Alfie and five of his mates, Alex, Andy, Brandon, Jack and Teddy have had their heads shaved. They look fantastic! (No, in truth, they look quite odd and much older!) Incredibly, they have raised almost four grand for Cancer Research. If you want to look at their Just Giving page, it is http://www.justgiving.com/LADS2K12 . Please don’t feel obliged to give anything; it’s not like they’ve run a marathon! However , as Tabby eloquently explains on her Facebook ‘If you know them, you will know how important this is, as they absolutely bum their hair.’ Here is a picture of me with Alex, Teddy, Jack and Alfie:
When they got to France, they went one step further and shaved their heads with shaving foam and razors. Alfie unfortunately cut into Alex’s head, not having had much experience of razors.
You can see the plasters on Alex’s head.
Fred accompanied me to see the Plastic People. We discussed his new project on the way. Exciting stuff based on a big idea, but I can’t tell you what it is because it’s a secret and if I tell you I will have to kill you. He’s setting up a company and getting cool peeps on board, so funsville!
We waited in a tiny room. I put on the small gown thing.
‘We should write down some stuff while we wait,’ I suggested.
‘Good idea. So, what have you learnt so far?’ asked Fred.
‘Well, obv they can’t do the tummy op because of the damaged blood vessels…’ I began.
‘No, no, not about all that,’ said Fred dismissively. ‘About my project.’
Er no. It was time to focus on boobs. I made him write down all the questions that have been surfacing recently. He then went off on a long meandering journey to find the loo. Typical. Just as he had left, Miss Benyon and a nurse came in. Miss Benyon is animated and direct. She impaled me with her eye, and claimed ‘I have read all your notes.’
‘Good,’ I replied.
‘The lymphoma you had when you were sixteen was wrapped around the mammary artery, and they actually removed part of the blood vessel that I would want to use if we were doing the tummy op. So, it’s a definite no now to that option.’
‘Fine. I had already accepted that.’
‘It is possible that the high levels of radiation you received will also have damaged the blood vessel in the back that I want to use, but we will only know when we go in.’
I have chosen reconstruction using tissue from the back. I like that all the skin of the boob is left. Only the stuffing will change. I have watched the op on youtube. The flesh is just shunted round under the skin. Even the small circular piece of skin from the back pops through to become the new nipple. All still attached to its own blood supply. A bit confusing for your body, and for the Angels trying to help, I would think, but really very clever.
After all this exciting gory stuff, Fred came back. Miss Benyon answered our questions. ‘You must do nothing for five weeks. She must do really nothing,’ she insisted, giving Fred a bit of a menacing look. Hehe, I like it. Maybe him popping off to the loo at the wrong time has given her the clue that it’s probable my newly carved-up self will be abandoned with multiple crises brewing requiring heaving, lifting and shunting. Insightful woman.
‘Can we have a date?’ we asked.
‘I don’t do dates,’ she said. ‘One of my people will ring you. Don’t worry.’
One of her people did ring me. I have a date! Tuesday the 7th August. Hooray. I need to be able to make plans.
Then on Thursday I went for a final oncology appointment. Waited two hours. Watched patient people being called in for bloods and appointments. Met a nice couple. She was very cheery and he was called Henry. He looked wiry and bright-eyed despite being on his third bout of cancer. He’s had the top half of his stomach removed, so he doesn’t feel hunger and has to remember to eat. Sometimes he can only drink Jersey milk which he claims kept him alive after ops. Having said all that, he’s doing marvellously well. ‘Living with mets isn’t that bad,’ he told me, ‘I’ve done it for twelve years.’
After Henry had been seen they both came back to find me in the waiting area. His wife clutched my hand and said ‘Good luck. I just know you’ll be fine.’ Sprightly Henry shook my hand. ‘Yes, really, best of luck’, he said. This made me feel happy and helped me wait patiently.
Finally I was called in to see a chap called Hugh Davies. He obviously had no clue who I was or what I had but did apologise for the wait. ‘You’ve been seeing Nandos have you?’ he asked. ‘Nandos is away.’
Haha, now I know his nickname. I am glad he’s escaped. He’s probably swimming in Greek seas. I told Hugh my whole sorry tale. He was useful for one thing. He said ‘Really, don’t worry about the lung nodules. Half of my patients have nodules. Your lungs’ surface area is that of a tennis court. Two 7mm nodules on a tennis court? Pfff. See what I mean.’
This lifted me a bit. Since then I have had twinges of excitement like wot I used to have. My life used to twang from twinge to twinge. You only realise they’ve been missing once they’re back.
The recent twinges are because my friends Beth and Bruno taught me how to make sushi. I just love rolling it, squishing it and eating it. Then we have Fred’s wicked idea and new company, and the fact that my children are scattered around Europe: Chloe is on Gavdhos, Tabby is in Lefkada, Alfie is in the Pyrennees and Bashi is near Perugia! I am chuffed that they are all off exploring the world. Another thrill is because Cousin Kate in Paris has invited the Gin Club to visit. Now that will be something to look forward to – the start of the Gin Club’s Grand Global Adventure. Kate says she doesn’t mind that Anonymous and Mad are bonkers, as she will be out at work! They do create trouble after dark, I should warn her.
I did not make it to the Cancer Centre this week, and anyway I don’t want to be greedy and use up all the healing slots, but I had a phone call from Dennis who said he would come round on Saturday morning. ‘But Dennis, it’s so far for you to come,’ I protested.
‘I like your company,’ he assured me.
Dennis came, and healed. He put me into a deeply relaxed state where breathing slowed right down and the barking of the dogs and whistling of the parrots seemed to echo from another world.
I did the ponies, walked the dogs, then fell into a deep sleep all afternoon where again breathing was long and slow and deep. Then we met up with Janet and David at a Mexican place in Notting Hill. Enchiladas, Tostadas, Passionfruit Margaritas, and a very strange dish with hot charred peppers stuffed with queso on some black refried beans. Later, in the pub, I proudly showed off my new fuzz. Unfortunately Janet and Fred had quaffed large quantities of red by then and too truthfully pointed out that a) my new hair is grey, and b) it has really not grown very much since last time I showed them. OK, OK, you have deflated me quite enough thank you. I pointed out defiantly that my new hair is jolly thick. And soft. (And my friend Sarah said I was Sinead O’Connorish the other day.)
Had the oddest feeling on the tube and train, that the chemo really has sterilised me, got rid of all my colonies of bacteria, cleaned me up. I looked at all those people with wild thick hair, stubbly underarms and God forbid, nostril thatch, and perceived them anew as untamed breeding grounds for thriving germ armies. I toyed with standing up to declaim, ‘You all need chemo! You should be cleaned! Strip that nasty hair away!’
How strange. Maybe I have that syndrome where you fall in love with your kidnapper. I was a Happy to be Hairy. Now I am a Born-again Smoothskin. I sense a good plot for a book rising. Just like in Day of the Triffids where only the blind or temporarily blind people survive, howsabout a big plague comes and kills everyone who’s not on chemo? Oh, Cancer is already halfway to doing that, thinking about it. You’d end up with a new race of humble, philosophical, depressed baldie-peeps.
I have woken up with the desire to throw things away again. Need Arulesh with her strict whisk-limiting capacities for that but she has scarpered. Will put it off til she returns. Wozzie and Claire are arriving from Ireland today. They love walking so we will escort them along our favourite well-trodden paths and then eat sushi. We have sushi rice, seaweed, avocado, green beans, mushrooms, cucumber and ginger, all ready. Thrillsvilles.