Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Graduation Day

This is officially my last post as a Chemo Patient. I'm writing from my usual spot in the chemo suite, my port-a-cath (port-a-loo as my dad seems to genuinely think it is called) hooked up to my last dose of Docetaxyl, and I feel, well, a bit weird.

In December when this whole thing started I flicked through half of my new year diary and wrote 'LAST CHEMO!!!' in today's entry. At the time it felt like an eternity away, but here I am being looked after by 3 lovely nurses who have become people I look forward to seeing, for the last time. This kind of makes me sad. As does the fact that, although a horrible one, I'm in a routine, a programme. A long, uncomfortable, very necessary one where I do what I'm told and let other people look after my best interests. A bit like university in fact. And lo and behold I felt funny on that graduation day too. It's something about being chucked out into the world to work things out on my own. 6 months of chemo feels like a really long time, with surgery as something to think about afterwards. Now surgery is something to think about next, and this too is tingeing my graduation day with trepidation.

Nse and Pat x

I will also miss being the only girl in the chemo suite with an actual entourage. I'm sure the other patients must think I'm either a minor celebrity or really, really pathetic. But I cannot shake off my team of mother, father, boyfriend and lovely friend, all crowding round my bed (and I get a bed! Looks even worse...) and regaling me with stories of Bridge hands (Parents), illegally painting my nails (Claire), or running around fetching me water and filling prescriptions (Dadjokes). Still, one step closer to my I'm All Better party, no more nutropenic/hospitalisation fear and no more jabbing myself in the stomach with needles.

For some reason I look exceptionally yellow today. This happens every so often, the Jaundiced look. I'm guessing its something to do with my liver being assaulted by serious toxins on a regular basis, but I am no doctor. I can only tell when I am photographed next to other people and I go 'eurgh I look so yellow' and they always go 'yes you do.' From a beauty perspective, nope, ain't nothing doing. So my advice is this: use a processing app on your computer or iphone and tweak the colours artfully, so digital documentation of jaundice day will be forever altered in history. Easy, makeup-free, mirror-free and effort-free beauty editor advice there...

Some Retrospective Highlights (I never thought highlights would be possible within a chemo regime, I was wrong).

Elton John
This is what myself and my entourage call a particularly grumpy fellow patient who doesn't seem to realise that people are trying to help her. I really shouldn't judge, or nickname, but I find my highlights where I can - and she is unintentionally quite funny. She seems to be taking her fear out on her nurses, which is understandable but a bit inappropriate also. Her 'do, spectacles and attitude have the Elton John about them (I should mention here that I am one of his biggest fans, so I'm not being as mean as I sound), to the point where she exclaimed loudly that she refused to be treated with all these other people, then sat behind a curtain next to my bed swearing and complaining that who am I to get a bed when she should have one. You see? She even walked out that day. My friend Alex remarked that her cancer must be an aggressive one. boom boom. (sorry)

my lovely mum
Its bound to happen in these here situations, but I'm so happy to see my parents smiling faces every three weeks. What with me being in North London, my family in Surrey, I didn't hang out them as much as I would have liked. Now they drive up every chemo day, which takes them around 2 hours each way, and stay the whole time just to keep me company. I owe them one. Not least for petrol money and hospital parking...

Familiar Faces
It took a good few sessions, but aside from the nurses, I also have some regular 'hello, how are you's? and particularly love seeing my bed fellow, Jonny, (not literally, he has the 2nd of the two beds in the suite, so we have that in common), who seems to be youngish like me and is so smiley and cute that he makes me feel better about being where I am. And he says things like 'keep at it girl' and 'girl, you look great today' (always a winner).

I've had a few emails from readers worrying about their chemo sessions, but believe me when I say, actual chemo day is the nicest day of the 3 week cycle. Ok, it hurts for a second going in, but that's the worst thing about it. Contrary to Hollywood belief, there's no nausea while you're there, there's free sandwiches and tea, and its akin to a much needed bikini wax in the slight-pain-for-ultimate-good sense, so that you feel comforted to be physically helping the situation along.

Pat, Sacha, and Nse
My wonderful regular chemo nurses who should win awards for fabulous bedside manner, patience (with Elton John types), calming influence and multi-tasking. I will miss them.
Run Team Look, Run

While I'm hooked up here, there are a load of my friends anti-chaffing themselves and lining up to run 5k for the Race For Life today. I think I would actually rather be having chemo than doing that, so bobble hats off to them, especially the Look ladies. Later next month will be the turn of The Communication Store PR company, who have been keeping me up to date with their fundraising efforts including a bake sale, aww. They tell me I inspired them to do it, so the fact I got west London's most glamorous office girls out of their pleated midi skirts and into some pink Lycra is enough to take the edge off the graduation trepidation and make me feel proud of me, them, Team Look and everyone else doing it today.

In a few more weeks the more hardcore of my band of charity nuts will doubling their efforts and sweating for 10k around Blackheath. This is team Katie Selby, led by Katie, with even one or two celeb runners thrown in for good measure. I bet the Lycra will be luxurious among this team.

Please sponsor one or all three teams here, its for the most great of good causes, and if you knew how loathe the fashion industry were to wear trainers for an entire day, you would realise the importance of their sacrifice and dig deep immediately.

Team Look

Team Selby

Team Communication Store
TBC - I'll update this when they've stopped baking and organised a justgiving page!

Which they've done already! Running in July, so plenty of donating time, at

Right, I'm off to toast my non-chemo patient, graduated with honours status, with some chicken broth and GCSF injections, tra la la...

First ever chemo day, complete with post-bawling puffiness crossed with I Am Dead Brave face. Fooling anyone? er, no

p.s. OK, ok, as requested: My dad's ever present and outlandish efforts to make me laugh... (they work too)


  1. So pleased for you Sophie! Love Chez. xx

  2. Amazing news Sophie, big congrats. Can we have a photo of your dad please? x

  3. Well done my yellow one. Been a long road eh? I will kind of miss our three week cycle's! But here's to life where we left it last year.. Only a few more hurdles to go and then that holiday you've been dreaming of x

  4. As for Disneyrollergirls message.... You should post that Gary Glitter-esque pic of your dad.. tis rather funny

  5. Just for you Disneyrollergirl, and at the expense of my dads dignity, see above x

  6. Good luck Sophie, glad this part is over. It will feel easier day by day, so just take it slowly. All the best.

  7. the photo - simply super. everywhere well, where us no.

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