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.