My first chemotherapy was just over a week ago, and the last couple of days I have begun to feel more normal. It has been like a prolonged dive under water, where the rest of the world is still there but muffled, distant and distorted, and now I feel like I am coming up for air.
Chemo affects people very differently and I was fortunate in that I was fit and healthy when it began. It hasn’t been too terrible – kind of like flu or a hangover and it’s affected my digestive system most – but I have found myself wanting to withdraw and hibernate. I’ve felt fragile and vulnerable, unsure what I’m now capable of, what my new normal will be. I’ve found myself talking to my body and taking care of it more, telling my body that it can do this, it will grow strong again, which might sound slightly bonkers but it works for me!
I have been very grateful for the opportunity to rest, for a workplace that allows me to take time off, for all the messages of love and support. And I’m acutely aware of how privileged I am in so many ways. Chris Rose, director of Amos Trust, is in Gaza this week with some others visiting the Al Ahli Hospital. They run a screening programme for breast cancer but many women don’t go for screening until it’s too late because of the stigma associated with cancer, and resources to treat it are limited. Their survival rate is 40 per cent whereas here it’s nearly 80 per cent, 10 years on. I’m getting excellent medical care for free, can indulge myself with a healthy diet, have incredible support from family and friends, so in the midst of this, I can say that I am blessed.
Photo: Jonny Baker