It's been a long time coming.

So there we are, preparing for a cricket game against arch rivals Chalambar, looking forward to a decent game, given that their star player is in jail for a month for trafficking, much to my delight (the same guy who hit me in the head with a bouncer more than a year ago). We're looking good despite having to bat first - not usually a good option in a one-day game, but we lost the toss so I can't say anything. Anywho, picture me at No. 6 - a decent spot for me - and four wickets falling at the drop of a hat.

Nine overs in and we're four down for 33. Not a good score. Well, time for the CJ-machine. I step in onto the oval, and after a bit of a shaky start, manage to get off the mark. Good. My New Year's Resolution is "no ducks". So far I'm succeeding. My goal for this season is to get a fifty - considering I hit 36 two weeks ago it can't be far away. Anyway, a few overs later, my partner goes out. We're five down and looking bad. The next guy comes in, and pretty soon I'm facing a spin bowler. They're slow, but you can not be complacent with spin bowlers, as is the example here: he bowled me a few very loopy balls, all full-tosses on the leg side. I hit him for 2, 4, 2, 2, the next ball is a wide, then suddenly he rips in with a decent ball. Ha! See? Anyway, I've scored ten runs in four balls, and after the boundary (four) something snapped in the back of my mind.

I can do this!

When I lose my next partner, Beano comes in. He's a guy I can always always always make a good partnership with. By now I'm on about 20 runs and I'm thinking "Can't be much left until I pass my high score". The opening bowler comes in, and he's the guy I know from school in this log. Beano faces the first five balls, then the bowler gets an idea when I get on strike. I know exactly what's coming, but it doesn't mean I react properly: I never try and predict where a ball is going to go, so he bowls a short ball and I end up with a bruise on my left shoulder. I vow revenge; unfortunately, one over and a few runs later, it's drinks. I'm feeling very very good, because this knock has been so much better than my 8 of last week, and potentially better than the 36. But I don't know that. I don't know the score, nor do I want to know. I do a couple of pushups to keep me going - Beano protests but I have my reasons - and we're back out on the field. He's bowling again, but he's learned his lesson: he doesn't bowl anything else short. However, I do hit one straight back at him - it's a hard chance and he drops it, but I vow to be cautious for the rest of my innings.

Still in, and facing a new bowler, I clip three balls in a row past first slip (there is nobody else in the slips cordon) and they all go for two runs, except the third which goes for four. As the umpire signals "Four" I hear an almighty cry from the boundary followed by applause; I have made my maiden half-century. I raise my bat and my other fist towards the rest of the team, then I adjust my box and carry on, remembering advice from my dad as I go: "When you get to fifty, make your next goal a hundred." My cry of "DOUBLE IT UP!!" during those three balls became the most used phrase for me for the afternoon. Then my partner loses his wicket. I am running out of partners, and I am running out of time. I won't get my 100 but I'll have a dip anyway. After that partner loses his wicket, we are 8 down and now out of trouble. Alex comes in to bat, and I just say to him "Stay in". So he does.

You beat me to (a fifty), you bastard.

On my captain's orders, I decide to have a bit of a swing, as we are down to 4 overs left. My first swing gets me a few runs, but my second swing - next over - bowls me. At that point, the same guy I know from school yells, celebrates, and whoops, all the way from the boundary to the pitch. In fact, all through the innings, he's been like that, even having a dip at Forrest Gump at one point: "Cricket's like a box of chocolates, you never know which one is going to be the wicket." For the rest of the day he talks about chocolate. Thank Gods he didn't get me out; instead I've been bowled by a left arm medium. I've made 75, my highest ever score (in fact, double my previous HS), the highest score in the team and the game, and the longest I've ever stayed in for (29 overs). Dad comes out to bat, and next over is bowled out. We are all out for 198, a defendable total.

And defend it we did. They played in the exact same fashion as us - losing early wickets, rallying, and losing the rest steadily - with the exception that our bowling and fielding was tight, so in the same amount of overs that we made 198, they fell all out for 119. A 79-run victory: without my contribution, we would have won by only 4 runs and the game would have hella changed. One more thing to note that might have changed the course of the game: I misfielded one ball, the batsmen had a mix-up which left a batsman stranded in the middle of the pitch, the fieldsman who backed me up fired the ball into the stumps and ran him out. Hehe. My slip-up screwed them over.

I just wish I could have gotten you out.

"Forrest Gump" went out for five runs. He was bowled by one of our star bowlers on the second-last ball, and it was perhaps that wicket that gave us the most reason to celebrate; he'd been yapping all through our innings, and it wasn't just me that wanted to punch him out. At least two others from our team wanted to have a swing at him. Fortunately, we all kept our tempers, and after the final wicket fell, I souvenired a stump, traditional for the winning team and/or the best player of the day. I was loving it when I was out there and I was loving it even while I was writing this daylog...

We went to the pub.

