Saturday, 31 January 2009

Sat. 31st Jan. 2009

Been into York today, it was very cold, but I can't miss an opportunity to get out and about while I feel well (apart from the sniffles). Under normal circumstances I enjoy looking at clothes and shoes, so it struck me as funny when I realised that the food section of Marks & Spencer's and Betty's wonderful selection of cakes held more of an attraction than any of the fashion shops. I came home with spicy sausages, a chilli & ginger stir fry sauce, peppered crisps and some scones from Betty's. How on earth I'm managing not to pile on weight is beyond me, but hey, I'm not complaining and I feel completely justified in being self indulgent this week!

I've made a couple of interesting discoveries today. The first being 'Mucositis' which is a problem caused by Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide) one of the chemotherapy drugs I have. It relates to soreness of the mouth, ulcers and burning along the digestive tract, plus acid reflux, which sounds very familiar! The other thing I discovered about Cytoxan is that it's derived from Mustard Gas, which is a very scary thought!

Friday, 30 January 2009

Frid. 30th Jan.2009

It's been so cold today that we haven't gone far from the house. I'm still sneezing and as the evening goes on my joints are aching a bit, so I'll keep an eye on my temperature. I'm watching 'Transatlantic Sessions' on the TV, it features various musicians, folk & country playing and singing, including some of my favorites Ally Bain and Phil Cunningham, Dougie McLean, The Roche Sisters etc. Some of the music and songs are so beautiful they make me want to cry.

This week, the run up to my next chemotherapy is nice in some ways, I can get out and about and enjoy things a bit more, but I also find myself dreading the fact that I'm going to feel really poorly again by next weekend. I know I've only got three treatments left, but they're a heavy weight around my neck.

On the lighter side, I've mentioned alot of people in my blog and recently my colleagues at Brinsworth, but I want to take the time to say a big HELLO to everyone at my other sites, especially those at Immingham (Hi Chris - I miss my visits). I hope to be back by the middle of the year in some capacity, but in the meantime just knowing people are there and sending me positive vibes means such alot to me.

10p.m. - I'm feeling a bit low tonight, probably because I'm on my own (Graham's working) and I've been thinking about things I want to ask on Thursday when I have my treatment review. I know I'm ER negative, but no one's mentioned whether I would be a candidate for Herceptin. I'm thinking the answer is probably no as that relies on hormone receptors too.

No one has told me what my 'Stage' is and that would appear to be quite important from the articles I've read. I know my cancer is classed as a Grade III, but I feel a bit confused about my diagnosis and treatment. I have clear 'nodes', but I have lymphovascular Invasion, which means the cancer could have gone elsewhere. Lastly, I'm wondering how quickly my kind of cancer becomes evident? How long has it been there and how do we know the chemotherapy has worked? Actually I know the answer to the last question because I asked and basically they don't know.

I guess I'm just having one of those nights when I feel the need to question what's happening to me, which isn't a negative thing, it's a bit like nipping myself to make sure it isn't a dream.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

29th Jan. 2009 'Shelving - take two'

We're off the Roo & Gor's today to try and put some shelves up that actually stay for longer than 20 minutes! Oh well, it wasn't anyone's fault really, they really would have been ok for light stuff, but I think it was the last ton and a half of books that made them 'give up the ghost'.

The shelves went great and as far as I know, they're still up! We had lunch in Ilkley, it was very nice. The bad news is that I developed sniffles last night and this has now turned into a proper cold. I'm so annoyed, but how can I avoid picking up germs unless I stay indoors and wear a mask. I have to go out, so the chances of picking something up from public places, buses, shops etc., is very high. All I can hope is that it burns itself out before my treatment next week and I'll keep eating and drinking to build myself up (mmmm, I like that idea).

P.S - Happy Birthday Michael!

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Wed. 28th Jan 2009 - BOC Brinsworth

(below) My good friend, Joan, who's been there for me since I sarted BOC. (right) Karen, Mel and Marjorie who's super food and friendship keep us all going.

Been trying to arrange a visit to my place of work
at BOC Rotherham for ages and finally managed it this morning. Set off around 9a.m., I would like to have driven my new car, but as I had a very odd visual experience earlier, I decided not to. It was just one eye, but I could see a very bright jagged edged circle spinning round for about 20 minutes, it was so definite I could draw it. Shortly after I did have a 'muggy' feeling in my head, so I'm wondering if it was a migraine, not that I suffer with those usually.

