JUST ONE WOMAN PUNCHING CANCER SQUARE IN THE FACE

INTERNATIONAL NURSES DAY

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  Well it takes a whole city to treat cancer.  A cast of thousands have been involved in my treatment so far.  While I seem to get so many of the plaudits, I have to admit that I’m just trudging on through, doing what I’m told by people who know more than me and being wonderfully supported by those who care about me.  I’ve blogged before about how amazing my husband and family and friends have been.  I’ve had incredible support from total strangers on social media.  My oncologists have got more than a number of mentions.

Macclesfield Chemotherapy Suite

But on International Nurses Day I’d like to pay a special tribute to the wonderful nurses at the Macclesfield Chemotherapy Suite whose skill, patience and kindness has made the last 5 months bearable.  There was a small discussion in my family when I was first diagnosed about whether I’d be better off going to the Christie Hospital in Manchester for all of my treatment because of their world renowned reputation for treating cancer.  But after hearing amazing things about the chemo unit at Macclesfield Hospital and chatting to one of the nurses there, I decided that being on a smaller, more personal ward and seeing the same faces every week would make it a much easier experience.

And so it transpired.  It’s a scary time starting chemo.  As common as cancer is in our society, very few of us actually know the details of what is involved.  My own father had been through numerous rounds of chemo and I still didn’t know how it was administered.  As I arrived on my first day, I never expected to end up laughing, as my chemo nurse and my husband discussed the odd shape of my head as we all battled to get the cold cap to fit as well as possible in the hopes of saving my hair.  But we did laugh and that helped keep a lid on the fear.

Reassuring Nurses

That’s one of the wonderful things about sitting back and watching the nurses on the suite go about their work.  For us patients, this is all strange and terrifying, for them it is every-day.  In the same way I nervously look towards to the air stewards on a plane as we hit turbulence to assess their reaction, I’d look to the nurses on the chemo suite whenever I felt nervous.  They were unfailingly calm, collected and reassuring.

Every week you’re asked questions about your side effects and how you’re feeling. But it was never a tick-box exercise and the nurses showed genuine empathy for my situation.  They were incredibly knowledgeable about cancer and patiently answered my many many questions.  They put up with me Facebook Live broadcasting during chemo and always having the BBC News Channel on the TV!

You spend a lot of time in the company of the nurses during chemo, especially when your time on the suite is increased by using the cold cap.  We chatted about all sorts of things, not just cancer and after a few weeks I genuinely considered them to be friends.

Sad to say goodbye

My last day of chemo was very odd, on the one hand I was thrilled to be done and not to have to go back.  On the other I was sad to say goodbye to this team of wonderful women.  I would recommend the care I received without hesitation.  I’d like to say a big heartfelt thank you to all the nurses who looked after me at Macclesfield, for making the whole experience of receiving chemotherapy so much easier than I could ever have hoped.