The Chemo Question

When I was first diagnosed with kidney cancer I had to write down a list of Q&As for the doctor as I hadn’t a clue what to expect. One of my queries was about chemo and radiotherapy, as I’d supported my Mom through breast cancer I was well aware of what both entailed. I was told early on that if the cancer was confined to the kidney (which it was) I wouldn’t need additional treatment and that even should any rogue cells have travelled, kidney cancer doesn’t respond well to chemo. Following surgery and on my return home I was laid up for a short while but eventually started to get up and about and then go out. One of my first ‘trips’ on my own was to the chip shop up the road – I’m easily pleased. I had insisted I’d be fine to go alone and when I got there the shop staff were asking where I’d been (yes I like a chippy tea now and again…) When they’d established that I’d not been away working or doing anything fashionably exciting I managed to whisper that I’d been ill. ‘What with?’ Again discretely, ‘cancer’. ‘Oh a My a Gooooood’ – this for the benefit of the large queue, ‘What kind?’ I tried to lean across and quietly say ‘kidney cancer’ ‘Kidney!!!? Did they take it out?’ ‘Yes’ By this stage anyone in the queue ordering a steak and kidney pie was looking at their options… The conversation continued along these lines until I was being served at which point the young girl dishing up mouthed to me ‘It looks good’ Oh no… Again she nodded at me and said, ‘it is a wig?’ Now my turn to speak up, ‘It’s my own hair, I haven’t had chemo’ This was the first of similarly amusing encounters I had when having to raise the subject of having had cancer. It was generally presumed that I must have had chemotherapy which I suppose is a presumption I might have had. Now after meeting other cancer survivors who’ve undergone surgery to remove an organ complete I understand it’s not unusual. When I used to take my Mom for chemo I had multi coloured dreadlocks and so many times when sat waiting in the chemo suite people we spoke to presumed I was the cancer patient and that my mad hair was false. I hadn’t expected my normal hair to raise the same speculation. Time for a new ‘do’ : )

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