Thursday, 31 December 2015

Be careful what you wish for....

Tomorrow is two thousand and sixteen
Changes are ahead of which I'm very keen
My body is becoming chemical free
Which means a more normal furry me
Oh yes, my hair is slowly returning!
It's a state I have been yearning
I've now got tiny little eye lashes
My brows are rows of dots and dashes
Once naked nostrils are no longer bare
The covering on my head is soft and fair
Actually it's soft and grey
But grey is cool now so they say
The colour doesn't matter to me
I just look forward to being wig free
It's not yet quite long enough
For my head to be in the buff
So slowly grows all the hair I want to see
Speed up please I'm impatient me
For the place that is growing so very fast
Is not on my head or lashes, they are last
It is my legs, yes my legs have lots of hair
It's some kind of retribution I could swear!

Merry Christmas

I posted this on Facebook, but forgot to put it on here, so belatedly....

So here it is, Merry Christmas, everybody's having fun, look to the future now, it's only just begun.....I never thought I'd quote Slade, but it seems apt!
A big soppy thank you to everyone that reads my musings, for your support and love. I've had a few down days along the way and your friendship has brought me back up again.
Special festive loves to a couple of strong fabulous women, Juliet Still who is a 4 year survivor and Karen Jones who jogged along the same path as me. Ladies, without your friendship, advice and giggles, things would have been so much tougher. The future awaits us with boobs of all shapes and sizes!!
Merry Christmas Everyone xx

Tuesday, 15 December 2015


One week of Radiotherapy done, 4 weeks to go. My very first session had me giggling to myself. They have to line you up to the dots tattooed on your body, this takes a bit of time and patience on the first session. They had trouble lining me up, the Radiographers were shifting me slightly up, down, side to side. The lady radiographer in charge happened to have a German accent, and I struggled not to giggle when she said “You may zink you are lying down properly but you are not. Get up, get up. Walk around ze bed and get back on”. So I did, rather briskly, given that I was naked from the waist up and was following orders!!!! I lay back down. “Zat is better”, thankfully my dots lined up this time, I was not looking forward to what may happen next if they had not! The Radiography itself is rather strange. The zapping bit of machinery is positioned and the Radiographers leave the room. There is no window from their room but there are cameras so I assume they can see me. When they leave they switch the lights on, so there is no visual indication of any zapping. The only noise is a bit of clunking. It feels rather odd, perhaps vulnerable, you lie there still and semi naked as they remotely operate the equipment and then wait for them to reappear to move the equipment to its next position. You don't know if it has finished or not. I have wondered if they grab a quick coffee before coming back because it does take a while sometimes. It's also occurred to me that if anything happened to them, how long would I lie there for? At what point would I think they are not coming back and decide to get up?? “You vill lie there until I zay” ran through my mind!! At what point would I defy the authorities and just get up? Would the machine still be issuing radiation rays and would I get zapped in the brain as I sat up? Luckily at this point the Radiographers did reappear, actually it didn't take too long, just enough time for my overactive imagination to have kicked in!!

The only side effects so far are lightheadedness, feeling very tired and bit off my food. I also have one slightly tanned boob (or toasted as my Mother In Law said!). All of which are nothing compared to Chemo. My wonderful MIL has been taking me there and back and we have of course disseminated the others in the waiting room! Most people are lovely though, apart from the ones the MIL has heard moaning about having to have treatment! Not sure if they think about what may happen to them if they don't have treatment! Takes all sorts.

On a nice Christmassy note, I went to my works Christmas party. I managed a couple of dances and a couple of glasses of wine but then I needed to lie down and people may have wondered why I was lying on the carpet under the table (but then again from previous years, maybe not!), so I headed home at 10pm. Am glad I went but suffered for it the next day. It was my cancer treatment equivalent of a hangover! Loved seeing all my work friends though. Fab people xx.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Stirrups - Yee Ha!

It's been 6 weeks since my final Chemo and 3 weeks since having a Herceptin injection on its own for the first time. Did anything happen to me after my jab? Sure did! After I got home my feet blew up like balloons!!! I did the right thing and elevated them and slept with them on pillows and then just hoped it would go away. Which if course it did not. Phone call to the hospital and the Doc assures me that it is not Herceptin but the Chemo which has caused it. Three weeks on and my feet are still swelling up whenever I sit down. Walking and lying down are fine! I can also produce a rather lovely “cankle” look when my ankles decide to join in the swelling! Will see what they say on the ward next week when I have my next Herceptin jab. Just to moan a bit more, I have joint pain and stiffness too at times and it can be extremely difficult to get out of a chair if I’ve been in it for a while. I'm assured this will start to ease. But if you were to see me without my wig on and just my fuzzy bit of grey hair fluff, I seriously look like a 90 year man slowly creaking out of a chair!!! Yes man, not woman!! My hair is growing in a weird baby fine fuzz, male pattern baldness kind of way, also my nails look like they may be falling off soon, the joy of after-effects of Chemo!! Meanwhile I have been for another Echocardiogram, it was disappointingly ordinary, even the chap doing it was gentle and not like Cruella who attacked my ribs last time! More excitingly I have been for the set up appointment for my Radiotherapy treatment. Lee and I met a lovely lady in the waiting room who was unfortunately metastatic (got secondaries), but she was a joy to talk to. Lee was nattering away to her, while I got changed into the hospital blue gown, which had velcro all over the place and once on, couldn't quite contain my boobs, which I feared would break open the velcro at any point! I sat back down next to Lee rather gingerly for fear of exposing the Mitchell Brothers to our lovely lady, not the done thing really. They called me in and asked me to lie down on the scanning bed. 
There are attachments on there which look like stirrups, ladies you'll know what I mean (not the horsey type), but they are above where my head will go! Oh no, I can feel an inappropriate comment just waiting to escape from my mouth, regarding getting my ankles over my head, but thankfully I managed to refrain. Turns out the stirrups are for my arms so they are out of the way when the x-ray beams start to hit my boob. The very handsome young male radiographer tells me he is going to place my arms in the stirrups, then he takes hold of my sexy blue gown and rips open the velcro on my shoulders, takes my arms and places them above my head then rips open the front of my gown exposing my bosom. All I can say is I'm glad it was a very cold room!! He was a very nice young man!!! Ha ha!! His female colleague then set about my boobs with a marker pen, I think they wrote “stupid old trout” on my left one, but it was upside down so I couldn't really tell. I was slid in and out of the machine a few times and zapped at some point. When the lovely young man re-appeared he asked if I had any questions so I asked about my heart, as my Oncologist had said the Radiographers need to ensure they don't zap my heart, now my lump had been directly above my heart so…? He reassured me that the direction of the beam comes in at an angle and so misses my heart, it will catch a couple of my ribs and a bit of my lungs but that's all. Great, I think?!!! Now it was time to get tattooed. Oh yes, all ladies in the BC club get three free tattoos when undergoing radiotherapy. One in the centre of your chest and one down each side, so they can line you up to the machinery correctly. I steadied myself for this, as I have got “ink” already so I knew about the pain, but it was just one quick scratch at each site, nowhere near as bad as other stuff I've had done over the past six months!! It's just a boring black dot, a bit like the schoolboy thing on a knuckle. It's not big enough to even turn it into a flower!! That was it, all set up and done. They just needed to give me my start date, which is 8th Dec, which means I will be having Radiotherapy all over Christmas! Ding dong merrily on high!!! But yet again how can I complain? It's a tiny inconvenience compared to what it is doing for me. As I walked out of the room, they told me I can keep my sexy blue gown for the duration. How lucky am I? Now why has that young man run away?????

