Meanwhile the oncologist was shouting for me back in hospital to have some more treatment. My treatment happened in sort of batches. I would go in for a couple of days at a time over a period of ten days or so and then I could go home and back to school and just go into hospital every few weeks or so when the medics could try and assess how my cancer was responding and I could have a lovely blood test to see if I was neutropenic or not. Neutropenic means you have a low neutrophil count (that helped explain it didn’t it!) Basically when someone is having chemo treatment all the new growing cells in the body are zapped out (another medical term) and this means not just the cancer cells but also good red and white blood cell, neutrophils etc and hair growing cells (which is why hair falls out!) so this means that you can end up being very anaemic and not having any ability to fight infections and the like. Not the best scenario but there you go. So, back to my blood tests. I had to have them regularly just to make sure that the chemo was not completely wiping all my good cells out. Eventually your body does make up the new cells and you start to feel a bit better again and the medics are really pleased because it means they can give you more chemo and the process starts all over again. Bliss!!!
On the whole I didn’t do too badly. I had to have a couple of blood transfusion as my red blood count was so low, and at one point I got shingles (very itchy and painful) even though I had already had chicken pox (same virus). This meant I kept having my chemo and radio therapy. The OSO and I developed our ‘hospital face’ as I called it. You sort of learn to joke your way through it all to help you cope, we a real double act. One time we went for me to have some radiotherapy and the radiotherapist who was doing it said that she really should have finished her shift, but when she’d seen my name on the list for the afternoon she wanted to stay because the OSO and I made her laugh so much!
So the treatment carried on as did life in our mad household. I sort of developed a shift system for going to school. My treatment often left me feeling pretty ropey and I couldn’t manage whole days at school so I used to go in for parts of the day so I got to pick which lessons I went to. Result. Bit of a drastic way even I have to admit for getting out of lessons! It did mean that all of our lives got even more complicated trying to get all the members of the family in the right place at the right time. It wasn’t helped by the fact that by then both Alistair and Roger were heavily into their rugby and playing at a high level; Roger was actually Derbyshire captain. This meant they had a lot of extra training after school and matches of course, so the poor old OSO was everywhere with us all, she swore that one day she would literally meet herself coming back! She was fine though, she thrived on being busy. As ever our good friends were brilliant and helped out enormously in all sorts of ways by ferrying the brothers and even leaving meals ready in the kitchen that Mum just had to warm up for us. I’m sure we wouldn’t have managed without them.
To add insult to injury I was in year 11 and this was the year I was to take my G.C.S.E.s, flipping heck!