Chemo, chemo, chemo.
Before Felix’s diagnosis, I didn’t think I had the right to casually abbreviate chemotherapy to chemo. Bizarrely, I felt that it was only those people who had cancer or were directly involved with cancer, who had the right to use the term chemo. Now it is banded around our house as if we were talking about Calpol or paracetamol. It’s odd. In the past, chemotherapy seemed such a big deal; it seemed to be the evil of all evils.
Felix had his first chemotherapy on the evening of Thursday 4th February. I wasn’t there when they hooked him up. We didn’t even realise that it was going to happen. I expected it to be an occasion which would be presented in an almost formal way. After all, this was chemotherapy and chemotherapy is a huge thing isn’t it? Actually it’s not. That first lot of chemotherapy went through his line like water. OK it was red but there was no fanfare, no big deal, all the kids were doing it on the oncology ward.
I still feel weird saying chemo. It stills feels as though I don’t somehow have the right to say it; a bit like I’m a fraud. We chat about it casually over dinner, “is Felix having chemo tomorrow?”, like we are talking about an after school club. We talk about the different types of chemo Felix has: tablets, IV push, IV drip, injection, much like we’re talking about the weather. The chemotherapy is really no big deal, it’s the side effects that are.
We have no idea what these side effects feel like and Felix struggles to describe them. We can see them; the sickness, tiredness, leg pain, joint pain, ulcers, heightened senses, hair loss on a daily basis. Therefore, according to my rationality, I have the right to abbreviate chemotherapy to chemo, we are in it, we are doing the cancer thing. I still don’t like it though and I don’t want to be casual about it. I really don’t chemo to be part of our world or part of my children’s vocabulary but it is and will be for the next three years. Maybe we could rebrand it, call it another name, dress it up or dress it down, but we mustn’t. We have to face reality and all that it brings so chemo it is; chemo, chemo, chemo.