Vows and a System Upgrade

So it’s the 20th June, the day of the wedding. Now I’m really organised normally and always get my clothes ready for the next day, if I’m doing something, otherwise it’s Super-dry joggers. For some reason I didn’t do this. So I wake up and feel sick, it’s the first day of my rest week and I feel awful. Then the one minute warning kicked in and I’m thinking about my last post when I was talking about shitting myself in church and start to worry. My stomach the night before had been massive but it was going down now, I think it heard the word laxatives yesterday from Dr Weaver. I decided to have a piece of toast and jam to help with the sickness.

I blow dry Rebecca’s hair,  I love making Rebecca look pretty as she is beautiful to me but she doesn’t like the all the girlie stuff, so I’m making the most of pampering her. I then shower, get dressed (thanks for ironing it all mom) and we are almost ready but I can’t find my matching handbag for my shoes!! OMG I can’t remember the last time I went out without matching my handbag and shoes, oh the shame of it. Rebecca came to me after she, Steve and my mom had searched for it, without any luck and said “it’s okay mom as there will be worse dressed people than you there today” Now I know what she meant to say but my lovely daughter, bless her just doesn’t say what she means sometimes or it just comes out wrong, lol

Rebecca and I ready for the Wedding day
Rebecca and I ready for the Wedding day

So off we go to the church, we make it with 15 minutes to spare. We go in and in front of us is Steph (who went to college with Amy and Rebecca). They started talking straight away. I said “hello” but said that I would talk to her in a minute as I have to say a prayer first, as I was in a church and I was brought up properly. I found it very comforting to be in a church and saying my private prayer to God to look after my loved ones, not me but just the people I love. I then said hello to Steph and the couple next to her who had not been to a Wedding before. The music started and the wedding party were there. Amy I would like to say looked beautiful but she was in such a hurry to get to Joey she almost ran down that isle and I didn’t actually see her or the dress, they went past as a bit of a blur.

Now the service was conducted by a lady vicar. I really got the feeling she was being genuinely sincere about her job for the day, when she spoke about her hopes of  love and happiness for them and all that the future would hold. She was also very caring about the whole family as they had been through a bereavement recently. She made us all laugh at times and allowed us to clap when the vows had finally been taken. Amy was a wreck and cried most of the way through her vows, all I could see was Joey dabbing her eyes with a hanky. The service was beautiful and full of the love that they clearly have for each other. Now I’m watching all this and thinking of the vows that I took with Steve 11 years ago.  I wish I could do it all again. When you say the words “in sickness and in health” you have no idea what sort of commitment that may be one day and I think of my poor hubby. The only other part of the vows that really upset me are the “til death us do part” I couldn’t have that in our service and opted for the as long as we both shall live. One of the readings was from Corinthians 13 vs 7 & 8, and it reminds me that we have that on a piece of wall art at home as we had that at our wedding and we both love it.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends.

I am really enjoying the service and at parts getting emotional and at the same time feeling comforted at being in church. The lady in front of me has brought a bottle of water and at some point not only drinks from it but also drops it on the floor. Now I was brought it to be respectful in church and I find it odd that people don’t know how to behave in church. I am thankful of my upbringing at this point, that I know how to behave in church. We sang hymns every morning at primary school as the morning assembly was the start of the day, and I can recite the Lords Prayer without thinking about it. It’s as natural as saying my name and I don’t need the words written down for me. It makes me sad that the younger generation don’t have that grounding (I now sound old). When we went into the church prior to the service I was amazed at how many people were on their phones. I did quickly reply to an old school friends message very as I was checking that my phone was on silent but it was then put away.

I was talking to Rebecca about religion whilst the register was being signed. She said that she didn’t really believe in God. I started to talk about how through life we need to believe. I talked to her about the night I just wanted to be in church after Julie had died. That I was just sat in church on my own crying and a vicar appeared to talk to me. The memories of that just hurt to much and I could feel the tears burning in my eyes so I quickly ended the conversation. The service ended all to soon and we were outside for photos. I sadly missed the confetti throwing moment but made up for it later.