Sunday, 1 November 2015

Statistics, Damned Statistics and Pies

I've nearly reached the end of the very last Chemo cycle and it was time to discuss the next lot of treatments with the Oncologist.  I'd got through the worse days of this cycle and started to feel a little optimistic about getting back to normality as the last couple days have each been an improvement and the only way is up from now. In my head I am only a few days away from being in work each day, whizzing round the shops, catching up with friends, a normal mad paced life.  So my smile was quite big as I sat down in the Oncologist’s office.  She proceeded to tell me all the possible side effects of Radiotherapy, which they have to do and I signed my piece of paper to give consent to the treatment. She then told me I was still susceptible to infection for a while longer and my energy levels would not start to increase until after Rads, probably the new year.  My upbeat optimism came crashing down. I knew in my heart it would take time (plus my friends with experience have told me), I suppose I just didn't want to hear it. Chemo over, that's it, fixed, back to normal, crack on my son!  I suppose I've run out of patience with it all.  It's the mental battle of balancing not actually being ill with feeling so ill you can't function normally.  The cancer hadn't given me any symptoms but the systematic poisoning from Chemotherapy has destroyed my body.  Yet I know it is all for a mighty good purpose, keeping me alive.  I'm just so fed up of it. So I felt a little deflated. I want to run before I can walk! I want to stand before I can sit. Socialise before I can be social. Have a 10 minute conversation instead of a breathless one sentence.  All in good time my friend, rest, rest, rest. (I can hear Juliet’s voice saying this!).  We also need to see what effect the Herceptin injections have and won't know this until the next visit to the Chemo ward for just Herceptin. Humph!  I'm hanging on to my optimism but I can feel it dripping through my fingers like gloopy treacle slowly pooling in a dark brown puddle on the floor.  The other thing the Oncologist discussed was the Hormone suppressing therapy.  If your cancer is Hormone Receptive (this means it is fuelled by hormones) you need to have tablets, to help prevent that type of cancer recurring, most commonly known as Tamoxifen, but mine is a different one.  The receptive levels are assessed and if high enough, the treatment is prescribed. Mine were borderline.  Here lies a conundrum. I asked the Oncologist what percentage difference the treatment would make to my risk of recurrence, she worked it out and it was 2% at 5 years and 4% at 10 years.  It seems nothing does it? 2%??? There are many side effects with this drug and I will have to take it for the next 5 years. So how does one compare the element of side effect risk versus the 2% improval offered?  Weirdly to me it was no contest, I'll take the 2%.  I think this is because Chemotherapy has similar small percentages, I think it was 5% for me, so having been through that, why stop now? Percentages are an odd thing. I had a 20% chance of getting a particular aggressive type of tumour, which I did. That shocked me, I never thought I’d be in that 20%. Let alone that the 12% risk of any woman getting breast cancer would apply to me. But it did.  Perhaps that's why 2% means a lot? It just doesn't seem like something you should dismiss and refuse.  If someone told you that there is a 2% chance that you would be shot and killed tomorrow morning when you left for work, would you go out the door? I bet you would throw a sickie and wait until the next day when you knew it was safe!  Perhaps it depends on your circumstances, how lucky you are feeling.  Maybe I don't feel very lucky, so 2% means a lot? Feeling unlucky and pessimistic, I scrape up as much of my gloopy optimism off the floor as I can and leave the Oncologist’s office.  Never one to dwell in the land of the pessimist, I decide such feelings need to be addressed so it was Fish 'n' Chips for tea washed down with a can of lager and Blackcurrant & Apple Pie with Ice Cream for pudding. Mood instantly lifted. Statistics? What statistics? Pass the pie.

Brows Lashes Make Up

My new make up has arrived to create an illusion of eyebrows and eyelashes. Not sure how long it's going take before they start to grow back, so I need to learn how to make myself look a little less Uncle Fester like!! I have had a lesson from a MAC consultant so I reckon I have the technique down! It is so seriously difficult sticking eyelashes on without a line of lashes to press against! Got myself an eyelash tweezer holder thing, but still difficult! Lots of practice this weekend.

Monday, 19 October 2015

Last Chemo Tomorrow!

My last Chemo is tomorrow!  

What a momentous occasion!  I am so excited, not because any lingering cancer cells will have been killed off by the end of this treatment, nope, I am excited because I won't have to go through side effects again and a bit of normality will return.  Oh my good God what a relief that will be. To counter my unbounding joy at this, I have got a year of Herceptin injections ahead and we don't know yet what the side effects of that will be as the two injections I've had, have been at the same time as Chemo. 

But I am choosing to ignore that, I've decided that it won't affect me at all. So back to the positive stuff.

I can't wait to feel normal again (what is normal? My normal!).  No more feeling yuckety yuck.  Plus plus plus....My hair will start to grow.  I can't wait to have hair again.  I will never diss my thin lacklustre locks again! I want hair!!  Any will do.  It will be whatever colour comes through, mouse with grey I think.  I've not seen my own colour since I was 14 when me and Karen Harris started splashing lightening setting lotion on our heads!  No such thing as home highlight kits then!!  So mouse grey will do.  It may also grow back curly, so grey afro here we come!  They say it may come back thicker which would be amazing, but I'm not greedy, thin and scraggy will do!!!!  Eyelashes too!  I've missed my eyelashes!  How daft is that? When I rub my eyes it just feels wrong.  I miss putting on mascara.  I've got false lashes but it's really hard to put them on without an existing line of lashes to guide you.  My eyebrows were never thick, a youth spent overplucking to blame for that,  but to have a complete line would be lovely.  As for hairy annoying legs, armpits, moustache, chin, nose, lady bits, well you can keep all that! That's been the one and only good thing!!!!  I should have been listing all the yuck stuff that happens and saying I'm so glad this is the last time for all of that, but just take that as read.  I'm just excited about hair!!!  Am I shallow?  I think I must be.  But who cares?!!  Just give me hair!!  My nails are another matter, I think they may take longer.  They are currently starting to show signs of distress and it may take a good few months for it to grow out, so I'm ignoring them for now.

Apart from the shallow stuff above, I also can't wait to go out. Out anywhere!  Because my immune system drops down to nothing on this second drug regime, I took the decision (mine not Docs) not to risk mixing with people and picking up infections.  I have injections for 8 days after the Chemo to help boost my count back up, so why would I want to undo all the good I've done?  So apart from the hospital, I have been nowhere.  After this next lot of side effects are done, in three or four weeks time or so, I'm going shopping!  I'm going to stand in the city centre and see more people than I have done for God knows how long and I'm going out for a meal and I'm going into the office.  Freedom!!!!

Just slowly and gently, I'm not going to go crazy, I need to build my body back up. I feel like a gorilla born in captivity that they slowly reintroduce to the wild!!!

So it's hair, shops, meals, work (yes sadly).

I can not wait.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Doing Daft Things for Cancer Research

Oh my! My rather gorgeous nephew Samuel Wilson is doing some fundraising. He is doing mad stuff and you can watch it online (don't ask me how, I'm over 35). He is doing this in memory of his Grandad and to support me!! Am rather overwhelmed by this. So good people, please support and donate if you wish. It's for Cancer Research!

Sunday, 11 October 2015


I never understood why people described cancer sufferers as being brave.  I just didn't get it.  Surely being brave is jumping in a river to save a drowning soul, or defending your military position against certain death, or standing up to bullies in the face of actual pain and humiliation.  That's bravery surely?

Yet cancer sufferers are paraded across our TV screens and newspapers like gods we should worship.  With all the accompanying wordy waffle of the feats of their bravery.  I couldn't understand what bravery had to do with it.  If you've got to have some medicine to fix you, that decision isn't brave, it's just foolhardy to refuse!

Apart from kids.  A photo of a bald headed little kid with a tube up its nose and an IV drip and trolley being dragged along, would of course elicit only sympathetic words like "Brave little thing" from me.  I don't know why I discriminated between children and adults.  Perhaps I saw the children as innocent and maybe viewed the adults had caused their own downfall in some way? (A discussion for another day).

