February 18, 2015

Damaged but never broken

A couple of days ago I saw my oncologist. It’s been a year since I last saw him. He told me I am cancer free. “Am I cured?” I asked. He said no, I am considered cured after being cancer free for ten years. But hey, cancer free.
I’m CANCER FREE!! Now f*cking stay away, you, cancer cells.

I have been reflecting on the price I have paid to be cancer free and it’s a high one. There’s the obvious crazy fake boobs but really that’s the most minor and visible. Having had my ovaries removed as a preventative measure I have had a surgically induced menopause and as my cancer fed on estrogen I am not able to have Hormone Replacement Therapy. But the hot flushes I get are not menopausal, they are a result of the daily Letrozole I take; as is the constant joint pain (worse in the morning, I’m like a ninety year old crawling out of bed), the debilitating tiredness, the hair loss (though unlike during chemo, my hair constantly regrows but is patchy). What the menopause has caused is the sudden ageing (I’ve aged ten years) and the atrophy of my lady bits. (Luckily, lady bits are not confined to the lady bit so we do just fine! TMI? Sorry, but this is an honest post), dry eyes making my contacts painful after just a few hours…
I could go on.

The permanent damage caused by chemo, radiotherapy and Herceptin…numbness in my left foot, reduction in bone density (I take daily drugs to help with this), heart damage (I am still monitored for this), internal scarring (still forming), lethargy…
I could go on!

I was told of a lady who chose not to be treated. She opted for ten years of normality over two years of hell followed by thirty of ill health and there are days when I understand her decision and admire her bravery. Quality of life is everything but we all have different tolerances and while I do have those days when I feel cheated and angry and cry for what I’ve lost, what TB and I have lost, I have many, many more days when I am simply glad to be here, albeit as a lesser version of myself…
but with more boobage!

So whilst I am cancer free, I am never free from the damage and fear caused but there are people worse off than me, there are people with no hope, no home, no love. In reality, I have everything and for that I have to thank the nurses, my chemo guy, my surgeon, my gorgeous, beautiful, wonderful toyboy husband, my son and his amazing wife
and my friends in the real and virtual world.

This posh old bird will now get on with the next forty years

EDIT I forgot to mention having to take exceptional care of my left arm because of the lymphodema risk as I have no axillary nodes on that side. You see? There’s always something else…

As you were  :o)

September 2, 2014

Time and tide waits for me…

I’ve been busy working for the past month and it’s lovely. I’ve also been doing other things so it’s time to get back into this blogging lark. The next few posts will be “catch up” stuff and I think I’m going to enjoy this again.
Little by little I am returning to my old routines and trusting that this can be done. Tis a nice feeling.

A few weeks ago TB and I, having the young miss and master with us, met up with The Captain and Mrs Captain in Skegness. (Yes, I know, Skegness. Not my usual style, huh? Not exactly the Caribbean, is it?) I was somewhat astounded by the two carts which TC and MC were pulling but holy moly they have it so right. Extra chairs, tables A WIND BREAK…fantastic stuff. I’m a convert now.

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I like this side of the beach…no kiss me quick hats or ice creams.
The tide was still in when we arrived and I like that, too. I like it so much that we have bought our own beach shelter,
low chairs and a table. We spent another day with beer, books and the dog.
It was very relaxing and we look forward to doing it again.

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Here, the tide is out and Ralph and I are enjoying a “Daniel Craig”
moment as we watch TB walk across the sand.

And look at this!

July 2, 2014

Wanted: Kick up the bum

Man, I need a kick up the bum!

I cannot get back into a work routine. I work from home (actually, I can work from pretty much anywhere) and I can work any time, day or night. For the past six weeks (yes, six) I have hardly worked at all. I haven’t been watching daytime TV, I haven’t sunk that low but I have been on the sofa with a few good books. I’ve been enjoying taking my time over cooking, cleaning, shopping, planning maths lessons (more of that another time) and
even sitting in the sun with a book and a glass of wine.

It’s time now, though, to get off my bum and do some work. I started saying that after the first two weeks, so somebody, please, kick my sun-kissed derriere!

P.S. I have a headache now…too much sun. I’m going to make a pot of tea
and post a few photographs on my food blog.

See here


May 15, 2014

Shop local? I’m trying!

