Monday, 19 December 2011

Neither do I

Nearly a month ago, I took off all the bandages from my lumpectomy and was staring at Mr Tit-man's handiwork in the bathroom mirror.  Needless to say, my breast was bruised and battered.  LH was in the bedroom so I called out:  'Come and take a look at my Frankenstein boob!' He then answered with a very adamant 'No way'.  This quite upset me so I asked him why he refused to come and look and he answered back:  'I don't want to look at any Frankenstein poop!'  Well, neither do I, sweetie, neither do I...

Friday, 16 December 2011

What a week!

Monday, December 12

Coffee morning at the chemo ward organised by the lovely nurses R and A-M. A whole myriad of women, which really just goes to show that cancer does not choose its victims. Some of the women were done and dusted with the entire process, and it was lovely to speak and learn from them; and also to feel inspired by how well they were all doing. Some women were just starting, and it was nice to be able to help them by telling them that it's not all that bad.

Discovered a new talent: I am now able to tell a wig from ten paces. And sadly, there were a lot of bad wigs there. I had to fight the urge to shout (as I do when watching delusional people on X-Factor or American Idol) 'Do they not have real friends who tell them the truth???' King Arthur certainly had it right when he said in Camelot: The uglier the truth, the truer the friend.

Tuesday, December 13

Flat tyre on the way back home from picking up the children from school. Bummer.

Wednesday, December 14

Had tyres done and rushed to the shops to get the rest of Christmas shopping done, as children break up on Friday. That evening, picked up my prescription for Tamoxifen, which I will need to start taking daily for the next five years. Dropped the children off at Scouts, then left to pick up the medication at a supermarket pharmacy. Came home with my first batch of 52 tablets, and was about to take one when I realised that the box said Tenoxicam. Hmm... Thought it may be a brand or generic name of my drug, but being pretty anal about these things, I decided to look it up on the Internet. And thank goodness I did: Tenoxicam is a prescription only anti-inflammatory drug, used to relieve the pain from ailments such as rheumatoid arthritis. What the heck. I immediately called the pharmacy and started screaming at them - they were extremely apologetic and admitted they had been at fault. I rushed back to the pharmacy (crying, as I was feeling terribly sorry for myself) and picked up the right medicine, whilst telling them how horrid they were, etc. Needless to say, I am writing to their head office - it's ridiculous that this should happen and they really should have more stringent controls in place. I was very lucky I decided to look it up; I can imagine how other people could've been more trusting and would've just taken the wrong medication - for 52 days. I, on the other hand,would not have been able to take it for more than one day as I am highly allergic to anti-inflammatory drugs - ibuprofen alone would send me into anaphylactic shock.

Thursday, December 15

Whilst wrapping presents I suddenly felt a very sharp stabbing pain in my chest area - where I had had my lumpectomy. It was made much worse with every intake of breath. I called Nurse M, chemo nurses R and A-M, oncologist Dr M and Mr Tit-Man's secretaries. I was advised to immediately see my GP, which I did. He told me it was nothing to worry about - it was just bruising caused by my surgery. Phew. So I went straight back home, feeling a lot calmer. A call from Nurse R though and I was suddenly in a panic again. I told her what the doctor had said but she wasn't convinced - she thought it would be best if I go into A & E and request a chest x-ray. She was nervous that it could be a pulmonary embolism - having had chemotherapy and surgery, I was more susceptible to it.

So all calm was gone and I started sobbing my head off again (sigh). I rushed off to hospital, and LH, who was on his way to the Kasabian concert (where I was meant to join him) left to go to hospital instead. (My hero!) Stayed in the emergency ward for a good three hours whilst I was poked and bled like some medieval heroine. Being a wuss, I cried of course with every needle put in me. And it didn't help either that I had no confidence in the doctor attending to me - I knew he was speaking some form of English, but I just couldn't figure it out. As a consequence, he not only felt sorry for me for having gone through cancer, but for being deaf as well.  I'm just convinced he had some sort of speech impediment...

Whilst in the emergency ward, LH and I were entertained by the man in the cubicle next to me: he was making the most incredible noises, from heavy breathing, wheezing, farting and moaning. It seemed I was next to Darth Vader having a bad bout of constipation. Next to Darth Vader was an elderly lady I should've felt sorry for, but sadly I could barely suppress a giggle. She was moaning in quite an impressive manner; it sounded almost sexual.

Finally left the emergency ward and was admitted into hospital at nearly midnight (I had arrived at 7pm) and had to wait for another doctor to talk to me about the results of my blood tests and x-rays. In the meantime, we settled into the cubicle next to a lady who was making a very good impression of Gollum. My precious...

Eventually the doctor came and apparently all the tests for blood clots were negative: the x-rays and blood tests were all clear which meant that I was finally allowed to go home. As it turns out, it was really just the bruising after all. And although we did not arrive back home till 1am, I am still glad I had it checked. Peace of mind after all, is a very important thing.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Oh dear

The other night I went to bed and started to read 'Anticancer', a book by a man called David Servan-Schreiber, who was diagnosed with brain cancer and managed to ward it off via chemotherapy and good nutrition and exercise. I mentioned the book earlier in this blog, when I made a made a list of necessary chemo kit. I love the book because I feel slightly in control of my health; I feel that I have a say in how this cancer affects me. Thus, I flit in and out of it, reading it whenever I feel that I have forgotten its basic tenets, or just because...

In the midst of my reading the other night however, I wondered what Dr Servan-Schreiber was up to, so I googled his name. Mistake. As it turns out, the brain cancer which had attacked him initially at the very young age of 31, finally did its job on its third recurrence just July this year, when he was 50. I felt bereft; the cancer finally won in the end.

I started to compute: if I live another 20 years, eldest son C will be 33 and the twins will be 31. I know this sounds terribly morose, but the funny thing is, the thought of death doesn't scare me now. It's the thought of leaving too soon that bothers me. I continued to compute: 10 years from now? Nope, they'll still be too young and they'll still need me. And on and on. And as a consequence, I slept very badly that night, thinking and thinking of the consequences of me going at every possible age.

I'm scared because I don't want to die just yet. I know that it isn't necessarily going to be cancer that will claim me in the end - I could get run over by a bus for all I know! But I just feel so much more vulnerable now. I suppose I was almost smug before, with my healthy no smoking, no drinking, organic, manic exercise lifestyle.

I know there's no point in worrying about it; after all, there's nothing much I can do. However I cannot help it - surely this is normal? In the meantime, I suppose I should just follow Dr S-S' lifestyle suggestions and hope that I get at least another 20 years by following his lead.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Little thrills

Today, wore mascara and had my eyebrows threaded for the first time in six months. Ha!

It really doesn't take much to make me happy!

Sunday, 4 December 2011

The highs and lows

When I saw Dr M last Wednesday I asked him when I could finally have my portacath (ie Gross Protrusion in my upper arm where all the drugs have made their entry into my body) taken out and he told me to speak to the chemo nurses, which I duly did. Surprisingly, I received a phone call from the hospital later that same afternoon, telling me that the procedure could be done on Friday.

Sadly, LH could not make it to hospital on the day; I could have postponed until the next week so he would be there, but as I'd had the GP in my arm for seven months, I really just wanted it out. As I was going to be heavily sedated for the operation I would be unable to drive myself home after the procedure, so the sweetest S drove me there, only informing me along the way that she had passed out the last time she had a close encounter with surgery. Luckily, this time she made it to hospital without fainting.

The procedure itself went very well - I actually had the option of just having local anaesthetic injected near the site but I obviously opted for being knocked out. I have a very low pain threshold and worse, the thought of being cut and butchered whilst awake was too much to even contemplate.

Surprisingly, I was compos mentis and not even remotely groggy after the surgery; I was brought back into my room after the operating theatre and ate lunch. The loveliest A arrived a few minutes later to bring me back home and was surprised to find that I did not need the beautiful quilted blanket she had brought; she was expecting me to sleep all the way back home but we ended up chatting instead.

Back home and I was in such a high - after all, the portacath removal is another signal that my chemotherapy is over. Spent the evening of my operation dancing the night away to the Bee Stung Lips (fab) and was up early the next day baking as I had joined the Village Christmas Fayre. I was also looking forward to the evening as we were off to the local Quiz Night with friends. Before that however, I had to pick up the children from their various activities; and along the way, I met a lovely woman who I will call X2. She's beautiful and is sadly currently undergoing chemotherapy. I almost feel an alliance with people who have cancer; I suppose we're members of a club and I feel that they can truly understand what I am experiencing. I asked if we could meet up for a coffee and she was reticent; as it turns out, this is her second bout with cancer and she was nervous that she would frighten me. X2 had breast cancer nearly ten years ago and did everything that she had been told - but now it has come back in her lymph nodes and liver.

I was not upset when I left X2 - I suppose the children were with me and they are very good distractions. However, I lay down for a bit when I arrived home - the operation, the dancing, the baking and the Christmas Fayre had finally taken their toll on me. And once alone, I suddenly felt frightened: after all, I'd only done "almost" everything the doctor had asked me to do - I did not have my lymph nodes taken out, after all. What if the cancer comes back and comes back with a vengeance? I called LH and he comforted me, telling me that at the end, both doctors (and the Sloan Kettering) had decided that a full lymph node dissection was not necessary. However I was still scared - a recurrence would be an absolute nightmare.

We did end up still going to the Quiz Night, although I was slightly distracted by horrible and morose thoughts. And I also slept quite badly last night, waking up twice in the night in a sweat, thinking awful, awful things.