Anyway, we arrived at 10a.m. and as soon as I went in the girls in reception were there to give me a hug and wish me well, which made me feel really happy, it's so important to be missed! It was lovely to see Joan, especially since the last time I saw her she was holding a vomit bowl for me in a bizarre role reversal on my last day back in October.

We had coffee together with my buddies in the dining room before setting off home. It was really good to be there and I'm looking forward to getting back eventually. Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Tue. 27th Jan 2009

Ate too much yesterday and I'm suffering for it today, but not to worry, I look forward to my meals even if they don't taste of much. One thing I can't seem to cope with is chocolate, which is strange as you'd think that would be a treat. Just the thought of it can make me feel ill. Also, I can't seem to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and if I do have one, it's usually without the milk. So I wonder if it's the milk that doesn't agree with me and the chemo.

I have experienced really distressing problems with my digestive system this time and I need to sort those out before my next treatment as it's resulted in me losing weight. Apart from severe heartburn and reflux, I've had to put up with cramping stomach ache every time I've had something to eat or drink. Added to the fact that I've 'been in France' for two weeks, this has been a real problem. Now I'm 'back from France' so to speak, If I need to go, I really need to go, which makes it difficult to plan time out of the house. (For anyone who doesn't know, the reference to being in France stems from the fact that when I went to stay in my brothers place for a week and absolutely could not go to the loo, so it's become our little joke!) Sorry to labour the bodily functions, but they are an essential part of everyday life and are affected quite dramatically by chemotherapy.

So what's on the chart for the rest of the day? Not much, it gets pretty boring sometimes and the computer is a real lifeline to the outside world. My niece Dawn is about to cash up her sponsor money and I know she's excited. We've now got posters and tickets for the 'music night' at Stockton on Forest (28th Feb.) so don't miss out if you want a really fun time - all proceeds to the York Hospital Oncology Unit.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Mon.26th Jan 2009 'Go Teddy go'

Hey folks, I'm a little jaded this morning, but part of this is self inflicted (no, not alcohol). With some trepidation, I went with Graham to see Teddy Thompson & his band in York. The tickets were a Christmas present from Graham and were bought on the basis that I would be in my 'good days'. If I'm honest, going to music concerts is not top of my 'like to do' list, but the venue for Teddy's was small to medium and I really love his voice and songs.

My concern was the fact that it was a 'standing' concert and my body doesn't do standing at the moment, especially my legs. However, we parked nearby, queued for 30 minutes (aagh!) and got in right at the front. It couldn't have been a better position, I had a large pillar behind and the barrier in front, so plenty to lean on, not forgetting Graham of course.

All my frailties disappeared when they came on stage, it was a wonderful evening and both him and his band were brilliant. True to form my brain kept flashing images of food 'fish and chips - mmmmm', so as we made our way back to the car we stopped and got some chips (big apologies to all my Health Professional friends and colleagues), boy did I enjoy them and it felt quite romantic! So thanks Graham for a superb Christmas present and sorry to my 'chemotherapy armies', I'll try to be good today.

Later: Ok, so I haven't been an angel today. We went and had lunch in York, then I was hungry again tonight so I cooked some peppered mackerel and rice. To complete my very indulgent day I've been eating sherbet lemons (refreshing) and now have no skin on the roof of my mouth, ah well, small sacrifice.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Sun.25th Jan 2009

Watched a wonderful film last night, possibly one of the best I've seen for a long time. It's called 'Once' and not only is the story beautiful and very touching, the music is brilliant. It's not a chic flic it's very believable and the people in it are lovely and talented (they actually sing and play the songs and music), try and watch it if you get chance. I should add though that I cried lots at the end, but that might just be me!

So this morning, well I don't feel too bad, a bit sickly if anything and annoyingly, the trembles and weakness are still evident, but a little better, so we'll see.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Hats off to my Friends and Family!

'Bring on the snow' and 'Red hat no k........s' (Betty's in Ilkley)

Sat. 24th Jan 2009 'Light at the end of.....'

