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Wednesday 28 August 2013

Chemo Ward 5 or 6 or whatever number it is

I am discombobulated by an encounter in chemo today.  

There was some nonsense about potassium levels so I had to have another blood test and wait for the results so the 20 minutes quickly turned into an hour and a half.  (All fine.  Had chemo!)

Opposite me was a man, having herceptin and sitting beside him was his obviously anxious wife.  You could feel the barely suppressed waves of anger and frustration flying off her.  She was what my mother would have referred to as "highly strung".

We got talking.  Her husband is in remission, which is great.  Really it is.  However, I did find her automatically assuming I was the same age as them (70's) when I told them my cancer was terminal slightly - well - insulting really.  I also REALLY minded about told that the reason her husband was in remission was "alternative medicine".  I asked if she was sure and that many alternative medicines were just sugar pills and there was no evidence base and had she checked that these didn't interfere with his chemotherapy.

As you do.

He has had 18 months of chemotherapy, she said.  But what has put him in remission was the alternative medicine pills she gives him every morning, she said.  She had told the doctors and the nurses at the hospital all about these miracle pills, she said, but they seemed very sniffy about them.

I said that I was worried she was being ripped off.

She said she had read all about them and knew they cured cancer.

I let it go.  That was really hard.  I said I was glad they had worked for her husband and that whatever made them happy and hopeful was money well spent.

And muttered to myself, very very quietly, "So nothing to do with the chemotherapy then."

I was glad when they went.  He looked very old and ill to me.  She buzzed off, taking with her the waves of anxiety and we settled back down to normal calm routine.

Where's Ben Goldacre when you need him?

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