Thursday, 25 October 2012

Laughing, fundraising, scriptwriting and fog

The worst part of chemotherapy for me is the total, bone-deep exhaustion, that just makes everything seem like such hard work that I end up doing virtually nothing, then constantly beat myself up about it. It's like being overwhelmed by a blanket of thick fog, and to then try and reach out beyond the fog is like climbing Everest, backwards, in ballet shoes, but harder. Staring into the mid-distance is about all I'm good for at the moment, which is incredibly frustrating, when there are so many things just not getting done. 

Never mind, I do have breast cancer, and that means people are generally  ever so forgiving. Hopefully it won't always be like this, but all I want to do all day is crawl back into bed, but don't, mostly for two reasons. Firstly I just don't have the energy to make the go-back-to-bed decision, and secondly, when I do managed to get back under the duvet, all I do is worry about everything that isn't getting done.

I really shouldn't be moaning about the chemotherapy side efffects, because the side effects of not having chemotherapy are a great deal worse, with death being one of them. It's the cancer treatment, rather than the cancer itself that makes you feel like pants. If I have all this treatment and still end up popping my clogs, I have totally promised myself that I will come back and  haunt whoever is was who invented chemotherapy. They won't be the only ones..... I can have a lot of fun compiling my "people I intend to haunt" list. Please let me know if there's anyone you'd like me to add to the list.

Last night I watched a TV programme which really made my list grow longer - all brand new, young junior doctors. They were all probably lovely, well meaning lads and lasses, with their hearts in the right places, but their arrogance and their ability to patronise were just staggeringly shocking. The documentary, following 8 doctors in their first week out of medical school did seem to focus on a particular sore-point of my own, putting canulas in and taking blood out, but their lack of understanding, patience and compassion was quite simply apppalling. Their priorities seemed to be more about making their mark and earning the respect of their new colleagues than really beginning to understand how their patients felt. There were moments when I wanted to shout at the telly, advocating for the poor patients being used as practice guinea pigs by these youngsters who really didn't know what they were doing yet. One poor old lady who was just at the end of her tether at being used like a pincushion, refused any more. She was later referred to as being "difficult and princessy", which really made me quite cross. 

I have to say that , almost without exception, all the doctors I've met in the cancer unit I attend have been incredibly sympathetic about my needle phobia, so I think I'm very lucky indeed. I wonder what they really say to each other, and in my case, I'm sure some of them might be tempted to use significantly stronger adjectives than "difficult and princessy". Unless of course it was Mr Lovely, who I'm sure, wouldn't ever say anything negative about anybody. 

Despite the tiredness, I have got a couple of rather exciting projects on the go at the moment, one, of course, being to do lots of thinking about how to turn this blog into a play script, because a dramatized version will be performed next May at the Brighton  Fringe. In my mind there is only one casting option with enough charm and warmth to portray the lovely Mr Lovely, but I doubt we could afford George Clooney.

The other exciting project got off the ground only yesterday. Our local Mencap organisation needs to raise £20,000 for a new sensory room. Mencap is an amazing place, offering fabulous opportunities to local learning disabled children and adults. My very learning disabled son, Toby, has been a regular there since he was only 5 years old, and I can truly say that it is probably his favourite place on the planet. The whole ethos just centres around fun and nothing is too much trouble for them if it means raising yet another smile or giggle from some of our most vulnerable people.

Although National Mencap is a high-profile and very respected charity, each of the local branches are independent, separate, stand-alone charities, responsible entirely for their own fund-raising. They just don't have the clout or the appeal of other charities, and sadly, not everyone can identify with learning disability in the same way they can with many other charities, so donations don't exactly come in thick and fast. 

Just a few weeks before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I trained as a Laughter Yoga Leader, so I haven't been able to really focus on building up a laughter business. I do sessions at home for friends and family on an informal basis, but as far as organising venues and running regular classes goes, there just hasn't been the energy to even think that far ahead. 

Yesterday I met with two of the local Mencap managers, and offered to run a series of Laughter Yoga sessions on their premises with all the proceeds going to the sensory room appeal. There was so much good will and enthusiasm, and we have a taster already booked for next month, carefully timed around my best chemo days, with a full programme of sessions to run straight after Christmas. I am so excited! It is so nice to still get on with other things that don't have "I have cancer" running right through the middle, and it will be brilliant to be able to contribute to an organisation that have really supported my family over the years. They are doing all the publicity and organising the room, all I have to do is turn up and run a session. We also talked about me running sessions with their learning disabled clients, which could be so rewarding, and maybe even working with local care homes. As a really thoughtful gesture, their Fundraising Manager has even offered to help me get started properly once I'm finished with treatment and the time is right. Will that ever happen??! Of course it will!

We'll be asking for small donations of between £3.00 and £5.00 for each session, so if you think you'd like to contribute something but can't make the sessions themselves, even a few pennies would help tremendously.  Here's a link to their "Just Giving" page:

So with scriptwriting and laughtering, at least I won't have too much time to dwell on boring stuff like having cancer. Cancer does get very boring indeed and it does seem to go on for flipping ever. It's OK though, because right now I just don't have enough energy for too much excitement, so boring sort of suits me right down to the ground.

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