It’s Thursday and that’s the day of the week I realise I should have ordered groceries online. This morning it got me thinking…

I generally shop either in store or online at Waitrose but there are a few items I can only get at Asda and likewise Tesco and Morrisons. I was thinking it would be useful if there was somewhere all these stores were next door to each other so I could nip in and out of one the on to the next. This concept seemed familiar but I couldn’t quite think…oh yes…the High Street. Why doesn’t someone put all the shops we need in the High Street of each town?

Oh, they already tried that? I wish they’d tried harder. I wish councils hadn’t increased business rates to such crazy heights that retailers were excluded and estate agents, building societies, charity shops and insurance brokers took over.

I do try to shop locally but, and I know this is a vicious circle, because there is so little choice I go to the nearest city which means local shops don’t survive thus giving even less choice. Mind you, it doesn’t help that the smaller, local branches of national chains don’t carry the full stock, not even of their own brand (Superdrug, take note, I would have spent £85 if you’d had it on your shelves) or that the few independent stores have very little stock of anything.

I did think perhaps the answer was to do without the things I can’t get. I’m all for cooking with whatever produce is available locally but the quality is so poor. Last Christmas I determined to buy TB’s gifts locally…I would trawl every store, surely there would be something. I trawled, I huffed, I tutted. Pretty sure he wouldn’t have thought much of a 99p screw driver set. Luckily, Tesco stock Jim Beam so one of his gifts was a local purchase.

The town centre here is attractive and well laid out. A main street with a few streets leading off and a couple of small retail arcades. Parking is not too bad, I’ve known worse. So the town should be a delightful, busy place to shop.

I don’t know who is at fault. Did we all leap into our cars and park for free out of town at stores where we could get everything under one roof? Why, when we were able to get everything in one street? Anyway, we don’t all have the means to get out of town nor to order online. Pffft! I don’t know…


May 1, 2014

Big bad bully…

I’ve seen my gynaecologist. He sent me straight for a hysteroscopy and biopsy. The biopsy was fine and the hysteroscopy showed that one of my resident fibroids, whilst shrinking through estrogen starvation, still pretty much fills the uterus. My smear test showed some abnormal cells but no HPV is present. So, as I don’t have cervical nor uterine cancer (just let me say that again…I don’t have cervical nor uterine cancer…oh sweet jesus the relief is indescribable) it is likely that the big bully fibroid is the cause of the bleeding. I am to be monitored and if he continues to shrink he will be allowed to stay. If he does it again he will be served an eviction notice. So listen up bully…behave or you’re out!

Once again, I have nothing but praise for my treatment regarding this. The clinical nurse who performed the procedure (I think she is Nicky) was gentle, understanding and funny…and lord knows you need a bit of inappropriate humour when you’re in this position:


I guess what I want to say here is that no matter how big or small you think something is, don’t worry others will think it’s nothing. Not once was I told I was being silly or over cautious. I was never made to feel I was wasting anyone’s time. So if something is bothering you, get it checked. Oh and if you’re a cancer patient you’re allowed to get a little bolshy with the GP’s receptionist and they won’t you fob you off with “Can it wait for a couple of weeks, only the doctor’s fully booked.”

Right, I’m going to watch Ronnie do that magic thing he does with a stick and some balls.
Have a great day, everyone.

April 15, 2014


All was well at the dentist; apparently my oral hygiene skills are very good. Oral hygiene is a skill! Who knew?

I’ve seen doctor number one who dismissed one concern.
I’m still waiting to see doctor number two who is the serious guy so sleep still evades me.

I’ve spent weeks not being able to work because I was too ill. Time off when you’re sick is no fun.
Today the sun is shining and it’s warm so for a few hours I ditched work, pushed thoughts of sickness to the back of a dusty cupboard and took Ralph for a stroll in the sun.

He sniffed and snuffled and sprinkled and sniffed and trotted and sniffed some more.
I get great pleasure from seeing him trotting (and sniffing) in his happy way.
Now we’re home with a pot of tea and a pot full of worries but it was nice…

…brief but nice.

April 5, 2014

Let me out of the woods, pleeeeeease!

Just when I was accepting that I could put it all behind me it kicks off again.
I could keep this quiet until I know more but as this blog has always been
the “action as it happens” and to show others that we all go through this, I shall post this now.

