Friday, 16 July 2010

Alice in Chemo-land

Chemo is boring, exhausting and a thief of time, but it's also an altered reality. It floats you up to a Venusian landscape were You drift about looking for familiar things, but everything is changed.
It took me four days to pick up after the first chemo, seven after the second. Perhaps this as due to the heat wave but in those few days I felt mad as a snake; exasperated by everything, especially my mother who was unlucky enough to be visiting.
“Chemo hasn’t improved your temper,” she observed. This set off another round of bickering until I fell into a heat dazed swoon.
I go “back to normal,” as if I have eaten a piece of magic cake or drunk some elixir, just a few sips and everything changes back, the whole picture shifts. I go from gloom and gothic darkness where I want to kill everyone and everything, even the cat, to sudden sunlight and tranquillity.
On Wednesday afternoon I lay down to listen to a radio play; one of those worthy, leaden things which seem to have been written by someone from social services as a public service announcement. Dozed off, and when I awoke “it” had happened. I was back to normal. I will now be waiting for this magic moment of transformation throughout the rest of the treatment.

There are a few strange lingering symptoms; coffee, chocolate and alcohol taste too strong, and I feel hungry in the middle of the night. I often lie away thinking about food, longing for breakfast so many hours away, or plotting the meals I will make the following day.
I recently had a go at something called Parmigiana, fried vegetables layered with tomato sauce and mozzarella, baked in the oven. It has the consistency of pasta and oozed with cheese. The memory of it haunts me. I used to fall asleep thinking about men. I remember George Clooney and Jack Nicholson staying interestingly in my mind for awhile after I interviewed them for the Mail, but now I fall asleep thinking about creamed peas and panacetta.
Like many people I am eating to forget about my body, and what might be going on in there.
The only other strange thing is that my feet feel numb, with a low level throbbing. I walk on these strange pads not feeling anything as if my feet have merged into my shoes. If I brush one foot with another, it’s like touching someone else’s foot. I quite like this sensation.
I have no complaints so far because my "good days," seem so special.


  1. Hi Jane Kelly,

    I just happened upon your Blog while perusing the Telegraph news page.

    My wife is in Chemo Land as I call it and she had No 5 of 6, last Wednesday--it was an 11 hour session managed perfectly by the wonderful people at Southampton General Hospital.

    She is just coming out of the " Miseries " and as you say oit is a wonderful moment when it happens.

    After almost a year of illness and GPs who did little to try to find the base cause of her "unwellness", even in the last week before she collapsed at work and was taken to Hospital in Winchester. 11 day s later she was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, the basic symptoms of which are, in combination, obvious and a good indication to have serious tests.

    The GP s were not for admitting to anything when I tried to confront them about the symptoms I had mentioned in all innocence not for a moment thinking that they were indicating a serious situation.

    Of course they are not the Bearers of all Health knowledge but???

    Now they are to be given even more responsibility by the Con Dems.

    of course they will take the Money!!

    Denis Findlay

    Waltham Chase

    The Hospitals involved have been EXCELLENT

  2. Dear Denis,
    Thank you for reading my blog today.
    All good wishes to your wife - I do hope she does well and I envy her for finishing treatment. Will you be going on holiday next month?
    I had very odd, rare symptoms for my ovarian cancer, which my doctor did not identify. I was lucky though that those symptoms led to an investigation. I was operated on late but not too late, I hope!
    With a tricky condition and such over crowding in GP surgeries you would have to be very lucky indeed to get an early diagnosis.
    Do GPs do diagnosis any more, not sure they do.