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Diary: 2nd August 2014
Standing in the shower, I let the hot jets of steaming water wash over me. I could hear Bren playing his guitar from where he was sitting at the foot of our bed. It was one of his favourite ways to pass the time.
“What’s that your playing?” I yelled. No answer.
I turned off the taps, squeezed the water from my hair, grabbed a towel and stuck my head out the ensuite door.
“What are you playing?” I said again, “It sounds nice.”
“Just something I’ve been working on.”
“Babe — it’s great. Did you make it up? I love it.”
“Lucky, it’s your song.”
“Mine,” I said as tingles floated across the top of my arms. “What’s it called?”
“Your song.” He looked up from the strings as he played, grinning at me.
I pulled on my PJ’s and sat beside him to listen a bit longer.
“Oh my God, I love it,” I said, kissing him as he turned his face toward me.
“Good!” He said.
“Babe, there’s lots of hair on the shower floor,” I said, watching his fingers move effortlessly across the chords.
“Yep!” He said, letting out a breath he’d held onto a few seconds too long. “I’ll ring Dean to come and shave it off. He’s been wanting to take to me with hair clippers for years. He said he’d come when I’m ready.”
“You sure you’re ready?”
“Yep. It doesn’t worry me that much losing my hair. It just makes it more obvious I’ve got cancer.”
“Yeah, it’s shit, babe.”
“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me.”
“I don’t want that for you either. But babe, you’ve got cancer. People are going to feel sorry for you. It’s normal. Having a bald head will be the only obvious change. Lots of people are bald.”
“Yeah, but usually they’ve got eyebrows and eyelashes.” He said, smiling back at me.
“You still look fit and strong. You’re still hot babe.” I said, nudging him in the ribs with my elbow. “People will react to you, not to cancer — right, what do you want for dinner?” I said, getting up to go to the kitchen.
“Something that doesn’t taste like metal, please.”
“I’ll do my best,” I said, in the least sympathetic tone I could muster. “But you know my cooking — no promises.”
Dean just messaged Bren. He will be here Sunday for the big shave.
Bren is bald [thank you, Dean, for helping to make it as much fun as losing your hair can be.] That happened sooner than we expected. He has felt pretty good since Saturday, thankfully because his oncology clinic is on Thursday. In prep for cycle 2, Bren also had to have a blood test and CT scan before clinic, to ensure chemotherapy could go ahead. We went window shopping afterwards, while he felt well enough to get out and about — before heading back to our accommodation around 4:30 pm. An hour later, we made our way to a great local pub a block away for an early dinner. An early-ish night followed to prepare for the long day ahead in day therapy.
Day therapy went without a hitch this time, and lots of the staff who remembered Bren from his last treatment complimented his new clean shave. He was in bed by 7.30 pm and was not well. No dinner out tonight. By 11 pm, like clockwork, he went through an almost identical experience to the previous cycles. The vomiting, the motion sickness and overall feelings of misery and malaise — soul-destroying.
By the time we pulled into our driveway the next afternoon, I was tired and Bren was exhausted. He said a quick hello to the kids and Margaret, who had come to stay with the kids while we were in the city, and I got him into bed. The days that followed were terrible.
Diary 18th August 2014
The side effects have been worse for Bren with this cycle, and eating, especially, has been hard. Some night’s I laid beside him as he slept, listening to his laboured breathing, or sat close by watching him lay exhausted on the lounge, and thought — how did this become our story? How did everything change so quickly?
There were no answers. All we could do was keep going.
Day 8 post-chemo with each cycle was Bren’s turned a corner day, and day 9 was his — if I don’t find something to do, I’m going to go crazy day! He is easily exhausted and an hour of doing something means a good rest when it’s done. He doesn’t let that stop him.
There is an oncology review coming up early in September, we have everything crossed.