I am feeling a lot better today - I have comforted myself with the thought that X2's treatment was quite different from mine and that things have progressed a lot in the past ten years. I will have to accept that sadly, one of the things this cancer has given me is a slight fear. I will just have to make sure that I take it in stride as much as possible and not let it rule my life. After all, there's no point in worrying about something over which I have no control.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Team Jacob

I was invited for lunch yesterday at the very lovely A's, and just as I was about to leave to go to it, I noticed that my eyebrows had actually become quite unruly and needed a bit of tidying up. This was quite momentous as I have not groomed by eyebrows since they fell off around four months ago. The problem is that I don't do my own eyebrows: I normally have some woman thread it: ie, she puts a bit of string in her mouth and through some form of very clever manipulation I end up with nicely shaped brows.

But yesterday I had no choice so I decided to give it a go myself. However, my eyebrows, although growing back (pretty slowly) - are growing back in very odd places. They've also become extremely pale and very very bushy. Without the magic of makeup, I was looking like I had stuck two albino caterpillars on my eyelids (yes, eyelids) and eyebrow areas.

So I waxed the unruly brows off, but through lack of practice, I have taken off more than I wanted. Huh. But as I was staring at my lopsided brows and lamenting their weird shape, I noticed that I had also started to grow a pretty impressive moustache. Now, with my bald head, this is NOT a good look. (Especially as Movember has also passed.) I am getting a good few compliments about my shaven head, which I doubt I would get if I also had Tom Selleck's moustache.

So I decided that it would also have to go. Now one thing that I had been given for my chemotherapy sessions was a numbing cream called Emla - this is so I wouldn't feel the needles going in me. And they were an absolute godsend. I have a couple of tubes left, so I decided to slather a bit on my upper lip before ripping off my moustache with wax. And they worked. Considering the amount of moustache hair I ripped off my lip, I didn't feel a thing. Sadly, I continued to not feel a thing for around another half hour...

All this faffing about over hair is such a pain. Hair loss (except for my head hair and eyelashes) was certainly one major advantage of chemotherapy. Sigh... Along with the Sick Face, this is one I'll definitely miss.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The fine print (ie a few boring details)

Saw oncologist Dr M this morning and he reiterated the good news that breast cancer surgeon Mr Tit-man had given me last week - that I am cancer free. He was slightly more reticent though, because I did not do the usual course, ie I did not have the full lymph node dissection. However, he did say that since my tumour had reacted very well to the chemotherapy, the lymph nodes should have done the same; and besides, they are a much smaller mass. Also, five lymph nodes were initially taken out; and only one was infected. The chances of having an infected one far away from the initial sentinel dissection are very rare: he compared it to finding teeth on a hen. So big phew then...

We then discussed the drug that I am to take daily for the next five years - a drug called Tamoxifen. Since my breast cancer was hormone positive, this drug basically blocks the growth of oestrogen in my body. Side-effects are an increased chance of ovarian cancer and blood clots - these are very rare though - again, the hen's teeth analogy. Other side effects are menopause symptoms, such as hot flushes and the like. Tamoxifen's success in preventing breast cancer recurrence though outweighs the possible risks and side-effects, so I will start taking the medication in two weeks' time.

Radiotherapy came next: we talked about whether or not I should have radiotherapy done to the lymph node area. Mr T had told me that he felt that it was not necessary because of the reasons mentioned above, and doing so would only negate what I had avoided by not having the full dissection: the risk of lymphedema. Apparently, radiotherapy can cause this as much as a full dissection. Dr M went through all my paperwork and he agreed with Mr T - so radiotherapy will only be focused on the breast area. I need to have eighteen sessions, everyday for a month - except weekends. Luckily, girlfriend and neighbour S who was diagnosed a month or so after me (what's wrong with the water where we live then?) will be doing the radiotheraphy with me. This should keep boredom at bay and we can also share the driving. Sadly, the radiotherapy will not be done at our local hospital. What a pain. Luckily, it's not too far from a shopping mall. What a relief.

Dr M checked my breast after surgery and he seems to be very happy with the results. Very neat apparently, and smoother than most (which is a good thing). Why the heck does he always have cold hands though???

So again, onwards and upwards!

Friday, 25 November 2011


Earlier today I attended a charity coffee morning for breast cancer, organised by the beautiful S. I knew nearly everyone there; in fact I felt almost like a minor celebrity as most had heard the news that I had been given the all-clear. In the midst of all the conversation someone mentioned that I'd had a bad year and I kept quiet, as I completely disagreed. I did not voice my disagreement though as I thought it might make me sound like someone in terrible denial.

But it's true: I have not had a bad year. Challenging perhaps, but certainly not bad. I have learned so much about myself this year and I'd like to think that the diagnosis has made me a nicer and perhaps more tolerant person. Relationships have changed for the better and I am in absolute awe at how people have reacted so wonderfully to my cancer diagnosis.

Bizarrely, I do not regret this year and am even grateful for what it has brought me. Initially I cried a lot and questioned why I had to get this evil crab. But once I managed to put things in perspective, I almost felt as if the cancer was just a blip, an illness to get over, and that once I was cured things would go back to normal. After all, people go through similar challenges, but perhaps just not given the same attention as it does not carry the C word.

So last night, our family celebrated Thanksgiving. As a Filipino married to a Scot, our cultures do not normally practice this American holiday. But my Facebook wall was inundated with Thanksgiving posts by American friends, or friends who live across the pond, and I thought, why not? After all we, as a family, have much for which to be thankful. So before we sat down to dinner, we all said what we were grateful for this year, and I was very happy that my cure was only mentioned by myself and Alasdair. For it is just one of the many things for which we are thankful.

It's strange, but I think the only thing I could probably compare it to would be giving birth: it's no fun at all, and heck, does it hurt - but then in the end you're left with a beautiful baby. And the pain and inconvenience is forgotten by the wayside. With cancer I had to go through the pain and inconvenience of treatment, but I have come out the other side with a hopefully better me. The only difference is that there is absolutely NO WAY I would want to go through this again.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

What I'm truly proud of

Last night, when we arrived home, second son E opened the door for us and I immediately shouted, "I have no more cancer!" And he replied, "Oh, okay" and rushed off to do whatever very important thing he was doing before we interrupted him with our arrival.

Eldest son C and daughter N did not react with much more emotion either when we told them the good news. And this is the one thing I am truly proud of. Friends and family have come forward congratulating me on conquering and stamping out this silly crab. But I cannot really take the credit - I just did what the doctor ordered and sat there and let the chemotherapy drugs do their work. But I am very happy and proud that our children seem to have come out of this nearly year-long ordeal unscathed. Throughout this experience, LH and I made sure that the children would not be scarred nor frightened, thinking that they may lose their mummy. We've been as normal as possible with them (and with all others, I'd like to think), going about our daily lives with bad news and chemotherapy treatments taken in stride. And last night's reactions proved that we had been successful. And for this, I do want my pat on the back.

*I know it is grammatically incorrect to end sentences with a preposition. I did think of a way around it, but 'The thing for which I am truly proud' just sounds too pedantic.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Ding dong, the evil crab is dead!

Yes, 'tis true, the evil crab is no more. Hurrah! Saw Mr Tit-man tonight and he gave LH and I the good news. Apparently (now hopefully I get this right - I was pretty overcome with emotion that I turned into some kind of blubbering wreck) chemotherapy attacks tumours in three ways:

1. they shrink the dang things into oblivion;
2. they make the tumours smaller and smaller and eventually all that's left is a tiny little dot; or
3. they attack the tumour and break it into tiny little bits.

My (ex - HA!) tumour reacted like the last one. The biopsy showed that tiny bits of my (ex) tumour were taken out during the surgery and the margin around the area was completely clear. Which means that there are no more cancerous cells. I am an ex-breast cancer person. I do not have the evil crab inside me any longer. It has been blasted into a million tiny little bits. It is an ex-evil crab. But just to make sure, radiotherapy will continue as planned in January.

I am absolutely ecstatic, to say the least. Even the funny robe without the belt the nurse gave me to wear did not dampen my spirits. And to prove my joy to Mr T and Nurse M, I blubbed when I received the news. Which surprised even me as I had been pretty calm leading up to tonight. But I suppose I was just so relieved...

THANK YOU again to my LH, my children, my family and all my friends. I would not have made it this far with positivity and good humour if I had not been blessed with your love, laughter, hope, prayers, strength and support. You are angels. Thank you. I love you all.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


On Wednesday, the day I left hospital, I received a 'phone call from Nurse M, not just for her to find out how I was doing, but also to order me to take my bandages off on Saturday. But I just had a chunk of my breast taken out on Tuesday, I argued. She wasn't having any of it however. Visions of Nurse Diesel in High Anxiety suddenly entered my mind...

Well, Saturday was yesterday and needless to say, I waited until bedtime to take the bandages off. And I had to ask poor LH to do it, as I was a quivering wreck at the thought of taking them off myself. Anyway, to cut the long story short, the evil bandages are off and I have been left with a sore and bruised breast. Not a pretty site. Admittedly, Mr T seems to have done a good job - it's very similar to my other breast and the err... nipple seems to be in the right place. But it's bruised. And it's sore. And I'm being a real wimp about it.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


I'm back home after spending the night in hospital. I had my lumpectomy yesterday; hopefully all traces of the evil crab are out of my body. However, we won't know for sure till next week: we will have the results of the biopsy then. If it is all clear, it's time to rejoice. If not, we will have to consider a mastectomy. Although the mastectomy will come with a tummy tuck, I'm not THAT desperate for a flat stomach so would really rather not go through with that, so fingers crossed.