Now that I have a Breast Cancer diagnosis I do feel a little differently about the "Brave" word.  I still don't think it's a good fit.  I think "Coping well" or "Handling it" or "Getting on with it" are better descriptors.  But I do admit to feeling that I may be a little bit brave at some points.  This is usually just before a Chemotherapy session.  I really, really don't want to do it.  My body has just started to heal after the last poisoning session and I am fully aware of what is about to happen to my body all over again and I quite simply do not want to do it.  Yet to me it is more of a question of survival than bravery.  Survival comes top of this particular decision making criteria.  (Anti chemotherapy souls may dispute my survival theory here).

But with all this unsolicited experience to my name, I am, whether I want to or not, expanding my comprehension of bravery.  I get it now that those dealing with illness face challenges which are met head on with stoicism, pluckiness and fearlessness.  That is their brave decision.  They could decide to deal with it by complaining, moaning, making a fuss, blaming medical staff for pain and turning against their loved ones.  Yet to remain resolutely defiant that you will not be brought down by this mass of unfair circumstances is most definitely a brave decision.

So I take it all back, my easy dismissal of yet another brave cancer victim.  Anyone who can sit and watch that chemotherapy liquid infusing into their body with the full knowledge of what will follow, is most definitely brave beyond words.

So there, I'm brave.  So are many ladies including Juliet, Marion, Karen and Tracy. Here's to us. (Plus all those before and those that will follow, too many).

I also have to include a mention for the Kidney people out there, both dialysis and donor. Jackie, David, Ruthie and Gaz. Wow.

Brave people xx

One favour, please do not comment saying I'm brave, my detractors will say I have only written this to get "brave" comments. It's not been done for that reason, it's a simple discussion on what "brave" means to me. So no brave comments!!!! Thank you x

Thursday, 8 October 2015

A Welcome Side Effect Would Be....

I've never been a skinny shape
When 7 stone there was no gape
Around my thighs jeans stretched tight
Against the wobble there was always a fight
I yearned to have long lean pins
Managed only half decent short shins
The trauma and worry of a big fat bum
For a seventies teenager was no real fun
Not conforming to a skinny size
My bum and hips I tried to disguise
My one saving grace
Was my tiny young waist
But straight up and down I did not go
Curves in those days a big no no
A tendency to spread was the norm
Child bearing hips always the form
If only Kardashians were popular back then
On the Bo Derek scale I would have been Ten
But that's how it is, just the same for us all
The more we want skinny, the fatter we fall
Age increases size, weight keeps track
But it's not so bad just look at my rack!
My bosom happily detracts the eye
With a whimper and sometimes a sigh
From looking at my rolling spare tyre
I can't deceive, my belt's not a liar
There is no excuse, I'm aware of that
I could eat less, do more and not get fat
But wait what's this? At last there's a chance!
A bad ass illness could just be the lance
To burst fat's hold on my wobbling bits
And lighten the load on my so heavy tits
My boobs big and bouncy have attracted a fight
The way I see it with a glimmer of light
It's bad, mad and wrong to look with such glee
At what side effects might just do for me
But if I go through a real rough time
At least the scales could come under nine?
I really am looking at this in a positive way
Onwards and upwards to a skinnier day.
The treatment is tough and there's no guarantee
I may win, I may lose, we sit wait and see
But my fingers are crossed I might get thin
With everything else surely this I can win?

What? Wait, I'm not sure I hear what you're saying?
I'm going to have to start seriously praying?
No don't bring me down it can't be true
The opposite can happen? Who can I sue?
You're telling me I will soon start to crave
Foods full of comfort, they'll all be my fave
Too tired to chew?
Pop a sweetie or two
No energy to crunch?
Have a soft carb lunch
Tummy won't do digestion?
Sugary drink's a suggestion
Taste buds receded?
Bread freshly so kneaded
A mouth so dry you can't swallow?
Fresh sorbet with ice cream to follow
Those meds and steroids are messing my brain
My reason and logic is starting to drain
They definitely told me some people lose weight
So why is Humpty Dumpty my inevitable fate?

From all the side effects, one may just have been
A nice new look, trim slim and so lean
But it's not going to happen, I will have to agree
Easy popping carbs offer comfort for me
A quick energy fix is first and foremost
So vital to help the counting cells boast
I simply can't worry about things expanding
There's time ahead to be more demanding
Day by day I'll eat what is right for me
And adjust my clothes to easy and free
But honestly, really, why couldn't it be?
That Chemo slimmed down podgy old me?

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Going Public

We are a strange lot us human beings. Thankfully we are programmed quite strongly to help each other with survival. However underneath that we have multi faceted layers of complicated feelings, worries and anxieties. So many what if's, I'm not sure’s and what will they think’s? We are all going to react to major circumstances in our lives in many varied ways. These reactions may serve us well or they may result in more devastating problems. We just don't know. All we can do is go with the reaction that feels right for us. Only time will give us the clarity of hindsight. During my current progress through the web of illness recovery, I have discovered that we are all a little fond, myself included, of a subtle criticism of the way people deal with their illness. I understand this is a basic human response, as we want to validate our own choice of action as being the right one. The problem I have found with this, is that while it helps to strengthen your own resolve, it fairly well decimates the person you are criticising. I have chosen to go all out and tell everyone everything. Others tell no one but their closest loved ones. There is a whole range of individual and unique reactions, from those who go over the top and leap on the "Illness" train, with a need for attention that makes you cringe, to those that stay so quiet, sheltered and reserved that they become resentful that no one understands what they are going through, because no one knows. It is such a difficult balance between dignity and ignominy. That balance will only be chosen by the person viewing you. You have no control over the way they see you. We may feel so passionately that someone is making such a wrong choice in their life and feel there is nothing ahead for them but impending doom. We may have tried to explain this to them, yet they dismiss our concerns and assure us they know what they are doing. Hopefully what we do is sit by, watch and be ready to pick up any pieces should the worse happen, without ever saying those awful words "told you so". But if we end up wrong and everything goes right, can we say "I'm sorry, I was wrong". I'm not sure we can! Everyone has valid good reasons for behaving how they do, even if they can't elucidate why, it just feels the right thing to do. When I was first diagnosed, I took some time to decide how to deal with it. There is so much to consider apart from all the medical facts and the practical problems, but the biggest worry is other people. It is so easy to upset them. I know that sounds mad and should be the last thing you worry about, but for me it was one of the first things. I had to somehow balance my feelings and needs with theirs. I've always been happy in my own company but I do love knowing I have the support of my family and friends, without that I'd feel very isolated. I don't want to be mobbed by people, that would drive me nuts, but I am very very fortunate in knowing I could turn to any of them and say "help". That means the world to me. So my decision to go public about my breast cancer was, of course, multi faceted. Firstly laziness came into it. Trying to keep everyone updated was going to be much easier done all in one place! Secondly, I hate awkwardness, I dreaded meeting someone and having one of those conversations where we dart around the subject that no one will broach, yuck. I'm much happier when someone says "how are you?" and I reply "shit" and we move on. Love it. My next reason was one I am very passionate about and it's now become a clich├ęd word "Awareness". I feel compelled to tell people to check their boobs. Following on from that is my need to help others, whether they are diagnosed or are supporting loved ones. To me knowledge and understanding are so important. Sharing a recovery journey is one of the most important coping mechanisms for me. Hearing that someone has a similar side effect, reduces your anxiety levels. Comfort in numbers. Lastly I love writing, always have done. I have that need to be creative and lying in bed tapping my keyboard gives me such a wonderful release. I did try crochet (which I love) but it was too much physical effort! In truth I would be stifled without this wordy therapy.

I'm aware that I sound like I'm justifying my actions and that's not what I want this to be about. I want us all to be aware that other people's choices are just that, other people's choices. We must try hard not to take slight or be hurt by them. We must put our feelings second to those of our friend or loved one and do our best to support them through their choice. It's a big ask I know. Because underneath it all, we just love to be a little bit bitchy, don't we?!!