Finally, I see a glimmer of improvement! Strangely though it's only been apparent this evening. We had planned to go to Ilkley today and I was determined to get up early so we could pick up Joe and be there for just after 10a.m. (why do I set the bar so high?). It really wasn't easy, by the time I'd dressed and decided which hat to wear (a big decision for me these days), I was completely 'cream crackered'. Anyway, we did get off early and we arrived at 10a.m. in Ilkley where we met Ruth and Gordon for a rather special breakfast in Betty's.

It was when we got up to go that I realised I couldn't push up from the chair without using my arms, there was nothing there for a moment and I had to wait until they stopped wobbling. After this it was a rather shakey mooch around the shops, but I did find a nice jacket (ah, shopping therapy). The same thing happened again later when we'd been for another coffee and I was relieved to get back to their apartment for a rest.

Graham showed Roo how to drill holes for some shelves they'd bought and we chilled. We left around 3p.m and even then I noticed I felt marginally better. It's 6.15p.m. now and we've just had some soup, which I really enjoyed, plus it hasn't as yet been followed by the disgusting metallic taste I usually get. So I'm feeling really positive and hopeful that after a good nights sleep and a slow start tomorrow I'll be on the up. If that happens I'll know that the pattern is likely to be '10 days bad' and '10 days good' (sounds like a quote from 'Animal Farm')and I only have to put up with this two more time - hopefully!

Note: Arrived home to yet another lovely parcel containing a super winter hat with long ear pieces - thanks Jean, Max, Viv & Jane - You're so sweet and thoughtful.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Frid. 23rd Jan 2009

Made a decision to go into York today and have my glasses adjusted as they keep falling off.

We went straight to the opticians and then for a quick coffee. I wanted to look for a warm woolly hat and a magazine, so we agreed to meet after 30minutes and that was long enough. As Graham is singing again tonight, we went for some lunch. Now I know I've talked alot about the food and taste side of this treatment, but I still don't feel I've adequately described the clash of the physical need and the senses, versus the brain, so I'm going to try and take you through the experience (not compulsory of course) as this is really for my future records.

1. Imagine you haven't eaten all day, your stomach is growling and feels like it's eating itself.
2. Your brain (or at least one aspect of it) is responding by conjuring up images of roast pork, spicy stir fry or fish and chips - gimme, gimme!
3. Add to this the knowledge that:
a) You know it's not going to taste anything like you're brain is telling you and,
b) Immediately it's gone, the after taste and sickly feeling will make you wish you hadn't
bothered and you need mouthwash or gum to try and clear your pallet - Plus,
c) The whole process starts again very shortly after eating.

So there's a constant battle going on and it seems pointless, but there's no escape and I'm longing to get back to normal. When I am, I think I'll become a food critic and just eat myself silly.

Thursday, 22 January 2009

Thurs. 22nd Jan 2009 'Me boys'

Slept reasonably and woke up feeling positive ready to face the day and a visit from my boys, Joe and Louis, then I put my feet on the ground! Oh for goodness sake! still got marshmallow legs, in fact my whole body feels as though it's been made from knotted cotton, no strength at all. Determined not to give in I had a shower, got ready and accompanied Graham and Daisy on their morning walk.

Poor Graham is desperate to help in some way, but there's little either of us can do but wait for things to improve. The treatment side effects are such a roller coaster, although I have to say that this time they feel like trudging through an enormous muddy field wearing wellies! I suppose I still don't really have anything to compare with, also, If I'm honest I suspect that my body's defenses were still a little low when I had my last chemotherapy.

There are times when I question what's happening to me, especially when I was so well before I started all this and I feel angry with the health professionals responsible, the same as you would if you got food poisoning from a 'dodgy' restaurant. The thing is, do they actually really know whether all this is necessary and the long term effects - just questions that pop up.

Anyway, Joe and Louis arrived late morning, also Barry and Sue, who dropped in for a quick coffee and chat, so that was fun. Graham later cooked the most fantastic dinner - pork steaks, new potatoes and fresh broccoli, which we all enjoyed.

