoms after treatment for a few days. My nose usually runs quite a bit and my throat sounds hoarse, but I was actually coughing quite a bit which is more unusual. After digging around the house for a Covid test and not finding one, I gave up and decided that the UK Government clearly don’t want me to determine whether I am sick or not, seeing as they are charging for tests now. My dad had other ideas and immediately went out, spending about £70 on Covid tests. We then found one laying around the house anyway which confirmed my fate – it was to be a covidy, cancery, chemotherapy-y kinda week.

So far, I’ve just felt more tired than usual, which is saying something because I already do a good job at being tired this early in my chemotherapy cycle. I’ve slept most of the day away today. The blog is providing a nice distraction in the periods I manage to stay awake long enough to write something. Who knows what the standard of writing is like in this post, though, as I’ve mostly been floating through it with a mixture of geniality and unqualified wonder at whether any of it is interesting. The cough isn’t too prominent for me – it just randomly pops up every so often, politely reminding me that I do, in fact, have covid. I guess both covid and cancer are attention seekers in that respect; sometimes you forget you have them, then some side effect rears its ugly head and demands your acknowledgement. “Yes covid well done, you did make me cough,” or “Yes cancer well done, you did make me wake up at 4am feeling pain in my digestive system. You’re so smart. Now go back to sleep.”

Next on my list of frustrations for the day is my delightful employer who has randomly emailed me out of the blue, telling me that my Statutory Sick Pay is coming to an end. At least they’re consistent in their hands-off approach. The email simply read “Please see your attached SSP1 form,” which I then opened and saw that they will no longer be paying me sick pay from April 23rd 2022. Quite incredible really but I’m learning to not expect anything more than the absolute minimum from them. I’d like to think they had some form of cheatsheet for what this means and what could possibly come next for me but, again, that would be inconsistent with their general approach of “you all die alone anyway, figure it out for yourself.” Cool. I guess I better get my financial hat back on and figure out what the hell I can do next then, in-between sleeping and feeling ill from the chemotherapy of course. Never a dull moment!

Betrayed by My Own Blood

The Chemotherapy Diaries

Lucy and I Enjoying Our Sleep

I’ve spent the last week of this cycle dodging covid. Someone somewhere seems to have struck a deal with the disease and it has been hot on my tail ever since. The most hurtful detail is that the people hired to carry out the job include my own fiancee, one of my best friends and members of my own family. I’m still winning so far… I would estimate that I have done 10 lateral flow tests and a single PCR this week, and all have come back negative. It’s been close, though.

The first attempt on my life came on Tuesday. Anna and I have been feeling a bit under the weather, both of us waking up with dry throats and feeling more tired than usual. None of the symptoms were too bad, but Anna woke up feeling slightly worse that day so wanted to make sure it wasn’t covid. This was all going on upstairs, unbeknown to my mum and me who were downstairs watching trash tv (Come Dine With Me – the only trash TV worth watching), blissfully ignorant of the situation unfolding upstairs.

“Daaaaaan,” I heard from upstairs, there was obvious concern in the tone. “I’ve just tested positive. It’s only a really faint line but there’s definitely one there.” Mum and I ran into the hallway to find Anna standing at the top of the stairs, worry in her eyes. She showed us the test. There was a faint impression of a line. She did another test, which confusingly came back negative. No sign of a line whatsoever. We thought we’d take a final punt, a decider test. It came back negative again… not a great reflection on the lateral flow tests that everyone is relying on (which we are going to be charged extortionate amounts of money for in England from April 1st). We agreed to keep our distance and sleep in different beds until we could get a PCR to provide a more reliable result, which we got on Wednesday. It came back negative for both of us.

The next hired gun came in the form of my friend Drew. Well, his girlfriend Em was delivering the bullet, but I’m sure he was getting a cut. Tuesday was his 29th birthday, and we had agreed to hang out that night so I could give him his present and the sponge cake that I had baked for him. Pure unadulterated love went into the baking of that cake, and he still tried to take me down with covid. You can’t trust anyone these days. He called me at about 17:00 informing me that Em had just tested positive. I told him about Anna, as this was pre PCR test. Seeing as both of us felt equally at risk of being days away from testing positive, we decided to meet and have a distanced cup of tea. I drove over to his place and stood in the kitchen for an hour, catching up with him and his parents and eating a slice of the cake. It was delicious, if I may say so.