The operation seems to have gone as well as we'd hoped, and according to Mr Tit-Man, he is 'cautiously optimistic.' I am not in a lot of pain at the moment - I just feel slightly battered - it's similar I suppose to the feeling of muscular pain and fatigue from working out after a long hiatus. And the pain could've also come from the pre-operation procedure I had to have - that of putting a wire into my breast. (Stop reading now if you're squeamish.) I had to have a mammogram and whilst my breast was clamped into position, the doctor poked a thin wire into my breast, pinpointing the marker placed a couple of months ago. This was done so that Mr T would know where to take out the breast tissue. (The tumour had completely disappeared with the chemotherapy.) This took a good ten to fifteen minutes, plus a number of mammograms later to make sure that the wire was in the right place. This of course was not fun; women can imagine the pain of having your breast clamped repeatedly between two plates AND having a wire inserted. I suppose the nearest thing for men would be having the same done to their testicles...

Needless to say, after this procedure the operation itself was a doddle; it helped that I was completely knocked out in the first place. I was awakened a few hours later feeling very groggy; I suppose the medical staff forcefully wake you to make sure they haven't accidentally killed you. LH, the children and Weird Uncle Marc dropped by a few hours later but I don't remember much about the visit as I was still woozy. Just as well as apparently the children took turns playing with my oxygen - LH had told them it was helium and they were hoping for a change in their voices.

I would've had a very good sleep that night except that the nurse kept popping in to check my blood pressure and to see if I was all right and sleeping well. Seriously, why do they do this? Anyway, am now in the comfort of my own bed and am hoping for an uninterrupted sleep. Good night!

Monday, 14 November 2011


I am surrounded by some pretty insane people. They think that they're normal, but really they're not. However, I spent three hours over lunch with four of these pretty mad (but absolutely gorgeous) people earlier today and I can, hand on heart, say that they are pretty crazy.

LH and the children are equally mad, and I have also received messages of support from the downright strange J, who wants to sell her entire house and home on ebay. Weird Uncle Marc arrives tomorrow to manny and well, his name alone says it all. And I'm convinced that my family was in front of the queue with upturned umbrellas when God was handing out crazy behaviour.

But I wouldn't have it any other way. It's the day before my operation, and rather than worrying about it, I have spent most of the day just laughing my head off.

Thank you to all of you. And thank you too to all my normal friends who have sent me love - it really means so much to me.

The first cut is the deepest

So, I'm going under the knife tomorrow for my lumpectomy. The evil crab will finally be excised. I'm hoping that this 'cake slice' won't be too big. (See October 12 entry 'Yippee'.) After all, the 'cake' isn't very large to begin with and I don't really want to end up with a pancake.

Wish me luck.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

I've got chills, they're multiplying

I've got the flu, and despite my giving LH a very hard time for his man flu, I'm milking this for all its forth. After all, I do feel terrible; and not only that, I'm worried sick that because of this darned flu my operation on Tuesday will be postponed. I actually saw the GP yesterday just to make sure that my cold had not turned into a chest infection. But apparently, there was no rattling in my chest. Phew.

I spent most of Friday in bed and felt much better this morning, except for a very persistent cough. So I took a teaspoon of Pei Pa Koa, a Chinese cough syrup my sister T had recommended the last time she was here. Admittedly, I was dubious; but considering that Chinese medicine can cure a whole myriad of ailments (Tiger Balm alone can cure nearly everything after all) I gave it a try. And to my surprise, within five minutes my cough had eased. And as its ingredients seem to be mostly herbal (no rhinoceros willies in there) it will now be a part of our medical arsenal.

As I felt much better after the miraculous Pei Pa Koa, I went about as normal and left to watch daughter N play lacrosse. And although I felt comfortable initially, as the afternoon wore on I got colder and colder, so I am now suffering again. Sadly the amazing Pei Pa Koa has not been enough to make me feel better; so I am now spending time in bed resting. Fingers crossed I'll be fine for Tuesday.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Sniffle, sniffle

I managed to avoid the cold whilst I was undergoing chemotherapy. But now that I'm done, I'm suddenly all bunged up! According to girlfriend S, it's probably because I was on high-alert whilst I was undergoing treatment. And now that I've relaxed a bit, I'm more prone to infection since I'm not looking out for it. Dang. Does this mean that I must continue with the wheatgrass and horse tablets to keep the cold at bay? Nah, I don't think so... I've just booked myself in for a flu jab. Because of the cancer, I have joined the ranks of the 'vulnerable' and am now entitled to yearly flu jabs. Ha!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

By the way...

As it turns out, the feeling of bloatedness that I constantly had in the Philippines was not a result of massive overeating - it was water retention caused by the heat. (Well, most of it was anyway.) And it wasn't the dreaded DVT either - my feet are actually back to normal size and I can wear sandals again without embarrassment. Except that I cannot because it's very cold here.

And I've also completely embraced by bald look. But guess what? It's cold so I have to wear hats. Sigh...

God can have a pretty odd sense of humour. Well, He did make the giraffe!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Let's get physical

My beautiful friend A has just done the New York Marathon. This was her second marathon in four weeks (yes, she is slightly mad). When I congratulated her on the effort, she said, verbatim: "If you can go through what you have been through, then I can get round 26.2 miles!" First of all, what she did was 26.2 miles TWICE in four weeks.

Now I don't want to undermine what I have been through - or have yet to go through. Although physically it has been a challenge, and losing my hair initially was very hard, I honestly don't think that it's that different from what others go through, in terms of a physical challenges, on a daily basis. I can think of many people who are most probably facing similar, or much worse hardships in their daily lives.

For me, the hardest thing about this entire journey has not been the chemotherapy, the fatigue, the nausea or the hair loss. It's the thought of death. The thought that I would leave my children early when I have not yet taught them all that I know. The thought that I won't be there to give them a guiding hand when they are faced with their own challenges as they are growing up. However, I am off this mindset - when death finally does get to me, it hopefully won't be because of this darned cancer.

So, my darling A, give yourself a very well-deserved pat on the back for having done the marathon twice in four weeks - it is certainly an achievement.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Where does the time go?

Since I stopped gainful employment around three years ago, one of the worst things that LH can ask me when he arrives home from work is what I've been up to on the day. Simply because when I start enumerating things I've done, they all seem pretty trivial, and they all sound as if I would've been able to do them in an hour's time, tops.

Take a look at this: tidied up the bedrooms, did the laundry, sorted the paperwork, went to the gym and post office and made dinner. Looks pretty simple huh? Surely an hour or two, maximum? HA! Nothing like that. By the time I'm done with the last item on my list (if I even had the chance to do everything), it's time to pick up the children from school again.

The thing is, it's very true: a mother's work is never done. So, once I knew that I was going to be undergoing chemotherapy and was going to be indisposed for a couple of days each week (or nearly an entire week every three weeks at the beginning) I put on my organised mum hat and got everything ready for the days I was not able to do my thing. The last time I was this organised was when I had the twins - I had three children aged 17 months and below, all in nappies. And I had no help. So I had to get organised.

But now it's over. Suddenly, I have all this free time again. I don't spend Wednesdays and Thursdays non compos mentis. And I feel almost lost. I've been busy, yes, but I seem to find myself with more free time than I can remember. I've been to the gym nearly every day this week (would've been everyday, if not for a silly yappy dog that caused a half-hour traffic jam on the way to the gym) and I've done all the ironing. But yet, I'm still finding myself spending what surely is an unhealthy amount of time on Facebook. And going around the house looking for things to do. This can't be right.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Bald is beautiful? 2

It was agonisingly hot in the Philippines. This, coupled with the hot flushes that I seem to be getting with increasing regularity, made head coverings absolutely torturous (don't even mention the wig). So I learned to finally, FINALLY, embrace my bald self. I went out a couple of times with no head covering whatsoever. And I like to think that I rocked it. Admittedly, there are still days when I feel I look like Arnold Schwarzenegger's disguise in Total Recall, but they are becoming fewer and far between.


Have found out that I do have hair after all, but it's WHITE. And as I'm not allowed to colour it for an ENTIRE year, I will just have to channel the granny look. Woe is me.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Oh dear

Attended a fashion show in Manila, where I was introduced to T - a former fashion model who is currently undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer. (She was bald and proud and looking absolutely fantastic. I successfully fought my urge to spit on her.) She still has one more session of Taxol to go, yet she has much more hair than I. Uh-oh. Worrywart that I am, I am now convinced that my hair will not grow back fully and I will have to spend the rest of my life with a Friar Tuck hairdo. Because of this silly paranoia, I keep rubbing my head, hoping to find ANY evidence of hair growth. LH is getting cross, saying that whatever hair growth I may have will get lost to the constant rubbing. I'm hoping that on the contrary, it will work more like a massage, and actually stimulate growth...

Back in the UK

Arrived back home in the UK Saturday night after a pretty uneventful flight. Thanks to the fab Dr L, was not worried about DVT. He had organised an anti-DVT shot to be administered the day before we left and just as well. I obviously spent the flight in such a contorted position that yesterday, my entire body was in agony. If not for the shot, I would've been convinced that I was in the throes of DVT death.

Apart from a bit of shopping, the last few days in the Philippines were spent catching up with the entire family as brother L flew in from Singapore to see me, LH and the three little pigs. It was fantastic to see my parents and brothers and sisters - after all, unconditional love comes from them. I knew this was definitely the case when said brother L actually kissed my bald head. And didn't wince.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

DVT Update

Okay, so it turns out I didn't have DVT after all. Luckily, one of sister T's neighbours was her mum-in-law's oncologist, so we went to his place (poor Dr L, getting accosted in his home) and he very graciously poked my legs and feet and told me I was fine. However, since we saw him, we have been to the beach and in fact just arrived back yesterday - a two-hour car journey (one-way). Then in the evening we proceeded to an exhibit opening and a fashion show, where I wore a pair of four-inch stilletos. Hmmm... Not clever I know...

