My first session was… delayed. No one’s fault. The driver who normally takes the chemo ‘bus’ into Stowmarket was on a training session, so there was a huge extra workload at the Macmillan Unit in the West Suffolk Hospital leading to delay of nearly 90 minutes before my individually tailored package of therapy drugs could be delivered.

And the place was, of course, buzzing. Or – let me find the right word – chiming

Picture a large room fitted out with a lot of (very) comfortable chairs. Each occupied by someone with their own, personalised version of Boris the Bloated Bastard. Each – at least when their drugs arrived – connected to a stand where their equally individual chemo treatment can be hung up, connected, and delivered.

And with each stand sounding a chiming alert when it’s time for a change.

Memo to self – next time please remember to bring noise-cancelling headphones. Fully charged. Which will also mean that when concentration fails and I can’t remember what happened on the previous page of the book I can at least play some music. Or watch something suitably sleep-inducing on one of the streaming channels. (No one says I have to stay awake, after all…)

The team – understandably – were harassed. They were giving it their all, but it didn’t take a genius to see that things were creaking at the seams. Which – I absolutely have to add – did not affect the quality of my treatment by one iota. The nurses looking after me were caring, concerned, and bending over backwards to help. Especially when it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to attend my booked-in appointment with my stoma nurse later that afternoon.

They called her. She came to me, instead. And we had a good and positive session in one of the treatment rooms in the unit.

Side-effects – of course – were something we discussed. And I was told, very firmly, that if I had any problems at all I should shout about them. (Not something many men, me included, are always very good at.) 

And finally I was handed my own, personal, chemo time bomb. A thing about the size of a cricket ball, full of slow-release drugs, and attached to the PICC line in my arm. Along (I kid you not) with its own little crocheted bomb-warmer. Frankly the laugh that gave me was worth every second of the effort some lovely person put into making it.

And then – home. To see what would happen next…