Cheers comrades! (Comrades are, incidentally, what my Granny Kelly calls odd socks, as in: “Where’s the comrade of this fella?”) I haven’t enjoyed this level of support on a journey since I did the 2006 Belfast marathon in an Olympic five-and-a-half hours. There were wee old men in shop doorways on the Falls Road saying: “Go on the girl ye! Only ten more miles till go!” But I only speeded up when the lorry collecting the traffic cones overtook me. My athletic sister Deirdre, who was kindly hanging back with me, was mortified! Still, I raised a whole £60 for Women’s Aid including 2p from Paul Devlin.
Your comments have helped me get through the first day which was always going to be the scariest.
For some reason I initially couldn’t fathom, I had a wild craving for sausages before the treatment. Then I remembered. The docs have been asking me if I’ve had any vision problems as the tumour is in the vision cortex. This has caused me to dwell on stories my boss, Ian Macrae, has told me of his childhood experiences at blind school where he and his partially-sighted class mates would steal sausages off the plates of more visually-impaired children. Noooooo!
It is a worry alright, but really sure it’s a great excuse to eat sausages.
Sated, I headed off to the Royal Free with my “indecently young looking” mother. She didn’t bring her tea-towel map of the tube this time and she was able to tell me that Alan Bennett lives in Camden Town.
I was worried that the familiar grey trudge down to the hospital from Belsize Park was going to be the most depressing part of the day, transporting me back to the dreary start of 2010 but luckily north London this side of Christmas doesn’t seem quite so grim hi.
A business-like radiographer explained what was going to happen with the machine and the mask. I asked her about what level of brain change I should expect and she said: “Well, everybody’s different. There will be swelling, but I know of one woman who had applied to join MENSA a couple of times before her full-brain radiotherapy and only succeeded afterwards!”
So then I had four cheery young women in uniform put a mask on me and pin me down. Carry on Cancer is obviously a film begging to be made.
One of the radiographers recognised me from my previous treatment and was very warm and friendly. I reminded her that we had once discovered a shared fandom of Stewart Lee though I doubt if her devotion stretches to making her husband imitate his sexy verbal delivery. Phwoar. John has even written a song called It Wasn’t Me It Was Stewart Lee which I try to sing to the tune of Wish I Could Be Like David Watts.
The mask was very tight but the ten minutes went in quickly and I managed to suppress my cough and relax during it with the help of some fancy mindfulness techniques of approaching difficult moments with curiosity. Oooooh! Smug enough for ye?
Afterwards my head felt like it was having squeaky candy floss stirred around it very slowly. I was the most relaxed I’ve been in a while and I thought I might actually be able to get some sleep tonight.
Then on the tube home my belly speeded up like a cement mixer and I thought I was going to see those sausages again but it settled down after a couple of hours. A couple of hours of not feeling hungry? Weird but I’m pretty relieved. Kxoxoxo