So read it, don't read it, criticise me, praise me, share my words, delete my words, understand me, ignore me. It's your choice and I respect it. I'm just happy doing my thing and very much hope that by doing that no one feels I am criticising them!

Complicated darn world!!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Thank you

Just one more Chemo to go
It's made my life a little slow
Apart from those around me
Whose lives whizz by so quickly
They spend their time helping
By washing cooking cleaning
Being a taxi and supporting
Wiping tears and understanding
Injecting, pill counting, supplying drink
Smoothies, fruit teas, ice to clink
How would I get through this
Without a loved one's kiss
I can be strong and determined to win
I can be weak and want to give in
I cry and get so frustrated
Yet always I am surrounded
By those who luckily
Seem to keep on loving me

And distance is no barrier
Hi-tech an instance carrier
A loving word here and there
The years and miles disappear
No one afraid to say hello
It makes my heart all a glow
Please never underestimate
The power and the fate
Of human beings connecting
It truly is amazing
The joy that can be brought
By just a simple quick thought
Never doubt that it's a good thing
To make someone else's heart sing

I'd like to say thank you all
Whether distance big or small
Whether years are many or few
I will always be grateful to you
My journey is not yet complete
But you've made it less of a feat
From people for who it's all a mystery
To those who have a big full history
From people who have a quick read
To those attending my every need
Thank you so much for helping me along
A tough journey but you've made me strong

Thank you.

Sunday, 27 September 2015


I have never really thought about how amazing the human body is. I get that pregnancy and childbirth is a miracle, breast feeding too, the fact that your body feeds and makes a baby actually grow! But the fact that our body just cracks on and heals itself is wonderous. That papercut so sore now will be gone in 48 hours. Amazing! My body at the moment is pretty amazing too. It is doing a brilliant job at healing itself. This is why….

My current Chemotherapy regime does this to my body (sorry it's graphic):-

  • Reduces membranes in nose resulting in nose bleeds
  • Reduces membranes in lungs leading to breathing difficulties 
  • Diarrhoea 
  • Indigestion and acid reflux
  • Total reduction of immune system, called Neutropenia
  • Painful nails, may fall off
  • Remaining eyelashes and eyebrows disappearing
  • Inability to move any part of body at all
  • Walking upstairs is like climbing everest
  • Complete and total exhaustion 
  • Having to be spoon fed
  • Symptoms of flu 
  • Dry eyes
  • Weepy eyes
  • Spots where eyelashes were
  • Pains in joints and muscles needing powerful painkillers
  • Having to self inject for 8 days each time
  • Nausea 
  • Lips ultra sensitive to heat
  • Dry, rough sensitive mouth
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Dizziness
  • No strength
  • Headaches

I have pills, potions, remedies and coping strategies for all the above and thank the Lord, they are all temporary and don’t all happen at once. By about day 14 after treatment, they have mostly subsided and my body, incredibly, starts to mend itself. The power of the human body is quite incredible and we don't give it enough credit for what it can do all by itself. Experiencing the stuff above is quite honestly dreadful, horrid, at times unbearable, yet it all stops. My body regenerates. When all this is over I am definitely going to give mine more respect and treat it a little nicer. I am so very very grateful that this is all temporary, I can't begin to understand how those with a chronic illness cope. I am currently in the position of having to poison my body with toxic chemicals on purpose to kill off any lurking cancer cells. It seems so wrong to me now that we poison our bodies quite willingly with tobacco, drugs, alcohol and junk food and dismiss the side effects so lightly. Why don't we care about the damage we are doing? Our poor bodies. Don't think for a moment that I'm going to become a teetotal vegan evangelical nut, oh no, I'm looking forward to a good few glasses of red! But I'm not going to just expect my body to be able to deal with any old crap I throw at it, I need to show it a bit of gratitude. So everything in moderation but a lot more fresh fruit and veg and I might even begin some serious exercise. There, I've said it now, going to have to do it!!!!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Best quote of the week

Best quote of the week came about like this...I'd had a fairly tough week.  I was sat on the loo feeling very very very sorry for myself, tears were dripping down my face, my nose was snuffly, I was muttering away about how horrid everything was, my darling Hubbie was sat beside me stroking my bald head, comforting me with his presence when he says this...."You have a beautiful cranium".   Tears instantly turned to giggles!! Xx

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Turning Triangles

Cycle 4. This time it was all change. A new treatment regime. Time to figure out how to cope with the side effects all over again. Although obviously unpleasant, when you know what is going to happen and how to deal with it, it makes coping so much easier. So the fact that I was off into the unknown again was a little scary. On the plus side the new drugs would not be administered by hand, this had involved having a plasma infusion dripping into the cannula while a nurse simultaneously slowly pushes cylinders full of noxious looking chemicals into the cannula at the same time. The idea is that the two liquids mix at entry, so reducing the risk of being burned by the chemical. I was always a little worried that if someone knocked into or distracted the nurse, she might accidently press the whole cylinder into me in one go! So in the same way that I can't sleep on a plane because the pilot needs my concentration, I had to be constantly alert and staring at the nurse's hands! Thankfully the new regime would not be given in that way. One of the new drugs is Herceptin, this is the one that could mess with my heart, I needed to stay on the hospital ward so they could monitor me for any side effects. We are tooled up with downloaded games on phones and books on Kindles, plus supplies of food drink and most importantly, sweeties. We arrive at 10am, a little after I get settled into the "Chair", hot pack on hand to get my veins to show themselves. Lovely tea lady, lovely cup of tea. Hooked up to vital signs machine. All looking good, all good to go. Sweet Nurse K pulls the curtains around us. Hey up?!! Is this because I'm likely to flake out with adverse reactions? No, she tells us it's because the Herceptin is injected in my thigh, so they give me privacy. With my thighs I think it's more a case of protecting those that may be unfortunate enough to see them! Trousers rolled down, injection slowly given over a couple of minutes, could feel a bit of pain but nothing too bad. Nurses then had to watch me for 15 minutes, if I was going to get the worse reactions it would be now. Deciding to ignore any thoughts of what could or may happen, I apply my thoughts to playing Tangram HD, a puzzle solving game, highly recommended for distraction. With a little clock watching, 15 minutes pass. There's been no immediate reaction. Looking positive. I will have to have these injections every three weeks for the next 12 months, so this is a good start. On to the next bit, usual infusion of anti-sickness and then the new drug. Nurse K brought over a yellow plastic box, a Response Kit and set it by my side, again I could react badly to this other new drug so they need to be prepared. After a quick glance at the Kit and pondering what they would shove where, I choose to ignore it's presence. It's a bit like reading all the side effects of a medicine, you can almost guarantee your brain will absorb that info and you will start to feel ill. So best to ignore the negative thought train and crack on with games, sweets and tea. The new drug starts to trickle into my veins and for the next couple of hours Hubbie and I become slightly competitive gamers. I am sure I can see where a triangle fits in and Hubbie just can't see it! Hmmm, maybe he can, damn! Just as boredom sets in because it seems I'm not way more superior than my husband at rotating parallelograms, the infusion is done, with no adverse reactions!! But we now have to sit there until 6pm to make sure. Helping time pass there was good music being played by Free Radio, I was getting my bopping mode on, doing a little wiggle in my chair, but then tiredness swept over me, so I reclined my chair, oh yes, Chemo chairs are top notch, settled down for a little doze. Hubbie nudged me to say my wig had slipped sideways, total coiffed elegance! I couldn't have cared though, I was among fellow baldies! Finally 6pm arrives and we are free to go home! I noticed that I didn't have that horrid yucky Chemo feeling, which was a good thing. I didn't even need to go to bed straight away once home, unlike the previous times. Early days I know but things were looking good. Perhaps I would cope with this stage better than the first! The next day arrives and I have to start injecting myself with a substance that increases my bone marrow production, as this stage of Chemo really knocks out your immune system. Got Hubbie to inject me as I was too whimpy to try it myself. He pinched my tummy fat and in the needle went. I hardly felt it, much relief. I knew there was a good reason for middle aged spread. They told us I may get some pain as the body produces more bone marrow. This was an understatement. Pains in joints and aches in muscles, had me in tears. I needed drugs!! For a couple of days I tried to cope with Paracetamol and Ibuprofen but it would wear off before 4 hours. I needed help. I rang the Chemo ward, they are always very helpful, never ever dismissive. They said they needed to check my bone marrow count to see if the injections can stop. The fabulous Mother and Father-in-law (MIL and FIL) take me off to hospital. Apart from the pains I'm also suffering the usual side effects including the "someone's hit me with a steel door" type exhaustion, which makes rolling over in bed or getting out of a chair a feat of monumental hero status, my Hubbie even had to spoon feed me at one point as I was unable to move anything. At times I have found that a well timed cake does give a temporary energy boost. So energy boosted with a cup of organic green tea and a Belgian Bun, we head off to hospital. MIL and I sit down in the Triage corner of the Chemo ward. A lovely little chappie, Nurse C, brings in a chair, a sharps trolley and a vital signs machine and then plays an elaborate game of moving them amongst the existing two chairs, table trolley, bed and drip stand. We sit watching rather bemused. He tries again as casters get caught amongst chair legs and leads get tangled. I did think we needed triangle turning Hubbie here to solve the puzzle! Another couple of goes and he removes a chair, a trolley and a Mother-in-Law. Space has appeared. He reloads systematically, including the Mother-in-Law and we're good to go! MIL and I have no need of words, we just look that knowing look to each other. Nurse C asks me if I have a line in, no I don't, to which he replies "Ah I gorra puda needoll in den". My heart sinks, please please know what you are doing!! My distrust was misplaced, Nurse C took all my signs, once he wiggled the cables a bit to get the machine working, then did my bloods without a problem. He explained we would wait while they tested it. Excellent stuff. A beautiful young lady doctor with a dazzling smile then came over and explained stuff and examined my arms and legs. My Chemo-brain kicked in when she said I didn't have to take my trousers off, I could just roll them up. I stood with my hands on my waistband desperately trying to figure how I could roll them up from there. My brain would not compute. Luckily MIL showed me how to roll my trouser legs up from the bottom! The other day I swear I was effectively solving complex puzzles. Where's the cake?!! Doctor Dazzle says my limbs are OK and we just need to wait on the blood results. We are offered sandwiches and tea. We take the tea and a chatty nurse tells she is due to meet her son's prospective mother-in-law after 4 years. Her son deems her ready now!!! She is amused by it and has taken the attitude to just find her son rather funny. Best way! Doctor Dazzle arrives again, the results are in. With all this pain I had expected to be excessively over producing bone marrow and was wondering if I could start a lucrative black market operation selling it off, but no, surprisingly my count was still low, I still need the injections. They gave me some stronger painkillers, advised me to take the injections at night and eat small and often and a few other tips for other stuff I have going on.