So today my right calf hurts. And my right thigh feels numb. As a consequence, the DVT fear has reared its ugly head again. Which explains why I am still up at nearly 2am. LH is fast asleep next to me but I cannot because I'm worried sick. I know that staying up won't help at all - on the contrary, it's worse because I keep googling 'deep vein thrombosis' and am suddenly experiencing every symptom listed. The Internet feeds my hypochondria.

So it seems that poor Dr L may be seeing me again tomorrow. Sigh... I do feel sorry for him...

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Bald is beautiful?

A week or so ago LH and I had dinner at P and J's and I decided to wear a slightly over-the-top dress I had bought recently. Being OTT though, I had problems finding the right headgear to go with it. The wig was too much whilst the scarves clashed or just plainly did not suit. So I decided to go bare.

This was my first time in public without a head covering: I had done it around the house but always made sure that my head was covered whilst I was out and about. Not really because I feel self-conscious about it: more that I feel it will make people uncomfortable. (We recently had our windows done and had two bald men working on it. I walked around bareheaded whilst they were there: I ended up looking like their sister, or we all looked like members of a strange cult.)

I called P and J before we left the house to let them know that I intended to go bald. P retorted that he would never expect LH (although he isn't bald, his hair has certainly receded) to call to ask the same thing. True; but baldness for women is very different as it's not very often that you see bald women in public. Men's baldness is sexy and is a sign of virility: think Jason Statham, Bruce Willis and Vin Diesel. Whilst women are either ill or odd: Sinead O'Connor and Grace Jones come to mind. I feel that I always need to warn others before I decide to go bare; not doing so would be unfair as it would make them feel uncomfortable.

And although I have accepted my bare head and even joke about it, I suppose a subconscious part of me may still be unhappy about it: why else would I refuse to have any photographs taken of me in this state? And admittedly, one experience I'm definitely missing whilst here in the Philippines is having a hot oil hair massage. Sigh... Never mind though - the chemotherapy is finished so hopefully I should be complaining about the cost of haircuts and bikini waxes pretty soon...

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Chemo brain strikes again

Arrived in the Philippines, where it averages 27 degrees Celsius, with TWO pairs of UGG boots, three pairs of stilettos (one which I cannot wear because of my fat feet) and ONE pair of flip-flops. Seriously. What the heck was I thinking???


My feet are as swollen as ever. They currently look like balloons with sticky out things on them. This is, I suppose, a combination of the chemotherapy and the long flight from London to Manila. Being a hypochondriac however, I am convinced that I have deep vein thrombosis - after all, people on chemotherapy are more susceptible to it. LH thinks I'm just putting on my hypochondri-act, so if it does turn out to be true, and I keel over and die, please say 'I told you so' to him.

Hoot, hoot!

Today is the first Wednesday in three months that I have not spent in a chemo session. How bizarre and how fantastic! Am very happy!

Hoot! Hoot!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

There's no place like home

Having lived in six countries, home for me is where my husband and children are - so currently, it is the UK. However, having grown up and spent 26 years of my life in the Philippines - and being Filipino, of course - the Philippines will also always be home for me. After all, it's the only place where I can use my lips to point, and where I can eat six full meals a day and no-one bats an eyelid.

We arrived in Manila yesterday morning, after a pretty uneventful trip (except that I heard a man shouting at a poor stewardess outside the loo WHILST I was in the loo - I had to do a pretty good scurry past them). And it's funny, but every time we land in Manila, this feeling of relaxation suddenly comes upon me - it's almost as if my body is releasing a very big sigh. LH certainly feels it too - I suppose it's because we associate the Philippines with holidays, the sun, the sea, my family and fantastic £4.00 one-hour massages.

We're here for another two weeks and I'm hoping that this break will get me all ready and psyched up for my lumpectomy when we arrive back home to the UK. After all, I've already had a massage and have booked another one on Tuesday morning. Oh, did I mention that they cost £4.00 for an hour?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011


1. Last chemo was today! Although I was determined to stay awake after the Piriton, my body obviously had other ideas. I was completely knocked out within ten minutes and had one of the best sleeps ever. Perhaps it had something to do with having to get up at the ungodly hour of 5.30am to see my mother off...

2. Received the report back from the Sloan-Kettering in New York and it says that for my situation, a full lymph node dissection is not necessary, as it would not make any difference in terms of recurrence figures. Also saw the lovely Mr Tit-Man and he felt the same way. So, on November 15, I go under the knife (eep) but only for a lumpectomy. What a relief!

The meeting with Mr Tit-Man went very well, until he decided to go into too much detail about the lumpectomy, telling me that it would be just like cutting a slice of cake from my breast. Hmm... Needless to say, I told him that I didn't need too much detail, thank you very much! (I also tried to convince him that perhaps it would be a good idea to siphon off some fat from my stomach to make up for the cake slice he'll be taking out, but sadly, he didn't bite.)

Funny thing he said though - when we were deciding on dates, he gave me the option of November 15 or 29. Then he said, 'Knowing you, you'll go for the 15.' I wonder what he meant... I think he still hasn't forgotten that I asked very early in my FEC if I could have it every two weeks instead of three. I think he is under the impression that I'm just pretty gung ho about the whole thing. I wonder why he feels that way?

The only bad news I received tonight is that the radiotherapy will not start till after Christmas, dashing my hopes that the process would be all done and dusted by Christmas and my 46th birthday. But, in the greater scheme of things, this isn't really a worry. I suppose driving to radiotherapy everyday for a month over Christmas wouldn't be much fun anyway...

So, another phase of my cancer treatment is over. And taking the risk of sounding like a broken record, thank you to everyone who has supported me through lovely messages, calls, visits, gifts, thoughts, and just reading this blog! I cannot reiterate how much this has all meant to me.

So! Onwards and upwards!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Nearly there...

Tomorrow, I will have my last chemotherapy session. That's it. No more stressing over blood tests, no more Wednesday morning jitters... It's not the end however; I still have a lumpectomy (and a possible lymph node dissection) waiting for me after our two-week holiday and a one-month course of radiotherapy.

But I am nearly there. And what a journey it's been. It certainly hasn't been the easiest year, but I have grown and learned so much more about myself. I have strengthened relationships and made new ones. I am more appreciative about life and all that I have, and all the love around me. Some things that may have bothered me before seem so petty now. And things that I didn't make time for before, I now make sure I take time to appreciate.

In other words, this evil, evil cancer - for, at the end of the day, this is what it is - has made me a better person. I only hope that this is not a temporary state of affairs; I'd like to think that all the pain and inconvenience of the past six months has been worthwhile and some good will come out of it in the end.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Freedom (nearly)

Today is my penultimate Taxol session - the eleventh out of twelve. Hurrah! So to add levity to the day, do watch this:


Sunday, 2 October 2011


Yesterday, LH and the daughter had to rush to the shops. On their way out, I asked them to bring me back a treat. So, half an hour later they came back with a red wig with sparkly horns, and red false eyelashes. As you do.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Grumble, grumble

The sun is out and everyone is very happy. Except for me. My feet are swollen and covered in rashes so the only shoes I can wear right now are my UGG boots. And when it's 20 or so degrees outside, the last thing you want on your feet are sheepskin boots. I could, I suppose, wear flip-flops - but my vanity is still intact so I refuse to impose my ugly feet on friends and family. So in case you bump into me, and I've got a frown on my face, take pity on my poor feet in the winter boots.

PS. Am not happy with the bald look today. Am convinced I look like Arnold Schwarzenegger's disguise in Total Recall. Not good.

An inspiration

Last week, I met up with fellow breast cancer victim A for lunch. Although we'd been communicating regularly via email and telephone, it was the first time we'd met in person. And it couldn't have come at a better time. Being a few months ahead of me in this cancer malarky, she's finished her Taxol, had the operation and has just finished her radiotherapy. And she looks fantastic. Her hair has grown and although it's very short, it's a very chic look. (Gamine would be the proper word, methinks.) Her nails are lovely and white and her skin is clear. In other words, she looked absolutely radiant. Not the wasted image you would expect from someone ravaged by cancer treatment. I am hoping that in a few weeks' time, I will come out from this experience looking as well as she.

Apart from being overwhelmed by how lovely A looked, it was also very comforting to know that we had gone and were going through the same range emotions regarding this cancer: anything from anger and denial to the current fear of recurrence. But A is staying positive and so shall I. She is an inspiration and when I am feeling annoyed at the inconvenience of this evil crab, I will think of her and feel much better.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011


Bloods okay, so all go for chemo tomorrow. What a relief.

Also, am really liking this bald look. I feel I look more windswept and interesting.

Monday, 26 September 2011


Just shaved off all my hair. Wow.

I would really really like it, except my mother's just informed me that I have a strange birthmark on the back of my head. Hmm...

Sunday, 25 September 2011


It's 7.30pm on Sunday and I'm in bed. I feel terrible: my head hurts, and it seems every part of my body is in pain. This past week has seen the Taxol really take its toll on me. Apart from the physical, such as the bad case of water retention, the very sensitive nail beds, the pins and needles on my hands and feet and the itchy rashes, I'm also very tired. I've had to finally stop my weekly spinning classes and last night, LH and I went to see a play and I fell asleep for ten minutes after the intermission. Oops. It was a play set in the trenches during WWI though - it was very dark plus the flickering lights were very hypnotic. I had no chance...

I am getting very nervous. I hope that I am well enough to have my chemotherapy session (number 10) this coming Wednesday. We have booked to go away during the half-term break - two days after my last session. Which means that I really cannot afford to be unwell and have my sessions postponed, as this would mean not being able to go on holiday. A few weeks ago my blood test results were borderline - since that time I have been unable to relax till 4pm the day of the test. (The nurses say that if they don't call you by 4pm, chemotherapy the next day is a go.) This is one instance when The Sick Face does not work: I need to prove to them that I am well enough to undergo chemo, so a song and dance number is more apt.