At the reception we were all outside, I had found somewhere to park myself and was getting to know Steph. I also had the opportunity to meet Amy’s mom who I had heard so much about. The photographer wanted a group shot so we all congregated on the steps. I thought it would be the right time to do the confetti bit, so all arranged with cameraman ready Rebecca and I threw ours, straight in to the wind blowing towards us! so we moved to the other side of the happy couple and tried again but I didn’t have much left so it was a bit pathetic. Now Amy was definitely not at the back of the queue for boobs and she had confetti in her cleavage. I decided that it would be a great idea to place the little confetti I had left on her assets for Joey later. I don’t know how but I somehow grabbed the front of her dress and I heard a massive rip! OMG I have actually torn the front off her wedding dress! I was about to cry, I could have died from the shame, was I going to be the first person banned from a wedding? Amy was in hysterics at my horror as the front of her dress was on poppers and I had pulled them off and not ripped her beautiful dress, it could only happen to me!

Steph, Amy and Rebecca. Wedding dress repaired!
Steph, Amy and Rebecca.
Wedding dress repaired!

The day was just too long for me and I left sadly at 6 pm, not been able to do the dancing I wanted to do with Rebecca. I was just so tired. So I went to say goodbye to Amy. After hugs she said “oh I love your blog.” “You read my blog” I couldn’t believe it. “Yes she said and so does my mom” I felt so honoured, I was shocked that they read it. So to Amy and Amy’s mom “thank you for a great day and letting us share it with you”. The whole day was beautiful and full of love. Not only between the happy couple but you could clearly see the love between the family members. Talking of love I have to share this with you, as part of Joey’s speech to Amy he said

There are two important days in a mans life, the day he is born and the day he realises why he was born.

Upgrade so Steve wants to enhance my site and we set about improving the look of the blog. We tried many designs but decided that they weren’t me. After much thought and debating the photo that now appears is of me trying to cope at work, in pain and thinking I have wind. The hot water bottle is from my dear friend Linda. Now a word of advice, don’t try to use a hot water bottle to get rid of cancer pain. I used it most days for weeks and it took weeks again for the marks to go from my belly.

The blog, thanks to my Facebook friends in sharing it has been read in Vietnam, USA, Indian, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Estonia, United Arab States, France, Mexico, Germany etc etc etc with over 2000 people seeing it. Today I finally got a comment from a fellow cancer sufferer who placed a comment on my blog to help me with advice. Bless you Tammy and you made my day complete.

 

 

 

 

The Wedding, Daisy Dress and the Best Question Ever!

So it’s the Wedding Day, 20th June has come around quickly. I remember the day that Amy (Rebecca’s friend) dropped off the pre, pre, pre wedding invitation in the form of a fridge magnet so that we would remember the date. It’s still on our beer fridge door now.  I remember thinking that this day was a long way off and I wondered what we would all be doing around that date. Now this leads me to believe that the saying ‘we are better off not knowing what’s coming’ is very true as I wouldn’t have believed how my life has changed. So it’s all preparations tonight for tomorrow, well I’ve painted my nails so that’s at least a start. Tonight I took my last chemo tablets for a week, it’s a week off for me :-) before we start cycle number 2 intravenously on Friday 26th June. So I’m hoping for a feeling normal week.

So having been to see Dr Weaver I now have laxatives to add to my collection of drugs. He did agree with me that I should take them after the wedding as shitting myself in church was not something any of us would like to happen and it’s just rude to up stage the bride. He didn’t actually say that but it was what I was thinking. So normally I would go and buy a new dress for a wedding but I have a big problem and that is my stomach. Those that know me know I’m a size 8 -10 now the rest of my body hasn’t changed so I just look pregnant, no seriously I do. I thought I was gaining weight due to the steroids but no one can put a stone on in a week. Dr Weaver said my bloating was caused by the drugs, and so gave me more drugs. Now the only new clothes that I would be able to buy for this wedding now would be from a maternity section, as I really do look pregnant.  Until my body starts to right itself, shall we say.  So no new clothes for me but I do have my daisy dress which was brought recently with Leanne prior to my holiday pre chemo with Steve. We were only out shopping for about 2 hours but she nearly killed me. We returned home to Leanne saying that she had broken me, I could hardly walk, so we both fell asleep together outside in the sunshine to recover.

Leanne and I after our sleep in the garden
Leanne and I after our sleep in the garden

Anyway it’s the daisy dress for me tomorrow however the front daisies may look more like bloody sunflowers but who cares at least I will have made it to the day itself as Rebecca once said that ‘I might not make it’ bless her. I don’t watch Coronation Street but my mom told me that Eileen wore the same dress to Gail’s wedding. I do hope there isn’t more than one daisy dress today, every woman’s worst nightmare hey and wardrobe disaster.