The injections are for 8 days in total and I have just had my last one for this cycle. I think we've figured out how to cope with it all and can face cycles 5 and 6 head on. I now have a growing list of solutions for each side effect and to misquote Meghan Trainor "I got all the right pills in all the right places".

Saturday, 29 August 2015

Sonic Pings and Sheldon

This week's adventure was an Echocardiogram. 

I will be receiving a treatment soon that could cause heart problems, so my heart needs to be monitored. I received my appointment letter for the Echocardiogram and it made me giggle. Strange you may think, but the opening paragraph was so random, it had to be written by Sheldon (Big Bang Theory). This is how it went....."Dear Mrs Bond, Ships use very high frequency sound waves". Feeling bewildered? So was I. It continued "projecting down into the sea to monitor the depth of water and to look for moving objects in the water". Yes, Sheldon's still explaining. "Recording equipment picks up the echoes bounced back from objects below the water enabling their size, shape and movement to be monitored". OK Shelley, what are you wittering on about? Ships? Water? Sound waves? Where is this going? For a moment I felt I was in work reading an engineering working instruction! Then Sheldon became a little clearer, "This procedure can be used to study the anatomy of your heart". Ah ha! So I need a ship, some water and some sonic pings? My brain was a little on the side of confused, whilst giggling to myself that this was the strangest appointment letter I had ever received! Wait, wait, Sheldon almost manages to talk a bit of patient speak "The Doppler Study uses changes in the frequency of reflected sound to measure blood flow through your heart". So it's just a fancy scan!   Now I know we all crave more information from the medical world, so I will not be critical and heck it did make me laugh!!! Hubbie and sons inform me that ships send sonic pings down to hunt for submarines, so it did occur to me that the odd sub may well be found floating around my heart, but the type with ham, cheese and tomato!!!!

My wonderful MIL (Mother in law) collects me and off we go for my sonic ping adventure. The Cardiology waiting room is full, as all waiting rooms are, but we are good at this now and are Kindle ready. We sit down, the MIL manages to sit on part of another lady patient's bag, which she tries to whip away quickly. Apologies given etc, the lady says "Don't worry it's only an Echocardiogram!". We smile and make the right noises, but I'm thinking, why have you got an Echocardiogram in a carrier bag and just what does one look like? The object in the bag looked to be the size of my Sky Hub. Very confused and with so so many questions I wanted to ask, I did the right thing and said nothing. I did think, I may have my own soon to transport around in a carrier bag!  Not enough time to resort to the Kindle as my name is called. The Cardiac Physiologist (lady doing the pinging), takes me into a room and tells me to strip to my waist, it crosses my mind how easily I do that these days, will I be stood in Sainsbury's one day and over the tannoy I hear "Shelf strip down in aisle five please" and before I know it, I've released my boobs to the unsuspecting pickles, sauces and tinned goods customers? Back to the pinging, I put a gown on and lie on the bed. Sticky pads get applied and wired up and lashings of lovely lubricating gel gets slowly smeared all over my chest. Steady boys, steady, if only it were going to be that much fun!!!  I'm told to lie on my left side and my Pinger says "I'm not really hurting you but I have to press hard". Oh dear Lord but you are!  Ouch and double ouch!!!  She is pressing the Doppler doodah very hard into my left boob, right on the site of my surgery. This is not good I tell myself, I'm not liking this.  It's pressing down right onto my ribs.  She finally releases the pressure.   Then she tells me to breathe in, in, in and out and...... hold it!  I'm holding, holding, still holding, s..t..i..l..l.. holding.   I start rolling my eyes and pursing my lips, trying to stop my brain from thinking "Hello, I am not breathing!".  And release. Praise the Lord, I grasp a few quick breaths.   Uh oh, the Doppler Pinger is on the move, she plops my boob out of the way and attacks me in the side of my rib cage, I mean right in my rib cage, this hurts!   She does apologise though and I understand she has to push or the pings wouldn't work.  More deep breaths in and out and hold.  Oh no, more eyeball rolling, lip pursing.   I am going to expire. My brain is screaming "breathe!!!".   It also occurs to me at this point that I should never seek an alternative career as a deep sea free diver.  At last she says "Oh sorry, release"!!!!!! She forgot to tell me!  She then says "just hold it for as long as you can".  A little late in the day for that important message don't you think Cruella De Vil??   Then the door opens, a man says "Hello" from the other side of the curtain.   Please don't come in, please, my boobs are spread all over the shop, dignity where have you gone?  Cruella kindly pulls my gown half over one boob.   Thankfully he doesn't come in any further, they exchange a few words and off he pops.  Sometimes I just hate the helplessness of undignified hospital body bits exposure.  So a few more rib cracking thrusts from Miss De Vil and she tells me to move onto my back, she Dopples my tummy with the same manoeuvres and then sticks it in my neck.  Any other situation you would be wrestling someone off who purposely tried to throttle you!!!!!  Throughout all this I did hear the occasional sound of blood swishing through my heart, which was reassuring. I didn't hear any hatches being battened and calls for "Dive, Dive".  Also reassuring.   All done.   My lovely lady Cardiac Physiologist (can't call her Cruella anymore, once the Doppler was out of her hand, she stopped being a sadist), then told me my heart was all good, it was all balanced and everything was working normally.  So it's official I have a good heart!!!!   Gel wiped off, clothes back on, back to the waiting room to interrupt the MIL from her Kindle, which did look like it irritated her a bit, has she found a legitimate escape from the FIL?  As she also has a good heart (huge one), she packed away her Kindle and drove me and my good heart home.