Everyone's gone now, Graham's singing at Crayke tonight and I am going to confess that I've just had a glass of really cold lager which was the best thing I've had to drink for over a week. I've also got some 'Star burst' sweets and some 'Love hearts' - ah well, a little of what you fancy!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Wed. 21st Jan 2009

Slept better last night, but very frustrated this morning at my very weak, numb feeling body. My brain is not connecting with my limbs at all and although the urge to get on and do things is strong, nothing responds. This strange feeling even extends to vision at times, as though I'm looking at everything through a telescope. Also, I'm still 'in France' (family reference) and the recommended tablets don't seem to be working, so just something else to make me feel uncomfortable.

I do remind myself constantly that this is all for my long term gain and survival, but it is hard sometimes and you wonder about the whole process and whether it's all worth it. Having said that, the chap who delivered my car on Monday told us his wife found a lump and wouldn't go to the Doctors despite family pleas. She died last January leaving him alone and I personally feel that was really selfish on her part to deprive them of the opportunity to love and care for her through an illness that could well have been beaten.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

P.M Update:

Hilary has just left, it was so nice to see her and be able to catch up. We didn't talk all the time about our experiences and the 'chemo effect', but it's good to be able to speak openly about some of the more sensitive issues. We did have a laugh as usual, especially when we suddenly realised that Hilz had her top on inside out, which, as she said would have been perfectly acceptable for me. But bearing in mind she had to get up and be here early, I think it's forgivable!

I'm still very wobbly, but I must admit my mood is better and my stomach (dare I say it) feels slightly better. Of course the sunshine we've got here today also helps, think I'll go and do some gardening - yeah right!

Tues. 20th Jan 2009

Did they say it was 'Blue Monday' yesterday? Normally I would dismiss those comments as total rubbish, but to be fair it certainly felt like it for me. Not a good day, maybe my expectations were higher than they should have been, but the sudden loss of peripheral feeling, constipation, epigastric pain and heartburn, plus an inability to co-ordinate my head with my feet definitely made it a 'blue' day for me.

By evening I was really cheesed off with feeling so crap, it seemed there was just nothing to look forward to. I felt hungry and every food advert on the telly looked great, but I can't taste anything again, plus when I do have anything it leaves the most revolting after taste. I therefore avoided eating or drinking anything as I knew I would suffer in the night, so all in all I'm sorry to report, it really was a dismal day in my book. Maybe now my steroid tablets are finished things will improve along with my mood.

Anyway I'm expecting Hilary this morning, so something to look forward to and it makes the day a bit better for Graham, who I'm sure is just as cheesed off with everything, including my temper at times. Sorry Graham, I know it's difficult for you too and I really appreciate everything you do.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Mon.19th Jan 2009

No blog yesterday, nothing much to say, a quiet day. Apart from some stomach problems felt reasonably well, but then compared to the previous three of four weeks, that wouldn't be difficult.

Sadly last night was not so good, a rather annoying side effect has come back as they do. It feels like I have something stuck at the back of my throat which I can't dislodge and every time I swallow it's there. Plus as soon as I lay down to sleep I get a sudden rush of acid which grips my chest and sends a knife-like pain up my neck. Consequently I spent the night propped up, a position which is not conducive to sleep for me, but it's a better alternative and I can at least rest.

I have got antacids from the hospital, but they don't seem to help, so I'm wondering if this is Thrush, especially as it's often followed by ulcers on my tongue.

Anyway I'm up now and I notice I'm more wobbly today and generally more tired. I'm awaiting delivery of my brand new 'firms' car a Ford Focus Zetec, an event which would normally be quite exciting, but is just something to get through this morning, not helped by the heavy rain. Oh well, must stop moaning and be grateful.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Sat.17th Jan. 2009

Got a call from Joan & Gerry last night, it was lovely to hear their voices. They were walking down the warm pavements in Curacao, sounds beautiful.

Unfortunately I didn't sleep well, woke at 3.30a.m. and no matter how hard I tried I could not switch my brain off. I went and got a drink, sat gazing around, listened to the radio and mulled over hundreds of situations, conversations, plans, fears, you name it I went over it, until finally around 5.45 I must have dozed off for 30 minutes, only to be woken by severe reflux oesophagitis (steroid effect).

