Flying has always been a passion of mine, I've tried many forms of flight from helicopters and light aircraft to gliders and parachuting. There are no prizes for guessing which one took the most courage for me -parachuting.
There are many occasions in our lives when you do something for the first time, a first solo flight, a first date or a first kiss. You feel the apprehension build within you towards that moment, you analysis every possible outcome and reaction, you ask all the 'what if?' questions. What if I can't control the situation, what if I run out of things to say? The moment approaches, the anticipation and speed build like the night before a summer holiday; and then it's over. You land safely, the conversation flows, she kisses you back. You realise it's over, but the second time it happens you enjoy it more, you live in the moment, it gets easier with time.
In my experience there have been two important exceptions. Parachuting and cancer (well chemotherapy anyway). It's well known in parachuting circles that the second jump is the hardest. You go through all the training on the ground, you prepare and wait for the weather, when the wind drops and the clouds open you rush to board the aircraft for the big jump.
You don't know what to expect, you don't realise how long you sit on the edge of the door, looking down to the ground thousands of feet below, you don't realise how much you feel the air rushing past, pummelling your face as you wait for the push, you don't realise the jump will feel like the biggest hump back bridge you've ever driven over. Then you're out and the free fall is over in a blur, your chute opens and you breath a sigh of relief. Your stomach leaves your mouth and returns to normal as you settle for the decent.
The second time around you realise.
You realise what's going to happen, you forget why you agreed to a second jump. With chemotherapy you don't have the choice, but the emotions are the same. The first cycle of chemotherapy is a journey into the unknown. It's a hustling world of wires, beeping and needles. I'll write about my first time later on, suffice to say you don't know what's coming. Or what to expect.
The second time doesn't get any easier. You have an idea what's coming, you know what happened last time, but will it happen again? I imagine the third time you have a pretty good idea of the patterns that emerge but I don't have a lot to go on this time. With a bit more knowledge can the side effects be controlled, will I recover quicker, can I get back to normal a bit quicker? Or will the consultants warning, that the accumulative affect will make things worse, be realised. I've read that 75% of chemotherapy patients feel fatigued, I felt a little more tired after exercise the first time around but nothing more. Will I feel fatigued this time round - I don't fancy staying in bed all day on my own whilst life carries on around me, I hope I can get through another few cycles before that sets in.
With parachuting things improve from the third jump, the second is the worse then you get used to it. I think chemotherapy's the same. Only time will tell. Tomorrow I will have a pretty good idea how I'm going to feel, today I just have to sit here for a few hours more, I've just got one bag to go!