Bald head – now a reality!



Going to bed with puffy eyes does not help the look when you wake up (just for info!). I wake up with puffy eyes and that doesn’t help my mood. The man cub says I have a bald patch the size of a 10p at the back of my head. Great.

It was a gruelling morning. I was barely holding it together. The puffy eyes were making me feel like I could cry at a moments notice. Not helpful. I managed something useful, sending presents to the bestie and kids, and I even managed to buy some presents – go me! Back at work, I can literally feel hair falling out when I move. My whole head is so sore and I can’t focus on anything. But I get my second card from my amazing colleague (with a note on the envelope to say its not a Christmas card!). It had ‘Cancer is an arsehole’ on the front and it nearly floored me right there, but also reminded me that I was dealing with an absolute arsehole and I had to view it that way.

I still haven’t decided what to do tomorrow, do I cold cap or not. If I don’t then I face more hair loss and ultimately do I just need to shave it. The man cub reminded me when we got home that it had mentioned in cold capping literature that I could sit under the cold cap for longer if I wanted to try and keep hair. Which would also bring back those crippling headaches. And I’m also not sure that I could deal with longer brain freeze.

I just can’t bite this bullet. Why? Why? Why? And I can’t explain this to anyone. Everyone is different. Everyone would deal with this differently – I’ve seen that through the FB page that people tackle this in their own way, and I will never judge anyone’s decision as it is unique. It is possibly the hardest decision I have ever approached and need to make. And I can’t bloody make it.

Evening and cub in bed, and man cub informs me the bald patch is visible. It looks ridiculous and I know it won’t grow back (the lady garden is proving that, as are the armpits!). Chemo tomorrow and I’ll be winging it again at this rate if I don’t make a decision.

The man cub and I spend three hours going back and forth over the decision I need to make. I keep thinking I’ll make the decision tomorrow, but deep down I know I need to make it now, and go to bed knowing its done.

11pm, and exhausted with the merry go round of conversation, I finally admit to myself and the world that I know what I need to do. I need to shave it. I need to accept its going, take it off and reduce the distress I am feeling around seeing the loss. I need to reduce my distress so I can focus on my baby girl and not be absorbed by this. I need to take some control and be strong with the new look. I need to stop tormenting myself and having the same conversation when I can actually stop this. I don’t want to do the same thing in three weeks time with more hair loss.


After a funny nights sleep and a far too early alarm, we left in preparation for the day ahead. I had a very quick conversation with the cub about removing my hair and what that might look like – she was still half asleep –  she just looked at me and gave me a kiss!.

After dropping the cub at the school gate, I dropped into my hairdresser (coincidentally directly opposite the school) and asked my lovely Anna whether she could see me that afternoon to take my hair off. She could see the shake on me, and offered a 4pm appointment that day. Decision made.

We headed for the hospital, and ducked into Macmillan’s office to get some head scarves. As is our luck it was shut!! Of course it is! Couldn’t make up our luck!!

I got on the ward, and the nurse allocated for today said ‘cold cap?’. Nope. No I am not. I have took control apparently. The nurses were great and right behind me. Couldn’t have felt stronger at that moment. But then, as it was quicker to the drug stage, I suddenly felt it all. And it was brutal. Every single vial that went through me (including the awful red one) was felt running though my veins. My wrist and arm were twitching and I totally got that the cold cap had distracted me last time. But I was done and dusted in two hours and we were back home by 12.30.

Emotionally exhausted from the previous few days, last nights conversation and the road ahead, we had a cheeky lie down in bed and woke up at 3.30 with the man cub in a panic that we needed to get to the hair appointment. It was probably the best way to spend the time waiting for this moment of reckoning.

At the hairdressers Anna did her thing as she always does. She knows I don’t chatter and she just sat me down and started chopping the majority off before the clippers appeared. At that point the owner of the salon, Yvonne came over, sat at the side of the mirror and started chatting. Just general, and then more about my journey. And all the while the man cub was sat off to on side watching and Anna took the clippers to my head. I didn’t have a tear, I didn’t look in the mirror. I sat there, chatted and lost my hair.

What I hadn’t realised or anticipated was that my head was bloody freezing!!! As soon as I stood up from the chair, I felt the draft, but luckily as its winter a woolly hat doesn’t look amiss. As I went to pay, I was knocked back and told to come back whenever I was ready. That nearly made me cry!!  Buggers!!

