Monday, April 23, 2007

The true cost of cancer


Went for my ECG this morning which was essentially another ultrasound experience, this time performed by a sweet, elderly man with white hair. Unlike the radiologist at the Breast Clinic when I was being diagnosed, they didn't warm up the gel, so it was a little chilly but otherwise fine.

Essentially this is to check my heart works normally as one of the drugs can affect your heart. Worryingly, they cannot tell from this scan exactly whether or not you will be affected, it just gives them a 'baseline' against which to measure the future performance of your heart post-Chemo.

Amusingly, the sweet elderly man doing the Ultrasound asked me afterwards whether I was in the medical profession myself. Apparently I rattled off the terminology with such professionalism he thought I might be in the industry. Ha! Who needs 5 years at medical school?

After the scan I had to visit the Day Care centre where I had a long chat with my breast care nurse for this stage of events, and let the senior nurse I met last week take my blood. As she prodded and poked me for veins she exclaimed "God - we haven't even started chemo yet and your veins are playing hide and seek!".

That confirmed it for me. Portocath is a definite. I'm now booked in for the surgical procedure (another general anasthaetic but this time only for 15 mins or so) at 2pm on May 1st. Later that day I'll have my first chemo. Stay in overnight, have a leisurely morning of waiting to see if the sickness will hit me and then join a group called 'Looking good, feeling great'.

Apparently they have beauticians training chemo patients in the art of how to apply make up (are they going to get us to paint on 'lego' hair on our heads with face paints?). I'm mainly going for the free beauty stuff they give out. Apparently it's all top brands. Should make a refreshing change to my scummy make up bag!

After all of this and en route back to the office I popped into John Lewis for a pair of jeans. I came out jeanless, but having gained two pairs of shoes, a new suit, a top and a long linen dress.

I tell myself it's because all I've allowed myself to shop for since the beginning of this year is 'Africa clothes'. Apart from this splurge, my biggest clothing haul this year featured a trip to Millets where I gained a pair of utility shorts, a pair of trekking trousers, a special UV resistant trekking shirt and a pair of safari boots. Given none of these items will get worn in the office and I'm now due to spend at least another year or so doing the London advertising thang, my wardrobe was needing a bit of a refresh.

At least, that's what I tell myself. But I know that in the back of my mind I am secretly justifying all expenditure with the 'I've got breast cancer' defence that works as a catch all for everything at the moment. At this rate, cancer is going to cost me dear.

But at least I'll have some nice shiny shoes.

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