Family & Football

On 30th May Aston Villa were in the FA cup final at Wembley! Steve and I had thought about going up to the Midlands on the next weekend but we weren’t sure because we were all waiting for the chemo start date. As soon as we knew Friday 5th June was Chemo start date we had to change our plans. So I phoned my mom to say we were coming to stay with her for a change. That sent her into a blind panic as she had to do the housework, buy food and get extra supplies of good coffee in for me as she knows me too well.
We had seen most of Steve’s family a few weeks ago when they came to visit us for Sunday lunch but I hadn’t seen my family. So we moved all plans forward by a week.
We travelled up on the Saturday morning. As soon as we hit the M40 the cars travelling down to Wembley had scarves flying out of their windows. I would have loved to have been able to buy Steve a ticket that day to see his team play again at Wembley in the FA Cup Final but tickets were £550 each on the black market and so I decided against remortgaging the house for one day at Wembley. I’m glad I didn’t as we lost anyway but that’s not the point, they could have won.
En route to Aunty Vera’s house we went to Villa Park to buy souvenirs of the day, a scarf to wear during the match and to hang out of the car if we win. All the coaches were lined up ready to set off for Wembley, fans and flags everywhere. It was a lovely sight to see as they like us still had hope that we might just win against Arsenal.
We watched the match at Aunty Vera’s house. Aunty Vera is a very special person and as we say in the Black Country “she’s the salt of the earth” Since Steve and I started dating she has never forgotten either mine or my children’s birthday’s and she always remembers Wedding anniversaries. She welcomed me and my kids into the family from the off. She is married to Uncle (bloody) Alan, who had bowel cancer 7 years ago and is doing really well. They have two grown up children, Paul and Alison. Cousin Alison joined us that afternoon as did Sarah, Steve’s sister. Aunty Vera put on a lovely spread and fussed over us all for hours, she loved it, as we did. Uncle (bloody) Alan is called that as every other word is ‘bloody’ and it’s not in a rude way, it’s just him and it’s funny. He makes us all laugh as he like us loves to see humour in life. Life just isn’t funny sometimes but special people always find something to laugh at, we all need an Uncle (bloody) Alan.
Here is an example of how lovely Aunty Vera is. A parcel arrived at home for me one day after the operation. Inside was about 5 presents all wrapped in Christmas paper, bless her. I had lots of Christmas presents and it was early May, it made me smile. One of my gifts was a magazine to read, now I don’t think she put much thought into what magazine she thought I would read. It was aimed at the more mature lady shall we say and adverts for women who had bladder problems was the theme throughout. Rebecca and I read it one day and laughed all the way through it, so it had done it’s job. The other clue as to her maybe quick a magazine is a great present to send was the all important main article of the magazine which this edition featured, you guessed it ‘Bowel Cancer’ the first sentence went something like ‘Bowel Cancer is the second biggest killer in England second only to Breast Cancer’ now that was it for me I really did laugh out loud, excellent Aunty Vera, just priceless and I never told her as I wouldn’t want her to ever be hurt or embarrassed, so why I’ve put it on here I don’t know, LOL.
We left Aunty Vera and Uncle (bloody) Alan’s house armed we yet another bag of goodies to keep me going through Chemo. I haven’t opened them as the plan is that when I have a bad day I go to the goodie bag to cheer myself up with a present from Aunty Vera who I just love to bits.
From their house we went to my Aunty Cynthia (my Dad’s sister) and Uncle Phil’s house. She didn’t know we were coming and was surprised completely to answer the door to me. We only stayed about an hour as the day had been a long one and they were Baggy fans and Villa had just lost in the FA Cup Final. I did get to see my cousin Susan and her family Si, William and Isabelle.
On Sunday morning my Aunty Shelia (my Dad’s other sister) came over to visit and she had brought me a bag full of goodies too, it’s not all bad this cancer stuff hey! It was so lovely to see her, love you Aunty Shelia. I went over the road to visit Nanny Jan (neighbour I have known since the age of 3 and good friend to my mom).
We then went and had a lovely Carvery meal with Iris (Steve’s mom) Sarah, Stuart, Chris, Lauren and my mom. Lauren brought me flowers and we all enjoyed chatting away and having a laugh together, precious times with special people in our lives.
There were so many people I could have seen whilst in the Midlands, old school friends and other friends from throughout the years but for me it was just about seeing family before chemo. Steve and I headed back to Wycombe that afternoon glad that we had decided to travel up and see them The only person that I didn’t see and really wanted to was my cousin Nicky but she was on holiday but I hope that we will see each other soon.