We picked the cub up from after school club and took her home. Before I took the woolly hat off, I sat down with her and reminded her of the brief conversation that morning. She lifted up my hat, laughed in my face, then pulled it back on my head as ‘it must be cold mammy’. God, I love her. And because she is fine, I am fine. I have took back control (as much as previous days I doubted this feeling). I have had no tears tonight, and much as I’ll have mirror moments, I have this now.

I have control back. I have this. The house is a tip, Christmas isn’t prepared. But I have this.

Chemo induced hair loss is getting real…



Its Friday!!! After working at home / being confined to the house for seven days it seems weird to be celebrating a Friday. But today is the day that we start Christmas festivities, leading into the tree buying / elf revealing weekend. Don’t tell anyone (I am renowned for being Bah Humbug) but I am a little bit excited. Well, I would be if I hadn’t noticed that every time I run my fingers through my hair, handfuls are coming out.

After nailing a day at work, as a family we went to a local evening attraction at a museum that had opened its doors to allow winter wonderland activity. It was bloody freezing and my head actually hurt with it, but we spent a delightful few hours making finger puppets and carousels, eating hotdogs and standing in front of roaring fires when we could! It was a lovely evening, but when we returned home and the cub was in bed, I had a couple of drinks and the breaking started. I just don’t know if I can do the whole ‘shave the head and take control’ that everyone states in their posts about this part of the journey.

Everything anybody says seems to push me further over the edge:

‘It’ll grow back’ – I know it will but in years; not days, weeks or months.

‘You’ve got good bone structure’ – what does that actually mean?

‘It won’t look that bad’ – how the hell do you know?

‘You’ll feel better taking control’ – easy to say now, and I might, but I don’t want to (petulant five year old attitude right here).

‘You’ll feel better when it’s done’ – I know, but I still don’t want too (still acting like a five year old here).

Aaaagh, all I know is at midnight after a few swift drinks I am not going to solve this one!!


A busy day shopping, mundane activities and family organisation ready for the tree. Tree was bought (second year we’ve done a real one and it was chosen by my cubs and beautifully weird!!), rearranging of furniture to accommodate, decorations dug out from the depths of cupboards and everything ready for tomorrow. I had little time to think about the hair, but did have a wee rant on the phone to my bestie and it felt good to get my ranting off my chest.


By, its been a long day. The tree has gone up properly, an emergency run for fairy lights has been done (they are garish as but the cub chose them and I’m not going to argue!) and a million baubles have been hung. And all the while my hair is full on falling out in clumps. I mean the bit grey I had is also coming out, but it is literally just falling out as I touch it. After the man cub headed to bed I had a little cry about what I was going to do. I’d ranted earlier to my mother about what I was supposed to do and her suggestion was a counsellor! Not helpful at this immediate moment to be honest!!

I decided to put a post on the secret FB page to see how anyone else felt, and I got some lovely responses. A few girls on exactly the same timeline as me and while it was nice to hear, I still couldn’t quite get my head around the fact that I had to decide how to deal with this. I know I have two options. One – continue cold capping on Wednesday (and pray even though I am not a jot religious!) and see if I can hold onto the hair (while also dealing with the five day migraine and crazy time in a cold skull cap. Two – I shave it off; and that’s the end of that story (well, it’s the end of one story but the beginning of another).


(Elf arrived! Oh yay!!)

Broke, broke, broke. I’m back at work today and I’m trying to avoid the hair situation as much as possible. As its Monday before chemo, I need to get bloods taken and appointment at 10.40. A cheeky return to bed (to avoid waking hours as much as possible) didn’t work out for me and I ended up blitzing the house and then I ended up running down the lane like an idiot, reaching the doctors at 10.39!! Blood taken within minutes and I ran on for the bus to get to work. Still managing to supress the crazy situation of the hair loss. The solid meetings that I have to lead while looking like I am in control were hard – I was not ok.

As mentioned in previous posts, my hair is absolutely not my best feature and never has been. But I can’t explain how devastating and ruining this feeling is.