The best question ever – so after my results today, whilst lots of friends offered to call me if I needed them (thanks you lovely people) I just didn’t want to talk about it really. Writing the blog is a great way of putting all the information down and then just texting “posts up” and then everyone can absorb the details. So I’m sat in my ‘chemo gazebo’ with Steve and my phone goes off, it’s a text message from my step daughter. It said “can I ask you a question?” I said to Steve that I was worried what was coming next, was she in trouble? and was I going to be able to help her? I replied “that of course she could, that I was always here for her and how could I help?” nothing came back for a few minutes and then my phone went again, the best question ever

“Are you going to die?”

Oh bless her, at first it made me smile as I was impressed with her honesty and courage in just coming out with it. Instead of us as adults either not talking about it or skirting around the question, ‘she went bravely where no man had been before’ that’s from Star Trek I think! Oh well Steve will put me right on Star Trek quotes – Trekkie.

So I sent her a long suitable and honest reply. Nothing came back. Was she upset, was she not expecting the reply I gave, was she angry or just in the shower! Whilst waiting for her reply I was talking to Steve about my worries over Lauren and her question. He said that as long as her reply didn’t come in saying “well can I have your jewellery then”?  it would be okay. Now that one really did make me laugh out loud Steve. She did text back and don’t worry she was okay and never mentioned my jewellery LOL.

Now I’m posting this after midnight as I won’t be able to post on the day due to the Wedding however I have planned a break for myself, to come home and rest before the evening do. Let’s hope I have the energy to return to the celebrations as it would be lovely to have a dance again. I can’t remember the last time I danced!…… Oh yes I do it was the works Christmas party. I would say fond memories and there were some but some of the staff were a little ‘worse for wear’ and it was a laugh but hard work too, and unbeknown to me I had Harry growing inside me. Anyway I shall miss not posting as I normally do so daisy dress pregnancy photo’s to follow on Sunday :-)

Don’t call me Shit Head

It’s 2.44 when I look at my Iphone. I’m ready and Steve has just got cover from a colleague on his job, so here we go again. Back to the hospital, the appointment is scheduled for 3 pm. Now we have no idea if we are actually going to meet the real Dr Weaver or his registrar. We don’t know if the results from the biopsy taken on Monday will also be in either. So it could either be how are you doing, nothing more than that or I could be another, oh no! meetings. I hadn’t even got a typed list of questions prepared as I had no idea what we would find out.

We self checked in! They have this system everywhere now, where you do the receptionists job for them. There was a massive queue for the receptionist and two self check in machines not being used. Steve tried to show them the way forward, to embrace modern technology but it was lost on them. We fast tracked, went as instructed to bay 1, placed our letter in the pouch on the wall (cos we now know the drill) and waited. There was another man and his wife there. He was filling out forms and a nurse kept flitting backwards and forwards with more forms. Just before we were called in they stood up to go, the woman was trying very hard not to cry, the nurse hugged her and the man, who obviously had cancer just collected his things and left them to it.

“Wendy Guy” I heard, and there he was, Dr Weaver. Now Mr Mullerat had told me this man was going to be the next one to look after me months ago. On our first visit we didn’t see him but his registrar and he is hard to pin down unless you go private and give him £240 for 40 minutes of his time. We went in, and I noticed that there was no cancer nurse Kim so I’m assuming that it’s just a routine appointment. My file is closed but on his desk and by now it’s quiet large.

We discussed how I had coped with the chemo and what side effects I had gone through. I was able to ask some of the questions for Karen. 1 – if they lower the dose because the side effects are too bad then does that lower the success rate? “no not at all” he said as it was more important that you get through the whole treatment. 2 – If you can’t complete a cycle because you are too ill, does that also lower the success rate? again he assured me that it wouldn’t. Excellent I thought, as at least I can stop worrying about Karen. He did say that because I had suffered with the chemo going into my arm that I could have a thing put into my arm that stays in for the duration of the treatment (this is what Karen is going to have, as she says her veins are shagged) I don’t want something permanently in my arm, after 4/5 days the pain starts to go and I just don’t like the thought of having a permanent reminder there, however this may mean I get a plaster lol, so I agree to think about it.

We when have to discuss poo! again. On this and through the meeting I managed to make him giggle and smile, I’m good at that! I said “for pity’s sake do I have to talk about poo again in front of my husband” Steve bless him offered to leave the room but I said it was okay and covered his ears with my hands. I said that chemo had just made me into a normal person really who only goes once a day now rather than 4-6 times. I forgot to mention I had trouble getting out the house yesterday as I went 4 times in the morning but I was okay once I was at work. Dr Weaver said that I needed laxatives and gave me a prescription. I also found out another perk which is if you have cancer you don’t pay for medicines, fabulous. Free drugs, reduced parking charges oh and fast track at the pathology department, oh the joys of life.

