Round #3: the fortnightly chemo cycle

I had the Folfox cocktail through a PICC line. I would start with blood tests in the Welcome Village (yes, really), then move up to Chemo.

Once admitted, I’d be plugged in and fed my steroids and assorted meds. Then the skull and crossbones would arrive on a sleeve to cover the poison. And the dripfeed would begin. All told, around four hours.

To finish, I’d be hooked up to my chemo bottle, to feed into my body over the next 48 hours. In tribute to Philip Pullman, I called it my chemo daemon, as it never left my side. I had to bathe and sleep with it attached to me. No showers because of the PICC line.

Finally, I’d return to a ward at the hospital as an outpatient, to be unplugged.

You will probably spend most of your day taking on your chemo. In the early rounds, you’ll be more lively, so you need to have something to keep you occupied. A spare friend or family member, book or magazine, tablet or phone will do the trick.

Be warned, you’ll end up waiting, sometimes for hours, for consultations and treatment. Staff are stretched and resources are scarce.

Later on, you might fancy a snooze. This is when friends and family need to know it’s OK to leave you to rest. Really, it is.

Some people dress up for chemo, some dress in loose and baggy clothes. I wore short-sleeved tops so the nurses could get to my PICC line. Later on, some wear gloves, hats and scarves because you become hyper-sensitive to the cold. I ended up wearing just one pair of forgiving trainers, because of the side-effects.


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