We had a quiet night, tomorrow is last day before chemo and I know a decision is impending. Going to bed, after chatting for a bit, I realised that the bed was actually covered in hair. I mean covered. And for the first time, I absolutely broke. I mean, broke. I think Ryan was shocked as it was the worst I have ever been with any of this journey. I didn’t cry this badly when I was diagnosed, I didn’t cry when I had the operations (apart from the little crazy wake ups from anaesthetic!!), I didn’t even cry when we got the all clear margins prognosis.

But this hair loss, this situation has actually took me to the brink. And I don’t know what to do. I don’t know whether to shave. I don’t want people knowing I am ‘ill’ (when technically I am not). My previous self pity in these posts about hair loss seem pointless now as I am actually living the actual real journey now. I’m heading off to sleep with puffy eyes.

And not sure that I do have this any more. I need to for my two cubs though. I  need to be strong for them. They are my world and I need to make it through this for them.

Chemo – home working confinement



Day 9 of the first cycle of chemo and I am in self agreed confinement to make sure while my immune system is at its lowest I am keeping myself safe from germs. While this is what I need to do and keeps my family and man cub happy while I still work, I know this is going to be hard (and this is just the first one!). To be honest, I will never run out of work that I can do at home, and without distraction I’ll knock doors out of windows! But I also know that this crazy work pattern will not be helpful to my lovely work colleagues. However, as its December and the festive season approaches I might get the first two of these cycles through without too much disruption.

I spend the day making a plan of my diary, but it looks like a Sudoku  puzzle that doesn’t quite match up. Much as my confidence was high after speaking with OHS, I now feel a little overwhelmed with the task ahead of me. How am I going to actually make this work, support my small team of work colleagues without failing them, while keeping myself fit and healthy to keep the battle going so I can continue to be cancer free in the future for my cub. Its certainly a challenge!


So, two days working at home was fine, I actually got caught up finally after the disruption of my hospital appointments and operations. But this Sunday I am down. I have missed out on Santas Breakfast yesterday, which I have never booked before but thought it would be good for her to go to this year (before I realised that I was going to miss this!). Then today I’ve missed a family birthday, where the man cubs family all were and I had to stay at home and miss catching up, miss seeing them when we usually catch up this time of year. And I don’t return to normality (i.e. leave the house) until Thursday. I am cabin fevered already!! The only thing keeping me going is the fact I have a project that for the next three days will take all my waking hours so I can distract my mind from this. Its got too – I need to feel alive.


Well today was interesting – noticed the lady garden was going – my discovery led to the wider revelation that I must have been shaving my armpits in the dark for absolutely no reason whatsoever the last few days!! (I don’t ever turn the light on in a morning until I am dressed so have been totally oblivious to this little joy!!). I have checked my head hair religiously and as it was fairly intact I hadn’t thought about the wider body hair implications. It’s a funny feeling, I mean I know I will save fortunes on razors and wax but oddly its just another step where I feel less like the woman I was (all because of a bit of body hair). This journey is truly the gift that just keeps giving and in ways that I never thought it would. I also realise that I am very lucky to feel so well and the lack of a bit body hair is shallow and self deprecating. But that doesn’t stop me having a hard time with this. And I will be honest about how I feel, thats why I put pen to paper,  but I don’t doubt that I am wallowing in some instances and will look back on these moments further down the line and chastise myself when I am in a better head space.


Third day solid working at home since the weekend and I am ready to tear the walls down. I’ve spoken to four people in total (that includes the cub, man cub, mother and boss) and I am craving normality. I need to get out and tomorrow I will – I’ll be back at work and I bet by 10am I will be missing the quiet of my own home!! I also realised late last night due to my mother kindly highlighting, that I may not be able to donate organs. I’ve already mentioned earlier I need to look into blood donation, but now organ donation? She’d read an article in the Times (her bible of choice) and there was a lovely (scaremongering) feature article on two people who had received organ donation and then got cancer in those organs. Why, oh why does this kind of article make it to a mainstream paper. Where are the articles that remind women (and men) to check themselves, to go for smears, to attend mammograms, to get every lump and bump checked. Where are those articles that can save peoples lives rather than scaremongering about organ donation and the good that it does every day – all those organ donations that allow people to live life that would have evaded them if they had not been blessed to receive one.  I am not naïve to the abuse and pitfalls but still truly believe the pros outweigh the cons, and when this part of my journey is finished, I will start the conversations with healthcare professionals about what I can and cannot donate.

