Thursday, 9 August 2012

The Long, Long Goodbye (sorry but it has been 3 months)

It’s quite embarrassing coming back to this after all this time. My original excuse was that I was waiting for something cancer related to happen and so avoided writing for a while. Then stuff happened and I really couldn’t be bothered. For the last couple of weeks I’ve just been avoiding it because I’d left it for so long. To be honest as the whole thing is winding down I feel like I need this less. It originally began as a way to chronicle all the cancerous events and stop me from having to tell the same boring story over and over. I also have a terrible tendency to change the course of events the more I tell a story and so the blog was born.
After the PET scan in April, I had to wait for 7 weeks to find out the rest of my treatment plan. I turned up to see my doctor and after waiting for an hour he told me they were still thinking about it. When I returned for my next visit he told me that I had to have another two cycles of chemotherapy. This was the standard treatment for Hodgkin’s. He told me that ordinarily they would have given radiotherapy but given my age, the risk of breast cancer was too high to ignore. Apparently the risks of breast cancer are much greater when the radiotherapy is eradicating younger breast tissue. The last thing I ever want is second malignancies. Although I have come through the first bout of cancer, I don’t think I could take the mental drain it causes, nor the strain it puts on the people around you. If there is a God out there I’m pretty sure he’s a cunt, considering how much he’s shit all over my mother throughout her life. If there is one person who does not deserve any more shit for the rest of their life it’s her.
The last couple of months have been largely uneventful. In an attempt to deal with the treatment limbo and general boredom, drinking has become my main past time. Luckily, I live in England and had I been living anywhere else people would probably assume I had a drinking problem. Don’t you just love this glorious country? The sad fact of the matter is that all the “I’m so lucky to just be alive and have everything I have” wears off. Sooner or later you’re going to start worrying about how fat you’re looking in your jeans (I don’t want to talk about it). The more normality you claw back the more dissatisfied you become with yourself.  This dissatisfaction is in part down to the fantastic mood swings I’ve acquired (thanks chemo) but stems more from eagerness to move on to the next chapter of life. This pushed me to transfer the remainder of my treatment to Birmingham and try and find a job. Thanks to the wonderful Student Loans Company and their sadistic policies, I was nearly broke. Had it not been for generous birthday gifts from family and friends, I would have been poorer a lot sooner.  I also had to cancel my New York 2012 trip due to the fact that I can’t get travel insurance. Isn’t it depressing how the most mundane, medial tasks can sabotage life changing, super-duper cool, fun post-cancer moments? The problem is that when you have cancer you think you’re so ‘special’ but the odds are that you could swing a dick and hit someone that has or has had it. Life’s a business and it doesn’t care if you’re special, it cares if you have money or not.
The hair stuff has been my main enemy since I found out I was in remission. It’s hard having to see yourself with hair and then take it off and toss it on the side like a top hat in a cabaret. It must feel a little like when movie stars Google themselves and one of the top recommended searches is “[insert name] young”. Gutted. Renee Zellweger still thought she was a hot young thing and now the rest of the world, as in Google, has decided she’s past it. I’m definitely getting a little crazy about it because the other night I dreamed I scalped some girl for her hair. Intense, I know. I don’t know the reason for it in the dream, maybe a punishment for something?  Speaking of Renee, I really can’t wait for the awkward grow-out stage she’s demo-ing nicely here:
Jesus, Renee. 

As much as I moan about the hair stuff, I discovered something that keeps me thankful that it’s more than likely over for me. The dangerous, voyeuristic nature of our online society has led to a slightly unnerving, casual pastime called ‘Facebook stalking’. I know on a personal level how creepy it is having been introduced to people I had come across on Facebook and pretended I had no idea who they were. Fucking psycho, I know.  As I was a bald woman with not a lot to do except to wait for the weekend when all my friends had finished work, I admit ‘Facebook stalking’ was a regular feature on the Kristina schedule. I tended to click on people I know and then their friend and then maybe a friend of theirs, until I am so far away from where I started I get embarrassed and  promptly throw the computer down and run away to eat some Pringles. So a few steps before Pringling I came across a girl’s Facebook with a status that read ‘have been told I have weeks to live’. I was shocked at what I had read but morbid curiosity led me to read more. This lady’s cancer had come back after two years of remission and was now terminal. It became apparent that she had died as hundreds of people had left their thoughts and prayers on her page. It was crazy to see not only your life but your death is recorded in cyber world. I read every single message from her friends and family and cried. It was weird because I didn’t know her but reading all the memories her friends had of her was incredibly poignant. I’ve had a pretty blah blah blah attitude to cancer and this was a dose of reality. I’m so lucky and it would be an insult to the memory of people that have died if I keep taking this for granted. 

