'How a Puppy Saved Our Summer' and Other Short, True Stories of Chemotherapy
I was lucky and unlucky in equal measure. I was unlucky to be diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 46, and unlucky that I had to go through the gruelling process of chemotherapy; I was lucky that my cancer was discovered very early, I had access to the medical treatment I needed, and I had love and support coming at me from all corners of my world.
I am fine now, and I want to give something back. I am going to write a book - a literary collection of short, true stories of chemotherapy. The real-life accounts will be based on my own experiences of chemo, and on interviews with other people who have also been through it. We will share our stories in the spirit of kindness and friendship, and hope to bring some comfort or reassurance to cancer patients who have had chemotherapy, will have it soon, or are having it right now.
The writings in this book will be candid, honest, non-judgemental, positive, friendly and supportive. The book will also include some practical tips for dealing with the side-effects of chemotherapy - both physical and emotional - and signposts to useful resources (which I will compile with the help of a cancer charity). I will have the content checked and proof-read by medical professionals, although this isn't a medical book; it's mostly a book of friendship.
If you support this project, you will receive a copy of Chemo Stories when it is published, and enable me to give free copies to hospitals, cancer care units, charities and libraries.
Here are a few snippets:
- "On Friday I went to the hairdressers and, whilst dodging gasps and sympathetic looks from the staff and other customers, had what was left of my wispy, patchy, comb-over hair cut super-short. So I think I now qualify as a skinhead for the first time in my life."
- "I have just found out that Taxotere - the drug I'll be having for my next 3 sessions - can have a damaging effect on nails if they are exposed to the light. So I've been advised to paint my finger and toe nails in dark colours for the duration of the treatment. How bizarre, being forced to be more glamorous for the sake of my health."
- "I'm not very good at sitting around doing nothing, but I'm making the most of it by watching lots of movies that I always wanted to see but never had the time. And I am drinking so much water - after chemo, I am thirsty all the time."
- "I knew the storm was on its way when I went in for my chemo last Tuesday. There was a heaviness in the air around my head, a blubbery looming darkness. The drugs were dripped slowly into my veins and home I came. This being my third time around, I knew what to expect and when. Right on cue, the queasiness arrived. Then tiredness showed up, then tearfulness, fearfulness, lightheadness and a yellow face. Then 3 days of concrete-limb fatigue like I have never known before, headaches, insomnia, insides churning and head spinning. The thunderclouds descended and the rain lashed and, I do declare, the raging storm got the better of me for a while. But I knew it wouldn't last, and it didn't. By Sunday evening I felt much better, I've been recovering throughout the week and today I felt FANTASTIC! It's such a relief when the sun comes out after a storm. I saw my Oncologist tonight, we talked at length about what went on at my last session and she reckons I can put much of it down to anxiety. I am going to see my Doctor about that, because I think you can treat anxiety with medicine and counselling."
Thank you for your kind support.