Remember how last October I had a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. It sounds very fancy but is simply the removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes. I had this because my breast cancer was fed by estrogen so no ovaries means less estrogen and that which the adrenal gland produces (in a roundabout sort of way) is dealt with by taking letrozole.

Still with me? I know it’s dull!

So, the menopause was surgically induced. Having been plagued with debilitating and health damaging periods for many years and I truly believe the attempted treatments to solve this caused my breast cancer (but no blame is appropriate; being as low risk as was possible who wouldn’t prescribe such treatments?) this seemed an all round winning situation.

This week I began bleeding.
I am seeing a doctor next week and have also arranged a referral to my gynaecologist.

In the meantime I am not sleeping, not concentrating, not working, not really functioning at all.
The fear of having cancer again never leaves me but is generally pushed aside.

Today I’ve been mentally checking my wigs (will have to have them cut short now to match my new hair), wishing I hadn’t just disposed of the left over medication I had been given to help me through chemo (I did this last week), wishing I hadn’t unpacked my “emergency overnight kit” (I did this last month) and wishing I didn’t already know what it’s like to have  chemotherapy.

I may be jumping the gun big time. It may be an inexplicable bleed (I do still have my uterus)
but I am well aware of what else it may be.

And I have a dental appointment next week and that really freakin’ scares me!

TB suggested I write this post as he thought it would help.
That man is always right…

As ever, thank you for listening

April 2, 2014

I don’t know

Should I start drawing again?
I’ve been so busy kicking cancer’s butt then catching up with other work
that I haven’t lifted a pencil in nearly two years.

January 9, 2014

Return of the Mack…

I like to wear quite large hoop earrings. These looked all wrong with short hair. I know for some it looks great but for me it looked silly. I haven’t worn anything other than a tiny silver stud for about eighteen months. Today, I wore big silver hoops! Just another small sign of the return to the norm.

And now, running through my head is Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack” with tweaks

But I do, but I do, do, do

Return of the norm, it is,
Return of the norm, come on,
Return of the norm, oh my god,
You know that I’ll be back,
Here I am.

Return of the norm, once again,
Return of the norm, top of the world,
Return of the norm, watch my flow,
You know that I’ll be back,
Here I go…

January 8, 2014

Bring me back to life…

Grow Hair!See how it grows? Hooray!

This morning  I had my final Herceptin treatment. I’ve had eighteen…fourteen of them at home! So that’s me sorted. Letrozole for a further four years and Alendronic Acid with calcium and vitamin D for ever more due to losing bone density (thanks to chemo and the banishing of estrogen) and taking exceptional care of my left arm due to having no axillary lymph nodes.

I know there are horror stories and bad experiences but I’ve had incredible treatment throughout, which would have been beyond my means so thank god for the NHS. Without exception every nurse, doctor, consultant, surgeon, “ographer” and “ologist” has been patient, understanding and reassuring.

I’ve seen equipment I never knew existed. I’ve had treatments I never knew were possible. I am in awe of my surgeon. I’ve been wheeled about by cheerful porters who knew the hospital like the back of their hands. I’ve been served coffee by people who have lifted my mood with a mere touch of my shoulder. I’ve been ferried to and from radiotherapy by volunteer drivers through some dire weather.

Lord knows what the cost of this has been. (I know my Herceptin alone cost £22K). I’ve paid tax and National Insurance for 30 years but I’m sure I’ve had more than my share back.

I have a friend in the US who has struggled to pay for her cancer treatment and was unable to fund the treatment she really wanted. There but for the grace of god…

So, thank you NHS…from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU

A special thank you to Melissa who may never read this but she made the
Herceptin sessions girly, gossipy and fun!

And thank you to everyone on the Macmillan forums…no question too daft, eh?

Thank you to all who have followed my drivel, it helps knowing someone is reading it.

And thank you, thank you, thank you TB, for holding my hand, shaving my head, sticking needles in me, bringing me lunch, bringing me knitting, bringing me back to reality, collecting wigs, collecting prescriptions, being with me at every appointment, being with me whenever I woke, being with me always. Your strength, your devotion, your belief in me, your faith in medicine, your gorgeous bum have all made this bag of bollox bearable.

And my god, it’s been worth it.

2014? Hell, yes…bring it on…I’ve kicked cancer’s butt!