Drew’s Birthday Cake

The last attempt came from my own blood. My mum and I went to Nottingham to drop off some stuff for my brother, Alfie. We took puppy Lucy along for the ride. Once there, we decided to take Lucy on a walk around the local area, Beeston. Beeston is where my dad grew up and all of his siblings still live locally. Alfie is doing his PhD at The University of Nottingham, so he has lived there for a while, eventually settling very near to where my dad grew up, and where his siblings mainly still live. Whilst on our walk, we were going past my aunty Jane’s house. We decided to try our luck and knock on the door to see if Jane and her husband, Roy, were in. At first, we thought they weren’t as no one seemed to be responding to our knocks. We then noticed Jane’s figure peering out of the window, gesticulating at us. She then came to the door and informed us that Roy had just tested positive for covid. “Oh, what a coincidence,” I thought to myself, knowing full well that they were part of this ploy to infect me with covid. We stood talking to her for a while outside the door before Roy came outside and joined us. I’m not scared of no covid; that’s what I was showing them. It’s a dog eat dog world, you can’t cower away from these situations.

My immune system seems to have proven too strong for these weasels and I’m still testing negative at the time of writing. I did hit a roadblock today, though. It wasn’t covid who had the last laugh, but my blood. My own blood betraying me, and I’m not talking metaphorically about my family this time. My actual blood, in my actual veins.

I had my blood test scheduled for today at 11:05. As always, I arrived at The Christie 5 minutes early to ensure that I get through the covid questions at the main entrance, and can check into the relevant department in time for my appointment. Punctuality is my middle name, although my actual middle name is James, which is far less interesting. All was going well. I sat down in the waiting area, armed with my novel. These days I know the drill, and I know that these blood appointments never happen when they are scheduled to. Me and my book had a score to settle, as I’ve been ignoring reading lately. The book was feeling lonely, and I was actually excited to spend some time with it. Four minutes into waiting, at approximately 11:09, my name flashes up on the screen. I’ve barely read 2 pages. How things continue to go so well for me, in such a strange way, I don’t know. I reluctantly closed the book and stood up. “What else can go so well for me this week?” I thought to myself as I made my way across the hospital floor and into the bloods office, begrudging their lack of lateness for once.

The nurse who did my test was sneaky. She immediately started chatting to me about whether I had plans for the weekend. I told her that I have treatment the next day so my plans were pretty limited. Just as she was telling me about how she was planning a quiet weekend, she said “sharp scratch” mid-sentence, at the exact time that the needle pierced my skin. I almost jumped out of the seat. It was fantastic. I didn’t have time to do my normal routine of dramatically looking away and saying something pathetic like “oh I don’t like to watch!”. 30 seconds later, I was putting my jacket back on and thanking her. It all just happened so quickly – the waiting time, the extraction and now I was taking my leave. I felt like I’d been given back an hour of my life, on the same weekend as the clocks go forward in the UK, marking the start of British Summer Time. Everything was coming up roses. I had gained an hour back on the weekend where we frustratingly lose an hour in Britain. Covid was failing at hunting me down and now I was leaving the hospital early. Perfect.

I decided to try my luck and track down a nurse to ask whether my oncology team had managed to write a report on my health. I’ve previously mentioned some difficulties with returning to work. Essentially, my employer would not accept a plan I put together for me returning to work without Occupational Health (OH) getting involved first. OH did a phone interview with me where they asked me some fairly basic questions about my condition and the status of my treatment. From a purely medical point of view, the situation looks quite bleak. I’m on chemotherapy that is considered extremely toxic, with a cancer that has an extremely high mortality rate and I am currently classed as inoperable. The report they produced essentially warned any employer to run as far away from me as they can. At one point, the report actually states that I may need to be considered for ill-health retirement… What on earth would the point of that be? I’ve been paying into a pension fund for 5 years max, the first 3 of them with serious reluctance. The only reason I paid into it at that time was to keep my dad happy, who is pension-mad and manages to force them into any conversation about anything. Seriously, try it with him. Talk to him about ANYTHING, and I guarantee within 7 minutes of engaging he’ll be telling you about how important pensions are.

Anyway, to counter this OH report, I agreed with my line manager that I would get a written report from my oncology team. This report would support all of the things I suggested in my return to work plan. Not an unreasonable ask. Getting my oncology team’s time to create this report is difficult, though. Now, I’m not complaining per se, these people are doing incredible work to save people’s lives, including my own. The nurse who told me that they would do this, however, made it sound like an easy task. 2 emails, 3 voicemails to the specialist’s secretary and 3 weeks no luck in getting any contact would disagree.

I stumbled around the oncology department’s corridors looking intentionally lost. A nurse spotted me and came over to ask if I was Ok. Boom, the plan was working. “I’m looking for a member of my specialist’s team. I haven’t been able to work for half a year and want to return to work, but need a report from the oncology team to help my argument that I am healthy enough to return,” she then cut me off. “This is the breast cancer unit. I imagine you’re in the wrong place,” she smirked; I already liked her. After I explained that I have pancreatic cancer and gave her my specialist’s name, she said that his team were in today. She offered to track them down and speak to them and asked me to go back and wait in the waiting room. 5 minutes later she emerged again, recommending that I contact the secretary again, but giving me the details of the 2 head nurses in case I still didn’t get a response. A bit frustrating, but it’s progress. I counted it as a win and left the hospital with my head held high. Things were doing well, until about 17:00.

