One thing that I've found very comforting is meeting cancer survivors - I just love the success stories. Inevitably, I interrogate them about their experiences and although it's understood to be rough, they've come out the other side and it's pretty good.
At the weekend however I was introduced to N, who has just finished her second bout of chemotherapy (sadly her cancer had come back). She struck me as a very lovely, vibrant person. However, I think in order to show the world that she has had it rough and despite it all is still a positive person, she has to let everyone know just how bad the whole experience is - and that includes me of course.
So, when I told her that I had just had my first treatment, there was the huge intake of breath accompanied by the head shake, and "Ooh, it will just get worse." I then asked her about the cold cap - and with sucking of teeth now - "Instrument of torture (I already know that) and doesn't work at all". She then proceeded to show me her very shiny pate peppered with a few hairs (think Homer Simpson on a good day). Hmm... By this time I was starting to develop a nervous tic, so in a desperate effort to look for something positive, I remarked on the fact that she still had her eyebrows intact. "HA! It's just grown back! Everything fell off!" Oh, okay then... (Nervous tic has been joined by a bad case of palpitations.) Then, she had the killer for me: "Your toenails also fall off you know", she said as she showed me her feet, with nails that are just starting to grow back. LH had to support me at this point as I nearly passed out.
Augh!!! Is this someone's idea of a bad joke??? Even my toenails are not going to be spared? Oh please, take all my hair, leave me as bald as a coot, take away my eyebrows and eyelashes but please, please don't let my toenails fall off. I am cringeing as I type this. I think I could deal with all the side effects but that...
N then left saying "Feel free to call me whenever you want." Huh? When I'm feeling too happy and suddenly have the urge to poke needles into my eyes? Needless to say, I didn't take her number.