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Things I’ve learned

Tuesday, 12 June 2012 10:53:00 Europe/London

dandelion clock flower head blowing in the wind

When I had chemo I learned a lot of new things in a very short time. Many of them are things that I possibly would have preferred not to know. I will share them with you anyway.

1. Don’t blow your nose and eat it. I know your mother probably told you that already but I mean don’t do it at all, even when nobody is looking. It’s full of all the horrible chemo chemicals and tastes disgusting.

2. A heavy satin scarf is too slippery and is liable to slide off your head in the middle of Sainsbury’s. Look for scarves in fine jersey or light weave cotton, wool or cashmere.

3. Easier still, buy a ready tied turban. It will save you a lot of time and anxiety in the long run.

4. The anti-sickness drugs they give one can be very constipating. A strong cup of Laksetee before bed is a big help. Drink plenty of water too.

5. The chemo you receive will be specifically tailored to your circumstances. Some of the regimes can make facial hair fall out - including nose hair! Mine did. Who would ever have thought about that? Once all the hairs in my nostrils fell out my nose ran all the time. Stock up on pocket packets of Kleenex Balsam tissues.

6. On the plus side I didn’t have to pay for bikini waxing for several months!

7. Your lips can get very dry. It is wise to keep tubes of lip balm in every handbag, by your bed and in the car. My favourite of the moment is Hurraw! 100% natural lip balm. It comes in several flavours and colours. The dark cherry one gives my lips a deep ruby glow.

8. A helmet-head wig is a dead giveaway. Look for a wig that’s a bit messy and has lots of movement in it.

9. Chemo can make everything taste horrible. But somehow I always managed to find Green & Black’s Organic Dark Chocolate palatable.

10. It is much easier to take small sips of water from one of those stainless steel sports bottles than it is to drink from a glass. I usually buy one and refill it a couple of times before I lose it, then buy another one.

11. A teaspoon of Manuka honey a day helps to keep mouth ulcers at bay. It is also good for putting on cuts and burns.

12. Another sure sign that you’re wearing a wig is that there is no scalp visible at the crown. Wear a hat over your wig to cover up the truth.

13. It’s ok to lie on the couch all afternoon if you feel like it. You’re sick, remember?

14. A Hermès head scarf always cuts a dash.

15. Cancer is not your enemy. Fear is your enemy.

Jessica Jones - Author of the Chemo Chic Blog - A Guide to Surviving Cancer With Style and 'The Elegant Art of Falling Apart' published this year.

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