Checking in (not checking out)
Today it is grey, but the last few months have been filled with sunshine – metaphorically and literally. Last summer was stolen from me by endless chemo and my own fears of just getting on with stuff, no matter what the Doctors said. This summer I turned all that on its head. We had the summer of a lifetime, the kind that would stick in your mind whether you are 5, 35, or 65.
We sat in the sun everywhere we could, bringing it with us when the heavens didn’t oblige. Ibiza was hot, full of glamorous Spanish women in thongs, the place where Oscar finally learnt to swim without arm bands and where Isaac won his spirit name “nut-brown, white-butt”. EuroDisney was full of surly French teenagers serving Barbe a Papa at glacially slow rates, hurling angry glances my way, as if to suggest I was all that stood between them and hot teenage pashing behind Sleeping Beauty’s castle. But even they couldn’t ruin my happy place; that blissful pink fairytale, the perfect ‘ole USA Main Street, the endless sweeties, the way Disney has embraced every lucrative children’s franchise ever created.. Mickey Mouse Star Wars? Bring it on. Then, down South to my spiritual home and no doubt final resting place, the house that Dad built on the edge of the Gorge D’Aveyron. There, I cooked one meal in nearly a month, and spent my time swinging in the hammock, supervising daily weapons training and swimming for the Knights, and devising dragon-themed treasure hunts. Oliver Cromwell was spotted, but thankfully not by me or Oscar. To us, he remains a terrifying chimera, something to be swept aside by ice creams, éclairs and soggy French donuts.
This is all to say thank you to everyone who made such a wonderful summer happen; especially my family. Mum was transformed into Dobby the House elf, cooking and cleaning up after me, my scummy offspring and our various hangers on. Dad dutifully made, repaired, sanded down and painted the ever Knight’s ever-growing cache of weaponary (this year boasting a prehistoric axe). Jo and Jussi were outdoor Rangers, teaching the Knights to make a wigwam, light their own fire, and roast marshmallows. Billy was (as ever) my steadfast prince, enabling me to carry on chemotherapy through all this by learning all that he could from the angels of the Marsden Medical Day Unit. This, despite succumbing to a terrible man-malady which laid him lower than me for the end of our vacances (pity him a little, because he didn’t get much sympathy from me).
Now the leaves are falling, the mornings are darker and crisper. Real life begins again. And I’m ready for it. I had a bunch of scans last week and despite dire predictions from New Registrar #368, the Nuisance is stable in my soft tissue and spreading only in my bones; specifically my very painful right butt cheek. So, the plan for now is 4 more cycles of chemo, taking us to mid-November, some butt-directed radiotherapy, and then another scan. In between times, I am planning holidays to Ireland and the South of France (for a dear friend’s wedding ceremony on the beach, which promises to be both très Kardashian and somehow rather Shamanic). An autumn directional wardrobe calls me, though I have decided that the Chubby fur coat I long for so much can only be worn by those who aren’t actually chubby (my fatness and waning hairline will be the subject of a far more whingey blog). Plus: what on earth to wear to meet the Queen next month? Fascinators prohibited: all advice welcome. As I finally finish My Book, there will be time for more writing, of the esoteric rather than prosaic form. Watch this space. Amidst chemo, there will be school pick-ups, play dates, and parties. There will be at least one major piece of home renovation. And of course, there will be gloomy days, exhausted, sicky days, and plenty of time when I won’t want to open the front door. Bear with me.
So, the rollercoaster continues. Don’t worry if I go silent again for a while. As per the title of one memorable cancer memoir: Until Further Notice, I am Alive.