I then asked the question, were my results in? Without moving or touching my file he said yes they were and I had bowel cancer in my lymph nodes. The ones in my neck and we are assuming the others that were inflamed in my gut from the CT scan. Dr Weaver explained that he wasn’t going to operate, excellent. That he would not expect them to be killed off after just one round of chemo. That after cycle number 4 I would have another CT scan and then if they are still there then he will change my chemo. I said great, “you do know CT scans cause cancer?” he just laughed and said “that yes that was a risk only for people who didn’t actually have cancer” I tried to then ask and what if that doesn’t work etc looking longer term but he just wanted to take one step at a time.

He was a lovely man Dr Weaver so I told him that he was missing a trick and should slip in some happy drugs with the chemo so people would love it. He agreed but then as Steve says we would then have hordes of people addicted to chemo. The meeting ended with another appointment to be booked for July and a prescription . As we were leaving Dr Weaver said “look if anything serious happens just call us”. To which I replied “what like getting cancer” and he laughed again and I was heading home to break my moms heart again.

I told Rebecca and mom, Rebecca said okay, went upstairs and then went into town. Mom and I sowed the grass seeds purchased earlier and Steve went back to work. Seeds sowed and a hug from mom, I knew I had to tell everyone. The last person I texted was Richard, I typed the following message, try to add humour to make him laugh.

‘Results in, I have bowel cancer in the lymph nodes in my neck and don’t even think about calling me shit head lol’

and so it went on with the information I’ve already told you about. I then just hit copy and paste to the people who knew about today. Anne from HR, who is actually called Amanda and has said that it’s okay for me to use her real name, was the first to reply. Out of the texts I get back of love and support (thank you all) I also get a text from the HR Director, now I’m in pieces and try to type a response through the tears. The support I have received from work has just been amazing and it really does overwhelm me, so I can make everyone laugh, hold it together for my loved ones but one text from work and that’s it game over, what a soppy mare I am.

Well that’s it then, warts and all. We are now back to more CT scans, waiting and of course hope. Hope that Harry will one day just piss off and leave me alone or that he at least doesn’t get into any vital organs and the chemo actually works.

 

 

Laugh or not laugh – you decide

Last night I’m sat in my ‘chemo gazebo’ which Steve brought for me last week as I’m not allowed to sit in the sun, due to the drugs and being radioactive. My mom came and sat with me and said that she loved my blog BUT…”go on mom, just say what you want to as I welcome all feedback, I want to know if it’s any good or not”. She said that it was good but that nobody talks about the serious stuff, that we all skirt around it. That the laughter is fine but what about the real question, “what’s that then mom”? She said “Death! Its alright projecting the funny side that I see in cancer but if the blog is to be real then you have to talk about death”. Steve then joined us and we discussed it and I knew what I had to do. I will write about the two and you can decide which one you would rather read. So you can choose, or you can read both and then decide which one you prefer, so here goes.

Laugh
I remember driving home from the meeting with Mr Mullerat when we found out that without chemo I only had a 25% chance of living past 5 years and that he had to leave cancerous lymph nodes in me as it couldn’t all be removed in surgery. Steve was driving and he said “I can’t possibly live without the love of my love, I have to go first” to which I replied “well you had better get I move on then as I haven’t got long” now that’s funny.
In the shower this morning I thought, I’m glad that I won’t lose my hair but I have to say I was looking forward to not having to get my legs and fanny waxed for a while and think of the money I’d save! and that made me laugh to myself!
I like saying to Leanne and Nicky “well at least I’ve still got my health hey” most people laugh at that one
I like the saying ‘if I wasn’t getting older I’d be dead’ now that’s both true and funny
Rebecca and I are due to go to a wedding this Saturday. I laughed when 2 months ago Rebecca said when talking about who she was going to go with “well we will have to see if mom makes it to June 20th” hilarious.
And there are probably many other moments that I’ll remember after I’ve posted this blog up but I hope you get my point. Cancer is serious but I just find it easier to find laughter in it, I’d rather that than cry.