This journey is relentless, but I still have this.

The days following chemo….



Well today I have felt like an absolute fraud for being ‘sick’. Had my OHS appointment on the phone at 10am, which was really good, and had a sensible conversation about how I might be able to still work on my good days (out of the low periods where I would get work to join 21st century and work from home days 9 – 15 to be extra safe). I floated it past the man cub and I know he has misgivings but I’ve promised I will be sensible. My boss was great about it and totally trusts me, so I just need to make a work plan and make it work. No reason why I can’t nail this.

The parentals turned up to check on me – shocker! – and I dragged them down to the docs to pick up a sick note. Its only a 20min walk both ways, and I felt great (although I looked a level of special as advised that I shouldn’t wash my hair for five days after cold capping, and it still had the conditioned look that was something to be seen!). Just as the parentals left friends surprisingly dropped in – I was in a state of shock with the state I looked, but it was lovely to see them.

Once I had the house back to myself, I realised I was just waiting for the wall to hit. Peaks and troughs said one of my lovely work colleagues, and I need to just take this high for the moment. I am warned that a fall may come from the number of side effects that we have gone through, but for the moment I have a plan, I will tackle my diary tomorrow now I am going to go back to work. Its been a good day.


Well I made an absolute cock up of the injections I have to give myself from day 3 to 10. So when I had a c-section I got injections that didn’t show a needle so you just whacked it against your leg, needle pushed in and then disappeared. These Injections didn’t look the same so after some faffing and realising you did have to see the inch long needle and I’d messed the first one up (bin for that). Second one, I nailed – but putting an inch needle at a 45 degree angle into your stomach is not a fun experience. I had to ring the chemo unit as was now one needle down though and admit to being a numpty!

However I was still feeling fraud like, did five hours work and felt like I should have been in work.


Its now nearly Christmas and I’ve never dreaded it so much as I do this year. I can’t work out when I will buy presents (online may be the way forward). We’ve planned to get the tree in on the 15th which is the day after we go to a night time experience in a local museum so should make me feel a bit more festive. I’ve also booked in Santas breakfast for the cub, but the man cub will have to take her as I will be on house arrest that day. Of course it bloody is. Tiredness had caught up on me today but the cub wouldn’t leave my side – man cub offered to take her to the shops and barbers with him, but she told him he’d be alright on his onw and that she would keep me company! So we chilled with hugs and dancing and cuddles!! The headache that started the day after chemo has reached new levels today and I now think it is a migraine off the cold capping – it feels like an army banging my frontal lobe with hundreds of pick axes.


I return to work, and instead of feeling human like I did last week, I am at my worst. The headache is out of control now, and I kind of can’t wait to work from home as I might get loads done! I also had to visit the hospital to replace the cocked up injection. I felt like such a child! I do love my job though. I laughed, went to meetings, caught up on the gossip and felt like me again. I was back in my work place. Where I feel good and I feel strong.

I’ve still got this. And I am doing well (although early days).

First chemo – coming at you



Last day at work before first chemo and I got the best card – ‘This is shit’, and it truly is. I also got a wonderful, thoughtful present – a set of noise cancelling headsets which would help with the chatty chemo nurses! I was so touched by the message and sentiment. Its amazing what people do for you and the depths of peoples emotions and how they have reacted to this cancer and I couldn’t do it without my army behind me. It might be a small army, but they are my army and I love them all.


Its chemo day! We have a later start as take the cub to school rather than launching her out at breakfast club. I feel a bit exposed being there as I am the stranger at the gate. The last time I did this was when she first started school a year ago in Reception and now she is in Year 1 full of confidence and sass. I feel like everyone knows and I don’t want them to feel pity for me. The man cub then treats me to a coffee as we aren’t due in the hospital until 10 and I feel its going to be long day. We also dropped into the chemist to get some paracetamol as I’d read that it helps with cold capping – still haven’t decided though – and the lovely sales assistant advised me not to take more than the recommended does of eight tablets in twenty four hours! She doesn’t have a clue how many drugs are going in my body today. We chuckled on the way back to the car.

Once we arrived at the hospital we waited until 10.30 to go into the ward. I spent a good fifteen minutes of that time laughing at a sign six foot up on a blank part of the wall, in the smallest writing advertising that this was indeed a Waiting Room. It’s the small things that keep me entertained!

