Sunday, 2 November 2014

68. Cancer is boring

There comes a point when having cancer just becomes plain boring, and I think I've reached that point.

More tiredness, more feeling ill, more chemo, more blogging: boooooooring. It wouldn't surprise me if you are bored with it, too.

A bit of autumn cheer wouldn't go amiss. Hasn't it been wonderfully warm! Summer temperatures at Halloween! (Yes, but the thing is, I only know this because I saw it on the news and on friends' jolly Facebook posts. I've been in bed.)

Now, of course people are going to ask how I am feeling. When they think of me, the words Cancer and Oh dear pop into their brains. They are not, currently, going to come to me to discuss the state of the economy. They see my husband and they ask, How's Irene? My children, poor souls, aren't exempt either. How is your mum?

Even if people ask me about my children, rather than about myself, what they mostly mean is: How are the children coping with a mum with cancer? Not Have they been up to any mischief lately, and how are they doing at school?

Could it be otherwise? Probably not. It's your own fault! I remind myself. What do you expect, putting all your cancer woes all over the internet?

I have been so grateful for everyone's interest and concern and support, and I still am.  But today I suddenly thought: wouldn't it be nice if I met a friend and she talked about something else. The latest Booker prize winner, say. Or the unseasonably warm weather.

Give me a time when I am no longer the centre of people's focus. When I can just ask my friend about her life without having to talk about mine.

I know this is not going to happen, not yet, because how could a friend possibly ignore my current state of affairs? I am longing for Isn't it a lovely day today, not because I am longing for a different set of friends, but for Being Better. It will take a few more months. I will just have to sit it out. Perhaps getting bored, not only with feeling ill but with doing nothing, means there is space in my head and my heart to Move On. That, surely, must be a good thing.

And I will be well again, I tell myself.

On days like this, bang in the middle of chemo crash, it doesn't always feel like it. I am dragging the words out of my iPad, just to keep a sense of my normal self. You should see me. I move around the house like an old woman, shuffling at tortoise pace and clinging onto banisters. Is that just a sneak preview of a far-off future, or have I closed the book on the energetic half of my life? Crawling halfway up the stairs, I am not so sure.

Following chemo 5, I was sort of OK for two days, but yesterday (day 3) came the anticipated crash. I've taken to bed with that ridiculous tiredness and the insistent bone aches. Plus, just to keep me on my toes, a novel side effect (there's a new one to entertain me at every cycle), this time in the shape of skin peeling off my fingertips. Bizarre.

I do feel more serene about it all. I know this can change at the switch of the pain-or-nausea-button, so let me write it down for future reference (i.e. tomorrow).

Yes, I'm in a bit of a hole, but I will climb out of it. I've climbed out before: it will be fine.

Plus (and I never, never forget this): I am lucky, really.

To have caught the cancer reasonably early. To live in a country where treatment is free and swift and excellent. There are so many people worse off than me.


My younger daughter walks into my bedroom, just as I am about to hit the Publish button. "Look," I say, "I just need to send this off. I've written CANCER IS BOOOOORING."

"Yes it is," she says with feeling. "Cancer IS boring."

So now we know that I was right. We'd much rather catch up with last night's episode of Dr Who and discuss it afterwards. Which is exactly what I am going to do now, bone aches notwithstanding. Because frankly, considering the relative merits of Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor is far more interesting than a lament about peeling fingertips.

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