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!

December 18, 2013

Dexa-scan results

I had a dexa-scan, which stands for dual energy X-ray absorptiometry and measures my bone density. One of my chemo drugs is known to cause problems in this department and this coupled with the absence of estrogen (surgery and drug induced) and the switch from taking Tamoxifen to Letrozole puts me at high risk…and sure enough, I have early signs of osteoporosis.

I have more drugs to take…one to take once a week and five to take every day.

So cancer, you bastard, I’ve kicked your ass and banished you yet you rear your ugly head at every turn; but I’m alive to see it and for that I am thankful.

December 9, 2013

Catch up and thank you

I really need a catch up here!

The oopherectomy was simple and recovery time was fleeting…yay for keyhole surgery! However, the removal of my implant filler ports was (in the words of my surgeon) “challenging”. Radiotherapy had caused adhesion of the ports and tubes and these had to be cut out, under local anaesthetic which had to be increased several times before I was brought down from the ceiling.

It’s all done. All surgery is complete. In about ten years the implants will need replacing, or sooner if I wish but I have no plans for further surgery any time soon.  I have two more Herceptin treatments…phew, because it’s getting difficult to find a use-able vein. When I had a blood test a few weeks ago it took twenty minutes and four needles…chemo messes up the veins something rotten.

I must and will add to the side-effects on my Cancer Diary; some of the permanent ones are interesting, some niggling, some maddening.

I must also thank all you superb people who read this drivel. It’s a total understatement to say you’ve helped me through this. I can’t repay you all personally so I shall be paying it forward as often and wherever I can. I reached out for support and you guys were there. Thank you xx

And on a sad note, there’s a post on Ralph’s Blog about this lovely little chap.
I’ve never met this little dog but I’ve cried buckets over him

harrycamelHarry’s Blog can be read here

October 23, 2013



I am packed and ready for more cancer kicking surgery.
Tomorrow I am having an oophorectomy (ovaries are being whipped out) to stop the production of
estrogen (that is what fed my breast cancer) and prevent any stray cells from further feeding!

It should be keyhole surgery so I will be home on Friday night.
I am told I will need a couple of weeks to recover so more boredom looms!
Ah well, I have a reading list of twenty books so I will be able to avoid daytime TV

Apparently I will not need chocolate
but I am campaigning for chips