Still, once Graham woke around 07.30a.m. and I'd had my breakfast and pills, I realised I felt remarkably well again, so we got organised to go meet our friends in York for a coffee. As a bonus, the sun was shining and it didn't feel too cold. Just as I'd had enough in York, my brother called and asked us for some lunch. Tina had found some cross stitch bits in Oxfam which she thought I would like. It was really nice to see them and great to see how relaxed Alan is now he's retired from his Headmaster's post at Lyndhurst in Pocklington.

So all in all, it's looking good this time - fingers crossed!

Friday, 16 January 2009

16th Jan 2009 - The morning after.

After a pretty strange night I'm feeling surprisingly good this morning (sshh, don't speak too soon). I thought I would take the opportunity to say a big thank you to my dear friends who continue to support me with heartfelt words of support via my blog, e-mail, text, cards etc.

It would be hard to name everyone, but here's a few for starters. Max - thank you so much for your support and your comment on my blog last night, I know you can identify with much of what I'm going through and I really value your words of encouragement.

Jean, thanks for being there, I enjoy our occasional telephone conversations and I love the fact that every now and then a card or gift arrives, with a simple but deeply felt comment or verse, they mean so much to me, as does your friendship.

As you know Joan & Gerry are currently on a cruise to New Zealand. They've just been to New York where it was very snowy and now they're in Miami on the beach - great eh! But do you know I get texts and e-mails, even had a phone call informing me that they were visiting churches wherever possible to speak to 'The Big Man' as Gerry calls him. Hugs and kisses to you both.

While we're in foreign places, I will just say a big hello and thanks to Patti and Dave in beautiful Indiana. They've just become Grandparents to little Emmett son of Themba & Kerri. It seems really strange to think of Themba all grown up with his own son. We did see him when we visited Patti & Dave a few years ago, but my over riding memories are of him as a small boy in Swaziland - how time flies.

Apart from those above I have Hilz, my nursing buddy who keeps me straight on any medical worries and Anne my colleague/friend - both keep me going with their sense of humour and bubbly personalities.

To all those I've mentioned and those I will eventually - thank you so much!!!!!!!

13.30p.m. Just to prove my point, I've just received a super little package from my Nestle girlfriends Max, Jean, Viv & Jane, it contained sachets of hot chocolate, coffee and herbal teas, a little ditty plus some inspiring paper cuttings - how lovely and so thoughtful.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

15th Jan 2009 - 3rd Chemo 'Take Two'

Me & Sissy.
I'm up showered and dressed with a feeling of impending doom, not helped by my dream. I was somewhere with my sister and they were selling off Christmas ornaments. Every time I picked one up I would look at it and even though it was only a few pence I would think 'it's not worth buying as I might not be here next Christmas'. It's not something that I spend my time thinking, but it must be somewhere in the depths of my strange mind.

The weather doesn't help today, it's pouring down, still I'm sporting my new skirt and boots, it's always nice to have a reason to dress up a bit and I've given myself a kick up the bum in relation to clothes. There is a tendency to slouch around in jeans and thick pullies when you're not feeling so good, but it doesn't help the morale. I love my clothes, so I've decided to wear more of my nice stuff instead of thinking 'oh I'll leave that till I feel better'. It might not last, but at least I feel a bit better about myself today. So more later!

Post Chemotherapy - Well all went smoothly. I was looked after by Tracy who is an Oncology Specialist Nurse and she was lovely, she took lots of time to talk about my recent experience all of the side effects that I've experienced. It would seem that I am quite sensitive to the chemotherapy drugs and I am having quite a rough time, which sort of answers some of the questions I've been asking previously in my blog re: stories of other cancer sufferers running and working. Next time I will be seeing my Consultant to review progress, so we'll see what he has to say. Tracy also flushed two litres of fluid through to alleviate any constipation caused by the anti-emetics(anti-sickness) tablets which a tend to soak up body fluids and slow bowel movement.

The actual treatment went without incident and it was nice to have Patty (my sister) to chat with. Tracy took a picture of us both on my phone and once I discover how to transfer it to the lap top I will put it on here.

We came home to what I hoped would be a really nice 'slow cooker' stew, but as I do at the moment I forgot to do certain things and it was all a bit 'al dente', oh well better luck next time. It took about three hours for the effects to kick in (from the chemo, not the stew) and I am currently experiencing some nausea, slight headache and general wobbliness, so her we go!

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

14th Jan 2009 - Oh Happy Days!