Once in the chemo unit, I can’t describe how impersonal it is – it is literally a waiting room of folk at various stages of their chemo, finding a seat and taking up a position with the drips in arms. You wouldn’t want to talk about anything personal – theres ten other people sat within earshot doing all they can to listen. The nurses on the ward are all lovely, but it doesn’t provide me with any comfort at the crazy time.

I was given a humongous anti sickness tablet which had to be taken before treatment could start. Then a lot of paperwork was discussed around the number of drugs I was about to take. Followed by agreement that I would cold cap. I made that decision there and then. I might not have bothered had I known the faff that was about to ensue!! At least with cold capping I was in an area of the room that was more private and not as easily overheard. It was a good job as I got conditioner lathered on my hair (to keep the cap stuck to my head apparently), then three nurses and twenty minutes later we still didn’t have the bloody cold cap on my heard. It’s a weird contraption, mix between a swimming cap of thick rubber and a jockeys helmet. But they couldn’t get the sizing right for my head!! I did start laughing hysterically at one point. It was maybe an omen. Devastatingly, I couldn’t get the headset to my ears

The kicker was then the timings. I had to sit with it on my head at minus four to six degrees for thirty minutes pre drugs going in then ninety minutes after the drugs had gone in (which in itself would take half an hour). At that point I sent the man cub into town. We were both bored and there was no point both of us being bored! Those first thirty minutes went quickly – and then Julie started with the six enormous syringes (two lots of red ones which would mean red pee apparently! Good job she remembered to share that nugget with me). Once the drugs had all gone through the drip, I then sat for the longest ninety minutes of my life. My head was so cold I started to shudder and couldn’t even talk straight – it was like the weirdest drunkenness ever.

Finally managed to leave the hospital at 3.30 and was starving! Ate like an absolute horse and don’t feel too bad. No sickness, but feel tired. I think its emotionally exhausting though. My bestie had me crying on the phone tonight when she was crying. I want a big hug off her.

But first chemo down, and I have this. And surprisingly I have laughed a lot today, its just what me and my man cub do – we laugh. He is definitely in my army.

Prep for chemo journey



Pre chemo appointment to get all the prep stuff done was today. I had the day off with my cub as the appointment wasn’t until 3pm and she had one of those off school days! We spent a lovely morning pottering about as per her demands (I know my place!),

After lunch out with the short hair with the parentals I left them to babysit while I was prepared to spend what I thought would only be an hour in the hospital. I mean how long can it take to give some blood and highlight again the side effects of the crazy drugs I am about to be pumped full of.

Arrived at 3pm and waited for the man cub in a flap as he was stuck in traffic, but we made it by the skin of our teeth. Seen by a student nurse to do the pre questionnaire bit (how much alcohol do you drink? – I’m sure if they compared my notes the lies would be obvious!!) and also do MRSA swabs – one up the nose (lovely) and one in the groin area (brand new territory for me!). They also took the all important bloods that have to be checked two days before every time to make sure the blood cells are at a safe level to have the chemo.

Then the ward nurse comes in and we start a very long conversation about me, what I do and what I need to do on this next part of the journey. They asked where I worked and as I work in a building with lots of students they told me it wasn’t a good environment and if I got an infection I could get sepsis (straight to the bad stuff). I was shown a graph of how my immune system drops from Day 1 of chemo to Day 10 where it will be at zero immune system and then climbs back up at Day 14 to Day 21 where I then start the cycle again. My face must have had a mix of devastation and fury at that point. The man cub was nodding and I knew what he was thinking – I know him too well. But he also knows me and knows my stubborn nature. I just can’t compute that I am supposed to stop doing the one thing that keeps me sane at the moment (the cub is in school – she doesn’t need me during the day). I mean, I can redecorate the house from top to bottom, but once I’m done that I’ll probably be looking at committing murder through boredom. And the man cub would be first! Once the nurse recognised the tension in the room, she went and conferred with colleagues and came back with the same answer. And I didn’t have a plan at this point. My mind was working at a million miles an hour but I didn’t have an immediate solution.

