Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Full circle

First of all, sorry for the radio silence - things have been very busy lately and I'm afraid that the blog has fallen by the wayside as a consequence.

So!  I am cancer free - all the chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments are done and dusted and I survived.  I am a little worse for wear for it but I'm still here. The past year has been a challenge but all of us have our crosses to bear and it just so happens that this was mine.  But it is finished and it is time to move forward now, to new beginnings.

In the first week of April, LH, the three little pigs and I will be leaving the UK permanently for the Philippines.  If there's one thing that this cancer has taught us, it's that life can be full of surprises - pleasant or unpleasant - so we must make the most of our time here.  A move to the Philippines will give us a much better quality of life, and LH and I will be able to spend more time with the children, watching them grow up and be truly part of their lives.

This will be my last entry - after all, the evil crab is no more and the battle has been won.  Thank you once again for all your love and support.  I would not have been able to do this without you.

Count your blessings and be happy.  I certainly will.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


Tomorrow is the last day of my radiotherapy, and the last day of my treatment. And I suddenly find that I'm not in a very good place right now... In fact, I think I'm about have a massive panic attack. At this point, I would like the treatments to go on and on - yes, even FEC chemotherapy - just to make sure that the cancer does not come back.

I think I'm going to throw up.

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Nearly there...

Friday will be the last day of my radiotherapy. Starting tomorrow and till Friday I will be receiving a boost in radiation levels to make sure that all the cancer is gone.  Who knows?  I may glow in the dark by Friday night.  I should be excited - with the end of it, not from the glowing - but just like my experience with chemotherapy, I am more nervous.  This is it; apart from my Tamoxifen and regular mammograms, I'm done.  The doctors and the medication have done their job and the cancer is gone.  (I know the right term is 'remission' but I feel that word simply means that it's dormant - and could come back at any time.  I'd like to think that it's gone FOREVER.)

I am so happy knowing that the radiotherapy is nearly over:  the daily half-hour drive to hospital, the indignity of lying half-naked on a very uncomfortable table whilst the nurses poke and prod with their desperately cold fingers has not been my idea of fun and I have sadly failed to find much humour in it.  (The nurses scurrying out of the room though once the radiation starts always makes me want to laugh out loud but I stop myself in case I move myself from the right position.)  I am nervous though - again - because this is it.  I feel that it's all up to me now to take care of myself to make sure that this evil crab will never, ever come back.  But what can I really do?  Without knowing what caused it in the first place, how in the world can I stop it from coming back?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


I finally dragged myself back to the gym this week after a two-month break.  Initially it was because I had just had my operation, then Christmas came along and I just did not have time.  So I was pretty nervous when I mounted the spin bike the other day; I figured I would be pretty unfit from the long break.

As it turns out my fears were unfounded:  I found myself a lot fitter than what I thought I would be.  And I think that this is because the past few months (nearly a year, actually) I had been exercising whilst chemotherapy drugs were coursing through my body, making me weaker I suppose.  But now that my body is cleansed (I'd like to think so anyway) I am actually stronger and fitter, despite the break.  This should be a good sign - the only way is up!

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Another hair lament

When I started chemotherapy, my lovely girlfriend L (who is apparently very hairy) volunteered to keep all of her shaven, depilated and waxed body hair for me so that eventually, I could turn these hair scraps into scarves or even a wig, once I had lost all my hair.  (Some ruder items were suggested, but I will refrain from mentioning them as my parents read my blog.)

Sadly, I never did get to have my scarf made from her nasal hair; and at the rate my hair growth is going (see Team Jacob, 1 December) L and I can probably start a business supplying hair pieces to those who need it.  My hair is growing at an alarming rate; I have what looks like the beginning of a beard.  I of course, am very happy that my head hair is growing, and same with my eyebrows and eyelashes - although the latter could do with a bit more length.  But hair on my face and neck is not nice at all.