Overall a positive day, but I hadn't been given my own Echocardiogram, just what was in that woman's carrier bag?

Loves to CB xx

Friday, 28 August 2015

Amazing Coppafeel Rae Morris video

Please watch this amazing video by Rae Morris for Coppafeel charity.  I am in the position on the left, don't be the one on the right.  Feel those boobs!  If you download the video from iTunes, all the money goes to Coppafeel

Coppafeel charity

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Chemo and Daytime TV

Halfway through my chemotherapy
And I haven't once watched Jeremy
Even with all this time on my hands
I refuse to succumb to TV demands
Daytime TV is no place for me
I'd rather set my imagination free
So my brain wanders from place to place
Improving my lot is not a fast race
I'm slowly marching through each week
Obviously without being too meek
I've dealt with the first three infusions
How nice if the next three were just illusions
The therapy now changes, it's all anew
Side effects will come out of the blue
The unknown is what causes most concern
But from a path travelled once I will learn
What helps, what hinders, what will heal
Only then can I wholeheartedly feel
With true judgment and cunning wile
I still don't want to watch Mr Kyle!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Look for Lumps = Look for Life

Be honest ladies, how many of you have run your fingers over what felt like a lump, had a mini electric shock of fear course through you, then hurriedly move your fingers away and ignored what you may have just found?  

My hands are up, I've done it in the past!  My boobs are naturally lumpy anyway and whenever docs and nurses had a rummage in them, they always found something, but it was always a harmless natural lumpiness.  Anything that I found I always put down to that too. I quite simply sectioned it off to those compartments that us girls have in our heads, that are titled "nothing to be worried about". We don't want to make a fuss and take up the time of NHS staff for simply nothing. But that really isn't the right attitude nowadays.  

I bet you will know not only 1 person with Breast Cancer, but more likely at least 2 or 3 if not more.  You may even know people that have passed away from it.  It does seem to be everywhere now.

Thankfully when I felt my lump, I just knew it was a nasty one.  It felt different.  But I did have that fleeting moment of thinking "Ignore it", seriously I did!  Luckily that disappeared from my brain in a nanosecond.  But what if it hadn't?  What if I had ignored it?  Not wanted to make a fuss, not wanted to go through the awful waiting for results? The period of keeping it quiet in case it was nothing and I looked a fool for making a song and dance over nothing? Quite simply, my lump would have grown and spread, I would be looking at a very different scenario than the one presently before me.  

Once you can feel a lump it has the ability to spread, this means you have to leap into action, not sit around pondering whether to do anything about it!   Did you watch "The C-Word" recently on BBC1?  It was raw watching for me as I had only just been diagnosed, but a Mammographer that I know, reported an increase of 30 women who, following the programme, noticed changes in their boobs and followed it up, 3 of those women were diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  That was just in one hospital in one town.  Potentially that one programme has saved 100's of lives.

So you see if you find it early enough and follow it up, you may well save your life!  We have to accept that Breast Cancer is out there and its likely to get you, so let's stop it in its tracks!

I want looking for lumps not to be equated with a dire outcome, but a positive one, looking for lumps should equal looking for life.  Go looking for lumps, understand your boobs, know their road map, know how they feel throughout your cycle, you will then stand a good chance of feeling any changes and acting upon them straight away, look for life.  Impress on your daughters and granddaughters that this should become a habit for life.  I support the Coppafeel charity because they start with the youngsters, they offer a free checking reminder service. Take up that service whatever age you are.  Lets make lump finding a positive thing. Please also remember it's not just lumps, but any other changes too.  Get to know your boobs!

Monday, 17 August 2015

I've had the results of my scans

I've had the results of my scans......

We had been fairly petrified of what we were going to hear, a bad result meant we could be given a scenario of how many years I had left, but praise the Lord and hallelujah, the results were, no secondaries! This means my cancer has been contained, so my surgery and chemo etc should all be effective at knocking it on the head! (We will need to wait until treatment is finished for those results). So at this moment, after the scan results, I am very grateful and much relieved!


I have to say "But". Why? Not because I am the most negative, pessimistic soul ever, but because I am a realist. I like to have all my facts and figures, know what the reality is, decide on my course of action. I also say "But" because I need to look after everyone around me. I need to be careful with their emotions and feelings. I care for them because they care for me. If after my treatment, I was to say I'm "all clear" they will quite rightly rejoice and feel relieved!! However if after 1 year, 5 years or 10 years, my cancer comes back, they may think, she told me she was all clear, what has she done to herself? Did she not look after herself? Didn't she do all the correct things she was supposed to do? I know they may think this, because I've thought it myself of other people. Have you not been a little bewildered by people you've known who have gone through all the chemo etc and said they've beaten it, but a year or so later it returned? I was. I now know that it comes from a complete lack of understanding of how breast cancer behaves, or rather misbehaves! This is how it goes, the surgery, chemo and radiotherapy should kill off anything that exists. The hormone and targeted therapies will help to reduce the risk of recurrence. So BC can then just decide to pop up again either as a repeat of the first time or as secondaries in other parts of the body. This is where my "But" comes in, I know my statistics, I am aware. I have less chance of recurrence than someone who smokes dying prematurely, 50% of smokers will. Most smokers live in a dream world of denial. I'm not in denial. If cancer dares to strike me again in the future, I will be prepared. If I told people it was beaten and then it came back, how puzzled and mystified would they feel? I have accepted, that albeit in the low percentages of chance, there is a possibility it could return, the rate is approx 25%. (To all smokers out there, look at me and realise that I have a better chance of living longer than you!!! That might make you give up!!). The recurrence rate is roughly the same for all Breast Cancer club members. It's the only cancer where you can't say after five years it's all clear, because it can come back after even 20 years! You can however, say that your cancer has been treated. Treated and cured, I have learned, are two different things. Now please believe me when I say I am incredibly positive and I am not being negative in any way, I am just being realistic. I have a future. A future filled with laughter and love, my future. What this future will have to contain though is for any lumps, bumps, aches or pains that arise, I will have to view them with a little more suspicion. Now trust me, I can handle that! The answer I will be looking for is, there is nothing wrong. I will not be spending my life thinking it may be cancer, now that is negative! However it is a conundrum, looking for lumps and aches all the time is negative, but ignoring them is negative! What's the one thing that we are all persistently told? Examine yourself, get it checked out. So why then after a diagnosis would you not follow that advice? It is the most positive action ever. I've saved my life once already by finding my lump in time, I'm definitely up for saving it again should those pesky blighters dare to return!! I believe taking a pro-active stance is positive. This can't be viewed as having a negative outlook. So when I say I have "no secondaries...But" you now know that it's a positive thing to say "But", it will help those around me to deal with possible future shock and most importantly, it may well just save my life! Again.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Bald Showers Are No Fun

Bald showers are simply no fun
With no hair there's nowt to be done!
Ten minutes each morning I would spend
Washing and rinsing hair root to end
Lathering, rinsing, massaging with froth
The water completely carried me off
It took me to a island paradise dream
With waterfalls crisp and sparkly clean
The sun envelopes me with a healing glow
I add conditioner to the smooth liquid flow
I feel the suds slide down my back
Of joy and glee there is no lack
The sparkling water splashes through my hair
I'm enraptured by the sense of clean fresh air
No longer a razor called Venus have I
Its a real life sponge I drape up my thigh
Removing hair in a turquoise sea so blue
Much better than stubble flicked into the loo

A ten minute morning adventure
From real life a moment of censure

But no longer can I enjoy such bliss
With no hair its simply all amiss
Five minutes is all it will take
No exotic island tour to make
I now have no reason to drift far away
There's no tresses to wash at the start of my day
No more depilation
To aid relaxation
I get in wash my bod and I'm all done
That's why bald showers are no damn fun!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

My boss left his job this week and I sobbed my heart out.

