My third week post first chemo treatment (again- treatment…really? A treatment is when you go to Champneys for the day and have a wonderful massage from 18 year-old Honey Bee whose eyebrows would give Limax maximus a run for their money), was a slight return to normality.
I say slight, because, although I looked relatively normal on the outside (hair was still clinging on for dear life), on the inside, it seemed to be a slightly different matter.
Firstly, I began to stink. Yes, there, I have said it, I had turned into that 15 year old boy who hides away in his black-walled room, only emerging on Saturdays when he uses his pocket money to head off to McDonalds.
Bizarrely however, the stink only emanated from one armpit. The side of my body where I have had all of the surgery and all of the lymph nodes removed around the armpit area no longer emits any form of body smell or sweat or any of those bodily things we spend a lifetime trying to mask and avoid.
The armpit on the other side however… dear God. I have used that minty shower gel which usually tears strips off of you to no avail. The smell lingers, so instead I have resorted to good old fashioned soap which gets scrubbed and scrubbed around the armpit area until nothing could live there.
I can only think that it is down to two reasons:
- The fact that there are no longer any lymph nodes on the other armpit maybe means that all the usual arm pit flavourings are being passed entirely to one side? or
- The implantable port used to deliver the massive number of chemotherapy drugs is making this area of my body particularly smelly.
Either way, it is not good, and despite trying out a new eco-friendly deodorant that is like a paste and meant to last between three and seven days, I have found myself surreptitiously smelling my armpit several times a day in the hope that I am not about to gas a small child.
Secondly, as we appropriately name them in our household, Trumps. Oh dear. We all see the photos of ‘cancer victims’ ‘bravely’ ‘fighting the good fight’, but what we don’t hear about is what begins to escape from their bottoms once the chemo drugs kick in. This, O can honestly tell you, would give the gases that my dog used to exhume when she ate her own poo a run for their money. I would imagine you get the idea and no further explanation is necessary. Luckily I have a six-year old boy to blame the stink on…
As I have mentioned before, what is proving to be most difficult about chemo is the unpredictability of how you will feel from one day to the next. Although I had to take it easy in Week 3 post-chemo, for the first time in what felt like a long time, I also had what felt like elements of normality in my life.
I had a very good friend visit from the UK, and although cancer was never far from the conversation, it also didn’t dominate it, and my energy levels were such that we even managed a little cheeky trip over to Aosta in Italy for lunch. She also arrived with some lovely goodies, and for anyone who doesn’t have one, can I recommend you all get a White Company Hot Water Bottle? You will not regret it- trust me.
I also made it into Chamonix for a night out. This was something that I was determined to do because a) it was a good friends birthday and b) I realised that it was probably the last time I would be out with all hair intact and able to get away with not having to explain the whole ‘I’ve got cancer, that is why I have no hair, blah. blah, blah’ for many months to come. I must confess, I probably used up half the ozone layer with the amount of hairspray needed to keep said hair on top of my head for that night, but it did the job…