Friday, 23 September 2011


Literally. Woke up with a start this morning because I dreamt that I had unintentionally driven on an unfinished road by a mountainside. The car started to turn turtle and I prayed as I knew I was hurtling towards my death. I woke up then, of course. They do say that when you die in your dreams, you die in real life.

What struck me as bizarre was how calm I was; I wasn't screeching and wailing. I had just accepted my fate. This is the opposite of how I feel - although I am calm and not screeching! The thought of cancer recurrence is foremost in my mind at the moment but I am definitely not accepting it as inevitable - I will do anything I can to keep it away. Although this year has been challenging and enlightening, I certainly do not wish to experience it again.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


I counted August 31st twice in my calendar which means that I don't actually finish my Taxol on the first week of October, but rather the second. I know this doesn't sound like much, but it's still terribly frustrating.

Groan, groan and all that.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

A new fear

I had a facial the other day with the lovely A, and at the end of it, we got our phones out to make the next appointment. She mentioned a date four Wednesdays away, and I immediately said that I couldn't make it as it was a Wednesday and I would have a chemo session then. But then I suddenly realised that I would not have chemotheraphy on that day as I would have finished my Taxol the week before. Needless to say, I was absolutely ecstatic. I would've jumped up and down for joy right then and there; but I have a suspicion that A already thinks that I'm slightly odd so I controlled myself.

Although I still have roughly two and half months to go (with a two-week break in the Philippines in between) I am getting quite excited that I'm nearly at the end of this journey (let's not count that horrible menopause inducing, weight-gaining drug that I have to take for the next three years or so). However, I seem to have developed a new fear overnight: that of the cancer coming back. Although I have remained fairly upbeat throughout this entire ordeal, I know that a recurrence would upset me tremendously and would make me go into a very dark place.

I have experienced an entire myriad of emotions throughout my cancer journey: the initial fear at diagnosis, the positivity once chemo started, the joy at shrinking tumours and the mood dips every now and then. But one thing I never thought I would feel on nearing the end of my journey is fear. But I am scared. I don't want to have to go through this again. So once again I have gone back to my books and healthy living magazines, looking for answers. Although I know there is still no ultimate cure for cancer, I am pinning my hopes that an even healthier outlook will keep the evil crab away forever.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Taxol side effects

So far Taxol has been pretty easy on me. Real fatigue is only starting now (nearly passed out and fell off my bike at spin the other day and it took me ages to recover from a not very late night last night) but it's still not as bad as the fatigue I experienced with FEC. However, I think things are creeping up on me as I'm starting to get the small niggles. For instance, I've developed a really itchy rash on my feet and ankles. And because I don't have much self-control and scratch away to my heart's content, I now have ankles and feet like a street urchin's. I tried to get the oncologist to take pity on me, but apparently The Sick Face doesn't work on him. I was hoping he would ask that my Taxol dose be lessened by no such luck.

I've also started to get some very odd pigmentation thing on my face - thank goodness for concealer. My (facial) skin still hasn't recovered from the beating it took from the FEC, and the Taxol's not much help. So I'm still sporting the spotty teenager look.

The weight gain is still there but it seems to have plateaued at two kilos. (I was speaking to friend A earlier today and mistakenly said I had gained two pounds. As you can imagine, I didn't receive much sympathy as that's just the equivalent of a very heavy wee.) I suppose this is because I am continuing to exercise. It does make me feel a lot better with all the endorphins it releases and I do like staying active.

I'm also experiencing: a few sleepless nights, swelling of the feet (my poor feet are just not pretty at the moment), sore legs, dark nails and my eyebrows show no sign of growing back. But nothing I can't live with.

I only have four more Taxol sessions to go, and I'm really hoping that this is the worst of it. I can't believe the end is so very nearly in sight...

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

A second opinion

Breast cancer is one of the most researched cancers around; because of this, new things are popping up about it all the time. On average, I google 'breast cancer' and look under news items every week. And in doing so, I found out that February this year the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York (one of North America's top cancer centres) released a study saying that for certain circumstances, full axillary dissection (ie removal of lymph nodes in the armpit area) was not necessary. This is quite groundbreaking; for almost fifty years it's been standard operating procedure that once the cancer has spread to the lymph nodes (which mine has) a full axillary clearance is automatically done. However, this operation has its share of side-effects, the main one being lymphedema. Lymphedema is basically a swelling due to a blockage of the lymph passage, which can cause decreased flexibility, tightness, limb swelling etc. And I read somewhere that it occurs in nearly 25% of the breast cancer patients who have the dissection. Egad.

Needless to say, this is something that I'd rather not encounter, so if my breast cancer does not call for it, why do it? And based on the MSKCC study, I seem to fall under it.

I've spoken to my breast cancer surgeon about not doing the dissection. And although he was hesitant initially (we've always done it - but yes, a few years ago mastectomies were automatically done as well) he eventually agreed to it. But according to him, only because I'm on private healthcare, where monitoring is apparently better.

The funny thing is, once he agreed, I suddenly started to wonder if this is the right thing to do. So I've decided that I'm going for a second opinion. I've collated all my papers from both my oncologist and breast cancer surgeon and am sending them all to MSKCC, straight to the authors of the study. This is not going to be cheap; but you can't put a price on your health, can you?

Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Sorry for the radio silence. My mother is around and if you think I'm chatty, think again. I can barely get a word in edgeways. It's a miracle my children are still being fed and watered.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Very good news

Saw Mr Tit-man tonight and had a mammogram (ugh) and ultrasound done. And they could barely find the EVIL (evil, evil) crab! It's nearly completely disappeared so I have to go back to hospital tomorrow to have a clip or marker put on it. This needs to be done so that the doctor can still find it when he does the lumpectomy. Hurrah!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Living on a Prayer

In the famous words of Jon Bon Jovi (yum) "We're halfway there!" Yes, six Taxols done and only six more to go. A bit of a break then lumpectomy and radiotherapy. To be pedantic about it, I'm actually more than halfway. Presuming that I will be all healed, so to speak, by the beginning of December, I'm actually three-fourths of the way home since I was diagnosed late March.

Yippee. And so far, what a journey it's been. Not just for me, but for everyone around me: family, friends and even the nurses I harass during my chemo sessions. And although this whole cancer/chemo thing has been a bit of a bother, I almost don't regret the experience if only for the lessons I've learned along the way, and the relationships strengthened. It's true what they say that things that don't kill you can only make you stronger - although I am physically weaker, I certainly feel stronger with all the support and love that friends and family have showered upon me. I know that I will pull through this ordeal because of them.

It's been awhile since I've gone out of my way to thank these very special people. So THANK YOU, all of you. You know who you are. And a special mention has to go to LH and my three wonderful children. I love you.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Be careful...

...what you look for in search engines.

One of the things that I am able to do with this blog is look at its statistics, such as number of hits (nearly 16,000 since I started this in April), where most of the readers are from (the UK, US and the Philippines) and traffic sources (the blog itself and Facebook are pretty high up the list). One of the other things it gives me are search terms - so evil crab blog, cancer blogs and chemo kits are quite popular. However, last night someone obviously typed in 'medicine for crabs' and somehow got directed to my blog. Dont know about you, but I find this absolutely hilarious!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Butterfly kisses

I have mini eyelashes! Yes, I realised this morning that my eyelashes are growing back. Hurrah! I'll be able to give butterfly kisses again...

Saturday, 27 August 2011


Sadly wig and snakeskin shoes did not get out last night as ended up staying in bed as was just so tired. Sigh... Another time then...

Am feeling much better now though. Thank goodness!

Friday, 26 August 2011

Taxing Taxol

I had my fifth Taxol last Wednesday - slowly, slowly, getting there. Sadly though, I think the effects of the Taxol are finally hitting home. With the first few sessions, I went about as normal. However, the tiredness is starting to set in and I just got out of bed around an hour ago (it's 5pm here). Don't get me wrong - I was up and about this morning and in fact went to a spin class, which is probably what killed me. I arrived back home, fed the children and could barely stay up after that. I eventually forced myself out of bed, but I'm still feeling very woozy. I must get my energy going though as have a party tonight and the wig must make an outing! (And not to mention the new LK Bennett snakeskin shoes...)

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Love it

Had my blood test for tomorrow's session and decided to pass by the shops on way home. On the way to M&S was stopped by a man to say he loved my hat. (No, am not wearing wig today - wore it yesterday but more on that later.) Around a half hour later, whilst waiting to pay, the 50-60-ish- year old lady waiting behind me said, 'you're beautiful'. Needless to say, both comments from complete strangers (and no, I was not flashing any part of my anatomy either) completely made my day. Especially keeping in mind that I live in the UK, the home of the stiff upper lip. This whole chemo look obviously suits me. Actually thought of taking a photo of myself and posting it on the blog; but then rushed home to cook the children's lunch (tuna bake, natch) and now have a tomato sauce splattered top. Oh well...

And yes, the wig went out for the first time yesterday. Felt quite self-conscious (and no strangers approached to make me feel better about it) but I figured that the ease will come in time. After all, the first few times I wore my turbans, I felt I had a beacon on my forehead. The funny thing is I bumped into one of the mums at the children's previous school and she made no mention of it. It was as if me, suddenly turning up with blonde hair, was the most normal thing in the world. Now, this could be one of the following things:
1. she never noticed my hair before;
2. drastic hair colour changes are normal in her world;
3. I stunned her into absolute silence (about my hair anyway);
4. she follows the dictum 'if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all'; and
5. she's just indifferent (she didn't ask how I was doing either).
My theory is #5, but I'm fearful that she was actually being a good girl and following her mummy's advice and was doing a #4. I will need to build up my courage to wear the wig again - LH and I have a party at J & P's on Friday, and I think I will wear it then. Wish me luck.

