You shall go to the ball.......

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Even though you feel like crap. That wasn't in Cinderella.

Well, the big day for me had finally arrived. The Tenovus Annual Charity Ball. An important event on the calendar and an opportunity to fundraise as much as possible to help with much needed services to combat this evil disease. I have just spent the last month going through hell. It has been four weeks since my stomach PEG was fitted and four weeks later I still have an infection in the wound. This isn’t helped in the slightest by having commenced chemo two weeks ago, plus my immune system is shot to bits at the moment. The minute my antibiotics come to an end I’m back on another lot.

I have also begun to realise the huge social implications of not being able to eat normally. They really are massive and have an enormous impact on my life. This is something I struggle to come to terms with. The simple pleasure of eating a meal with my family or friends, or going out for a meal has now disappeared and again I have to adjust my life to cope with it. It’s incredibly difficult to go to a function complete with five course meal knowing that firstly I cannot eat any of it and secondly I have to watch everyone else enjoying theirs!

Day five to ten on chemo was, as I expected, bloody awful. My body was so racked with myalgia that even heavy doses of morphine didn’t touch it and I spent a long time in bed doubled up in pain. Thankfully the worst was over in two days and began easing. Having to cope with this and an infection in an open wound in my stomach really made me feel like giving up at times. It was no life for me and I felt so sorry for Cathy and the kids who had to witness it. But, like before I grit my teeth and grind my way through every second of it, trying to think of some nice things to look forward to, like the Tenovus Ball.
Myself and Cathy at the Ball

March 2nd arrived and I had been looking forward to this event for a long time. I didn’t feel too bad during the day so I dressed up smartly in my dinner suit. Cathy had her hair curled and put on a new dress, and we both made our way to the Coal Exchange in Cardiff. We had booked a table for ten people. Ourselves, my eldest two children and partners and some very special friends. It was a lovely evening. I had been asked to say a few words in a short question and answer session and even though I was facing three hundred people including Rob Brydon and Lawrence and Jackie Llewelyn Bowen I was unfazed by it. I feel it’s extremely important to be given the opportunity to speak publicly about my cancer experience in the hope of breaking down some of the myths and barriers that surround it. Our choir were also singing at the event, so Cathy took part in the performance. Sadly I was unable to perform with the choir as my voice is a problem for me again since my surgery six weeks ago.
Myself and daughter Carly

There were times throughout the evening that I found hard going. I tried some of the soup but that was a mistake and I spent the next half hour in the toilet bringing it all up again. Ah well, worth a go I suppose. I had some special friends travel down from Scotland to be with me. I say special because I had never met them before but we had got to know each other over the last twelve months through Twitter. It was a pleasure and an honour to meet Heather and Stephen and it felt as if we’d know them for ever. Luckily we were able to meet the following day and chat for hours without me having to struggle to make myself heard. Can’t wait to meet them again. Lisa Derrick was there as well. We didn’t know each other a year ago but without Lisa this blog wouldn’t exist and she has given her time and effort to help build, promote and forward it without hesitation. For that I’m extremely grateful. June Bowen Jones was there for me, minus her husband Martin unfortunately, two people who have been unquestionably supportive since the beginning of my cancer journey. My two eldest children, Luke and Carly were there with their partners Eloise and Jon and it was lovely to have all these people who have meant so much to us together for the night.

By 11pm I was feeling shattered and it was time to go. It had been a hard evening for us all emotionally, and for myself a physically and mentally draining one, but I was so glad I made it there, I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

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