Apparently, this is a common side effect.  D's mum, who also underwent chemotherapy for breast cancer, likened herself to a blonde gorilla once  her hair started growing back.  Lucky her though - I am dark-haired, so I will sadly look more like a normal gorilla if this continues.  Vanity of course, will keep me from letting it all grow out - I will have to try the various methods of hair removal.  One of which was tested today.  The boys had to have their hair cut; so off they went to the barbershop where I met them.  I jokingly told the barber to tidy up my hair and perhaps shave what seems to be the beginning of a beard.  Which he duly did.  This has come full circle:  I remember, as a child, my father's barber coming to our house to cut everyone's hair, so it wasn't too traumatic for me.  And I was quite pleased that I only had to pay £35 for three haircuts (and a shave).  What a bargain.

I just hope that when the facial hair grows back it doesn't do so as stubble.  I'll then have to get a job as the circus bearded lady.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Radio Gaga

I started my radiotherapy treatment yesterday.  Pretty painless - I felt like I was a character in a pornographic science fiction movie - lying down topless on a strange laser machine with my arms raised.  Although my wrists were not chained to the strange machine, they may as well have been as I am NOT ALLOWED TO MOVE whilst treatment is ongoing.

The nurses attending to me are very sweet - that's really the only word for them.  I doubt I'll get to know them as well as I got to know nurses A-M and R of the chemo ward as I am in and out in around twenty minutes - and seven minutes of that I am alone in the room whilst the machine whizzes around me.  The nurses place me on the machine and manipulate my body to the ideal position.  They call out numbers such as "26 - 6.9 - 8.5".  I am tempted to surprise them by suddenly giving them the answer, but then I'm not fast enough and they've moved on to the next set by the time I have the solution. Oh well...

As with all things though, I start to hyperventilate once the machines start moving around me.  But it will get easier I'm sure.  Today, the heavy breathing was not nearly as bad as yesterday's episode.  Also,  the need to scratch or sneeze, once I had been positioned perfectly, was less evident.  One can but hope.

So, two down and another sixteen to go.  This had better get easier.

PS.  Fleeting crush on Robert Pattinson (see 'A New Me?) has been replaced with a crush on the incredibly beautiful (and altogether very dead) Laurence Olivier.  LH doesn't mind these crushes - I suppose it gets the pressure off him.

Friday, 6 January 2012

A new me?

It was my 46th birthday yesterday.  Add to this the New Year, and the fact that I am now cancer free, I feel under pressure to be a better person or at least, come up with some pretty heavy resolutions.  And although I have spouted on and on about how the experience has changed me, I wonder how much it has, really.  Initially I was convinced that once I was over the cancer, I would be a much more patient, more mindful, much healthier person who would scream less at the children and not touch any junk food.  Sadly this is not the case - I feel (and eat) almost exactly the same.  The only thing that seems to be different is that I am more determined to be happy and am very grateful for each day I spend with the people I love.

So, I suppose this is a bit of a better me.  Or perhaps a more tolerant me.  I have decided to:

1.  Not sweat the small stuff - cancer puts things in perspective.  A lot of things that used to irritate me is now just water off a duck's back.  (Goodness, one of my resolutions should be to stop using cliches.)

2.  Spend time with people who make me a better person - I came across this the other day and it wouldn't surprise me to find out that a lot of people I know may be unhappy because they spend time with the wrong people.  Take a look:

STOP spending time with the wrong people.  Life is too short to be with anyone who sucks the happiness out of you like marrow from a bone.  If someone wants you in their life, they'll make room.  Never fight for a spot or sell yourself to someone who overlooks your worth.  And, it's not the people that stand by your side when you're at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you're at your worst that are your true friends."  Dr C Northrup

3.  Be more mindful.  I will stop worrying about tomorrow and appreciate the beauty of everything around me today, right now.  (For those who know me well, this is a challenge as I am an absolute worrier.)

4.  Get over my crush on the 26-year old Robert Pattinson.  It's taking too much time, he doesn't know I exist and if he did, he would be mortified to know that a 46-year old mother of three thinks he's cute.