Tuesday, 23 September 2008

nine weeks to the day...

Tuesday 23rd September

It’s so hard to believe that it’s 9 weeks to the day since the last chemo session. Only 6 weeks since the end of the last cycle, and yet I already have 2mm of hair, eyebrows like I never had in my life and even my eyelashes are growing back. The worst thing is thinking about WHY I have such short hair - so, I shan’t. I have travelled to Portugal and managed to work a week there without letting anyone down [I hope], survived Passport Control and meeting all the people who knew and last saw me before all this happened. When I seemingly had not a care in the world compared to now, and when I had a great mass of curly hair.

My stamina is building thanks to Julie and my own perseverance; I can do most everyday things like hanging out the washing, making the beds, cleaning the floor etc. as if nothing has happened. Yes, I am much more tired after doing all those things than I usually would be [back in the 'World Before Cancer'], BUT I can now DO them! It’s amazing the small things you don’t appreciate until they aren’t possible.

I understand that the majority of people take about 6 months off whilst they are going through surgery and chemo. Then when they start back to work, it’s on a part time basis, half days etc. in order to allow them to get back into things gradually. And to be honest, I would have been so grateful if I could have done that. But as a self employed freelancer, it wasn’t possible. No work, no pay.

I have worked every day this year, as per usual [all be it a little eccentrically, as I was sometimes at work at 5 in the morning, and asleep at lunch time!]. I used my paid holiday for the days I had surgery and the days I had chemo [contractors do not have 'sick leave'] – I was very grateful to the manager of marketing when she allowed me to ‘work in’ some of the days – that is , instead of working the Tuesday I had the chemo, I would work the following Saturday. A day ‘in lieu’. That has allowed me to have a bit of holiday time left over to take at Christmas. The reason I mention this is because I would say to anyone who is going through this; it is better to try to work if you possibly can. I am lucky, as I have been able to work from home until last month, as all my colleagues were very supportive of me. And the amazing thing is, they didn’t need to be. I am a contractor - they could have simply ended the contract. Yes, sure, everyone is going 'horror of horrors, why would anyone do that', but this is business. Business doesn’t have a conscience. But...

Working, even when you are slower than usual and every small thing seems a challenge, even getting UP seems hard some days, keeps you in touch with reality. It FORCES you to think about something other than the cancer. You have to talk to people on the phone, reply to emails, achieve deadlines. With the support of those around you, it’s possible. Obviously without that support it wouldn’t be.

I honestly think that if I’d had all this time off I would have been quite miserable. No normal communications with people who knew nothing about what I was going through, no pressure to think or stretch myself. No challenge – the crux of the matter I believe. If there are no challenges in your everyday life, then what? Yes, sure, cancer is a challenge in itself, but it can’t be the 'be all and end all' of everyday existence – if it were, well I think I’d go crazy. How can you feel satisfied at the days end if you haven’t achieved anything worthwhile?


  1. I know exactly how you feel...I'm 6 months out of chemo and it's amazing how many things I'm able to do again...when just a few months ago that same thing would have been a bust, lol...

    I'm one of those people who didn't work during treatment. I was in the process of starting my own business after 10 years of working for corporate America when I got diagnosed...there are many times when I wished I worked...it would have been great not to have so much free time on my hands...to much time leaves an idle mind:)

  2. love that photo! yes, I think I would have driven myself and everyone else who's tried to help me, totally mad if I hadn't been working. But my work situation made it possible. Going into an office every day wouldn't have been. I've hated it some days, but overall, I think it's helped.

  3. I also worked through treatment, and plan to continue. I am lucky that my company is very flexible and understanding though. I could not have worked if I had a more strict boss! :)

    Your hair looked so good in that earlier post! Beautiful! You don't even need a wig anymore - your hair has such style.

    I am so glad that you are doing well. Keep it up! ;)

  4. god bless you !! i am doing a walk tomorrow to raise funds and awareness for ovarian cancer. friend's mom diagnosed ...i am learning so much and really want to make a difference and spread the world.


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