The chemo regime begins for me, with the insertion of a Portacath. A cunning device that will sit below my skin so that intravenous chemo can be piped directly in rather than through a canular which tend to be a problem with me and my tiny deep veins. The appointment is for 7.30 am which horrifies me as I’m not an early riser but needs must. David and I arrive about 10 minutes late and I wait, nodding off gently for about 40 mins. Then they come to do the pre-procedure questionnaire. They check my name, date of birth then ask me to wait a minute. They return, apologising profusely. It seems we were not 10 mins late, rather 24 hours early. They are too busy to squeeze me in so we agree to return the next day. I feel, foolishly I’ve gained a reprieve. To add to this boon, that night England win a penalty shoot out to proceed to the quarter finals – could this be a good sign?
The following day there is no dodging it and we return to the hospital where, despite the early hour the mood is chirpy with chatter of the England win. I find myself becoming very tearful. This worsens as I am taken in to the bay, I have no idea why. It’s not a difficult, dangerous or painful procedure. it will last only 30 mins, under local anaesthetic and they are explaining everything to me as it happens. I try to keep breathing, nice and calmly, deep breaths. I’ve done this so many times in scans, when the panic starts to rise. But the tears still come. This is not about this procedure, this is what it represents and I am overwhelmed by it, overwhelmed by my fear. Afterwards I wait and they make me a strong sweet tea. I am shaking uncontrollably but it subsides gradually as the tea kicks in. I am very relieved to call David to say he can come and get me, I want to go home. I can’t delay any longer, I’ve avoided it for 15 years but on Friday I will start chemo.
On Friday we head to the Colney Centre, where we’ve been quite often for appointments with Dr. P. This time though, we won’t be going through the doors to the consulting rooms, today we will go left into the Weybourne Centre, were chemo is administered. When we’re told to take a seat, we grab the two closest to the doors of admittance, like over eager students on the first day of term. I am weeping, I hope discreetly. The chap next to David strikes up a conversation. He is here for his 19th cycle he explains cheerily, he’s now on it for life, as it were. I feel faintly ridiculous but still can’t get a grip on the waterworks. Then all of a sudden, I am called, my time has come. We go through, they are more than happy to let David in with me.
It’s bright and airy inside and we are shown to two really comfy chairs. They check my Portacath and establish it has settled enough to be used. There’s a bit of pain when they try it the first time, unsuccessfully. Less so on the second. And then it’s in. The source of so much terror for me, drips in, over the next half hour and it’s too late now. I’m doing this, the treatment of last resort is underway. While it drips slowly through I observe the man opposite. He’s not very old, emaciated but he looks happy, chatting with friends and family. And he’s eating! Working his way through a sandwich and crisps and I realise I’m ravenous. As if by magic a Macmillan volunteer pop up offering a sandwich and yes I do want it, I want it very much! The next step is 5 tiny tablets then we can go home with the third element of the combination therapy to be taken in tablet form for the next 10 days. I feel suddenly optimistic. Perhaps I can do this after all.