Monday, 22 August 2011

It must be the postman

I wonder where the children got their dark hair from, since LH and I are both blonde...

Sunday, 21 August 2011


Just noticed this morning that the hair on my head is starting to grow back - hurrah! Okay, there isn't much, probably a millimetre or so, but it's better than nothing (literally).

Since I discovered it, I've been touching my head at every opportunity. It feels very strange - it's not spiky, like unshaven legs, or completely soft, such as a baby's head. I suppose it's a combination of the two. Anyway, it's very comforting and I'm loving it!

Friday, 19 August 2011

Do blondes have more fun?

Ha! Am now a (part-time) blonde! Picked up my wig today from the lovely Sabrina and although I initially freaked when she placed it on my head, within a few minutes I got used to it and started to believe that I could actually rock the look.

Well, we'll see. Am currently wearing the wig and I do like it, although I still surprise myself every time I pass a mirror. I sort of look like a male Japanese rocker - which can't be good. And it shifts every so often, making my entire head look lopsided. Hmm... Is there anyway I can superglue this wig to my scalp?

But! LH has seen the new blonde me and he likes it - and even the children have given the blonde mummy their approval. These are good signs so will continue to wear the wig, and start to believe that I am a true blonde. Now all I need is the attitude...

Thursday, 18 August 2011

The Ultimate Chemo Kit

I'd been meaning to post about this for ages, and in the absence of anything else to write about, here it is, finally.

First of all, a couple of crucial books:

1. Anti-cancer, by David Servan-Schreiber. I honestly think that this man titled this book wrong, as I'm convinced that this is one that should be read by one and all. It's written by a doctor/scientist who got diagnosed with brain cancer - it went into remission and sadly came back four years later, so he decided to undertake research to find out what he needed to do to prevent the cancer recurring. It's been over fourteen years and it hasn't come back. I like this book because it makes me feel like I am in control of my own destiny, and that I do not solely rely on doctors and fatalism.

2. Cancer is a word, not a sentence by Dr Robert Buckman. Great book, as it puts cancer in perspective. Also comes with some retaliation for those who are convinced that cancer can be cured without the use of modern medicine and chemotherapy.


1. Wheatgrass - vile, vile, vile stuff. No matter what they say and how many recipes they give you, it's still disgusting. Like licking the inside of a lawnmower. But I'm convinced that this is one of the major reasons why I am not experiencing a lot of the normal reactions to chemotherapy.

2. LifeMel honey - could be a placebo, but so far, it's worked for me. One of the most horrifying things that could happen to someone undergoing chemotherapy is for treatment to be postponed, as you just want it over and done with. Supposedly this honey keeps your white blood cell count up, so you are not prone to infections. Funnily enough, I did not take it before yesterday's blood test - and my white blood cell count was down from normal.

3. Female Multiple Multivitamins by Solgar - Pink horse tablets, three a day needed. Good to keep iron levels and other important vitamins and minerals up. Turns your wee a very impressive flourescent yellow.

4. Gallons of water - although during the most nauseous parts of chemo, the last thing on earth you want. But crucial, as it flushes the drugs from your body.


1. A selection of hats, turbans and scarves. Although I recently caved in and got a (blonde) wig, I think it will mostly be used for special occasions only. Apart from the fact that the wig is a pretty warm thing to have on your head, you can also accidentally cremate it by opening the oven without taking it off first. So scarves and turbans mostly then.

2. Benefits Brow Zings - although my eyebrows are not all gone, they've definitely thinned so I tend to look either like an alien/Pillsbury doughboy in the mornings. This allows me to draw them back.

3. Nuxe Huile Prodigeuse and Aveeno body creams - lovely lovely stuff. Don't think my skin has been ever been this smooth.

4. Solar Oil - I'm hoping that this is preventing my nails from falling off completely.

5. Jurlique face creams - Taxol has made me break out in spots (augh). Jurlique's natural, biodynamic face creams keep them (sort of) in check.


1. An iPad and a credit card (enough said)

2. A Kindle (or Kindle app on said iPad) or lots of books and magazines

3. Anti-nausea (sea) bands - definitely kept the nausea at bay. I kept these on during FEC sessions and for the week after each one.

3. A sense of humour

And MOST importantly, a strong group of the MOST WONDERFUL FAMILY AND FRIENDS (no link for them as you'll have to get your own)!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

You look different...

Although I've been very happy with my bandanas and turbans, I thought I may as well take advantage of the NHS' generosity and get myself a wig. So today, with the children in tow and the very lovely L for honest opinions (the uglier the truth the truer the friend, after all), I had myself fitted for a wig.

I tried on quite a few and had a lot of laughs along the way. The styles were quite varied, to say the least. I had decided quite early on though that I would choose a style and colour quite different to what I normally have: very dark, long, and wavy. And although I did waiver over the hair colour, with the help of L and the wig lady I did go for it: so on Friday, I have a short, straight, BLONDE wig to pick up.

There will certainly be no questions about carpets matching curtains (pardon me) as there is no way I could ever pass for a natural blonde - I am Asian after all. I suppose I can confidently say that the only natural blonde Filipinos out there must carry an albino gene. But! I may as well have fun with it. Cancer isn't a bag of laughs after all, so I should take it when and where I can find it.

Friday, 12 August 2011

No, I'm not surprised

Was back at the gym today and really pushed myself as I could feel the KFC Banquet for One still sitting in my tummy. Needless to say, I ended up sweating like a panicked rioter in a balaclava caught between the police and a burning building. So I used my very useful gym towel and wiped my face a couple of times, completely forgetting that my eyebrows are just drawn on, and excessive rubbing makes them disappear.

I am now debating on whether or not I should have my eyebrows tattooed - it would certainly avoid incidents such as these. But I am worried that because my eyebrows are nearly non-existent, the beautician might put in a set of eyebrows separate from where my normal eyebrows are; so that when my eyebrows do grow back, I will end up with two sets.

This is just one of the things that keeps me up at night.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Too vain?

I need to apologise in advance. I find it vain and terribly boring when people harp on about their weight, but sadly as it is something that is affecting me and is one of my great worries at the moment I'm afraid that just I'll have to talk about it.

Have just arrived back home after dropping the children off at camp (a 5-hour round trip drive) and on the way back home, LH and I stopped for something to eat. We opted for something healthy of course so ended up at KFC. (Ho-hum.) I ordered the Banquet for One, something that could've fed a family of five in the Philippines. It was enormous. I tucked into it and realised that the corpulent man seated at the next table was also eating the same thing. So we smiled at each other like kindred souls: we were both greedy and slowly eating our way to be contestants in some reality weight show.

The funny thing is that weight gain is one thing that's really worrying me. My hair will grow back with no effort, my nails will strengthen and lose their black tinge - but my weight will continue to rise if I do not make any attempt to lose it. I have so far gained (boring, boring) 2 kilos since this chemo malarky and it seemed to have plateaued with the first phase, but having steroids weekly seems to have accelerated the weight gain. Argh.

Anyway, despite all my weight angst, I had a KFC Oreo Krusher for pudding - all 600 calories of it...

Thursday, 4 August 2011

"I'm just a nymphomaniac"

No, no, no - not me! That was once said by an acquaintance ages ago - she was being questioned about a business she was putting up, and rather than say she was just a neophyte at the industry, she mistakenly said this instead. What a disaster, as she's never been able to live it down...

I was suddenly reminded of this incident because recently I seem to be forgetting everyday words and using strange ones instead. Nothing too serious so far - in a conversation with girlfriend A the other day, I said 'when my cancer goes into revision'. Eh??? I was hoping this was a one-off but it seems to be happening with increasing regularity. Chemo brain has obviously started.

I am trying to ward off the slow decline of my brain by playing regular puzzles ( is a current favourite) and reading constantly (does re-reading Harry Potter count?) However, there's only so much I can do. So if you find yourself in conversation with me and I say something absolutely ludicrous, just blame my chemo brain.

PS. I realise of course that this could be considered another positive thing about chemotherapy - I could just say things out loud, renege all responsibility and blame the treatment. Ooh, what fun!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


When I first got diagnosed with breast cancer, I made the decision to make a few changes: no junk food, no meat, no processed food, and loads of green tea. Basically, I was determined to have a macrobiotic diet similar to Gwyneth Paltrow's. But be warned: it is a VERY boring diet. Needless to say, this was slightly torturous especially because I love a good slab of rare steak. But I survived, even through the trip to South Africa, simply because they offer excellent quality and variety of seafood.

So, for the first three FEC sessions, I had two shots of wheatgrass everyday, no meat, loads of fruit and vegetables, no biscuits and a lot of cups of green tea. However, I was suffering with pretty bad nausea at the same time as a consequence of the drugs. So sadly, now I cannot look at a cup of green tea or a punnet of blueberries without retching. Which is an absolute pity because I know how good these things are for me.

I've made a horrid mistake here: I should've eaten, through all four FEC sessions, things that I normally crave but are not good for me: Doritos, Kettle chips, biscuits and the like. Then I would have developed an aversion to them. After all, whilst I'm having chemotherapy, I cannot develop cancer by eating all this junk - and the steroids are making me fat(ter) anyway.

Also, I found out too late that the acid reflux I was experiencing whilst doing the FEC was caused by the inability of my digestive system to process fruit and vegetables. What the heck. So although I had been eating all these healthy foods, as it turns out I wasn't even garnering anything healthy from taking them.

My diet is back to normal now, except that green tea, blueberries and red peppers are not on the menu. I'm still forcing back the wheatgrass as I'm convinced that it is helping me in terms of reducing chemo's side-effects, but I feel sorry for myself everytime I drink the vile stuff.