I was back home when I got a phone call from ‘No Caller ID’. Nothing ever good usually comes from these calls. What you quickly learn if you are being treated at The Christie is that these calls are almost always from the hospital. The other 20% of the time, however, they are from Carphone Warehouse and they’re trying to convince you that they can better your current phone deal. Luckily, this was the former. I honestly would choose a cold call from The Christie, the contents of which could be quite literally anything regarding my cancer, to having to speak to the random call centre operative from Carphone Warehouse. I’m 99% sure it is a scam anyway.

“Hi is that Daniel?” Not a great start. Who doesn’t know that I am, indeed, Daniel? My ego was already bruised. “Yes, speaking,” I heard someone say this on the tube once and have imitated them ever since. It feels so cool. “It’s one of the nurses at The Christie. Unfortunately, your platelets are too low to go ahead with treatment tomorrow. The bottom limit is 75 and yours are 72. We’re going to have to delay treatment by another week.” Well, that’s annoying. Anna and I had planned to go to Dorset next weekend, then I was going to spend a few days the following week in London before my next treatment. Chemotherapy is king, though, and I know I’m lucky to be getting the treatment I am, so I’m trying not to dwell on the minute details of how my plans need to shift slightly to make way for my potentially life-saving treatment. I can be a little frustrated though, right?

It is strange as after a tough few days initially, this has been the best cycle I’ve experienced by a long way. I’ve had very few side effects, I’ve been running a lot and doing some good times, and I’ve barely felt ill at all. It’s almost tempting to say I have managed to forget I have cancer at times, apart from the constant quips I manage to force into most conversations about having cancer. “Dan, can I watch this programme that I’ve been looking forward to for weeks?” an innocent bystander in my house may ask me. “I’VE ALREADY GOT CANCER AND NOW I CAN’T EVEN WATCH COME DINE WITH ME FOR NINE HOURS A DAY,” I respond, tears streaming down my face. I may as well milk it seeing as it is happening to me whether I do or not.

More seriously, though, I have been cooking and baking a lot again this week. One of the major benefits I’ve found of having cancer has been that I can go about doing things I enjoy, like cooking, running and baking, and people look at me with admiration for doing them. “It’s amazing what you’re managing to do considering what you’re going through,” people say. I have to feign some sort of achievement as I respond saying that I’m only human. The honest truth is that I love doing all of those things. I’d rather be doing them than sitting around feeling miserable. I also have a constant sous chef now as my mum is retired and has a vested interest in my cooking endeavours – she gets to indulge in the final products (unless they have chocolate in, as she gave this up for lent; why on earth someone would do this to themselves is a mystery to me). This allows me to summon my inner Gordan Ramsey. “IT’S FUCKING RAW,” I shout at her as she hands me the chopped carrots. It’s fun for both of us, honest.

Whilst discussing my mum, I have a funny little story from this week. We were out walking the dogs together on Wednesday. The sun was out and it was a clear day, so she decided to take her binoculars to indulge in a spot of bird watching (she isn’t eating chocolate so what else is there to indulge in?). At one point, she was looking through the binoculars whilst holding a bag of dog excrement. I’m not sure if she had forgotten it was in her hand or just didn’t care, but it was hanging right next to her face. I tried to get a picture, but she had just lowered the binoculars by the time I had my camera out. I was do disappointed to not have captured the key moment, but I got pretty close.

A Level of Commitment to Birdwatching That is Unparalleled

Anyway, back to my low platelets… with this being such a good cycle, I do find it strange that it is also the one where my platelets have fallen by so much. The nurse told me it means that my body is still working through the chemotherapy drugs and that it may be doing so at a slower rate because of the accumulation of drugs in my system. The result of the platelets dropping is that my blood doesn’t clot well. It helps to explain why when I removed the cotton bud after my blood test yesterday, it was covered in blood, and why it has left the below mark ever since. Gross.

Low Platelet Bruises Don’t Mess Around

So, although chemotherapy takes the overall victory this round, I do get another week of feeling good. Better just crack on and enjoy it, even if I won’t be able to go to the beautiful Dorset coast for a little bit longer. Lucy and I have been on a few road trips recently. The below picture was taken as we went to see my best friend Luke in Huddersfield. She really is a little heartbreaker.

Lucy Raring to Go to Huddersfield

I hope everyone has a lovely weekend. Here is a vibey song that reminds me of dancing in the sun at Glastonbury in 2019, before I had ever heard of Covid and when I would have bet every penny I owned that I wouldn’t be fighting cancer before the age of 30!