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Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Chemo Question

When I was first diagnosed with kidney cancer I had to write down a list of Q&As for the doctor as I hadn't a clue what to expect. One of my queries was about chemo and radiotherapy, as I'd supported my Mom through breast cancer I was well aware of what both entailed.
I was told early on that if the cancer was confined to the kidney (which it was) I wouldn't need additional treatment and that even should any rogue cells have travelled, kidney cancer doesn't respond well to chemo.
Following surgery and on my return home I was laid up for a short while but eventually started to get up and about and then go out. One of my first 'trips' on my own was to the chip shop up the road - I'm easily pleased. I had insisted I'd be fine to go alone and when I got there the shop staff were asking where I'd been (yes I like a chippy tea now and again...)
When they'd established that I'd not been away working or doing anything fashionably exciting I managed to whisper that I'd been ill.
'What with?'
Again discretely, 'cancer'.
'Oh a My a Gooooood' - this for the benefit of the large queue, 'What kind?'
I tried to lean across and quietly say 'kidney cancer'
'Kidney!!!? Did they take it out?'
By this stage anyone in the queue ordering a steak and kidney pie was looking at their options...
The conversation continued along these lines until I was being served at which point the young girl dishing up mouthed to me
'It looks good'
Oh no...
Again she nodded at me and said, 'it is a wig?'
Now my turn to speak up, 'It's my own hair, I haven't had chemo'
This was the first of similarly amusing encounters I had when having to raise the subject of having had cancer. It was generally presumed that I must have had chemotherapy which I suppose is a presumption I might have had. Now after meeting other cancer survivors who've undergone surgery to remove an organ complete I understand it's not unusual.
When I used to take my Mom for chemo I had multi coloured dreadlocks and so many times when sat waiting in the chemo suite people we spoke to presumed I was the cancer patient and that my mad hair was false. I hadn't expected my normal hair to raise the same speculation.
Time for a new 'do'
: )

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