So, for anyone about to embark on chemotherapy, this is what I suggest: stuff your face with junk for the worst, most nauseous part of the chemotherapy, then switch to healthier food once the nausea as eased. Because by this time, the thought of junk food will just make you feel sick.

Darn. I wish someone had told me that!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Is it that time again?

Tomorrow I will be going for my second Taxol session. And knowing that it's nowhere near as debilitating as the FEC means that I'm not as nervous as I normally am about the upcoming treatment. However, it's quite odd. With the FEC, I had three weeks to get my head around the fact that I was going to have to go in to hospital and have drugs intravenously fed into me. Now I have a week. Not only that - with the FEC, I had two out three weeks as normal - now every week will be slightly strange as I lose two days out of every week (1/2 day for the blood test, 1 day for the chemo treatment and 1/2 day to recover after).

I'll still take the Taxol over the FEC any time though. Apart from the grogginess from the antihistamines, I haven't really had any other side-effects. Last week I was sent home after treatment with anti-sickness medication which I did not take and was back in the gym spinning by Friday. (And did loads of Zumba classes at home at the weekend, frightening the children to bits with my attempts at the shoulder shimmy.)

And having Taxol also means that I'm over the worst of the chemo treatments. What a relief. I do hope I can say that it's smooth sailing from here, but as I'm not wholly sure of how I will react to the surgery and radiotherapy, I'll just have to cross my fingers and hope for the best!

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Is it hot in here?

We've had a lovely couple of days here in England (hopefully this isn't our summer over yet) as it's been nice and sunny. However, today I felt particularly hot. I figured it was because I was running around the house getting a few errands done. Until I realised that the heat that I was experiencing was very odd: it felt as if it was coming from within me, like I was about to spontaneously combust.

Then it dawned upon me - here it was finally, one of the dreaded effects of chemotherapy. Hot flushes and early menopause. Although initially I had felt sad about this (I wrote about it in an earlier blog entry) today I felt absolutely nothing. Just acceptance. Once I realised what was going on, I just went about my business and did not dwell on the matter any longer.

It's funny how certain things which can seem so important one day may not matter at all the next. I suppose it's because taking everything into consideration, early menopause really is nothing at all to worry about.

Friday, 29 July 2011

When will I learn?

Argh. Was caught again without a headscarf this morning when the doorbell rang, so had to reach for the nearest thing - LH's Loch Ness monster hat. Luckily, it was just a couple of Jehovah's Witnesses wanting to draw me in. I actually believe they breathed a huge sigh of relief when I said I wasn't interested...

Thursday, 28 July 2011


Had the first session of the second round of my chemotherapy yesterday and phew, it's a heck of a lot better than the first. I suppose this is why it's been changed from one every three weeks to one a week for the next twelve weeks. Apart from feeling terribly woozy and quite groggy (from the intravenous antihistamines) for a couple of hours after, I have been fine since. So far, no nausea nor reflux. Hiccoughs still around, but nothing to worry about.

Chemo session yesterday was very quiet (to the silent relief of the nurses, methinks). Most of my girlfriends are on holiday so it was to be expected. I have to mention S though, who still came and entertained, and brought trashy magazines. What an absolute star. (I am convinced that I would have been out of bed earlier yesterday, but I kept myself supine if only to devour the magazines.)

Hopefully this Taxol course continues on this path. Apparently, the fatigue starts later on in the course, when the drug starts to accumulate in my poor body. And the hairloss sadly continues. Not that I have much to lose anyway. But I'm not going to worry about that - I'm going to revel at the fact that it's nowhere near as bad as the FEC course and I'm actually up and about!

(By the way, saw oncologist Dr M yesterday - apparently everything going on course, etc. He gave me a breast exam with the coldest hands. Obviously, a certain part of my breasts did something instinctive which only happens when I'm cold, et al! I hope Dr M doesn't think that I actually derive any sort of pleasure from these exams. Good God.)

Monday, 25 July 2011


Arrived back from Scotland late Saturday, so instead of going for a healthy dinner, we opted for a Chinese takeaway. When the delivery man eventually arrived, LH was in the garage sorting out stuff, whilst the children had disappeared. (As they are wont to do when there are un-fun things that need to get done.) I thus had the task of opening the door to the delivery man and paying for the food. The problem was I had whipped my headscarf off as soon as we arrived home, having worn it throughout the 10-hour car journey. And the only available hat was second son E's highland cow hat. So I put this on, opened the door and pretended that this was entirely normal in the T household.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Head Aches

I am so fed up with walking with a scarf/turban all day long that today, I actually considered shaving all of my hair off and doing a Sinead O'Connor. However, upon closer inspection of my scalp, I realised that it's not the prettiest thing and is really best kept under wraps. First of all, it's a very pale shade compared to my face as it's been covered by hair all these years. Second, I have discovered that I have moles on my scalp. And third, I have a very disturbing dent on my head.

I actually discovered this dent a few years ago, when the twins were newly born. And it did induce some sort of panic so I called NHS Direct and told them my problem.

Me: I have a dent on my head.
Nurse: Okaaaaay, have you been hit by a blunt instrument lately?
Me: No, I woke up this morning and there it was.

The lady said she would call me back. She didn't of course, and who can blame her - she probably thought I was mad. But rather than be discouraged by this, I called my local GP and made an appointment to see him. On the day, I told him I was worried about this dent on my head. Credit to the poor man - he didn't laugh his head off and actually checked my scalp. He then reassured me that I'd probably been born with the dent. (The dent actually does exist, and it isn't just a figment of my imagination.)

I can only plead some form of postpartum insanity - the twins were less than a year old at this time. What I still fail to understand is why LH did not stop me from harassing NHS Direct and our local GP. When I questioned him about it he said I was absolutely determined and nothing would've stopped me. Oh well... I can only comfort myself with the fact that I may have at least given the nurses and doctor some amusement to tide over the tedium of their day. It wouldn't surprise me if they're still laughing about it now...

Ain't no mountain high enough

We're in Arran at the moment - a mini-break (and possibly our only holiday this summer) as the children have been on their summer break for nearly two weeks and I've recovered from the last chemotherapy session. LH's parents live here, and I'm always looking for an excuse to come over. It's a beautiful island, I love the fresh air and the views are spectacular.

We've been going on daily treks since we arrived - as I won't be able to get my gym fix, it's my way of getting fit. Yesterday, we decided to climb Goat Fell. At nearly 2,900 feet, Goat Fell falls short of a Munro, but it's a pretty challenging climb nonetheless. It wouldn't have been my first time to climb it: LH and I did it a couple of years ago but we thought it would be fun to do it again. So, armed with a few chocolate bars and a camera, we made our way with LH's parents, the children and my nieces and nephew, who are also visiting from the mainland. A motley crew indeed.

When we set off, Goat Fell's peak was covered in cloud; and although the locals say the mountain should not be climbed if you cannot see the peak, we decided to go for it anyway. The sun was out and we figured that pretty soon it would burn off the clouds.

Sadly, halfway through the climb LH's dad turned back - but at 73 years old, he had done very well to get as far as he did. A couple of hours later however, over three-quarters of the way up, LH's mum, my niece E and daughter N also decided that they had had enough. I could certainly understand LH'S mum (I will not mention her age here as I do not want to incur her wrath) as she had a fall a few years ago and broke her ankle, and it's never fully recovered. She had done extremely well to get so high up the mountain. I couldn't really say anything to niece E, as she is my niece and not my daughter. However, I found myself very cross with N. I felt she was giving up too easily and not trying her best. I will spare everyone the gory details and just say that words were said and tears shed by my poor daughter; at this point I was so cross I decided to abandon the climb as well.

As soon as we made our way down however, I realised that I still had the camera, so I left N with LH's mum and chased after the rest who had gone a fair distance. Huffing and puffing (I'd had to run quite a way up) I caught up with them - but this is simply because they had decided to turn back too. Nephew C was cold and LH felt that it was pretty dangerous as the cloud had not burnt off as we hoped it would - the peak was still covered in cloud and in fact we were in it. I was extremely frustrated at this point - I told LH that since he was turning back, he could climb down whilst I would continue on with sons C and E and niece N. But LH counselled me against it - it was too hazy thus making it risky to do.

Embarrassingly, I lost it then. Although I did not rant and rave like a madman, I walked away purposefully and started to stomp my way down the mountain. And I stomped all the way down. And because I had stomped and stomped with absolute feeling, I hurt my right knee in the process and was hobbling like a drunken pensioner who had just finished a marathon by late afternoon. The worst thing is no-one said anything about it; although they commiserated over my sore and swollen knee they never mentioned the manic stomping - it became the Voldemort of the day.

LH and I did eventually talk about it (thank goodness as it gave me the chance to finally laugh at myself) and although I had initially blamed my sense of humour failure on my frustration at not reaching the peak, I think a lot of it boiled down to the fact that I wanted to prove to myself - and everyone - that neither cancer nor chemotherapy would get me down. And although I have in the past admitted defeat because of chemotherapy this time I will not. Because I know for a fact that if not for that obdurate cloud we would've definitely made it. Anyway Goat Fell is not going anywhere and neither am I; so I can always climb it another day.

Sunday, 17 July 2011


Bumped into someone I know (let's call her X) the other day, and she made it pretty clear, via her (lack of) words and actions, that she's cross with me. Sometimes I feel that people are nice to me simply because of my circumstances. So although I was irritated at X's actions, I was grateful that she had been true to her feelings and had not compromised them simply because I'm ill.

