I guess I saw this one coming – was sent home today without receiving a dose of chemo because my blood platelet count was too low.

Digging out my old posts from December 2009 / January 2010 reminded me they measure platelets as ‘bits’ per cubic millimeter. The normal, healthy person has between 150,000 and 450,000, which is simplified to a platelet count between 150 to 450. They will not administer chemo if it drops below 100. When they tested last Thursday, it was 91. But the hope / expectation was that it would creep upwards between then and today (Monday).

Instead, it dropped to 66. That’s a personal best (PB) for me. Back in the day, the lowest I got to was 78. It would be a very good idea if I did not cut myself shaving at the moment. It might bleed for rather a long time. As I said back then, below 50 and you don’t need a wound. You bleed spontaneously.

The cause of the low platelet count is of course the chemo received, but also (presumably) interaction with the AZD6738. Even though I feel no adverse effects, something is going on in there.

They invited me back on Thursday to take another test. Seemed a bit of a forlorn hope, to get to 100 from 66 in four days. And a journey of 3+ hours there, 3+ hours back. We settled on the idea that I go instead to the local hospital and ask them to do it. *Walks in off street, approaches the reception desk. “Excuse me, would you take some blood from me please?”*

I also found out over the weekend (cheers, Google) that Fragmin can also decrease the platelet count. Apparently, drop below 50 and you have to come off it anyway. That’s the end of me taking that, then. Wish they’d thought that one through earlier and suggested stopping it to me, before I did the search for them.

It does feel so very, very deja vu. I’m stuck in the Evernow. We are on repeat.

Fuck me, but I’m bored of this cancer now.

I’m bored of looking at the charity posters that invite me to join the fight against cancer and the enemy within. Over forty years ago, none less than Richard Nixon  declared the war on cancer. He took a little time off from bombing Vietnam (and cutting medical research budgets, including cancer research) for that one.

Pacifism has always made sense to me. If war is the answer, it must be a stupid question, and all that. Since I became a cancer thingie, my urge not to hurt or kill anything has gone up even more. Atrocities in war zones now depress me more than ever. Those people don’t have to die, yet they are dead.

So why would I want to fight a war against anything, cancer included? It offends me. I’m as offended as someone who goes on Twitter to complain that Facebook is down and YouTube has blocked a video, and that is Mighty Offended Indeed.

Cancer is not within me. Cancer is me. Just as chemo (my friend) is really my destroying angel, killing all that it touches. Cancer is not my enemy. Cancer, who knows where you end and I begin? Cancer might well be quoting Shakespeare at me: “Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now“. Do it now. But, I can’t.

I’m willing to take the time to help find out more about drugs that might cure cancer. But I can do it without the war metaphors for cancer. I may have the scars, but I’m not some foot soldier fighting on anyone’s front line, aiming at the unseen enemy.

If, dearest cancer research fundraiser, you make us your soldiers in the war on cancer, then what are we to be called when we fail?

Let me tell you about the “war” that we’ve fought for over 40 years now. The big “battles” we’ve won have come from better screening and prevention, and not from any arms race developing better, more potent drugs.

I’ve spoken before about the essay in “Sightlines” by Kathleen Jamie – the one in which she describes the highly-magnified pathological images from a 10-inch sample of cancerous colon. At that scale, they are like imaginary landscapes. A map of rivers and deltas; inlets and peaks. She also talks about her scar ( a consequence of her breast cancer) and coins a new word “Frissure“. It’s a portmanteau of “frisson” and “fissure”. The fissure (cuts or tears to the skin) part is easy. The frisson (shiver or shudder) part comes from the shock of a scar on naked skin.

And yet, still, there is beauty within. Even as you shudder.