My treatment being transferred to Birmingham was exciting; I was in the space ship hospital. I was put on the young person’s unit which meant TV and Wi-Fi. They were all kind of helpful too saying they were going to set me up with some work experience which I desperately needed and give me crap like money and free holidays. Seriously. The nurses were all lovely but the day unit was a recent addition and they were not used to giving ABVD chemo. The first week was tough because they couldn’t get a cannula into my arm. The more treatment they give you, the more your veins shrink and harden. It becomes incredibly difficult to find veins and after 5 months of treatment mine were worn out. It took the head nurse 15 minutes to find a vein but when they started pumping saline into the vein to check it was stable, my vein collapsed. My arm ballooned a little with water it was rank. It was decided that I would need a Picc line for my last two treatments. This is a line that goes directly into a bigger vein in the top of your arm and stays there for the duration of the treatment. They put my arm under a local anaesthetic and used an ultra sound to find a vein that could handle this shit. It was slim pickin’s up there too so she had to chose one right next to my heart which they don’t like to do but the bitch was desperate. So I had this in for the next two weeks and then the day of my final chemo came. Unfortunately it was not a joyful day.

I turned up at the ward at 11am with my friend Kathryn. I sat and chatted to another girl and her mum who I had met the week before. For 5 ½ hours I waited after being told that the pharmacy hadn’t made my drugs yet. One of the nurses then took me into a private room and sat me down.
“The pharmacy was waiting on one of your drugs and it arrived but the Dacarbazine has expired”.
“...what does that mean?”
“It means you can’t get your chemo today”
I couldn’t believe it. No, they couldn’t do this to me on my last one. I know I’m prone to profanities in this but at the hospital I am a sheer delight; patient and calm and no swearing whatsoever...until today. It went along the lines of “this is fucking ridiculous you did this to me last week, I’m going home tomorrow you have to give it to me today”. They were on top of it and made whoever was in the pharmacy stay and make me a fresh batch. I get shit done. I was there until 11pm and had to forcefully demand that the nurses take the Picc line out as promised. It was one of the most exhausting days of my life and such a terrible way to end it all. I felt bad for the nurses because it wasn’t their fault, over the top protocol means that they are forced to delay treatments and end up with a build up of work. Can’t the hospital trust that they know what they’re doing? I was pissed off with the pharmacy as they had my drugs and never sent them up. They seem to be completely desensitised to what they’re actually dealing with. To them it’s drugs in syringes but to me it’s the end of chemotherapy, the end of cancer, the end of the hardest year of my life so far. I’m not even all that angry at them because the hospital is huge and they must be flooded with requests. My experience has opened my eyes to the state of the NHS and how important it is that we stop cutting jobs and funding. I know that people have opposing views but surely one thing we can all agree on is that people suffering is bad? I read that a boy died in hospital the other week due to dehydration, the nurses hadn’t got around to seeing him because they were too busy. Every hospital I have been in the nurses have been swamped with patients, so I have no idea how the government could even contemplate cutting their wages or more nurses! I hope Andrew Lansley dies in a hospital that was too short staffed to deal with him. Poetic  justice.

Either way I’m all finished chemo and it feels great. I have another scan in September to confirm remission and then I go from there. This will be the last post because it’s evident that I have had less cancery things to say over the last few months and hopefully they will become fewer and far been over the next months and years to come. Thank you for taking an interest whether you read a bit of the first one or all of them religiously (Gemma Cameron). For people who know me, you’ll probably see me at Christmas working the Sinead O’Connor (PRE-CRAZY FATNESS) and regardless of what you honestly think, please say these words “Oh wow! You look just like Natalie Portman in V for Vendetta”. Ok?

To everyone who has supported me over the year, old and new friends, I really am thankful. I owe a lot of the easiness of it all to you.

And to my old friend cancer, this is where we part ways for good. What you’ve given me I can’t articulate perfectly but I’m grateful. Hopefully I’ll do something with my life now. I’ve learnt my lesson, now leave. If you are to return, the next blog will be aptly titled “FUCK YOU CANCER”.

Goodnight. X 


  1. Kristina, have just caught up with your news. Wishing you all the very best, glad you've reached the end of this episode but will be looking out for your writing in future, let me know when your first book/ebook is due out! Thanks for your honesty, you will have made a lot of people think as well as made lots of people laugh with your great sense of humour. Hilary xxx

    1. Hi Hilary, I've only just seen this comment. Thank you so much for your continued readership and feedback. It meant a lot that people that I didn't know personally enjoyed the blog. I think I'm a way off anything like that, reading back some of these posts my grammar leaves something to be desired. I'm looking forward to going back to university and actually trying as hard as I can now. Hopefully, I'll be able to hone my skills more under the guidance of tutors. Thanks for everything xxx