Not Laughing
I fear everything. I fear going through this six months for an extra 10 – 15% survival rate and it not working. I have thought about resigning from my job so my team, that mean so much to me can just get someone else and move on (tears in my eyes as I type those words). I have thought about suicide, why put everyone through this hell, why not end it all now if I’m not going to make it anyway? (don’t panic mom it was only a thought).
Steve and I have discussed the house, my jewellery but what would he do with anything else we haven’t discussed. Who would look after my mom if I died before her? What about my kids & Steve? who would cook for them, bring them together, help them sort out my stuff? What if Steve met someone else? would he always be in touch with my kids and mom or would he over time move on? How would Nicky cope without her best mate as I know stuff that only us girlies know, we talk, really talk and understand each other due to the years of sharing each others lives. What about Molly, she is only 3, I would never had agreed to having her had I’d have known I may not out live her, who will take her? (big tears in the eyes now after typing all of that).
Mom asked me last night what I thought about dying and I said that I didn’t fear dying but I did fear the way I check out. After seeing my dad slowly die over a short period of time with pancreatic cancer, I wouldn’t wish what we saw on my worst enemy. I don’t want Steve, mom or my kids to see any of that.
I fear getting ill at the moment due to being on chemo. I’m doing well but when I go out I see potential germs everywhere that could make me ill, where people touch things like door handles, cash machine pads etc, not everyone washes their hands you know. I would like to stay inside my home for 6 months where I’m safe and not leave it’s sanctuary, It takes courage to go out.

So you have both versions of my mad mind. The truth of it is that if you read by posts you will find elements of both sides of me in between the lines. I tend to flit from seeing a serious topic but writing about it with what I can find that’s funny within it. There is nothing funny about cancer and that reminds me, I have been overwhelmed again by my friends and family who have read my blog and then sent me private messages. Thank you all as it means so much to me to know that I have so many people who care about me and are thinking of me. Most people say that I am brave or inspirational. I’m neither of these things. I like everyone else with this shitty disease have no choice. I have to keep going, not because I’m strong or stronger than anyone else on this journey with me but because I have no choice (oh there’s always the suicide option I suppose – LOL only joking mom).

Chemo tablets, ‘All you can eat’ and Grading

I’m just two days away from completing the first cycle of chemo I thought today about how I haven’t really explained much about what I have to take in terms of drugs. As this blog is to help people I thought I’d do the science bit for you. Xelox is an infusion of Oxalipatin and Capecitabine. An infusion! it sounds like a blend of tea or a marinade for meat. Oxalipatin is the shit that burns through your veins via a drip and the Capecitabine is the tablet form. The dose in the tablets given is based on your weight, height etc. I take 1650mg (4 actual tablets) twice a day. Which will have to be increased if I keep putting weight on at the current rate LOL.

I need to share with you how much I hate taking tablets. As a young girl probably about 10 years old I had to take tablets for something, I can’t remember what was wrong with me. I just couldn’t physically swallow them. My mom, trying very hard to help me, tried hiding them in food, cutting them up and all other mom tricks she knew to get me to swallow them but nothing worked. As a last resort she placed a pound note on the table (yes the old green paper note) and said “if you swallow the tablet the £1 is yours” well I considered it for a nano second and down the tablet went in one gulp. Mom was delighted and so was I as I really did think that I was going to get £1 every time I took a tablet! The damage was done, I had proved I could swallow tablets but I have always hated it and often gag. So for me taking 12 (for the first 3 days) and then 8 everyday for two weeks is hard. At tablet time twice a day, I still have to have a treat for when I have taken the tablets, another reason why I’m gaining weight i think, I also have to punch the air saying “champion” as if I’ve accomplished some great achievement.

‘All you can eat’, sounds good hey! so now your reading this and thinking of a Chinese buffet, spare ribs, crispy duck etc well I’m sorry to disappoint you but that’s not what I’m thinking about.
On Sunday Steve and I were walking Molly over the park and we were talking about how life changes with cancer. This is an important conversation I’m about to have with Steve as I’m due in one week to go into hospital to have the second cycle intravenously and it is the Oxalipatin that burns your veins and your arm is out of action for about 5 days. My fanny as previously discussed in the blog is radioactive and so is my mouth. Kissing is now reduced to a peck, no open mouth action and definitely no tongues! My left arm is weak and hurts sometimes due to the swollen lymph nodes and so there is not much of me that I can offer to my husband (in the biblical sense) that is okay and usable, oh my feet are okay, LOL. This is important as I need to decided which arm I am going to have the Oxalipatin shit pumped into a week on Friday.
My wonderful hubby Steve just said that “pre cancer I was like an ‘all you can eat’ buffet. That everything was on the menu, the menu varied throughout the year like the seasons but someone has reduced the menu from the delicious all you can eat to make your own sandwiches”. Now I thought this was funny and decided to share it with you all as he is right. Top tip, before chemo go for the all you can eat option, stuff yourself silly because the options on the menu reduce quickly depending on your side effects. Or if sex is a problem for you to discuss with your partner then try the analogy of the buffet to break the ice :-).