So what's chemo really like, you ask? Well, dearly beloved, let me tell you at least of my own experience.

wertperch and I usually arrive around 9:30 am, although this is going to change. What I'm describing is a fairly typical regimen for breast cancer, although there are LOTS of different protocols, and other types of cancer have their own.

The first bit, which yesterday didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped, is to access a vein. I had a port-a-cath installed a week ago, which is a little subdermal gizmo with a rubber top, that's attached to a tube running into my vena cava. That means generally they can get a blood sample for labs, and give me chemo and the associated drugs, through the port, rather than using a needle in my arm. I dislike getting poked with needles in the arm every single week, and I generally find an IV uncomfortable even though they are supposed to be painless, so I like having a port.

Alas, this week it was not to be. They tried to access the port, but since the surgery is only a week old, there's still some swelling, so they couldn't hit it. Three tries, and the nurses gave up. They don't like poking around any more than necessary. So the old IV it was. Always in my left arm, and I tell you, I'm running out of veins.

Then they give a passle of pre-meds, which decrease the risk and the discomfort of chemo. Notice I said decrease, not eliminate. These all go into the IV, via a pump, that times the dosage.

Mine looks like this - Tagamet, to decrease stomach acid. I sometimes ask for that first, since it's common to arrive with an upset stomach. Benadryl, to prevent a major allergic reaction - anaphalaxia - to the chemo drug or drugs. Dexamethazone, a steroid, also to prevent an allergic reaction, and to make the chemo more effective. Ativan, an anti-anxiety drug, both to offset a manic reaction to the dexamethazone, and also anti-nausea - most tranquilizers are also secondarily anto-nausea drugs.

These take about two hours - I try to eat lunch before the atavan and benadryl hit - in other words, when the room starts spinning. Yesterday it was a shrimp burrito, and it was heaven.

Then they start the taxol. First off, many chemo drugs are caustic, so the nurses don extra-heavy duty protective clothing. Imagine a hazmat outfit, but printed in happy happy pinks and blues, face mask with an eye shield, and heavy duty, elbow length rubber gloves. I want to steal one of these for next years' halloween costume. Then they check my wrist band, indeed I AM grundoon, and hang the taxol. taxol is photosensitive, so it has it's own special brown back, and dark tubing instead of clear. Adriamycin, which I received the last time, is a lurid, horrific cherry popsicle red, and is reputed to be the most caustic of all. To this day I cannot eat red popsicles.

The taxol takes 90 minutes, and generally I sleep through most of it. One of the nastier side effects of taxol is that it seems to have weird emotional side effects - I almost always cry about 30 minutes into it, and I'm typically weepy for about two to three days after, until it's back out of my bloodstream. Hard on my soul, and hard on the people taking care of me.

On this regimen, the next thing is Avastin. This is not a traditional chemo drug (think poison - kills all fast dividing cells, and why so many contain heavy metals), but an antiangiogenic. Cancer cells, in order to become tumors, have to fool your body into believing that they are normal cells, and to grow a new blood supply. Avastin prevents new capillaries from forming, so new tumors get starved. Very nifty trick, that.

First time I had it, it took 90 minutes. This time they went to 60 minutes, next time I can go to 30, if i don't have a bad reaction. Again, generally sleep through it, but I have movies and books on CD just in case.

All told, takes around six hours. Then they unplug me, and I stagger home in a fog of drugs. One of these tends to wire me up, so I don't always sleep well the night after the chemo. Also makes me feel really hot and flushed - I look very pink and healthy, ironically.

It seems to take about three days to wash back out of my system. The second day after is usually the worst - energy level is lowest, nausea is highest. I've never ACTUALLY hurled from chemo, I take a VERY expensive anti-nausea drug called Zofran, but in some ways feeling like you are going to hurl but never actually doing it is almost worse. At least when you have flu, and you DO hurl, you feel better for a little while after. This just goes on continuously, spiking up if I don't keep something in my stomach (crackers! Quickly!) Bleagh.

Nausea is increased by - hot foods, cold foods, spicy foods, acidy foods, sugary foods, fatty if you do the process of elimination, this leaves WHITE THINGS. I eat a lot of potatoes and rice, and friends are learning that what we think of as comfort food - chicken pot pie, shepherds' pie, noodle casseroles - are the best bet for me actually being able to eat them. This time around we are trying to boost my immune system and keep nutrients up by making juice, which seems to be working really well. wertperch makes me juice at least three times a day - the only failure so far was adding celery to a carrot apple kale juice, and for some reason the celery pushed it over the edge from palatable to pond scum. (I am not a big fan of celery.) Juicing it makes nutrients easier for my poor trashed digestive system to absorb, and my stomach doesn't have to work at it. (Did I mention that chemo makes you lose the lining of your stomach and intestines? That's the underlying cause of the nausea, mouth sores, bleeding gums, diarrhea that chemo patients suffer.)

Day four, Tuesday, so far I have felt miraculously better. Not 100%, but far better than the day before. I get two more good days, then back to the grind. This regimen is three weeks on, one week off, so THIS friday I get to PARTAY instead of pumped full of poisons. Hooray!

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