My latest accessory, and other news
I have been putting off writing this mainly on the basis that I hoped to have generated more witty and hilarious tales about my must-have new autumn accessory (AbdoBum™) to horrify and entertain you with. But the old Wing’d Chariot keeps beating relentlessly at my back and it seems my new abdominal friend has become old news, so I’d better get on with a medical update.
Chemotherapy has been brutal for me, as it is for everyone. But 20 cycles of the Foxes have given me an extended golden period, 10 months of it – time to see the crocuses, tulips, clematis, and now the leaves turning again from golden to red and the mists come down. I had my perfect summer. I’ve finished my book. And I always knew the time eked out through chemo was limited. We lived under a wary, fragile truce. The eventual winner was always clear: chemo works by nuking cancer cells. It gets what it can, but it doesn’t get everything. The strongest, wiliest and most devastating Nuisance-proliferating cells survive. And eventually, they are all that is left, their weaker brethren defeated. A new Nuisance Master race has been born, out of the basic Darwinian laws of evolution. It seems that my own Nuisance cells have now reached this critical mass. The chemo isn’t containing them anymore; instead they are reproducing wildly in my liver, colon, bones and even my lungs. In some ways I am unsurprised and perhaps even a little proud of their intense productivity. Of course my cancer cells were always going to be highly-efficient little multi-taskers, reaching for the oncological stars, breaking records. How could they not be over-achievers? They are part of me, after all.
So, since I came back from my summer holidays, I’ve been in more and more pain in more and more places. I’ve spent far too long in hospital. I’ve been operated on. During all that, the little blighters have been leaning in big time, working around the clock to maximise their efficacy; so much so that chemo is now redundant and we are into new and unchartered waters. There isn’t another option up the Doctors’ sleeve, my chemotherapy days are pretty much exhausted. Instead, there are these things called clinical trials. The sort I am looking at would pump as yet completely untested drugs into me to see if they just might slow the Nuisance’s inexorable growth like some kind of a Christmas miracle. Let’s be clear, the chances of one of these new drugs hitting the bull’s eye are very, very slim. It is more likely that we are in end game now. This might be the moment I fall apart. But I hope not; I hope to hold it together. I’m shooting for my usual mix of dignity, elegance and hilarious wit. Watch this space.
Because you are well schooled in the ways of the Spiral, and because you are all dear, dear people, you will want to know what you can do to help as we move into this strange new territory. The truth is, for the moment we are keeping things tight. I’m being well entertained by Billy, the boys, my family and the best women. That is all I need – other than the thud of post arriving on the mat, the opening of a crisp envelope, and sitting in the warm glow of your words. Keep writing, please. It really does help. You have probably noticed the replies drying up: sorry about that. It doesn’t mean I love you any the less, just that I am feeling rather beyond chit chat and thank-yous. The flowers and other reminders of our beautiful wild world which you send are much appreciated, too. Hold back on the sweeties, because I’m not allowed to eat very much but might be driven into a sugar-frenzy if too many Crunchie bars were within my eyesight. If you want guidance on what to say, do or send you could do worse than ask the advice of my Oiseaux who are, as ever, encircling me in luxury goods, directional lounge wear and plastic divertissements for the boys.
And remember, there is always someone else in the spiral who needs support, probably much more than me.
What else? Well, my book is coming out in January. It’s called Late Fragments and IT IS ON AMAZON AND IT HAS MY WORDS IN ACTUAL PRINT. Soon I will transform my blog into a whirl of promotional activity, which will be dead classy and not feature any pictures of me looking wistful in headscarves. Because it isn’t that sort of book. You might stumble across me in print before then – I’m writing a bit for the Times, some little articles for which we had to do family photo-shoots which Isaac worked like a Kardashian and Oscar sulked through. And now I’ve finished the book… back to the blog, I promise.
I have to end with the AbdoBum, to reward those of you who have soldiered on, desperate to know what Autumn trend I am working. All the pain and sickness I’d been having revealed that my digestive system was basically unable to cope with the spreading Nuisance. We were on the brink of a major plumbing failure. So, I had a little operation to give me a colostomy, which Jenny has christened the AbdoBum, and Katy names my TummyRose. Needless to say the boys are fascinated by my new super-power of pooing from my stomach. I am oddly mesmerised by the medieval disembowelment I have been subjected to (that is quite literally what it is and looks like). Billy has not been permitted to view the thing yet. I am busily racking up a store of what social media would call FML moments to regale you with (nadir thus far: colostomy bag leaking poo en route to school, Oscar vomiting on the street at the sight, new sheepskin coat ruined). I’m pretty sure there is a hashtag for that somewhere…