I want people to treat me the same way, as much as possible. I know this can sometimes be difficult because the word cancer carries with it so much weight, and thus people can't help themselves. However it would be best for everyone all around if we all stayed true to our feelings. I am still after all, the same person - balder and a bit fatter on the outside but pretty much the same on the inside. Which means that although I may be physically weaker (this is grudgingly said) I am certainly still strong enough to fight my own battles.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

It's all in the attitude

My gorgeous friend L sent me this the other day via email, and I found the sentiment so lovely I thought I'd share it here:

There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head. 

'Well,' she said, 'I think I'll braid my hair today.' 

So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

'Hmm,' she said, 'I think I'll part my hair down the middle today.'

So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail.'

So she did, and she had a fun, fun day. 

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her head. 

'YAY!' she exclaimed. 'I don't have to fix my hair today!' 


Attitude is everything. 

Be kinder than necessary, 
for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. 

Live simply, 

Love generously, 

Care deeply, 

Speak kindly, 

and pray continually. 

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass... 
It's about learning to dance in the rain.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Oops, pardon me...

One unfortunate side-effect of chemo medication is uh... uncontrollable burping. I suppose this is all connected with the hiccoughing and acid reflux - it must play havoc on your gastric system. Now I will tut tut as much as anyone who belches in public, but I have to admit that I secretly envy loud, echo-inducing burps as they do sound so very satisfying. Especially as I don't have the talent to simulate one either. (One thing I most remember about living in Barcelona was paying a man in Las Ramblas 50 pesetas to burp out loud. As you do.)

However, I no longer feel left out, as I can now belch like a man who has just finished a 'drink as much soda' competition. After all, as we used to always say as children, 'Why f*rt and waste it when you can burp and taste it?'. Yes, why indeed...

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Oh no no no

Felt terrible today - perhaps I overdid it yesterday (I did decide, for some altogether strange reason, that it would be a very good time to clean the fridge and sort out the kitchen cupboards). Thus, I woke this morning feeling quite nauseous and very tired. And to top it off, I also woke up with an awful headache. And although I'd made a conscious decision not to show the children my lovely egghead because I'm too scared of traumatising them, I lost it today (oh no no no no). A combination of the nausea, the heat and my headache made me so fed up with my headscarf. I was convinced that if I just took it off I would feel a heck of a lot better. So after dinner tonight, after LH and I re-iterated that my current lack of a hairstyle was temporary, I whipped my headscarf off. And regretted it immediately. As it turns out, I don't feel better - I feel worse. I feel selfish and I feel guilty. Should our children turn out to be maladjusted, the turning point will be this moment in time, when they first saw their mother's Gollum hairdo.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Back to the Land of the Living

I'm feeling like a new person again, arising from my chemo fog. Luckily, this last session has been nowhere near as toxic as the previous ones. And sadly I think I may have to deal with a lot of 'I told you so...' comments as I'm pretty sure that the reason it hasn't been so bad is because I spent most of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday in bed, either resting or sleeping. So it seems that everyone was right all along - I do just need to rest and let my body heal whilst the toxic drugs do their work and course through my veins. HA! Why didn't anyone tell me that?

Oh, yes, silly me. Everyone did. Huh.

Thursday, 7 July 2011


Had the last FEC-(*ing) session yesterday! It's still not over I know, but at least the most toxic part is done. I am fervently hoping that the new cycle of Taxol - weekly for 12 weeks from the end of July - will be slightly kinder on me. I'd like to think that it will be as I cannot imagine something as horrible as the FEC being given on a weekly basis. Having analysed it (anal, me?) I think I will lose two (positive thinker that I am) to a maximum three days to this treatment. But Taxol sounds like toxic. Argh. Why couldn't they have named the drug Grass, Flower or Seascape???

Apart from the truly wonderful LH, I was joined yesterday by some lovely friends for my last FEC session. These chemo parties have been an absolute godsend as I have found that I have become more fraught with every hospital visit. My anxiety levels have gone up so instead of just experiencing palpitations on the way to hospital, I'm also starting to feel sick and actually found myself doing some dignified crying (ie silent tears and not sobbing like a babe) during the car journey yesterday. By the time I reached hospital I was in such I state of distress that I felt faint. However, once friends started streaming in I was immediately distracted from the treatment. When conversations range from the absolutely absurd (vajazzling) to the ridiculous (that news item of the Mexican smuggled in a suitcase is hilarious) to the more serious topics of phone hacking, I cannot help but be distracted. By the time I left hospital yesterday I was certainly in a much better state of mind.

But no less tired. Once home from hospital and the pub (where I did NOT order the Chicken Liver Salad) I spent most of yesterday in bed, flitting in and out of sleep. I'm feeling much better today though, although I am still spending a lot of time supine. Figuring out if there's any possible way we could contort LH so that he can fit into one of our suitcases.

Monday, 4 July 2011

A Question of Mortality

I remember very well the day that I received the telephone call from hospital, asking me to go back because there had been a shadow in my mammogram result. It was a Thursday and I was just on my way out to pick up the children from school. I cried most of the way there as I was terribly frightened; I only composed myself once I was on the school road.

The next few weeks were no better as I vacillated from one emotion to the other - from incredulity, self-pity, anger and extreme sadness. I couldn't shake the idea of death; I thought of my children, my husband and the family and friends I would leave behind. Things however changed as soon as my treatment began - I knew that I was on the road to wellness and although I would have a few months having to deal with the unfortunate side-effects of chemotherapy and surgery, there was a deadline to it and by Christmas I would be a picture of health.

Last Sunday, my blog was featured on the front page of one of the Philippines' top broadsheet newspapers. As a consequence, I have received messages from friends, acquaintances and even strangers all wishing me well. However, I have found that some of the messages have saddened me - although they have been sent with the best intentions, some of them have had a tinge of fatalism, as if I have been given the death sentence with my cancer diagnosis. So I have found myself, once again, thinking of death. Or the possibility of this treatment not working.

This has freaked me out - I had reached the point wherein I thought of my cancer as a temporary affliction that will be cured. The thought of the chemotherapy not working, or the possibility of a recurrence had not crossed my mind since I started treatment in May. I need, desperately, to get out of this mindset - as I believe that a positive attitude is one thing that will most definitely get me through this (hopefully) temporary nightmare.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Hair today...

Woke up in the morning (feeling like P Diddy...) to find out that I'd shed the equivalent of a shaggy carpet on my pillow. This surprised me as I didn't realise I still had that much hair left on my head. But I suppose this is the effect of the last chemotherapy session as I did not use the cold cap. The hair loss does not affect me any longer, but I find it such a hassle as I have to pick up all the hair afterwards. Even though the little hair that I do have left is very short, it's still not short enough to come away unnoticed. Thus, I leave a trail of hair wherever I go and I have to tidy up after myself all the time. If the CSI came to our house, they certainly wouldn't have any difficulty whatsoever in finding my DNA.

I've made the conscious decision not to shave my head; it's because I feel that by going bald, I will most definitely look like a cancer victim. Right now, I wear headscarves or turbans and because I still have hair peeking out, it looks like I have chosen to wear these - after all, headwear is apparently trendy at the moment. (At least that's what I tell myself.) A couple of weeks ago, whilst waiting to pay in our local supermarket, a lady approached me and told me she loved my headscarf. I laughed and told her I was actually undergoing chemotherapy - she was very apologetic but I told her that she'd made my day.

This morning however I found myself fed up finding hair everywhere, so I asked LH to shave my head. After making sure that I was not being impulsive and had actually given the process some form of logical thought, he agreed. I'm still not bald though - I've just gone for a long buzz cut. And what a relief - I should have done it ages ago. Apart from the fact that it looks so much better (that weird fringe left on its own in the front of my head was very odd indeed) I'm also not leaving a hair trail behind me. Or if I am, it's certainly less evident.

Friday, 1 July 2011

The Sweetest Thing

My beautiful daughter N surprised me yesterday when I picked her up from school. She decided that she wants to raise funds for breast cancer and she'd spoken to her form teacher Mrs. G earlier in the day. So they spoke to the Headmaster, and now N's class is organising a cake sale to be held during their lunchbreak on Tuesday. N chose Breast Cancer Care as her charity, and I do hope that you can help her raise funds too by donating via this website:

Thank you in advance!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Da pain, da pain!

I can imagine that's what Tattoo would've said to Mr. Rourke as they engaged in their nefarious nocturnal activities on Fantasy Island. It's also what I've been saying since I woke up this morning. Sadly, I am in agony: every muscle in my body hurts and I can barely walk. I blame the chemotherapy, of course.

I came across an article (over the Internet, so IT MUST BE TRUE) that chemotherapy may cause osteoporosis, so it encouraged those undergoing chemo to partake in weight bearing exercises, such as running or weight-lifting. I stopped running a couple of years ago, and although I have been going to the gym regularly, I have only concentrated on cardiovascular, flexibility and core work. So on Monday, I did a Body Pump class, which is basically weight-lifting to music. I used to do this class regularly, but have not done so since March. Oh. My. Word. My body is in so much pain that I think even my eyelids are sore in sympathy. I have discovered new muscles that I had forgotten even existed.

I suppose I now look properly ill. I am waddling instead of walking and I have a permanent look of pain etched on my face. I should make use of this: added to the Sick Face this could be a very effective weapon in getting things done MY WAY. I only have a couple of days though before the pain goes away, so I'd better make a list, quick.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Yellow Hand

Since my diagnosis, I have been unable to count the number of times people have told me that I am brave. This is very kind of them, but I do find this funny, as I am actually a bit of a wuss. So many things frighten me, it's almost ridiculous: spiders, toads, snakes, yellow hands that come out of wardrobes left open in the night...

Having cancer has not suddenly given me courage, as longed for by the Lion. Alas, I did not choose to have cancer; sadly, it chose me. And what I'm doing is living with it, the best way I can. Which is what all other cancer victims are doing, day after day. And I'm no exception.