I had my first bout of chemotherapy three days after football practise, on a monday. Heidi rang me on the sunday night, promising me that it would be okay and that she would come and see me on monday, if I was up to it. But I think she was the one who needed the most comforting. Due to the fact that I had willingly taken this thing from Alice, I should have been okay with everything, all the pain, all the treatment. In truth, I was terrified.
Dad took me to the hospital this time, for which I was glad. The nurses showed me into a small room where they slapped some cold anaesthetic cream onto the back of my hand. After fifteen minutes, they cut a hole in my skin and slipped in a thin cannula with a rubber bung at the other end. Tape was used to secure the tube to my shaking arm as a nurse attached the end of the cannula to a drip bag. 'Carboplatin' was written in white printed letters on the side of the bag, I knew that was the name of the drug I was being given. It would take 60 minutes.
After this, I was sick for a while until I managed to swallow a couple of anti-sickness pills a sympathetic nurse handed me. I still felt sick as dad wheeled me into the car on a wheelchair. I felt very tired and yawned deeply as dad got into the drivers seat.
"How are you feeling?"
"Not so bad." My voice was blurred by exhaustion.
"That was so hard, for me, seeing you like that and knowing that there was nothing I could do to stop it, not that is was much better for you."
"Do I have to do it again?" Resting my head against the window, I allowed the gentle humming of the engine to relax my muscles.
"Only if you don't want to, but you probably should."
And that was how it was for three weeks, the later two I had off school because it was becoming very hard for me to stay awake for lessons. Every couple of weeks I would go back to the hospital, throw up and sleep for a day or two. I lost my appetite mostly and had to talk to a dietician about what foods I should be eating to make sure I was healthy. And then my hair fell out. At first, I couldn't get used to it. Great clumps of it would come out in the bath or when I brushed my hair until one day I was staring a bald version of me i the mirror. Mum said she would buy me a wig, but I didn't want it; I didn't want to hide from it any longer, it would only make it worse. Instead, dad came home one day with a green bandana.
I spent ages the next morning, arranging it as best I could, even though it didn't match our school uniform. School would be a welcome release from the prison that had previously been my house. I was very self-conscious about my hair loss, keeping my eyes glued to the floor and not laughing as I always had.
Going past the IT block, someone laughed at me. I stopped and looked at them before storming over.
"You think this is funny?" I pointed to the fabric on my head, "Do you?" At the sight of their terrified faces I whipped it off, exposing my bald head, "Don't you wonder why I'm like this?"
Then I stormed back over to Heidi, shoving the bandana back over my skull I refrained from touching, scared of what lay concealed underneath it.
"You really hate it, don't you?" She whispered.
"It's awful. No one understands. Worse than anyone could imagine." And then, for the first time in front of anyone, I began to cry for myself, "I know I brought this on myself, but no one thinks it's right. But what if I did it to save someone else, for all the right reasons? Then would they understand?"