Hello? Test 1, 2,3. Can you hear me? Test test. Good.
Good morning, this is Aly K reporting on site, at SOC Clinic, Gleneagles. I’m waiting to see my oncologist, Dr KW, and to get Chemo #3. The Rock isn’t here today, as he has important things to do. You know, like, earn a living? Anyway, I’m good, there’s a lot of waiting around, so no point anyone else being here.
I Uber’d from home. It took us 7 minutes to get here, on a straight road, with (I’m a bit weird with counting stuff randomly) 6 sets of traffic lights. The traffic was light, my Uber driver was wonderful, his Vellfire Toyota was incredibly comfortable, and he had Bessame Mucho playing on his sound system. Very civilised.
So this got me thinking. Singapore, fondly known as “The Little Red Dot”, is a tiny island. It measures 50 km East to West, and 27 km North to south. At any one time, I’m 25 km (30 minutes) away from The furthest place. Add 10-15 minutes at peak hour. The furthest distance from East (the airport) to West (Raffles country club) is 47 km and should take you 43 minutes on the expressway. That’s how small Singapore is.
But with the small size, comes advantages. In my case, the biggest advantage is that I’m less than 20 minutes away from any of my specialists that I see regularly at the moment. My chemo drive is 8 minutes there and back again. What happens if you live somewhere remote? Where, the nearest hospital is an hour drive away? What if, you’re feeling so sick (as I did when I was on my awful antibiotics), that the thought of that long drive edges you closer to the depths of depression.
The Rock read about a man in the UK, who lived somewhere remote in the countryside. He had cancer in his spine. He had a long journey to get his chemo. But, the roads were also bumpy out of there. He felt every little bump in the road, and the jarring pain through his spine was excruciating. His wife thought of all the others out there in similar situations, where they had either a long journey or quite frankly, were so ill that it was agonising to travel at all. She founded Hope For Tomorrow, which is a charity run by the local National Health Service and they have 8 chemotherapy buses running around the UK. What a fantastic initiative. Makes me wonder about other people round the world, who live in rural poor countries. Cancer doesn’t give damn who you are and how much money you have. Makes you think doesn’t it how lucky we are.
Let’s steer you back to where I am. I’ve just seen Dr KW and we discussed my side effects. So far, no nausea (can I get a Hell Yeah!!!), negligible joint pain, some itching due to the steroids in the anti allergy medicine I get at the start of the chemo. She said she’d now bring it down from 10mg to 5mg. It also, apparently, gives the patient a “moon face”. I’d notice that my face had started to fill out lately. Hopefully now less itching too, as the itching occured round my eyes, jaw line and cheeks. My blood work was looking good, but to keep an eye on my liver functions and my urea. So that’s all food related.
Then I mentioned to her that I’d felt tired. And here’s how I learnt that Dr KW has a limit to her compassion as an oncologist. “Ah come on Alex” (she calls me Alex… I’ve corrected her but think that is not going to to change). “You got it easy compared to the other chemo”. In a nutshell telling me to shut up, suck it up, and be thankful. Oh okay, as you put it that way, yes I do have it incredibly easy.
But she did say this coming week would be tough. Because the hair starts to drop after 14 days. I woke up this morning to a pillow free from hair. I keep yanking at my hair to see if it falls out, so far nothing. I may make a quick trip to my salon to get the hair cut shorter as my hairstyle is currently driving me crazy- too heavy on top. But, it’s going to fall out soon. So is there any point? This is the current conundrum I’m facing.
I was put in the lazy boy chair yesterday. Goes back down, and is very comfortable. I had my thick socks on and hot water bottle, extra jumpers. I listened to David Bowie on my phone. What cancer did he have? Well, he kept me company for 2 hours. What a uniquely gifted man.
Chemo was done, I walked about a bit drunk like, headed down, and waited for my Uber to pick me up. I realise I’m particularly lucky. Lucky because, I have great health insurance with BUPA who’s paid for everything. Lucky because I have a family who is so supportive and loving. Lucky because my treatment is so near to home. Lucky because the treatment given is incredibly mild by comparison. Lucky because I can still continue nearly as normal. Lucky because, my cancer was caught early.
Lucky me. And I’m not being ironic.