My boss left his job this week and I sobbed my heart out.

Not because he left, but because when I said goodbye I shed a tear, then without warning the floodgates opened. I became a blubbering sobbing mess.

I returned home from his leaving do and fell into the arms of my bewildered husband, heaving, gasping, muttering nonsense, tears streaming down my face. "What's wrong?" Asked my husband, holding his arms tightly around me whilst trying to look me up and down to inspect for any signs of outward damage. Talking in the gulp, gulp, grab breath, one word, gulp, parlance of a bereft sobbing woman, I tried to explain "I," gulp, gulp,"feel", big breath, more tears, "so sad". Floods of shoulder shaking tears. My body gives up, being upright can only be supported by my husband. He moves me to the sofa and we sit. I'm wrapped up in his love. He wipes the tears from my face with his fingers "Oh Sweetie, what's happened, why are you so sad?".

"I just don't want to be doing this". There I've said it. My bravery, my stoical resolution, my smile no matter what, my Dunkirk Spirit, my inspirational status, has all come crashing down. It's hit the floor with a resounding smash like a redundant chimney tower being demolished.

I had gone out that evening for the first time, for a normal night out with friends, since my diagnosis. It was also the first evening out with my new "1920's Hollywood" look, A.K.A. a headscarf, dangly earrings and a bit more slap. I felt fine, I was looking forward to the copious giggles that I knew would occur with my workmates. I have always been very lucky with the people I have worked with, laughter and bad taste jokes have always been in plentiful supply, whichever Company I've worked for.

So there I was in the pub with my lovely friends, being normal. Except it wasn't normal. I'd joined everyone a couple of hours after the start, as I'd been home for a sleep. I wasn't drinking, I am allowed to, but I'm keeping it very limited. I wasn't having a meal because I need to keep the risk of infection to a minimum. I had no hair, but instead a headscarf on my head.

Whilst I sat there enveloped by the warm companionship of my friends, it was different. I was viewing everything around me with suspicion. The sauce bottles and menus had congealed liquid over them, the table had sticky patches on it, the woman on the next table coughed, the plates did not look clean, my friends meal looked undercooked, there was a used tissue on the floor. Oh my God, I had turned into Miles from Frasier! I've already got hand gel in my bag. It was like I was a newborn babe being taken out into the world for the first time. You wrap an imaginary bubble of protection around that baby and by staring hard at people you can will them not to breathe over your precious bundle. But I had to do my own staring and willing. I felt apart somehow, the gooseberry on someone else's date. My levels of self protection were at Defcon 1. I couldn't stop wondering how many dirty hands had touched my glass and straw. Dear God, paranoia? But no, this had been drummed into me, be careful. I have a low immune system, no way of battling infection. I take my temperature three times a day everyday, if it rises it could be a sign of infection and off to hospital I would need to go.

This was not a normal night out.

Then my headscarf came undone. My poise and perfected elegance unravelled. I dashed to the loo with the same fear as if the arse in my trousers had split. The underneath of you does not get exposed. The veneer of clothes and accessories should remain intact. As I re-tied my scarf my hands were shaking. This was not good. This should not happen. This was upsetting. How odd. I knew that the pre-diagnosis me would not have bothered to re-tie it and slung it down on the table with a "Sod it". But suddenly I felt vulnerable.

I looked at myself in the mirror, my face more heavily made up to balance the loss of hair. Was that me? Am I still there? I felt like a drag queen without his wig.

Deep breath taken, scarf sorted, I rejoin my lovely friends for some more laughter. Then it's time to say goodbye to my boss for the very last time. I feel a lump in my throat, a tear starts to roll, oh no, am I really going to blub? It's on its way, I try a breath and a gulp, it's no good, I spurt out "I have to go home now". I scuttle away. Rushing towards the door the tears are streaming down my face, just get outside is all I can think, then my headscarf comes undone again, I sob.

I'm outside, I get in my car and swear at myself. Stupid stupid cow. What the f**k is wrong with you?

I get home and collapse into my husbands ever strong, ever calming arms.

I go to sleep still gently sobbing. I wake up to find I'm in the same state, tears start to trickle. A nice cup of tea might fix this. Oh my Lord, I'm off again. Where the hell has all this emotion come from? I consider myself a strong and capable woman, like everyone I've dealt with lots of shit over the years and come through it still smiling, but today I need help. Today is not a day to be brave and stoical. Today I give in. I text a friend who is nearby, brief details that I've had a major meltdown. She prescribes an afternoon of chocolate and cake and she will bring supplies.

She arrives on the doorstep, we look at each other and instantly cry. We dissect my feelings. We cry some more. More tea, more chocolate, more dawning realisation. I'd reached that moment. It was my time to crash and burn.

My friend dug all these feelings gently out of my soul. I could not understand why I was sobbing, was I really that upset about my boss leaving? It turned out to be the catalyst that unleashed my built up anxieties.

Without friends like this our world would not be as rich. I am lucky in that I know I could have dropped my blubbering self on any of my friends doorsteps and they would have all scooped me up. A true mate is one that you can cry in front of with no make up on, unwashed, unkempt but not unloved. I am blessed.

I am so glad I wasn't afraid to ask for that proverbial shoulder to cry on.

It helps. Big time.

Fortunately my brain and my tear producing hormones have now written a peace treaty. The dust from my collapsed chimney tower has settled. I will expect to feel like that again at some point. This is surely what normal is. Otherwise to be a in constant state of controlled vigilance, guarding against raw emotional fears, cannot be healthy and can only lead to years of suppressed resentment. I'm not going to do that. I'm here, this is me, life at times is shit, but for the majority of time, life is a gossipy giggle with real good friends.

As well as remembering to tie double knots in my scarves, I'm now back to being irreverent, rude, rebellious and a little bit naughty. Because being good all the time isn't normal either!!!!

Kisses to MK xx

Friday, 31 July 2015

Head Shaving Day

This is a hard hitting photograph. I make no apologies for it. I am aware that its unflattering, shows my double chin, not glamorous, blah blah blah, but it depicts a pivotal moment, I now look like I have cancer, I now have a universally recognised badge, whether I want it or not.

However my real reason for showing this photo is that it is a perfect capture of that exquisite moment of pain which results in total relief. A bit like ripping off an irritating plaster, you know it will hurt, but it will be worth it. If you wondered why Breast Cancer Club members shave their heads, not only is it to stop hair falling out all over the place, it is to prevent the pain. For me the pain can be described as each hair having turned into a bristle, think scrubbing brush, each bristle was buried an inch deep into my scalp and whenever my hair moved or was touched, it hurt. Serious hurt. This is because the hair follicles die. My darling husband was prepared to shave my head. His emotions were more fraught than mine, I was eliminating pain, he was eliminating a part of his wife's femininity, he had already seen my breast be altered to a less rounded shape and now it was down to him to remove the hair that he enjoyed running his fingers though or sweeping to one side so he could kiss my neck. What a strong man he is to be able to get those clippers out and remove the last of his wife's hair. Which he did. You see him doing so in this photo. You can see pain in my face, but it was temporary, as soon as the hair was shaved off, the pain was gone. This very emotive picture was taken by my talented son Stuart Murray. This was not easy for him either. Documenting your mother's journey through cancer is not something you ever think will happen to you. He was concerned about showing the photo to me, but he knew he had caught a captivating moment. I think so too.

