In every cancer journey, there's always the typical expected shaved head experience that seems to be part of the full "having cancer package" so here's my recent close shave! Ha!
I'm not the type of woman who has ever identified myself through my hair so shaving off my scraggly lockdown hair was very satisfying and quite enjoyable. When I was a young art student (over twenty years ago) I shaved my head after a bad haircut and quite enjoyed having a shaved head then too! So perhaps at the age of 45, I can say that I'm kind of glad in some ways that I had a proper excuse to shave my head for the second time in my life!
So for the few weeks, I have left before baldness hits, I'm enjoying the fuzzy head experience, not having to bother with brushing my hair at last and enjoying buying fun hats for when I go completely bald! I'm not a wig sort of person unless an absurd option is available so I may call back the wig lady at the Royal Marsden to ask if I can request blue dreadlocks or a blonde mullet with beard attachment and pointy hat feature! There suddenly seems to be so many fun options and having cancer feels like the best excuse to try them all out!
So after a week and a half following my first chemo treatment, I'm feeling a lot better though I have so so so much to catch up on before chemo round 2 commences this coming Wednesday.
I want to first explain something that those who don't have cancer may not understand - the days following chemo are an assortment of varying levels of pain, nausea, profound exhaustion and lots of digestive issues.
It's not the same as having the flu or a cold or feeling tired (non-cancer times in my life) so it's not remotely possible to say it's like any of those experiences and I'm saying this because I have some friends who have assumed that because I'm at home "doing nothing" that I've got time to get online and respond to all the comments, messages, emails and tags that are accumulating daily on all my social media accounts.
If you tag me in something and expect me to respond and react with whatever you've tagged me in, then I'm sorry but I won't be participating and the same goes for responding in a timely manner to messages or emails or comments. I've learned that these side effects from the chemo have my full attention and the exhaustion and bone weariness that comes with this, leaves no more energy to look at my phone or get on my computer because resting is a priority, recovery is a priority and when the days arrive where I finally feel slightly less sick and more human, I have to take time for myself and go outside for walks or cook healthy food or disappear into a book because my mental health is also a priority in this whole experience too.
Social media, specifically Facebook, is sadly the last thing on my list of priorities which is why I'm writing my weekly blog posts in an effort to share as much as I can about what I'm going through in one place so that those in my life who care can see that I'm getting through this experience and I'm okay.
More and more, I'm seeing how much more valuable my life is living it off social media and after over a year being online in order to make a living, I'm so very conscious that living outside the world of the computer and phone is the most healthy thing I can do for myself as I heal and onwards into the future.
So if you're on social media and want more than just this blog, then find me on WhatsApp (you can find my phone number through my meetup group, London Art Museum Creatives) and text me or if you want a face to face interaction, then I'm happy to set up a Zoom chat with you so we can speak face to face and be real with each other. But social media, apps, Facebook are just not somewhere I spend much time even going through what I'm going through.
So for the last three days, I've felt physically better and have been able to go for a few long walks in the countryside which have been really therapeutic. I've been playing catch up yesterday, trying to fill out the forms I need to sort out so I can apply for further government benefits while I'm not able to work as much as I was before and so I can make sure my expenses are taken care of and that in itself is taking longer than I'd like.
Though it may seem odd (being that I've been at home "doing nothing" since my first chemo), I've not actually had any time to create in my own studio practice since before my actual diagnosis (17th of March) and I'm feeling the loss keenly so I'm trying to set aside time today so I can get back to some creative projects that I've neglected.
I've not added any new events to my meetup group or my website though I do hope to add a class soon for the middle of May. My energy for teaching long classes as I used to, has diminished because chemo makes me bone-weary but I'm adapting what I used to do to more relaxing classes though I've no idea what the future holds for me in terms of teaching long term. I've been teaching since 1999 and it's not been an easy road and not a means to make a lucrative living and I think right now, I'm doing a lot of thinking about what I really want to do following my cancer journey and if teaching drawing/painting is what I want for myself in years to come.
So upcoming this week, I've got a 2nd chemo treatment on Wednesday 5th of May and will be convalescing/recovering from side effects till the following Monday 10th of May. My mum is arriving in the UK on the 14th of May and will be quarantined in a hotel in St Albans for a week afterwards and then somehow we've got to find a place for her to rent for several months (end of May to possibly September) that doesn't cost a fortune and maybe has a kitchen so she can help my boyfriend and me out, by cooking healthy cancer-fighting meals so we can get through a summer of chemo.
If anyone out there knows somewhere in St Albans that my mum can rent for £1,000 per month with a kitchen then please get in touch as we're finding the search nearly impossible currently with the only affordable option I can find being the newly built Travelodge in St Albans as an option but minus a kitchen.
Thank you to those friends and family who have sent me cards and gifts as I really appreciate your kindness, prayers and healing thoughts. I've learned from my cancer nurses that I can't accept flowers as these pose a threat to me while I have a compromised immune system so if you feel you would like to send a gift then I'd welcome anything with ginger in it as currently the best gift for me is anything to keep nausea at bay or keep my feet warm since my circulation is absolute rubbish while going through treatment. I'm also not able to receive anything sugary (though of course, I love sweets) as sugar feeds tumours and I'm trying to shrink my tumour currently!
Thank you for reading my blog and keeping up to date on my life and know that I am extremely grateful for feeling so loved by so many around the world! As an acutely intuitive person, I do feel all the healing energies offered my way and hope that I can return the love to you all in the future and though I may not respond in a timely manner to messages, comments, tags and posts, I am trying to catch up with responding though it may take me a while longer so I hope you don't mind the wait.