Yes, don't worry I'm still here, apologies to my dear friend Patti in Indiana who rang me this evening because my last entry mentioned possible 'phlebitis' and then I haven't 'blogged' for a couple of days. The only reason for this is that I haven't had alot to say and I've been making the most of my extra week, enjoying some time out as well as some really nice meals.

I should have had a visit from my friend Hilary today, but it had to be postponed. The sun was shining when we got up, so I went for yet another blood test and then we headed off for York. I decided that I wanted to buy some new clothes as many of mine are a little baggy at the moment. I ended up with a lovely long denim skirt, some striped jeans and a pair of ankle boots. We also had dinner at The Ate O'clock - my last chance to really enjoy a meal for a while again.

I'm not looking forward to tomorrow, but at least I can think that I'm half way through, three to go.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

11th Jan 2009 - Better Days

Delaying my treatment was definitely a good move and I'm improving each day. It's really nice too being able to enjoy my food and drink for a few days, so I'm making the most of that. I'm really not looking forward to being in 'crappy land' for a couple of weeks, but hopefully if I can stay clear of any bugs, I will have a week or so when I feel reasonable.

The only thing that's bugging me at the moment is a painful arm, which I'm guessing is phlebitis, or inflammation of the vein. It's been sore since I had the cannula inserted on Christmas Eve, but now it really hurts if I stretch for something or forget and rub my arm. I've got another four treatments to go, so I hope the veins are going to hold up - we'll see on Thursday.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

10th Jan 2009 - Thoughts!

Was hoping to feel full of life this morning, but after a strange night I got up still weak, wobbly and short of breath. It's really annoying and it set me thinking about a conversation I had with Hilz last night. Hilary, as I've mentioned before went through chemotherapy 21 yrs ago for Hodgkin's Lymphoma and although her treatment was different, her experiences with chemotherapy were similar to mine. Last night we talked about the effects on bodily functions to a degree I wouldn't feel comfortable with anyone else.

We also shared the fact that we've both, at some point, planned our own funeral requirements. 'Oh my god' I hear you say and yes I know it might sound very morbid, but it's something I felt I needed to do. Yes I hope to beat this and yes, I will remain positive, but no one can say for sure what the outcome will be and I don't want to leave things to chance.

The other thing that we discussed was my bewilderment at the fact that I seem to be struggling with the treatment compared to others who have been through the same. Hilary said she used to feel the same, but it's important to realise that there are many different cancers and degrees of cancer, plus there are many different treatments, strengths and amounts, depending on grades and individual needs. We agreed that although, like many others, we really admired Jane Tomilinson, her battle and achievements, it has probably set a standard in the public eye which for the vast majority of cancer sufferers is impossible to achieve.

So I have to accept that as long as I do my best, that's all I can do and the rest is in the lap of the Gods so to speak. So there, I bet you need a lay down now, I know I do.

Friday, 9 January 2009

9th Jan 2009

Definitely a good decision yesterday. I slept really well last night and I feel a few degrees better this morning. If I'd had the chemotherapy I know I would be feeling really crap this morning. Another week will make all the difference and hopefully I will have a manageable three week cycle next time. So today I'm relaxing, knitting, listening to our iPod music and wondering what to eat next! I'm sure I'll be like a house end by the time all this is over.

I've started to look at the different options following my mastectomy, which will be around April time I think. Originally I thought I would just go with a prosthesis, but as Mr MJ offered to do a reconstruction at the same time, I have looked at the different kinds. I'm currently leaning towards a Lat-flap, which means they take the tissue and muscle from the back of the upper chest. It means I would have a reasonable shape and even a cleavage. I was quite flattered that he felt I was a 'young lady' who would probably benefit from this. So that's something to aim towards, plus I know that shortly after that we will be heading up to beautiful Skye and a truly needed holiday, hopefully with all this behind us.

Thursday, 8 January 2009

8th Jan 2009 - Third Chemo Treatment?

(left) Patty and Mike

Well should have been my third treatment today. My sister came and we went through to the Oncology unit at York. After a brief discussion with the Nurse, she went and spoke to Prof. D who immediately said I couldn't have the treatment today as I still have residual problems from the Christmas bugs I picked up. In some ways I think I was relieved as I know I'm still not fully fit and the thought of Chemo side effects on top is just too much, apart from the fact that I could end up with another infection and be unable to fight it.