In the last 24 hours I have been contacted by some lovely people. Old friends from school, new people I don’t actually know and current supporters in my journey. I thank you all for your kind messages. One made me very sad as it was someone who had cancer in the girlie bits. They had a full hysterectomy and because they are okay and clear said in their message that they didn’t like to talk about it as their cancer wasn’t as bad as mine. I’m sad that we feel the need to grade our cancers. For me cancer is cancer. The journey my old friend had been on was no less traumatic than mine. The fear, worry, tests, hope would have been the same. That moment when you truly have to look at your life and say to yourself “oh no I stand to lose all that I have and that is precious to me” is sobering. If you are at stage 1 or stage 4 you still go through the same emotional trauma, you just have a better chance of survival at stage 1. Please don’t anyone reading this ever feel that you have to belittle what you went through or are going through as cancer is cancer. If you need to talk about it then do and I’m listening, I’m here to try and help if I can and you don’t have to put a number to your cancer as it’s all shit to me.

No pressure then

So I decided to ask my Facebook friends for help by promoting this blog through sharing it on their Facebook sites. OMG I was so shocked at the response. I have a tracker on my blog so I can see if it’s reaching people and wow the power of the internet. I had over 400 views in a few hours from all over the world. Previously I think the traffic was just coming from my mom and hubby lol.

16th June, blog hits following my plea to share it on Facebook
16th June, blog hits following my plea to share it on Facebook

It’s been a funny old day. Even though I was told I couldn’t work I managed to convince Ann (HR) to let me go into my local store to work for a few hours and I was able to take Mary out for coffee, we took a selfie and sent it to Ann to make her smile.

Coffee selfie with Mary
Coffee selfie with Mary

Over the past few days there has been a birth and a death in my circle of family and friends. Firstly baby Jacob was born on Saturday, a new nephew for us and a wonderful addition to the Guy family. He his 9 weeks premature but doing well. The death, I can’t comment on yet as it’s not public knowledge and I don’t wish to offend anyone.
After leaving work I went and delivered some flowers and a card to let them know I cared.
After a sleep cos just being away from home for 4 hours took it out of me, not that I let anyone see that. I just kept the ‘I’m fine’ face on. I finished my last historical post that I wanted to put on my blog and plucked up the courage to ask people I knew to share this blog. I was touched by the messages I received from people I knew and didn’t know. A very kind person called Anne a friend of Michelle’s from school is going to add me to her ‘Race for Life’ list that people wear on their backs. I’ve done the ‘Race for Life’ locally with Rebecca and we did it with pride for my Dad but I never thought I would be relying on others to fund raise to save my life and the thousands diagnosed everyday in Britain.
I have Rita who burns candles for me every week in her Catholic church and Nicky’s mom and dad (dear old friends) who add me to the prayer list every week at our local Methodist church back in the Midlands on Stream Road where I attended and my children were christened. So I have two denominations covered LOL.
Another friend sent me a message about flowers in grief and I agree with her thoughts on this. We all feel the need to send people flowers when we want to show we are thinking of them. Actually what we should consider is buying them a good bottle of wine or a packet of fags, a good point well made Jo. Today when I dropped off flowers to my friend who has sadly lost her child I did actually think I’d rather post a packet of fags through the door, at least she would enjoy them and it might just make her smile briefly through the grief. Sorry to any kids reading this as I shouldn’t promote smoking (that’s Health and Safety covered again). I also hate ‘With Sympathy’ cards too as they never contain the right words to express how much you wish you could take all their pain away for them. So I, like so many of us stare at the inside of these cards and just think, oh shit what the hell do I write to make them feel any better? Like most of us I rehearse what I’m going to write in my head and it sounds okay up there, but when it comes to actually writing it down I just go for short and sweet in the vain hope that the receiving person gets what we were trying to say. What I always want to write in these cards is ‘ain’t life just shit sometimes’ but I don’t.
So no pressure then in terms of this blog. I have to keep it real and up to date if I want to help others. So back to cancer it is. The chemo side effects are completely liveable with now and I’m used to them and the way they make me feel. Of the pages of side effects that are possible in the leaflets I have experienced a few of them and with just 3 days to go to finishing round one I’m upbeat and I know that I can cope. The side effect that I didn’t expect was weight gain, I’m putting on the pounds and I don’t know whether it’s the steroids or the large cartons of cranberry juice I’ve been drinking everyday, whoops! I looked at the calories today on the back of the carton and was horrified to discover that I was drinking half of my daily calorie allowance in cranberry juice and having normal food on top. When I told Steve he just laughed and said “have you not seen the amount of calories there are in beer? but it’s the juice that has to go, you have to get your priorities right in life and who wants to be fat and sober, not me!
The other sad thing today was buying a ‘Father’s Day’ card for my hubby. Anyone who has lost their dad will get this. Oh what I wouldn’t give to buy and give my dad a card on Sunday or just to have another 5 minutes with him. Life is bollocks! when I was 16 I thought I knew it all, When I was 18 I thought I knew it all, at 21 I thought I definitely know it all now, and so it went on as did the years. The truth is life teaches you some lessons too late. Loving people, showing and telling them how much they mean to you, or just taking time out of your busy life to spend time with those you love is so important. We all take it for granted that they will always be there, this is not a great plan. One day you will turn around and they will not be there and you mourn for all that lost time. I get jealous of people buying father’s day cards as I want to buy one too for my dad but he isn’t here to give it to. So I like many just let the day pass, celebrate with the dad’s we do know and remember our own with great love and affection.