My Husband shaving my head due to Breast cancer treatment

Saturday, 25 July 2015

My Hair is Falling Out

My hair is falling out
I would really like to clout
The person who decided
My follicles would be divided
Between my pillow and the drain
And why does it involve such pain?

No more elegant flicking and curling of hair
No running fingers through tresses with flare
To do such things makes my scalp so ache
And increases the need for hair that’s fake

So as I approach coiffure by Mitchell Bros
My head will soon shine, but who gives a toss
I’ve wigs and scarves and hats to please
I’ll rock the bald, I know I can tease

So here’s to styling all a new
Let’s hope I won’t need any glue

Monday, 20 July 2015

A Simple CT Scan

A simple CT Scan

At the end of week one I went for a CT Scan, to check if all my organs are OK. I was still rather trippy at this point and was not at all looking forward to having to stay upright and awake in the waiting room. Neither was I looking forward to drinking 1.5 litres within 40 minutes, as my relationship with liquid was not overly friendly, having to ensure I drink a good 2.5 litres every day. Especially if I was going to have to hang on to that liquid and not be allowed to visit the loo. Serious stuff as I’ve had three children and am in my fifties. We arrive at the CT waiting room. It is filled with patient looking patients and their companions, with a suspicious looking hospital water jug placed in front of each. A smiley Radiographer with a jug in hand, calls my name, walks over and places a jug and a cup in front of me, “drink this within the next 40 minutes, it’s only water, the toilets are round the corner”, he says. Oh thank the Lord, I can wee. My bladder is smiling. Also it’s just water, no nasty sickly yucky stuff to have to force down. I can do this. Lee dutifully fills my cup and off we go, glug it down. I join the others in a weird enforced non-race to reach the bottom of my jug. I sip, I lean against Lee, upright is so hard and I so want to close my eyes, I sip, I lean. First cup done. Lee refills it, off we go again. Rinse and repeat until done. The silence is broken by a lovely water swigging lady in her sixties doing an enormous belch, giggling and apologising. We all nod and smile at her, we understand, we are united. Smiley Radiographer guy reappears with another jug, he gives it to Mrs Belch and says “This is your last one, when finished change into a gown”. What? More to drink? A second jug? They snuck that in. In between my sips and leans I start to observe, everyone gets a second jug which is only half full, so not as bad as it could be. Fast forward to the bottom of my jug. Here he is, Smiley Radiographer with the second one. Sip 1, lean 1, knit 1, purl 1, turn, repeat. The end of the jug has arrived. Walking like a drunk pretending not to be drunk, I concentrate hard and collect my gown and plastic bag for clothes. Oh now a conundrum, how undressed should I get? I try to remember other scans I’ve had in the past, but brain won’t focus, I decide on completely undressed as I don’t want to lean on the CT Scanner trying to delicately whip my knickers off. At least I brought my dressing gown with me, so I can hang on to a bit of modesty. After a dizzy visit to the loo, with my plastic bag full of clothes, I stare hard at the patients’ legs and feet as I negotiate getting past them back to my seat without falling over. If only I’d had the fun beforehand to warrant such a hungover state. It’s my turn. In the scanning room, I take off my dressing gown and two girl Radiographers smile at me, the one offers to do my gown up at the back, oh dear, my arse was hanging out, but I’m too spaced out to care. I bend down to get on the scanner and fart. Yes a loud unmistakable, unstoppable, uncontrollable, no warning fart. I choose to ignore it. A thought brushes past that I should apologise, phaff, who cares, these girls will have seen and heard it all before. Carefree chemo induced flatulence. Radiographer no 2 inserts a cannula and informs me that the dye going in can make me feel like I’ve wet myself. Really? Oh come on, I’ve just drunk litres of water, farted uncontrollably and now I will feel like I’ve wet myself? Chemo Calm kicks in. So what, who cares if I pee myself too, they’ll mop it up. Such liberation from one brought up in well-mannered leafy suburban Surrey! The scanner talks to me, instructing me to breathe in, hold it, and breathe out. A couple of rounds of this and there it is, I’ve wet myself. Have I? It feels very very warm and wet down there. No, no, the feelings gone, Halleluiah my body didn’t let me down. One more round of breaths and I’m being slid back out. Cannula out and I can get up. I get to my feet and fart. Oh my good God, why? My body once so in tune with my brain now has its own agenda. Once again it wasn’t a small little phhit, no it was a rip rawing son trying to out-fart other son, type of fart, my boys would have been proud of me. The struggle to put on my dressing gown and stay upright, doesn’t allow me to verbalise any kind of apology, I just smile weakly and leave the room. I get changed in a different cubicle which contains a big poster explaining what to do, I note it says to leave your knickers on. Oh God, I went in there knickerless and I farted, twice.

You may think that was enough, but it doesn’t end there. Lee has hold of me and we walk to the hospital exit, lying down is such a strong need right now. Damn we need to pay for car parking. The card taking payment machine is broken, do we have any cash? Of course not. I just want to lie down. We need to go to the shop and get some cashback, but I don’t think I can make it. Lee finds a wheelchair to plonk me in while he goes to get the cash. He pushes it out of the way, towards the row of public phones, a little thought plinks into my head, don’t leave me by the phones, but I don’t have the energy to tell him nor to have the conversation where he tells me it will be OK etc etc. I just sit down in the wheelchair hugging my handbag, feeling so way spaced out, tired, dizzy, I just want to go home and sleep. Lee goes man-hunting for money in the shop. I watch the myriad of different types of people walking through the exit, all types from all walks of life each with their own sad stories, a group of Eastern European looking gypsies go past, then they stop, turn look at the phones and look at me. They are walking towards me, I stare at my handbag, don’t make eye contact. Three of them surround me, a woman talks gobbledy-gook at me, all I see is headscarf, dirty face, eyebrows, missing teeth, gold teeth. I’m thinking please don’t have a cold or anything, I have a really low immune system. More gobbeldy-gook, more missing teeth, she’s reaching in her bag, the other two lean in, Lee where are you? Help me, help me! She pulls out a business card, it’s for a taxi firm. She points at the phone, points at me, points at the card. Seriously?? She wants me to f**king phone a taxi for her??? I’m sat in a hospital, in a wheelchair, looking like something the cat dragged home and she thinks I’m going to phone a taxi for her?? Two more join her crew, there are five surrounding me, I can’t help it, I feel unclean, in danger, scared, vulnerable. I shake my head and slur “I’m sorry, I’m really ill”. One of the men points and talks now, I shake my head. Lee, Lee where are you, I’m not liking this!!! At last they give up and go, as the man turns away his top is rucked up and his back is full of rash type spots, oh yuck yuck, am I infected now??? Irrational self protective thoughts. Finally alone again, I can’t quite believe what just happened, it was horrid. Where is Lee? I wait a bit longer, then decide I can’t wait any more and get up to go find him. Hang on, get up? Why the hell did I not just get up when all that was going on?? Why did I just sit there?? Where the hell has my brain gone?? I could have just stood up and walked away. I just sat there like a prized lemon. I find Lee, sandwiches in hand, doing battle with the cash machine. I tell him I want to go now, he hurries up. I’ll explain to him in the car what happened, once we are well away from my intimidators who are now all stood outside, just in case my fiercely protective husband decides he may want to have a conversation with them!! So that was my adventurous scan appointment. Just a routine CT Scan. Full body Bone Scan coming up next…..