I asked about the night sweats, but the nurse didn't seem to know whether these were related to the chemotherapy, at least once I'd ruled out menopausal causes, so that wasn't very re-assuring. Also I'm still experiencing bouts of diarrhoea which come on very suddenly. She seemed to think this might be due to the antibiotics, but I finished those over a week ago. I think I'll have to draw my own conclusions on that one.

So I'm back next Thursday 15th and in the meantime I will concentrate on resting and building myself up.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

7th Jan 2009

Up early this morning and off to Selby Hospital for my blood test. I'm feeling really anxious about tomorrow's treatment, I'm terrified that I will be unwell again, especially as I still haven't fully recovered from the bugs I picked up four weeks ago. I intend to have a good talk to them tomorrow (the oncology staff, not the bugs) and express my concerns about my health, the numerous side effects and the breathlessness, which I've no doubt is due to the germs, but it still worries me. My sister is coming to 'buddy' me tomorrow, I think it will be good for her to have some involvement, her and Mike have been so supportive and it will be nice to have her there.

Had an unexpected visit from Louis and 'my fiancee' John (a running joke). Also our friend Alan came and we went to Howden for lunch, so it's actually been quite a full day which has kept my mind off what's to come, until now! So, we'll see what happens and I'll report back tomorrow.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

6th Jan 2009

Woke in the early hours with horrendous indigestion/heartburn which started in the epigastric region and very quickly became spasm radiating into my back, neck and even my ear and face. Nothing shifts it, not even the tablets they gave me last time, so not much sleep again.

We went into York to pick up my glasses, but I was nervous before we set off as I felt a bit queasy and had needed an urgent visit to the loo. In town I didn't improve, we met Alan in Costa and I had to make another dash to the loo before I left to go to the opticians. My glasses are great, they're lightweight and rimless, very different to the ones I've had which were 'designer' but quite heavy. Since starting chemotherapy I've found I can't bear them, they press into my head and irritate my nose, also when I'm wearing my hats and scarves, the arms seem to act like microphones (that's a hard one to explain, you'll just have to trust me). Anyway, I like them and Graham thinks I look more serene and sexy, but then he'd think I looked sexy in a sack and wellies - bless!.

It's fortunate that I know where all the store toilets are as I needed to make a couple of emergency visits. By the time I was able to find Graham I felt like crap and just wanted to get home.

The rest of the day has been good though. I had a call from my friend Anne and caught up on everything from 'what's happening at work' to 'the price of fish' - yes we could talk a glass eye to sleep me and Anne. I really enjoy your calls!!

Monday, 5 January 2009

5th Jan 2009

Made an interesting discovery yesterday while reading a book on cancer. I've been wondering why my nose drips like a tap even though I haven't actually got a cold. Well, silly me, the nose hairs disappear too so no defenses and no way of stopping the drips - weird!

You may have noticed that yesterday's blog was a bit more honest than in the past. I've made a conscious decision to be more honest about how I feel and what's happening, because that was the original purpose. I think knowing that Graham and other close family/friends read the blog, I've tended to 'dumb down' some of the facts and feelings to protect them.

As soon as you get over the initial diagnosis of cancer (if you ever do), the need to survive kicks in and on the surface we adopt a 'positive' approach. But I wonder at times if this is for me or for others, because lets face it, no one wants to be faced with my fears and tears when they call and yet I do have them. Yes, my lymph nodes were clear and that's the bit everyone clings to, but actually I have lymphovascular Invasion, which to many Consultants is as bad because the lymphovascular system feeds the whole of the body and they don't know whether or to what extent the cancer cells have travelled.

Of course I try to be positive, but when you've been as ill as I have for the last few weeks, it gets very difficult. I do know that there's no way they can tell whether this treatment is or has worked, which makes it really difficult to plan ahead. On the positive side however, I have paid for two holidays next year - Skye in June and Cornwall in August and I've no intention of losing my deposit (what a scrooge).