Forgot to mention that following yesterday’s post you will know that I love the plaster on my neck as it shows the world I have a thing, something is wrong. The photo yesterday was taken for my mate Nicky as I was on the phone to her when Steve took it to show her my wonderful plaster. She said that it was one up from a plaster and could almost be called a dressing, I was happy with that :-) Steve took my dressing off tonight and the smallest mark possible greeted him, he burst out laughing at my wound :-( it was so small that I have to admit it wasn’t really noticeable at all :-( so I’m back to no dressing, no visible sign there’s something wrong and no sympathy :-( oh well at least you lot reading this know my pain and I thank you for that.

Fighting

Since starting this blog my mom reads every post and has become my editor, so if you find any mistakes then please feel free to contact her.
Last week she said to me, after I’d had a rant on here about some of the stupid things people say to people with cancer “what on earth do you want people to say to you?” and it got me thinking that I should try to help people on this topic and not just rant about what people say.
Please let me explain why I object to the one I find the most upsetting, which is when people say “you have to keep fighting”

Now I do understand that people feel they have to say something and they want to be positive for you and themselves but just consider this fighting rubbish for a moment.
I can’t fight cancer, my body has tried to fight cancer but it lost and Harry the bowel tumor developed. My body needs help to fight cancer hence the chemo. The problems at the moment with my lymph nodes are because either they are full of just gunk or they are full of cancer cells which my body isn’t fighting to well. I’ll post and let you all know when those results come in. Either way my body is a bit of a light weight on this fighting front and Mohamed Ali just keeps on taking his punches.
If after suffering with cancer, and for some people they do loose their lives to this shitty disease is it that they didn’t fight hard enough? is it that they feel guilty that they didn’t fight hard enough. The phrase ‘we are all fighting for you’ is also up there in terms of a stupid thing to say as again, as if someone doesn’t survive then is it the families lack of fight that caused it.
Karen and I are on similar journey’s and almost parallel in terms of time scale, is her family fighting less than mine? No of course not and if either of us don’t make it into remission does that mean that one of us has fought harder than the other? no it doesn’t.
When I told Ann from HR about my lymph node problem and that I had to have more tests, she just said oh bugger! Beautiful, words spoken like someone who knows how this shit feels. She didn’t say “oh you’ll be fine I’m sure” or anything else that is guaranteed to shut down any conversation with anyone dealing with cancer. Sometimes it’s okay to just say “that’s shit” or just to say nothing at all but just really listen to someone tell you wants happening in their world of cancer. Alison and Nicky are also very good at knowing what to say to me and I cherish them just being there for me to talk too. Leanne just makes me laugh as she will try to wind me up every time by saying “be positive hey mate”. Bless all of the special people in my life as it’s you lot who I actually feel for. Before I had Harry I don’t think I would have known what to say either.
Anyone who is reading this who has cancer to help your friends and family try this phrase on them as it does really work. So you tell them whatever it is, normally bad news following test results etc and before they can get to respond to you with “you’ve got to fight this” you hit them with my favourite to make them laugh and say “yes but at least I’ve still got my health hey” guaranteed laughter, or you will get at least of giggle from them followed by “oh that’s awful” either way you have won because you have brought laughter instead of despair.
Talking of laughter and you may think that cancer is nothing to laugh about but your wrong. Laughter is great and if you can laugh at yourself you have definitely won. I have a cancer joke for you. ‘Oh my god’ I hear you say you can’t tell a joke about cancer, well yes you can. Here it is and tell me you don’t smile. If you don’t then check your pulse as I think that you have have died, here goes…….

