Chemotherapy – my first session.


When the Chemotherapy team head, Dr Philip Robson, came to provide information for the road ahead, he asked, “Hard or soft”? It was a good question, we said hard. If we’re not informed how can we plan? Give us the unadulterated truth.

Of course I remember not a word he said, which is why a family member is always present. I am gifted with a particularly leaky brain. But still, he opened the landscape for us. It is important to acknowledge that he and his team are one side of the equation. The science and, truth be told, I am more than happy to leave it to him and his team. They are a prodigious force to which I am glad to surrender. I doesn’t matter a damn if I know a catheter from a baked bean. I am the body, to which the science is applied and which does the job that the team, whose experience and training covers countless years, are devoted during my time with them.

In fact, during my first chemotherapy session and apart from one hiccough, I watched and listened to Pink Floyd Concerts, saving Roger Waters master piece ‘The Wall’ live show till last. My time passed in a near state of music bliss, while the deadly cancer eating chemicals were fed drip by slow drip into my body. Because of the hiccough, I had 15 hours to simply enjoy myself, and I did. Everything they could have done to preserve by vulnerable body had been meticulously applied, to preserve my life whilst they were about defeating a deadly enemy.

War was declared, the battle was joined.

However, upon discharge, the second vital team member stepped up to the plate, The object become subject, and my ignorance so vast as to shame Everest. I have embarked on many journeys in a long life, but not one began with such all embracing cluelessness. I had not one iota of a clue about the days ahead, it required a step of faith to simply take the first firm step. Oh boy, was I in for an entire stable of surprises, bucking and galloping so fast, it took my breath away. My first and clearest memory was of being driven home by my brother. After the month of trauma and pain so vast I despaired of life, that preceded my hospital admission, my beloved Somerset had never looked so lovely, nor it’s colours so breathtakingly bright. My weakened body, having been so brutally attacked by the cancer and having lost 13 kilos of body weight in a month, could only look in awe at a world so beautiful, this tiny blue jewel of a planet in the vast emptiness of space that I loved so dearly and I, a 400 trillion to one, scientific chance of being here a winner in the greatest lottery in the entirety of the universe. Yes I was awed. Damn straight.

My niece, a brilliant chef, had filled my freezer with food I couldn’t believe. My entire crew, family, buddies, misfits and ne’er do wells, divine miscreants and holy rebels in life, were, to a body, on side. Their love was a live thing assaulting my senses. I have never felt so loved and so certain of their strength to keep these old bones going. Home at last.

I shall end there, the days ahead are the subject of my new blog and life journey, the title given to me by a friend, John Mcnichol, whose Facebook avatar is of a bleeding fist grasping barbed wire and titled, “The Front Line”. He perfectly reflected my life as a subversive Community and Youth Worker, who had learned a thing in all my years, the greatest power for change in the world is kindness which formed the bedrock of my work. It is seldom named, it doesn’t need to be, it only needs to be done, it is entirely subversive, hidden in plain sight from all the vast powers of the world. My new site, then, is…

A Conspiracy of Kindness.

One thought on “Chemotherapy – my first session.

  1. I so totally love that your family and friends rallied around you and took care of you after the wonderful medics did the same. The slow drip-feed of the poison must have helped your body to cope more easily (if such a word can be used!). It reminded me of the difference between my body giving birth all naturally and taking many hours to complete the task compared to being on a drip to speed it up due to medical reasons. It was dramatically different and I was so glad I had the first experience of allowing my body do to its work before the medically intervening one. Luckily I could refuse any drugs otherwise, because I was well prepared and controlled even the quicker more painful contractions that came through the drip. I know from experience how different it is to be in control of the speed at which we are going through something we much traverse. I am going to stop now as I have to get going but I’ll be back!


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