Victoria Derbyshire’s Breast Cancer Diary: End Of Chemotherapy
BBC journalist Victoria Derbyshire has finished the chemotherapy stage of her breast cancer treatment. She describes her emotional reaction to the end of her final cycle.
Derbyshire has been filming diaries since she was diagnosed with breast cancer at the end of July last year, to try to help demystify the treatment. Her fourth one was recorded across January and February.
Speaking on 21 February, the day before her sixth and final round of chemotherapy she says: “Every day for the past four days I have shed tears, which is really unusual because I haven’t much in the past six or seven months at all.
“I think it’s because for the whole of this process I’ve just been concentrating on and focusing on getting through it, taking each day as it comes as much as that is possible, and being pragmatic and cracking on.
“And because it’s coming to an end I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve experienced, I suppose it’s just a release of emotions and a relief. These are actually happy tears because it’s going to be over soon.”
‘Tears of joy’
The following day, as the drugs are administered at the hospital, Derbyshire says it is “great” to think it is the last time she will wear a cold cap. Tightly fitted and so cold it forms ice inside, it is designed to minimise hair loss.
In previous diaries, the presenter has revealed she is wearing a wig but the cap has helped to save about half of her hair.
When a timer rings, alerting staff to the fact the drugs have been administered, Derbyshire says, “That’s it, cool,” then cries as the nurse removes the IV line from her hand.
Derbyshire then hugs her partner and cries into his shoulder.
Watch Victoria’s diary in full here.
Speaking at home later that day she says: “I’m home and I’m happy and I can’t stop crying which is mad – I think it might be six months of tears just coming out in one go if that’s possible.
“I think when it was over – when the drugs had stopped going into me through the IV drip and the cold cap was coming off – I think I was in shock, I couldn’t speak which is not like me.
“I just want to see my boys after school, have a cuddle and a celebratory tea and get on with the rest of my life. I can’t stop crying – tears of joy.”
In an entry filmed on 2 March, Derbyshire says she has spent a week-and-a-half sleeping, because after six sessions of chemotherapy, “your body craves sleep”.
“But psychologically, knowing it’s the last time I’ll feel shattered or achy or my taste buds aren’t right is huge, because if all goes according to plan I will never feel like this again,” she says.
“Right now, I’m looking forward to radiotherapy which starts in the middle of April. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to going back to work full time, to feeling normal, to having fun, to spring coming and to getting on with the rest of my life.”
Earlier in the diaries, Derbyshire shares her other experiences of treatment.
The fourth round of chemotherapy on 6 January left her “totally wiped out,” she says from bed four days later, causing pains in her back, legs and hips. She later says it was the most difficult round to bounce back from and the most unpleasant in terms of side-effects.
On 1 February, five days after the fifth round, she says extra steroids given to her by her oncologist made a massive difference in terms of managing the pain.
But there has been another side-effect – most of her eyelashes have fallen out.
“For the whole of the week my eyes were streaming, weeping really. The oncologist explained that’s because the eyes were compensating for the fact the eyelashes weren’t there to stop any bits of dust and grit from getting in,” she says.
“I am actually quite sanguine now about any more side-effects, so the eyelashes go, I think, ‘Yep, what else have you got, what else do you want to test me with?'”
Derbyshire says she is pleased to be returning to work shortly: “I’ve been trying to work out why being at work at the moment is making me feel so good – and I suppose it’s pretty obvious really, it means I’m not a cancer patient, I don’t really think about cancer when I’m at work, I’m a journalist, I’m just getting on with my job.”