Doctor, leaning over a completely empty hospital bed: “The surgery went well. It had spread but I’m quite confident we got it all.”

LOL LOL LOL LOL

At last a plaster people can see

Monday 15th June, biopsy day! We had all agreed the plan the day before. Up by 8, breakfast, chemo tablets and leave the house just after 9.15 as per instructions as we had to be there an hour before the appointment. The other instruction was to wear loose clothing. Mom and I arrived as planned, on time and checked in at reception. There was an unusual amount of people around the desk as they had had a new computer system installed and it wasn’t going too well, theirs was broken.
We were told to go into the ultrasound waiting room. Mom and I had brought newspapers and started to read what was happening in the world outside of cancer and tests, like either of us really cared but you have to go through the motions of passing the time away with something. Mom always choose the ‘Daily hate’ Tory scum loving rag blah but she justifies it by saying she just likes doing the crosswords in it. If Steve was with me he would have chosen the Independent (he is the brains of the house) and I had chosen the Mirror as there are more pictures than words and I like the agony aunt column.
The last time I had been in the Xray department with my mom was the day I got into the gown of shame to be told the CT scanner was broken and the nurse that had to tell me that day did not have an easy time from me. So we sat in the cold clinical waiting room with just one piece of wall art to look at and waited. Why the hell did I have to be here an hour before, I just didn’t understand at all as 1/2 hour had past and nothing had happened apart from the other two people waiting had been called through and with no one else in the room but me, surely I was next.
Then she appeared, the same lady who had to tell me the CT scanner had broken one my previous visit. She reminds me of a lady who works in my store, small thin Asian lady who suffers with a lack of confidence. I have been told I can be intimidating and these sort of people just bring out the worst in me as I could chew them up and spit them out for breakfast. She saw us waiting and I could instantly read her mind, she was thinking, oh no it’s her again. She walked towards us and started to explain about the new computer system “it’s okay I know, we have been told” I said in my shut up and go away voice. Unsteady of her appropriate stance to take with me she then said “are you waiting for an ultrasound scan?” I was tempted to say why else would I be sat in the bloody Ultrasound waiting room for, but I didn’t, I just replied in my sarcastic voice ‘yes’. She then asked me if it was for my neck? What the hell does it have to do with you was what I wanted to say but again didn’t and just replied yes. She then hurried away as she could tell that we were never going to be best friends. My mom laughed as she knows me too well and said “you couldn’t write it could you but I know that you will” and we both laugh at that.
A lovely Australian nurse turned up next however for the past 20 minutes mom and I had tried to complete various puzzles in her daily hate and it had turned us into a pair giggling girls over everything. One of our giggles was over my tummy as I was in my leggings, t-shirt and cardigan as per instructions, loose clothing, oh and my best bra of course. My tummy however is getting bigger everyday and in the right position in leggings it looks like a bouncy castle when you shake it. Steve says I’m mad to worry about it but I do as all of my clothes will have to be replaced soon at this rate. I’m a size 8 bottoms and a size 10 on top on average which I know is not big but us girls do worry about wobbly bits. As I wobbled my tummy for my mom to make her laugh I did share with her the irony of it all, was I the only person to get bowel cancer and actually put weight on! That’s just weird isn’t it? My mom mentioned to the nurse that it was cold in the waiting room and was she was offered a blanket, oh the shame, I couldn’t let her sit with a blanket over her, so it was agreed that she could come into the ultrasound room when I went in as it was warmer in there.
Anyway back to the moment and the new Australian nurse was asking why we had turned up an hour prior to the appointment? It turns out after a few phone calls that with my letter I had been sent a very old instruction information leaflet and that they didn’t even know that it was still on the system!
We were then taken through to meet Dr Woo, who looked about 15 years old and resembled Psy. The nurse said that he was a lovely man and that he looked after his team. I think that this was code for ