Having successfully gained the all clear from the re-excision surgery, Pats and I were determined to get away on holiday before my chemotherapy was due to start. Our gorgeous friend, Kate, managed to find us a holiday and we jetted off for a week in the sunshine. It was so lovely to escape from everything – no hospitals, no appointments and I actually felt ‘normal’ again for a week. I really didn’t want to come home from that holiday as I knew what was in store for me when I got back.
When we got home a letter had already arrived in the post with the scheduled dates to have my PICC line fitted and when the first chemotherapy treatment would start. Crash bang wallop – right back down to reality with a big bump. I felt very tearful after reading that letter – you know it’s all going to happen but at some points things just seem more real than others.
The time in between getting back from holiday and waiting for the first chemo session was so weird. As well as feeling really anxious and apprehensive about what was in store for me, I felt like I needed to have a final get together with my friends and family. It was almost like I needed to have a chance to say goodbye to the old me as I really didn’t know who I was going to become in the coming months.
Luckily my best friend, Tara, was home from Scotland for a couple of weeks and we were able to spend some quality time together. It was such great timing and the best medicine. She has been one of many who have been there for me throughout all of this. She has been so supportive, always sending me thoughtful cards with encouraging words and texting me before and after I had appointments to make sure I am okay. We don’t get to see each other often at all, so it was even more amazing to be able to spend time in person with her at such a stressful time. I’d begun the hunt for a wig and she came along to countless wig fittings with me, supporting me, making me laugh and generally making me feel better about myself.
We had a bit of a girly get together at my lovely friend Katherine’s house one evening and it was so nice to see all the girls and catch up with them.
I also had my hair cut short into a bob to help prepare me for the impending hair loss. My super sweet friend, Lou, had organised with our hairdresser, the lovely Natalie, to go to her salon (which she had closed especially for the evening) and said I could have anything done to my hair I wanted at no charge. She is so, so kind. Before going to the hairdressers we had a little ‘dutch courage’ in the pub (which was massively needed and a great help!). It was there that Lou told me how she had been fundraising for me at work and with my friends and family to get some money together so I could buy whichever wig I wanted and not have to worry about how much it would cost. I was absolutely moved to tears, not only by her kindness to do such a thing for me, but also for the generosity of my friends, family and colleagues. I was feeling the love big time!
Along with my other beautiful friend Claire, who had presented me with a gorgeous bouquet of sunflowers that evening, we ventured off to Natalie’s salon for the ‘big chop’. As we sipped on some bubbly, I sat in the chair in front of the mirror looking at myself. For all the years I’ve been going to Natalie to have my hair done, whenever she asks ‘what are we doing today then Allie?’, unsurprisingly to her I always reply ‘oooh, just a smidgen off the ends please Natalie and the usual colour’. Well holy cow, today was completely different not only for me but for her too!
As suggested by Tara, Natalie cut a lock of my hair off so I could keep it to use when looking to match it to a wig. I wanted to donate my hair to charity so she put my hair in a ponytail and plaited it and after tying it with a hair band – she cut it off! Oh my god…..wowsers!
Except for one occasion when I was about 12 and had my hair cut really short, I’ve always, always had long, shoulder length hair, and have never really like tying it up or away from my face. Now I had a bob… and a neck which you could see!
It actually felt quite liberating in a way. Natalie blow dried it and made it look amazing. She was so kind to donate her time and she wouldn’t accept any money from me. As we left the salon I couldn’t help swishing my hair about, I felt like a lady in one of those hair adverts and Lou, Claire and I walked along singing “It’s like you just stepped out of a salon.. Salon Selectives” (only the slightly older readers will remember Salon Selectives hair products!).
We went to a birthday BBQ on the Saturday and had a lovely time catching up with friends and on the Sunday we hosted a BBQ at our house with my parents, my sis, Tara and two of her gorgeous children. It had been quite a whirlwind and hectic week but it was just the best getting to catch up with all my nearest and dearest.
By the time I’d come down from the high of seeing everyone, once again back to earth again with a bump knowing that on Tuesday I would be having my first chemo treatment. I felt very mixed feelings waiting to start chemo, I wanted to get it over and done with so it’s done its thing, but equally I didn’t want it start as I just didn’t know what will be in store. I was absolutely petrified of how I was going to feel, what was going to happen to me, how I was going to look and what sort of person I was going to turn into.