Vanity and Veins

November 2013

Well my fight didn't exactly get off to the greatest of starts when my veins decided to play hide and seek and bloody good at it they were too. They hid for a full 15 minutes before one finally popped up to see what was going on and the nurse jabbed it.The vein didn't take very kindly to such intrusion and so decided to get its revenge by exploding. Okay that might be a bit dramatic. More of a gentle collapsng in on itself. After several more attempts to find a more amenable vein the nurse asked if i'd considered a PICC line. Now as you know, from my hours upon hours spent transforming myself into a breast cancer expert, I know pretty much everything about everything breast cancer related. So I knew that a PICC line wasn't top of my wish list. I cursed my piss poor veins as I found myself agreeing to be fitted with a line before my next cycle of chemotherapy. 

From here on in I will share all my little tips for getting through this as best we all can. The first thing I hated, and I haven't read this from anyone else, is the saline that they use to flush the tube before the chemo goes in. For me, it had the most nauseating smell as the fumes from it hit the back of my throat and got up my nose. I found that a combination of not breathing through my nose and sucking on a hard boiled sweet sorted that one out just fine as long as I knew the saline was coming so I asked the nurse to tell me before she flushed the tube. To this day I can still taste the saline if I think about it hard enough.

Anyway back to the star of the show. The EPI part of my regime. Harsh word that isn't it. Regime? A fitting word though for everything about the process is regimented. Once the start button of diagnosis is pressed you find yourself an unwitting passenger on a travelator that just won't stop until it spits you out the other end exhausted, drained, changed in so many ways but, mostly, and hopefully, cancer free. 

After an hour or so in the blue chair my first treatment was over and I was free to go with the promise that I would return in 3 weeks and do it all again. Clutching my appointment card for my PICC line (no-one leaves empty handed) I walked out past reception, through the double doors, into the lift and out through the glass doors into the cold November air. I exhaled deeply and knew that a part of me would always be left in that room.

I don't know if I expected the side effects to be instant but I felt absolutely fine as we drove to the fabulously titled "Hair Fairy" wig shop. Of course this became known as The Hairy Fairy which conjured up a slightly less romantic image.

The Hairy Fairy wig shop was only accessible via a buzzer and the owner Tracey opened the door to us with a smile and ushered us into a seatng area filled with shelf upon shelf of all manner of wigs, head coverings and accesories.

I took a deep breath and started "I'm going to be losing my hair...."

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Latest comments

20.12 | 20:45

Hi Dave,
Thanks for the kind words.
I did indeed work in North Cyprus back in the day - Turkbet?

18.12 | 11:06

Hi Donna, remarkable, uplifting and inspiring read.
Did you ever work in North Cyprus around 10 years ago?

15.10 | 17:15

Hi Donna, you are so inspiring. I have just had my 2nd mastectomy 8 days ago out of choice, first one was 5 months earlier as small cancer found.well done you

30.09 | 15:12

well done for finishing EPI!

I can't send a longer response on here but would like to share my experience of CMF at or the forum on macmillan.

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