Monday, 6 October 2008

Part Two - Hair

An update: cancer isn’t as funny as I had first thought. Don‘t panic, I’m still feeling perfectly healthy, experiencing minimal side effects and responding well to treatment. Infact, I’d go as far to say that I’m brilliant at cancer. However, an event took place today that has suddenly turned this battle from a bit of an annoyance into a fury-filled grudge match. Yes, a few hours ago, I found five stray hairs on my t-shirt. Cancer has crossed the line.

When you’re diagnosed, you do wonder why this has happened to you when there are clearly millions of worse people in the world. Some people may say that this balance was addressed with Jade Goody‘s diagnosis, but this is definitely something that I, myself, would never suggest. This is firstly because that would be a bit cruel, even if she is a bit of a daft racist, and secondly because I feel I now have to whore myself out at any available opportunity for positive karma points. The idea of karma entered my head when I was reading the infinite list of possible side effects of treatment and I saw ‘complete or partial hair loss’ casually tossed in amongst less significant things such as heart failure or permanent lung damage.

Any person that has ever given me so much as a fleeting glance will realise that this is the single worst thing that could possibly ever happen to me. I’ve never made a secret of my vanity, I’ve kindly shared my vast knowledge of the hairspray world with girls in need of help and I often used to spend mornings persuading my Mum to write me a sick note for the previous day of school because I was having a bad hair day and refused to go in. However, now it appears that such callous actions and decisions have blown up in my face in the form of karma induced hair loss. Of course, some doctors may tell you that it’s down to a drug called doxorubican slowly but surely inhibiting the division of hair cells, but they’d say anything to sound like they know something that a common man does not. It’s almost definitely karma pixies pulling it out strand by strand with maniacal glee, teaching me tiny lesson after tiny lesson.

My nurse has said that it would be incredibly unusual for me to lose my hair completely, but I should be ‘prepared for some thinning‘. I’m not quite sure what she meant by this vague statement, it pretty much includes anything from losing a few strands to having one solitary hair left which would no doubt be comically placed in the very centre of my scalp. However, the worst possibility by far is somewhere inbetween these two. My last thought every night before I fall asleep is that I could wake up looking like Hulk Hogan. Luckily, whatever I do lose will grow back after treatment ends but I’ve been told that it could be a different colour and ‘more curly’. This immediately conjures up images of me slowly morphing into Ronald McDonald, and this displeases me. The nursing staff don’t quite understand why my hair is so important either, stupidly thinking I’d be more concerned with overcoming cancer than whether I look sexy on the ward. Who knows who I could meet? A woman under 93 has to enter the haematology unit at some point, and when that day comes I will be prepared to pounce.

Actually, on the subject of old people, they’re bitter bastards aren’t they? Especially the ones with terminal diseases. A few weeks ago I bounced into the ward to get a blood test done and a really old man that I had initially mistaken for an empty sack made of wrinkled leather piped up. Obviously furious about my youthful optimism and chipper nature, he took one look at me and without so much as a good morning he said to me; “Yeah, you come in here walking but sooner or later you leave in a box.”. I was going to wave my top notch prognosis in his withered little face, but if I can bring a smile to an old man’s face by allowing him to think I’m going to die then god damn it I will. They fought for my freedom after all. It was on the day of my bone marrow biopsy in fact, a procedure he said would be fine unless I got “the Paki doctor” in which case it would be “sheer agony”. We do have some top notch banter in good old ward two.

Anyway, I’m over a sixth of the way through treatment now and it’s all been a piece of piss so far. I’ve discovered that you can walk around with quite a scary disease and feel no different to what you usually do. A fact that will no doubt reassure anyone who’s been diagnosed with something and terrify all of those who haven’t. I’ll strive to keep those of you that care up to date, but almost all of it is actually incredibly mundane and not worth writing about. The cycle goes ‘Hospital for an hour > Two Weeks of Football Manager > Hospital for an hour’ and so on. However, if I lose my hair I will obviously have to shun all human contact and Bebo (notice the capital Winston) will be my only way to interact with the outside world. I might have to write hourly.

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