Cold capping was discussed again, I didn’t have a definitive answer at this point, it has a chance to work, it has a chance not too. I do not like self imposed uncertainty and this was one of those moments again that I had to make a decision. How quickly did I want to go bald? But I decided that I could wait until the morning of the day! I like to leave it to the last moment (I mean the cub wasn’t named for two days as we couldn’t decide – we like that kind of uncertainty!!).

Then again, we went through the enormous list of side effects that FEC (a whopping three drugs administered one at a time). It has to be given by hand, which Julie the nurse said would take at least half an hour then confessed ‘don’t worry, we all like a chatter’. She doesn’t know me yet – I do not like a chatter!! That will be closed down very quickly.

The list included bruising, bleeding, anaemia, feeling tired (I mean I’d imagine that many drugs could knock a horse out!), hair loss (yep, still getting my head and hair round that), diarrhoea, sore mouth ulcers, loss of appetite (not necessarily a bad thing!), change to taste (metallic), numb or tingly hands, nail changes (nooo, I like my nails, always have done!),  muscle or joint pain, early menopause is likely to kick in; a few others mentioned, but my head was exploding again by then.

Two hours after arriving, we were leaving with heads full. My heart was also breaking about how logistically I could manage work and chemo at the same time. I didn’t have any answers there and then but I was going to have to think it through and see what would be sensible but realistic for me and my sanity.

Arriving home to an excitable cub and parentals asking a million questions we still didn’t have all the answers too is always a good leveller!

I was still sure that I had this though. I will get through this.

My timeline.


A few people respond to my blog posts in current day form, thinking that I am writing as I go. And while I try to date most of my posts, this doesn’t come through clearly when people are reading it for the first time.

So I feel like I need to explain why I write blogs out of time, but in the present tense.

When this journey started I felt I needed to get my thoughts down somewhere. I’m not the best talker, being an introvert. And I usually need a few drinks to open up even to the man cub. Which isn’t a helpful approach every time I need to talk! So I started my little black book (I realise the symbolism is hilarious now!). And I started writing everything down. The good, the bad and the ugly thoughts that came into my head and how I really felt.

But what I couldn’t do was release those thoughts immediately. I wasn’t strong enough to write it down and release it from my soul at the same time. So I wrote everything down, and then a few weeks later I felt strong enough to re-process those thoughts (with a few less swear words in some instances!) and type them down in a coherent way.

I write as I talk. I am ruthless, unforgiving, truthful, sweary at times, and a lot sarcastic! And feedback I get from those who know me has made me realise that my voice and message still comes through my typed word. So if you don’t know me, just imagine a deep Geordie accent with some stubbornness reading out these words!!

I work about two to three weeks behind my actual cancer journey as that feels comfortable to me to be able to process what I was going through, make it more real (rather than the actual word dump I might sometimes end up doing), and take out some of the very personal emotion. I am still an introvert and I can’t quite give all of my soul yet although, believe me, there’s more that will come as this journey unfolds.

As an introvert I also spend a long time second guessing my content. I want people to feel part of the journey. I want people to understand, if they are ever personally affected in any way by cancer, how it may be affecting loved ones. In the longer term I want to do more with the blog when I am finished my own journey in terms of fundraising and research (my brain still cannot compute that in 2018 we are no closer to a full blown cure for cancer and all of its forms).

There is also a lot that has thrown me now you have the label of cancer, you can’t give blood, I may not qualify to be a transplant donor (something that I have always been so passionate about – I strongly believe it should be an opt out, not an opt in), your holiday insurance is now astronomical, I’m going to guess that life insurance will also be so (don’t tell my mam I haven’t got any yet!).

The next steps of the journey through chemo are not going to be pretty. There is a lot more tears (which I totally didn’t anticipate) and more angst than I felt through the cancer bit. For some reason the actual living with the longer term cancer treatment activity is breaking me more than the actual dealings with surgery to remove cancer. It’s a real gift that just keeps giving; this cancer journey.

I take you on this journey, so I can share. So I can help others. So I can make sure no-one feels alone. Because I have found that I am now. Unfortunately the reality is that unless someone is going through exactly the same thing at the same time, you don’t know how to deal with all direct hits. That’s why someone might find it helpful at some point in three months, six months, a year or more. They might associate with something written and may feel hope. Hope that as women who face this challenge can keep strong and take this journey on.

We’ve got this. I’ve got this.