Sunday, 4 January 2009

4th Jan 2009 - 'Struggling'

(left) 'Every picture tells a story'

Have found it difficult to write my blog lately, not because there's nothing to say, more because what I want to say may be difficult for people reading it. However, I'm going to be really honest and confess that there have been times lately when I've been in despair and wondered if I really will make it through this. I've only three days to go to my next treatment and I've had no respite from some crappy ailments and side effects. I am still very short of breath and although the coughing has decreased slightly, it still occasionally has me gasping.

I get a lot of contact from friends and family via e-mail and text asking me how I am and I really appreciate that. However, I do tend to be less than honest with my replies because who wants to hear someone moaning on about how crap they feel. It has backfired on me occasionally, like last week when my sister asked 'how are you today' and I replied, 'better night, not too bad'. This generated an invite for something to eat at their house, which I really didn't feel up to, so I had to come clean and confess that I was a 'wreck'.

I have also found that I am very emotional at the moment and can cry at the daftest things. Mostly though I cry because I get frustrated with my lack of energy and ability to do the simplest chores. I think being a bit down is to be expected and will hopefully improve.

My friend Hilz called last night and we talked about some of the crap I've been going through. It's 21yrs since Hilary went through chemotherapy, but she can relate to all the strange physical changes and side effects like it was yesterday and always gives me some sound advice while making me laugh. Hilary is a wonderful person and a fantastic nurse, she's worked with terminally ill children for many years now and I reckon deserves National recognition for her caring, selfless attitude.

It's possible that I won't be well enough for my next chemotherapy and to be honest, if I'm going to feel as ill as I have been, they can delay it as long as they like. If I was going to sum up the last three weeks, I would have to say it's been really shit!. There, so I've let off a bit of steam and I make no apologies for sounding a little negative today. I guess the only way is up!

Saturday, 3 January 2009


Yes it's my hubbie's birthday today. I bought him a tiny iPod that he can take to his bookings and put on when he needs a break. It's not much bigger than a postage stamp (costs about the same), but it's a wonderful little gadget. It's also two years ago since my Mum died, as you can imagine, that wasn't a very good birthday and I guess this one could have been better.

I had a much better night, still sweating profusely, but the coughing is getting less and even better, the ulcers on the side of my tongue seem to be subsiding. Maybe I'll get two or three days of respite before the next bash. Anyway, looking forward to a visit from Roo and Gor today.

Friday, 2 January 2009

2nd Jan 2009

Yeah, no coughing through the night, just sweating so much I could have perfected the crawl or the butterfly.

Last night I expressed a wish to get out of the house for a while, but this morning my legs felt really weak and wobbly. We did however decide to make the trip to York as I needed some more mouthwash for the ulcer on my tongue which feels like Ben Nevis. I found a nice hat in the sales to add to my collection and a nice warm cardigan. It was very hot in the shops, so I did take off my hat, which drew a few glances especially from one little girl who pointed and made a little screeching sound - bless!

Back home I'm coughing well again, must be the changes in temperature and I'm very tired, so an afternoon siesta is very welcome. I think the main thing now is to try and build up my strength and energy for next week so my treatment isn't delayed.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

1st January 2009 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone.

I made it to the celebrations last night. Graham found me a green jacket like the one Sigourney has on in Alien 3 and then we wrote - 1Lt E RIPLEY on a couple on lighter coloured strips, a large one on the back and a small one on the front. Together with some combat trousers and my boots it looked great, but the finishing touch was Louis Sci fi gun and a chain with some 'cogs' hanging on it.

Graham looked fantastic in his Sean Connery gear (based on Sean's character from the Indiana Jones films). It was really funny watching peoples faces, I swear they thought it really was Mr Connery. It was a super night, we were greeted at the door with a choice of mini burgers or mini sausage and mash. Also attending were, Columbo, The Joker, Elvis (that was Kenny), a couple of Flappers, lots of Pink Ladies (not sure what they are) and lots of other characters. The buffet was superb as usual with swordfish Kebabs, a roast piglet, chicken, chips etc. Dessert took the form of a chocolate fountain with numerous naughty treats to dip in it.

We watched the countdown to Midnight on the TV and toasted with champagne, which incidentally tasted foul for me. It was quite an emotional few moments for me and although I know it's just another day really, I do hope things will be better in 2009.

So A HAPPY NEW YEAR to all my friends and family with love and thanks for your support over the past few months.