My chemo started at last on Thursday and I was raring to go. 14 days of infection and delay had left me frustrated but accepting of the need to be in the best possible shape for what is a dangerous procedure. The biggest risks are infections already exisiting in the body and the associated likelihood of a new immune system attacking everything involved, be it bacteria, lungs or blood. As it stands I feel great and although bored, I'm determined to make it out of here in plenty of time for Christmas.
To maintain a positive, determined mental state in a situation which, at times, feels hopeless is not an easy task. Constant downs and ups make some days exhausting whereas others pass much like any normal period. Not being able to work makes time aplenty for rehabilitation and much needed rest but with this comes hours of stagnant, torturous thinking. Keeping the mind moving is a vital part of staying strong and there’s nothing quite so effective at lifting the gloom as a message, call, card or letter from a loved one or friend.
I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family and a great many caring friends and as such, the flow of amusement has been more or less unbroken for 18 months. Knowing my love of a visual and verbal hilarity, correspondents have sent me reams of daft tales to keep a smile on my face and reading back through them, I thought it would be rude not to share the love…
There was the one about the school who were having a Grease theme day and one kid came dressed as a Spartan – full on soldier’s outfit. Everyone else was a Pink Lady or a T-Bird.
There was the one about the child who, in the process of retelling Little Red Riding Hood, wrote that the Wolf, “…had a sneaky fart,” when she meant that the Wolf had a sneaky thought.
There’s the friend who was mortified to realise that she’d texted her mum to say that she really wanted to get a cute Durex dog. Dulux dogs didn’t get a look in.
Someone I know well exclaimed that it was no wonder Boston Utd (of Lincolnshire) were losing every week if they had to travel from America - “They’ll be shattered.”
There’s the boy who waddled over to a teacher on yard duty and stood clutching his groin (the boy, not the teacher). When asked what had happened he explained that his brother had punched him.
“Did he punch you in a private place?” asked the teacher.
“No, there were loads of people watching.” Came the reply.
One friend uses music regularly in class to evoke emotions and feelings and played a soaring classical piece. “How does that music make you feel?” she asked…
“It makes me feel mindful of my surroundings. Peaceful and exhilarated!” wrote one.
“Knakerd” wrote another.
And there’s the nurse who works in a children’s hospital and comes across the most astounding names. On failing the read a girl’s name written “A-a” she sought clarification from the parents,
“Can’t you read?” came the reply, “It’s Adasha.” True story.
But the thing that has made me laugh over and over again was a script sent by a friend which recounts the conversation from one evening around the family dinner table. I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent (!) but I hope you’d agree that this would make a superb BBC comedy short. I’m seriously thinking of submitting it to the Head of Comedy for consideration… Thanks for letting me use this – you know who you are.
Dinnertime at the Joyce’s
Set around the dinner table and kitchen of a close knit family for whom honesty is the only policy
Maeve / Mum: A matriarch and disciplinarian for whom the dream of balancing a diet and cream remains just that
Michael / Dad: Harassed but determined to eat superfoods for the mind
Tara: Eldest daughter, just visiting for a spot of tea
Hayley: Middle sibling. Likes what she knows and knows what she likes.
Kieran: The prodigal son, currently studying abroad and neglecting his promise to phone home
[Tara & Dad sit at the table. Mum is in the kitchen. Hayley is nowhere to be seen. A picture of Kieran illuminates the sideboard]
Tara: What were those low fat sausages like, mum?
Mum: [Blows a raspberry] Lousy! Like eating crap off a fork. [Goes to the fridge for some cream]
Dad: Maeve, pass me my blueberries please.
Tara: [Incredulous] Since when have you been eating blueberries?
Dad: Oh they’re really good for your memory [taps temple]. I’ve been doing some research.
Tara: Research? Where? Where did you hear that?
Dad: The Sun. Have you got them Maeve?
Mum: Which shelf did you put them on?
Dad: I can’t remember.
[Phone rings, no one rises, Mum sighs]
Mum: Hello…. Hello… [pause] DON’T RING AGAIN YOU POISONED WEASLE!
Dad: Who the hell was that?
Mum: Those bloody hot callers about PPI! I’m bloody sick of them. That’s the fifth today.
Dad: Maeve, don’t speak to them like that, just say politely, “No thank you.”
[Phone rings again, mum grabs the phone]
Mum: PISS OFF! Oh sorry, just a minute love… Michael it’s Chris for you.
[Dad takes the phone to the hall]
Mum: Tara, you can take this Dorset Cereal if you want.
Tara: Don’t you like it?
Mum: More diet crap. Tastes like cat litter. Like having sawdust in my mouth.
[Dad comes off the phone]
Dad: Honestly Maeve, there’s no need to answer the phone like that….
Mum: Shelve it Michael.
Tara: Have you heard from Kieran?
Dad: Not much.
Mum: Not much? Prisoners have heard more from their kids than me.
Dad: He told us though, Maeve, he doesn’t get much time on the interweb or on his phone.
Mum: I think it’s a cult. Anyway Tara, you’re going to have to teletext him to find out when he's going to call.
Tara: We should try and arrange a skype at my house and then you can talk to him and see him.
Dad: Oh yeah, Phil Does that with his son.
Mum: How will I see him?
Tara: He’ll see us too, on his computer.
Mum: Will his face be on the screen? It might not fit. I bet he’s piled on the weight in Spain.
[Comes downstairs in to the dining room]
Hayley: I’m hungry.
Tara: Hiya Hayley, I haven’t seen you all week, how are you?
Hayley: I’m hungry.
For me it gets funnier with every read and cheers me up on the darker days. Haematologists may prefer chemo, but laughter is one heck of a medicine when half the battle is in your head.
If you've recently been diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma and have yet to receive treatment you could be eligible to take part in a new clincial trial. Read more here.