Written in 2007, Me & Adam Ant records Louise’s first cycle with chemo and like everything else she wrote it is honest, warm and full of insight.
Chapter 6: Me, myself and my body.
All these years (5 1/2) that I’ve had problems with my leg, I’ve never felt I could feel sorry for myself. I’d even feel like a fraud going to see my various specialists about my benign bone tumour, when there people there in the waiting room or the next bed with proper nasty malignant tumours.
And now I’ve entered their ranks. I get special mail now from cancer centres offering all kinds of support and care. (I got a package today with information on wigs, head art therapy – or HAT – Indian head massage, counselling and more. All’s for free. And you can even get free manicures!!) But I still don’t feel like I merit special attention or sympathy. I still feel like it could be worse. And I’m not just saying that so people will admire me for my strength of character. I actually do feel like that. And in a way I’m stunned. When you hear of people getting cancer and having chemo you feel awful imagining how bad it must be for them. And I’m not denying it’s awful. But I’ve somehow managed to take it on board & not fall apart.
I’m 100% convinced I’ll have awful days. Days when I won’t want to carry on living, days when I’ll wallow in self-pity. But there are days I’ll just get on with it and be normal. I said early on in this journal that the thought of chemo was the thing I hated most. But since that’s become my reality I’ve started facing up to it. So the thought of losing all my hair doesn’t seem so awful today as it did 3 weeks ago (tho’ of course I’m not expecting to be too pragmatic on the day it starts falling out).
I do of course feel very bad about poisoning my body (“I’m sorry”) and about the infertility scare. But I have to just try and be brave.
The one thing I’ve realised is that cancer/chemo and thoughts of life and death have done nothing to lessen my addiction to shopping!! I’d genuinely have thought I’d realise how shallow that all is when presented with a life/death situation. But no. I still love clothes/shoes/handbags. I even now have added a new area of retail-related obsession – headgear – headscarves, hats, headbands, caps… It’s weird ‘cos I used to get really self-conscious about going into shops on crutches or in a wheelchair. I always would be imagining that people must be thinking of me – “god she must be addicted if she needs to come shopping on crutches”. And in a way I’d feel bad about myself, somehow guilty for being so shallow as to need retail therapy. HOWEVER I’ve realised I shouldn’t be ashamed Shopping makes me happy :-)! And nice clothes/shoes/handbags do wonders for my confidence and my image of course!! And if wearing my new MU bag and gold jacket makes me feel better, then that has to be fantastic. So I’m going to embrace my addiction!! Then maybe I won’t feel so bad about my bald head and wonky leg.
I mentioned my working leg earlier – ie how it goes in at the knee and back out so my legs are like this (cute wonky leg drawing) I’ve been trying (much like everything else in my life right now) to ignore it, not dwell upon it. But I actually hate how it looks now. Everyone’s telling me no-one will notice once my muscles build back up. But I’ll always be aware of it and I’m fed up. Oh well. Just another thing on my increasingly long list of things to try not to think about. The question is how long does it have to get before I explode?