3 more days of curfew and cooking

The sun has set on another day here in Bangkok and the theme for today seems to be “charred”.

The city is unrecognisable in so many places and it feels as if it still in shock after the violence and bloodshed of the past days.  The protest has been disbanded, but the burning continued as buildings were torched.  Today we have seen a smouldering and charred city and many places we know have been destroyed or damaged.  Our rendez vous spot and base of much chemo treat shopping, Central World at Chidlom has been gutted and is reported as being in danger of collapse.  It seems ironic that my post reflecting on how much life changes “Things will never, never, never be the same again” was inspired in Central World – and now seems eerily pertinent to the place itself.

On the positive side, the city is not all that is charred.  We left very early today for the hospital, unsure of how things might develop outside.  I arrived about 45 minutes early, unsure of whether my session would be able to run.  Incredibly, I was ushered in and seen almost on arrival.  Apparently, a number of patients were not able to get to the hospital and there was a free slot when I arrived.  So, incredibly, session 22 went ahead quickly and smoothly and the charring on my radiation site is developing nicely.

Again, I was told to hurry home and stay safe after the treatment.  I gave the same advice to the staff – they seemed quite amused and touched!

Bangkok has been placed under night time curfew for another 3 days.  Coincidentally, now that 22 radiation zaps are done – I have 3 cooking sessions left!

Bunkered down – Bangkok’s Breast Cancer Correspondent ;)

When I started this blog after my diagnosis, I did say I was not sure where this tail of the unexpected would lead.  I did not imagine in my wildest dreams that I would be a (self -appointed) Breast Cancer Correspondent from Bangkok during these troubled times in the city.  Looking back over my posts of the past few days, I see that this is what seems to have happened.

It is in no way my intention to go into detail on the situation here.  There are plenty of reports, images and analyses from experts and eye witnesses.  No, my insight is purely on how it affects my breast cancer experience.

Back in March, my 7th chemo coincided with the beginning of the protests and even at that stage I connected it with my breast cancer treatment.   We returned to Bangkok for chemo 8 on 3 April and have stayed on for the radiation treatment.  The protests have been part of life all the time we have been here.  We have not felt in any danger, but have felt the effects in many ways.

The past few days we have seen a considerable escalation in the tension.  As time passed following Monday’s ultimatum to the protesters, I felt a tangible ease of tension generally around us.  I was able to have my 20th radiation zap and meet with the Consultant yesterday.

When I woke up this morning and checked email and news, I abruptly learned about the move to clear the protesters.  A wee sneaky peek from the rooftop showed plenty of smoke and I could see the helicopter circling over the area, as well as a small fixed wing plane up above.

We all know that it has become a critical day for Bangkok.  Tension and nervousness have been palpable.

As my appointment time approached, it was matched by increasing speculation of a curfew.  It was soon confirmed that there will be a curfew across Bangkok from 8 pm tonight.  I was fairly sure the hospital would phone if my treatment would be cancelled so we prepared for our very short trip.  The streets were pretty quiet and even the little tuk tuk belonging to our apartment block was unable to run.  Fuel is restricted because it has apparently been used in the fires, and our little tuk tuk was out of juice.

Things seemed to be running fairly normally at the hospital and on arrival I was swallowed up by the usual routing – Blood Pressure, weight and temperature checks, change into gown, wait and then into the Linac radiation Bunker. (The treatment room is called the Bunker – how ironic!) In the Bunker, the staff soon made sure I knew about the curfew and knew not to go out this evening.  Then I was put back into my mould, covered in the jelly pad and left to be zapped.  Number 21 was soon over, and I was again removed from my mould, released from the Bunker, and sent to change and to go straight home.  Already the hospital was showing signs of the impending curfew – cafés and shops closing and people rushing to get home. I have just learned that this is the first curfew Bangkok has seen in around 15 years so the nervousness is highly understandable.

We reached home quickly, a good 3 hours before the curfew was due to begin and settled in for the night.   From one bunker to another.

We have no idea what tomorrow will bring and no idea if we can head to the radiation bunker for Zap No 22.  We are safe and sound and bunkered nicely down for the night as the dramatic reports and footage from other parts of the city continue to be aired.

A grey afternoon in Bangkok

It has been mostly overcast here in Bangkok all day.  In fact, it has been overcast in more ways than one.  The weather has been gloomy and grey and we have had some heavy rain.  The mood feels similar from where we are.  People are staying in as the situation intensifies in the central area where the protests are concentrated.  News reports bring graphic footage and accounts of the violence.  It is hard to see resolution, let alone peaceful or prompt resolution.

We are well away from the affected area and not at risk.  We are receiving regular messages and updates when they are available.  We have cancelled any plans we had this weekend.  We are venturing nowhere except the hospital (which is very near) and also away from the trouble.  We really are safe and sound.

There is talk of a curfew which I personally hope does not materialise.  This is not a new situation for me, so does not cause any anxiety in itself.  The reason I do not welcome it is purely selfish.  I am so near the end of my treatment, my Triathlon from hell, which has lasted nearly 8 months so far.  With only 6 radiation sessions left, I feel that any postponement or delay is akin to the last straw breaking the camel’s back.

It is incredible that the hospital has been able to keep things moving forward up to now, and I really take off my hat to the staff for their commitment and professionalism through all this.  (That is a metaphorical hat – I am far too bald to take off my own hat).  Yet all I can think about is my own treatment and how I don’t want it to be delayed, so near to the end and so near to seeing my family again after so long.  I am not proud of this selfishness amidst what is happening in the city but I cannot deny it is there.  I think a lot can be attributed to the horrible cancer as it seems to place a lens over your eyes.  Everything you see is through the cancer lens and it seems to influence your feelings and decisions too.

There is no confirmation of a curfew and some statements have indicated that there will not be one immediately.  The violence seems to be continuing.  The air is thick with uncertainty.

Let’s hope that peace returns, the grey clouds and mood lift and that this selfish patient can get her final treatments without too much disruption.