CT scan, a close call and the results

Due to the swollen lymph nodes in my neck I had to have another CT scan on 26th May. I was called two days before the appointment for the arrangements to be finalised. The lady said that I wouldn’t receive a letter as it was being done at short notice. She said the scan was booked for 5 pm and so no food 3 hours prior to that and I was to drink two pints of water two hours before. I wanted her to check that she had called the right person as I had had two CT scans previously and I had never been told starve three hours before and to drink water. She double checked and confirmed that yes that was the correct instructions and that the request was for a bigger area of my body.
On the 26th May I worked in the local store until 1.30pm, came home for 1.45 pm and had lunch with Rebecca. It was half term and as Rebecca works in a local school and she was off all week. She had agreed to come with me as Steve had to work and Mom was on holiday.
We ate lunch in the sunshine and I was soon fast asleep. At 2.45 pm Rebecca woke me as she was aware of the plan we had agreed which was lunch, walk Molly, start drinking water and then CT scan. Now it was all going wrong as falling asleep was not in that agreed plan. I quickly got sorted and we headed off to the park with Molly. It was now 3 pm and I should have been drinking water (which Rebecca had chilled for me overnight in the beer fridge) Molly has to have an hours exercise each day so that would mean that we wouldn’t be home until 4 pm and that was too late to start drinking water. Rebecca came up with the new plan which was for me to drop her off, return home, start drinking water and pick her back up at 4 pm. An excellent idea and I agreed however I would miss walking Molly.
I dropped Rebecca off and started my return journey. Then it started, the one minute warning! OMG all the weeks of worry about having an accident and thankfully I’d been okay but on that journey home that day I was panicking. I drove as fast as I could to get home, the cramps were awful and every traffic light seemed against me, I made it back home but cursed the decision to lock the front door and I made it to the loo just in time, thank god for my downstairs loo. Anyone who has had bowel surgery will feel my pain and panic here.
I picked Rebecca back up as planned, drank the amount of water required and headed off to the hospital.
I was back in the gown of shame and was called through to have my bloods taken. The nurse was lovely and was being very caring with me, introducing herself and explaining that she was good at taking bloods and that I was in safe hands. She asked if I was okay, not that she cared really but she was being polite. “well apart from having stage 3 cancer I’m fine” I replied. She just thought this was hilarious and said “it’s people like you that keep me doing this job. Seeing the funny side is the right mental outlook to have” I’m glad I made her laugh in her day.
I went through to the CT scan room where another nurse had to check that I was me and that I wasn’t pregnant. I’m not pregnant “but have you had sex since your last period?” yes but I know I’m not pregnant “are you taking precautions?” no but I’m not pregnant “so you’ve had unprotected sex in the last month?” yes but I’m not pregnant! “but you could be” now this was just getting silly, we had just returned from our holiday and yes we made up for lost time on the sexy stuff but she looked about 12 years old, far too young to be a qualified nurse and I knew I wasn’t pregnant. We were at a stalemate, she gave me that disapproving slut look as I stood there in my gown of shame and said she would have to discuss it with her colleague. She returned to say that I had to sign the consent form for sluts as they weren’t going to be held responsible for my wild ways.
The scan complete Rebecca and I returned home and the next day I came on!
On 4th June I was out walking Molly and I had the phone call regarding the results. They were not just concerned about the lymph nodes in my neck but I also apparently have a problem with the lymph nodes in my gut. I asked if it was cancer but they wouldn’t say either way and that I had to go into hospital on Monday 15th June for biopsies to be taken from my neck under a local anesthetic, oh the joy. I was trying to have this serious conversation whilst throwing a ball at the same time. I phoned Steve straight away whilst all the information was still fresh in my head and finished walking Molly. Mom was still on holiday and whilst we were in contact everyday I decided not to tell her as why spoil her holiday, it could wait until she returned and I would yet again have to break potentially bad news to my poor mom.

A weekend with friends

Nicky has been my best mate since I was 17 years old. She married Keith who has served in the RAF for 27 years and comes out next year, he has seen lots of active service and I’m proud of him and all who serve our country.
They have a daughter called Beth, who is my Goddaughter :-). Nicky is Godmother to both Richard and Rebecca.
We met in McDonalds whilst working there. She was washing up and I had to tip the ice cubes into her sink, which I did saying “well that broke the ice then” and we have been friends ever since.
Most friendships don’t last a life time but I’m glad ours has. Nicky has been there with my family through the darkest of times when others may have backed off as it was depressing sometimes being my friend.
When my sister died she was there for me, she lived in Peterborough and as soon as she heard she was there for us. Julie’s death was hard on everyone as she was only 25 and been married for 8 months. When people saw my mom and I out they would either stop and cry as soon as they saw us or walk in the other direction. I understand why people shied away from talking to us, they didn’t know what to say, what could anyone say but not my mate Nicky, she was just there for us.
When my Dad was ill and died she was not only there for me but for my mom. When I moved away from the Midlands if she was home visiting her family from wherever they were stationed she would always go and have a coffee with my mom to show she cared. Not forgetting her own grief in this as she loved my Dad, he was special to most people as he was funny and would always make a fuss over her “it’s Nic Nic” he would say to greet her and I can hear him saying it now.
I used to work every Saturday and she would help me, my mom and dad by looking after Richard and Rebecca. She loved them and enjoyed spending time with them but instead of doing other stuff with her family and friends she always was just there.
We have been on countless family holidays together as she, Keith and Beth are family. At my first wedding she was my chief bridesmaid. This should have been my sister of course but she wasn’t here anymore so I only had one bridesmaid and that was my best mate.
She was there the day I was told I had cancer as she had travelled to see me following that difficult conversation we had when I told her I wasn’t well. She texts me most days or calls a few times a week. If I need to talk I can and she listens to me.

Now I could tell you some tales of our wild days and our wicked past together. But I won’t do that to her. Maybe I should do some extra posts that contain some of these stories but for now Nicky our secrets are safe from the world wide web.

So we have seen or have planned to see family prior to chemo but I was delighted that Nicky, Keith and Beth were coming to stay with us for a weekend. They arrived on Saturday morning and I cooked Moroccan Lamb, we just enjoyed the day and evening together. Now at some point the men were in the front room and Nicky and I were in the kitchen. Oh I remember now! it was the weekend of the Eurovision Song Contest. Now Steve knows how much I enjoy talking to Nicky and he remained with Keith, watching the telly and talking to Keith about fishing. Now that’s real love right there as Steve knows nothing about fishing and wouldn’t choose to watch the Eurovision Song Contest either. Thanks Steve you’re a star.
Nicky said “I can’t imagine my life without my best mate” . So we sat and talked about it. I said that I would love her to have my eternity ring and Beth could have my Superdry hoodies as Rebecca wouldn’t want them. It was the first time that I really talked about not being around for her and everyone else :-(

Thanks for a great weekend mate xx

My Best Mate Nicky
My Best Mate Nicky
Beth, my Goddaughter & Keith
Beth, my Goddaughter & Keith
Breakfast after a heavy night :-)
Breakfast after a heavy night :-)

Oral Sex – Now there’s a question

It’s 21st May the night before the chemo appointment. I’m getting organised with my typed list of questions as I had previously done with Mr Mullerat. I think I’ve got everything and I’ve also looked on the cancer research uk website which gives you a guide of some of the questions you may have forgotten about.
I ask Steve to review my list and what did he want to add if anything. Now my hubby does lots of research privately and is always one step ahead of me, but he just doesn’t tell me. We talk through my list and soon get onto personal stuff, stuff that isn’t on the list of possible questions like can I have my hair dyed? Can I sunbathe? and of course can I have sex?
Steve logs onto one of his trusted sites and reads that sex is not allowed without a condom, great! Apparently the drugs can be transmitted in bodily liquid such as the vaginal secretion, “so what about oral sex and kissing” “I don’t know” replies Steve it doesn’t say but it does say that you can ask any questions at the appointment and dares me to ask them. “I’m not asking that!” We just both thought it funny that sex and normal life isn’t mentioned really, no one talks about it. If you have cancer do you stop being attractive? Does desire stop? The only thing we could find was a line that said ‘you may feel differently about your partner during this time’ what the hell does that mean? If you are a man and go off sex then will the woman be offended and vice versa? The evening ended with jokes about radioactive fannies which hid the truth that the next 6 months on chemo was going to be a different life.
At the appointment we were seen not by Dr Weaver (he was obviously seeing someone who was willing to pay £240 for 40 minutes of his time) but by his registrar and cancer nurse Kim. The appointment as it turns out was only to go through the side effects and sign a consent form as death is one of the side effects, what a waste of time as not only did you have the side effects discussion once but we were told you had to have it twice. No start dates given! I couldn’t believe it, what a waste of time I thought plus my mom was really going to be mad when she found out. I just couldn’t believe it and now I’m angry.
So with my best polite I’m pissed off voice I say the words ‘let me give you some feedback’ LOL and I did just that, they had it coming in terms of managing people’s expectations, waiting times and just for cancer nurse Kim the ‘not phoning people back when you say you will’ they sat there and took it then the registrar tried to justify the delay in chemo by saying that my operation needed to heal first and that it would be fine. Now you can lie to me but please don’t ever insult by basic intelligence!! So why did Mr Mullerat tell me 2-3 6 weeks ago then? and you still aren’t giving me a date so we are now looking at 8 weeks, that statement just justifies the delay and I’m not that stupid. Steve just sits there knowing that he had better just let me rant and he can give me his feedback later, no need for a total melt down hey.
The registrar in an attempt to revert to being the helping, calm professional and bring the meeting to an end said the worst thing “do you have any other questions?” Well by now I just really couldn’t resist (LOL indeed I thought, I’ll have you) “Yes” I replied “What about oral sex?” Steve froze, the register stumbled errrrr and cancer nurse Kim went bright red, reached for her chemo advice guide muttering “oh I’ve never been asked that before” she remained red and sweaty under the pressure of the question fumbling with her book, I however was enjoying myself. She eventually said that oral sex would be fine but condoms must be used for sex. Well by now I’d had my fun so I didn’t challenge the obvious question of how does that make sense, if you can’t kiss with tongues or have sex then how can oral sex be okay? if anyone does know I’d love it explained to me.

At the end of the appointment I did show the registrar my swollen lymph nodes in my neck, she examined me, neck groin and tummy and said that they needed to find out what was going on inside me and that she would order a CT scan. We left and Steve said I’d been a little harsh on them, tough I thought and we are back to the waiting game again :-(

My Meltdown

My meltdown is not easy think of or to write about. I need to set the scene for you as it’s never one thing that triggers a meltdown in anyone but a slow build up of emotion that just erupts without warning sometimes. I am not or I was never much of a person for crying not that I didn’t want to cry but because I was always fearful that if I started to cry and I mean really cry I would never stop. Losing my sister and dad had brought on such meltdowns before and they scared me. Maybe that’s why when asked how I am I always say ‘I’m fine’ because I don’t like to really feel how I am, I just try my best to cope, I’ve learned to build a wall. Anyway my meltdown was caused by two people, my son Richard and his first girlfriend, Brianna.

Richard was due to go to Canada on Friday 24th April for 6 weeks. The weekend prior to that he had arranged to spend it with his new girlfriend. That’s fine, no problem with that at all, in fact I’m happy that he is happy. I spoke to him on the Monday prior to him going, I wanted to see him before he went and asked that if we came down to him could we all go out for a meal on either the Wednesday or the Thursday? I had already asked Steve and he said he would drive us down there after he had finished work. Richard was based at Tidworth, just over 50 miles away. Richard’s reply to my suggestion was ‘I’m too busy’ I was both shocked and hurt that he didn’t want to see us before he left and surely he had to eat! I didn’t push it or make a fuss.
Brianna was Richards girlfriend from age 14 – 17. She had been part of our family for those years and gone through the early part of Richard being in the Army and stood by him. When they broke up I also lost a friend. As the years past by we still kept in touch, nothing regular but on birthdays and Christmas. We had met up twice in the 3 years since they had broken up, I always told Richard when I had been in touch with her but I knew that he didn’t like it. Brianna had suffered cancer in her own family in the past and she was now worried about her own mom who was undergoing tests and her Aunty, who was around my age had just gone into a hospice. Since I had posted about my cancer Brianna had of course been in touch and we had agreed that week that we would meet up on the Wednesday at 12.30 for a quick chat. We always contacted each other via messenger but hers wasn’t working and so she posted on my Facebook page about our coming meeting and if messenger had been working for her that week, no one would have ever known and I wouldn’t have had my meltdown.

I was 5 weeks post operation and it had been 12 long weeks since I had been at work. I had agreed with work that I would be able to work from home and out of my local store from week 6 post operation as part of my phased return to work, until chemo that was.
In some small way to support Emma we had started weekly conference calls with my management team on a Tuesday so I could still feel part of what was going on. We had set the call for that day at 11 am. At about 9.30 my phone rings, it’s Richard wow I thought, Richard was calling me in the daytime and as I answered the phone I was smiling, but that didn’t last long.
Richard asked me what was going on in that he had read on Facebook that Brianna and I were meeting up. I explained about the messenger problem, that he knew I saw her occasionally and about her worries with her family. Richard was just to angry with me and I could hear that anger in his voice when he said “that’s fine Mom but I don’t want to read about it on Facebook’ I thought hold on a minute was my son telling me off? I just saw red and had one of those moments where you don’t think at all before you speak, “how dare you, I’m 47 years old and I am not having you tell me who I can or cannot see and at least she can be bothered to come and see me cos she’s not too fucking busy!” I can’t remember if it was Richard or I that hung up first. I would have liked to have said I slammed the phone down as years ago on an old home phone if you were angry you could really slam the phone down and release some of that anger in doing so but it’s just not the same with an iPhone.
I was so angry, how dare he, he couldn’t call me to see how I was or to show that he cared and was maybe thinking of me in his busy day but he could phone me up and have a go at me. After a few minutes I had a text from him that just read “shall we try that one again hey” so for the next hour we argued and I think hung up on each other 3 – 4 times. I could hardly talk for crying and through the tears. I do remember screaming at him saying that we were arguing about stupid stuff that didn’t matter and that we should talk about stuff that really did matter. Eventually we gave up trying to sort the argument out as Richard can usually only see one point of view and that was his, he had to win the argument at any cost and the more he justified his pathetic excuses as to why he couldn’t even spare me 1/2 hour on any day that week to just see me due to working on a tank or whatever it was the more I sunk into despair. I wonder where he gets that stubborn streak from hey?
I was on my own at home sobbing my eyes up when when the house phone rang, it was Emma and the booked conference call, I apologised to Emma and said please just give me an hour and I’ll text when I’m ready. So I sat and sobbed, really sobbed for many reasons, all the hurt and anger came pouring out.
When mom and Steve found out about the argument they were both really disgusted with Richard. My mom is a real peace maker and normally can see the best in anyone and try to resolve all conflict but even she was angry with him and was going to call him to ‘have her say’ but she didn’t. Steve also wanted to discuss what had happened with Richard cos Steve was really pissed off with him too but thankfully I could stop him.
As a mom I don’t think there is another pain like the pain your kids can cause as we are just their parent, we can cope with anything, we are strong and don’t have feelings, we are their punch bags for whatever they want to hit us with and because they are our kids we all take the punches again and again, that’s the unconditional love that we have for them, it knows no limits. I have caused my mom some pain in my life through nasty things I’ve said to her and it’s one of the sad lessons in life that we learn in that you only realise how much you are loved when you become a parent yourself.

I did meet up with Brianna as planned but I never mentioned that she had caused a massive argument, we just sat in the sunshine and chatted about life. I did manage to do the conference call in the end and Richard went off to Canada without being able to spare a 1/2 hour to see his mom.

After posting this and discussing this entry with my mom, Steve and Rebecca, I have decided to add a footnote.
The last thing I want to do is cause any pain to my loved ones through writing this blog, which is designed to help others. If I died tomorrow would this post leave a legacy of hurt for my precious son? No mother wants that. I love both my kids with all of my heart and the argument with Richard was heated yes but because we have such a fantastic close relationship forgiveness on both sides was never going to be an issue. We have apologised to each other for what happened that day. I know Richard feels safe in the knowledge that I will always love him, I’m so proud of him and the man that he has become. (special code for Richard which only he will understand) ‘Love, Love the Loves’ my boy xxx 😉

Welcome Home

What’s that great saying? ‘Home is where the heart is’ that’s the one. I am lucky to have two homes, my actual home and my BHS home in Kingston. 9 weeks post surgery and 15 weeks since I was first signed off sick with possible appendicitis I was finally going back into work, back to Kingston :-)
Anyone who has had time off work e.g. maternity leave will understand when I say that whether you like it or not you lose your confidence. Your working world has to carry on without you as what’s that other saying? oh yes ‘we are all just a number’. Emma and the team had continued to run Kingston without me. I hadn’t had to make a decision in months apart from basic functions oh and my all time favourite now of ‘where’s the nearest loo’!
They didn’t need me anymore, I was just in name only, a person that once drove them to distraction with one mad project after another. We had achieved so much together, such precious memories and now I was returning still trying to just cope with walking and carrying a handbag at the same time.
No one knew how much going back there meant to me apart from Emma and of course Steve, they understood my need to be there.
Your job and what you do in your work life is important but I understand that I need people around me, I in fact need to be needed. I had done regional roles in previous jobs but it didn’t make me happy because I wasn’t needed, or part of a team and their everyday lives.
Since I’d been off sick I have of course been in regular contact with Emma and Alison. Linda doesn’t do modern technology and when I received texts from her it would always makes me smile as I know a few short words would have taken a lot of swearing and about an hour or if she sent a longer text I know that John (her hubby) would have had to of done it for her.
Whilst being off I was so touched by the messages from my team from people I had not expected to get messages from. Being a boss is a job I do take seriously, I’m there to earn my wage not to win a popularity contest and some people just don’t like me and that’s okay. Steve says that I’m like Marmite, you either love me or hate me. I actually don’t like Marmite but I hope you get the point. So if your not a team player, you don’t like to do a decent job or you think that ‘that will do’ is enough then your not going to like me.
I thought I would just break down and cry just walking through the doors that day but I held it together. Everyone made a fuss, I had lots of hugs, my office was decorated, I had flowers, banners, a balloon and my very own welcome home cake :-)
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It was just so lovely to be there, when anyone asked how I was I replied my normal “I’m fine” which was true in terms of recovery and some said one of my all time favourite statements which is ‘gosh you look well’ This one cracks me up, is anyone with cancer expected to look like shit or close to death and how on earth does the person with cancer respond? I just say “thanks” and leave it at that however I have been tempted to say occasionally “would you like me to look a little more gaunt, maybe thinner, or just a little more death like?
On my journey home I think I cried most of the way home, I’d loved being there with them all, normal again but I knew I couldn’t go everyday like I used to, I knew with chemo coming I had just a few short weeks of being part of their lives again and to help Emma and then months of chemo would prevent me being there and I wouldn’t be needed again.
I got home and Steve asked how it went and I told him all about my day, full of joy and laughter but I didn’t mention the tears or the lack of confidence cos to discuss it would make my fears real, so best to pretend that ‘I’m fine’.

A week in the sun

We arrived at our hotel in the evening. The room was as Steve had shown me on the internet, it had a kitchen area, a lounge and a separate bedroom oh and the all important balcony where we could sit outside for a smoke.
Now normally when we go anywhere and arrive at our hotel room and the following things happen and it must be due to basic instincts between men and women. I get into the room and unpack first, all the items have to be put away in their relevant rooms, clothes hung up, toiletries ready for use and anything technical that we have brought with us in a man draw ready for when I’m asked by my hubby “where’s my ****” Then I can direct him as I know where all the stuff is.
Steve arrives in a hotel room, removes as many items of clothing he possibly can, gets a cup of tea and smokes until he feels he is ready for the next man task.
This time Steve took me by surprise and started unpacking, he was helping, now this bless him was a long list of changes for him in that week. He had obviously thought long and hard about how he was going to cope with his partially disabled wife as he was the only carer for me for one week.
That evening we went and found a restaurant to eat in and whilst studying the menu Steve ordered two large beers. The problem with large beers are that the glasses are man shaped and heavy, I couldn’t even lift the glass I had to steal a wine glass off another table and decant the beer into it, that’s how weak my stomach muscles were then.
We had a lovely meal and continued to drink beer throughout the evening. Just enjoying the warmth of the night air and each others company. We had popped into a local shop to buy some beers to take back to the room with us so that we could sit on our balcony as we were both so genuinely happy that we had made it on holiday. We were there in the moment, full of food and beer and the past 3 months whilst always with us, at least we could look forward to our week and whatever adventures it held for us.
That night after we had spent another hour or so on the balcony just talking together we went to bed. Now we had been told that post surgery that love making was forbidden for at least 6 weeks. It had been 6 weeks and 4 days since the operation and even a few weeks before that since we made love so it had been a while. I am not sure why you can’t have sex for 6 weeks, where did that figure come from and you are not actually using the same area of the body are you? unless you are into that sort of thing.
Just being with my hubby naked again, just being us, just feeling safe, just touching him was wonderful. It had been too long since we had experienced love making and so with enough beer in me to numb any pain we started to make love (yes there was foreplay, he didn’t just jump on the nest but in case my kids ever read this page I will leave out the details). As we made love the emotion of being together again was all too much for me, all that we had been through, all the fears we both had, all the love and devotion I’d seen in him and the sadness for all the heartache cancer had caused us just washed over me. Instead of being the explosion of passion you would have thought there would have been after so long, I cried. Steve held me and I cried, Steve comforted me and I cried, Steve told me how much he loved me and I cried. Steve didn’t cry.

The holiday was amazing, we both loved it in every way. I think I really do know the meaning of the phrase ‘savour every moment’ as we both did just that for one week, we made the most of everything everyday.
The only other funny story from the holiday was on one windy day on the beach where we decided to go into the sand dunes for shelter from the wind. After lying in the sun for a few hours and just reading together Steve stood up so that the wind would cool him down. He was soon back down onto the safety of his beach towel as when he had looked around the dunes there was a woman with 3 men and they weren’t asking her for directions! Well they could have been but the woman had her mouth full and the others were looking on playing with their sat navs if you get my drift LOL.
Thank you Steve for a wonderful week, for looking after me and for loving me.

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Terminal Trauma

It was agreed that we were going on holiday on 9th May. Steve had managed to claim back almost all of the money from the holiday we had to cancel and nothing was going to stop us now from taking one week, one precious week just the two of us alone together before chemo had to start.
Nothing but the best was organised by Steve for me, priority boarding, fast track check in, the top hotel in the resort and a luxury rental car. No cheap flights with stupid flying times either we were too old for that and no stress was the only thing on the menu for one week.
The only problem with all of that was that I still recovering from surgery still struggled with carrying, lifting, walking and coping with the toilet but like Steve just needed a break from it all, to be in the sunshine, to be us.
At the airport poor Steve had to drag the two suitcases and wait endlessly for me to catch up with him as he walks at a normal speed and I limped slowly behind him. Suitcases checked in we head for the lounge excited and free. Our gate was called and it had to be the last gate in the bloody airport, a 15 minute walk and that’s at normal speed so we head off. The walking and carrying a handbag soon began to pull on my side and the pain of movement was wearing me down. Steve continued to walk ahead and then stop, apologise, wait for me and then set off again. I started to feel like a cripple again, I couldn’t keep up with him and all the other passengers who rushed and pushed around me to get ahead me, ahead of this slow limping woman who was just in their way. I just wanted to sit and cry, I felt a burden and an embarrassment to Steve and jealous of all the able bodied people rushing to get to the gate as soon as they could just in case the plane was going to leave without them.
We were nearing the priority boarding line when I spotted the last toilet sign so I decided that just in case I should go before I got on the plane. I came out of the loo to find Steve shouting towards me to ‘come on’ cos the priority boarding was closing, he just wanted everything to be perfect for me and had planned everything so that it was easy but I hadn’t really walked anywhere for months and I couldn’t go any faster. What the hell was I doing I thought, I can’t go on holiday, I can’t walk for a start, I’m in pain and everyone makes me feel like I’m disabled. I walked as fast as I could for him and finally got onto the plane. The flight was only two hours so that wasn’t too bad, I could at least rest and just sit.
Upon landing we were another 15 minute walk away from the terminal so the same nightmare happened again however to add to the pleasure the moving walkways were not all working and it was a very long walk. The pain just got worse and out came the painkillers.
So this post is aimed at people who rush and push slow people out of their way, the ones that tut at people and the ones that don’t seem to have a moment to live, stop it! I have been one of those such people and I’m sorry for not seeing people in pain or disabled people, I’m sorry for tutting and being fed up with anyone who didn’t walk as fast as me or who couldn’t keep up. Sad but true that you never know when that slow person maybe you, so think on!

The Chemo waiting game

Mr Mullerat had said that I needed to start chemo withing 2-3 weeks on 20th April or as soon as possible. Kim the cancer nurse who had been in the appointment room with him had said that we would be contacted by Dr Weaver to start chemo and that she would call me, she didn’t call. One week later I called her and she said that she didn’t want to undermine Mr Mullerat but the waiting list was at least 2-3 weeks and to just be patient. The appointment finally came through for 22nd May, now that’s 4 weeks since seeing Mr Mullerat and that’s not the date that the chemo would start, we were told that it should start within 2-3 weeks of that appointment, so now that’s 6 – 7 weeks not the 2-3 that Mr Mullerat wanted.
I wasn’t happy! the fact that Harry was living on inside me in whatever form was a daily thought that I found so hard to cope with. Harry’s cells were in the lymph nodes which were attached to other vital organs, multiplying and looking for a new home in which to create new havoc! Steve as ever thought this was okay as we could go on our holiday which had been placed on hold until we knew when chemo was starting.
I remember the day Steve texted me to say he had great news that we could go on holiday because the chemo appointment was 22nd May. I was over the park walking Molly and he was really shocked at my response which was to him ‘off the scale’ but he didn’t get it, he didn’t have this thing growing inside him knowing that everyday without treatment was a risk and the words “25% chance of living 5 years” echoed. I was so angry and so was my mom, for once mom and I were together on this as we didn’t understand the wait and surely it was a risk. Mom did her usual “I’ll sell the house and pay for you to go private” now Steve had looked at the cost of chemo and one course of 6 months was a staggering £35,000 so that just wasn’t an option however I know my mom would have gladly paid it, bless her.
It wasn’t just the delay in the treatment for me but the not understanding of chemo, what drugs?, how long for? what were the side effects? and when would it start? I wanted to try and get my head around what was coming to mentally prepare myself but without the ‘meat on the bones’ as they say I only had guess work and info from the internet oh and of course other peoples experiences which ranged from “it was okay, just sickness and tired” to “awful”.
Steve tried to help by phoning Dr Weaver’s private secretary to see if we could see him privately to get some answers before we went on holiday. She did say that even if Dr Weaver could see us that it would make no difference in the start date of my treatment. I thought that between £50-£100 an hour would be an acceptable amount to pay for his time but was completely gobsmacked when I heard he wanted £240 for 40 minutes of his time, £240! I’m in the wrong job and so is everyone else. I couldn’t believe it. Steve and I debated whether we wanted to pay that amount and my conclusion was that on holiday I could buy a lot of ice cream for £240 and so we decided not to see Dr Weaver and line his pockets with gold.
I did phone Mr MUllerat’s secretary to tell her about my delay in treatment and did Mr Mullerat know? and was it okay for me to wait that long for treatment? She reported back that Mr Mullerat had no say in Dr Weaver’s schedule and that due to an Oncologist retiring in Wycombe there was unfortunately a waiting list longer than ideal (great) I could always write to the Head of the Department of Health and complain but what good would that do us hey!
So the waiting game continued for us and with the holiday finally booked we set off and then the pain started in my neck and then my lymph nodes started to swell :-(

A week of visitors

On 7th and 10th May, two weeks after the operation I had two days of visitors. On 7th Emma, Linda and Alison came to see me. Now this is massive for Linda as she never takes a day off so to come and visit me, to be out of the store for a few hours was a real show of affection from her. Anyone else and she would have said “put my name on the card or here’s some money towards a gift” and the words “I can’t go as I’ve got too much to do” would have definitely been included as it’s one of Linda’s phrases. Mom had been out before they arrived so that we could provide sandwiches and cakes :-) we all spent a few hours together at first in the garden, so Linda could have a fag (I was being good at the time and on a Ecig) but the weather wasn’t warm enough so inside we went.
It’s so funny having people in your home that you have worked with for years. Emma had helped me with my colour scheme in the front room. I had created a mood board thing and hours had been spent together trying to match the right shade of chocolate and creams in curtains.
I think they were impressed that I was doing so well. I was watching for their car to arrive for about 20 minutes before they actually did so I was in the street when they pulled up. It was just so lovely to see them, my BHS Kingston family, in my house, wow! After catching up with all the gossip they were gone too soon and I was soon asleep as everything tired me out but I was happier for seeing them and slept soundly.
On 10th I had a home visit from HR. Now to protect the innocent I have to give her a false name, so Ann came round and brought me a beautiful daisy plant for my garden. The weather was better that day and we sat outside. This meeting was important as I needed Ann to understand my need to be at Kingston. We agreed a return to work plan to involve my local store, High Wycombe and Kingston, but over an agreed time scale. Ann had her own troubles with health and I was honoured that she decided to share her story with me. She was to be my ‘point of contact’ at work from the senior management team and throughout my journey she has been amazing. I was dreading working out of my local store but again life surprised me as a met Mary, who is a lovely lady. She has had her own pain in life and at around 11 am when I’m in the store she makes me coffee and we have a chat about life and I wash up afterwards, thanks Mary for just being you.
Again I feel blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life to support me. I often think of the people going through cancer who maybe don’t have a garden to sit in, who don’t have a partner to look after them or the people who have financial worries to add to the shit that cancer brings. On that point a word of advice, if I had taken out critical life cover as part of my package at work, which would have cost me £100 a year, I would have received £90,000 upon diagnosis of cancer. Now money isn’t everything but £90,000 would have at least made me smile. I remember looking through the options on the form and thinking that I was too young for critical life cover, I’m healthy and maybe I’ll take it out next year, fool! So if you have such an option at work please take it out as cancer knows no colour, creed, gender, religion or the worst of all age. It strikes when it wants in whoever it wants. The word cancer scares the living day lights out of people, one in three of us will be effected by cancer and yet it’s a taboo word. If you don’t say the word then you won’t get it. The only thing we can all do is just hope that it doesn’t come knocking at our door or come calling for the people we love, cos if it does, trust me it’s a bitch!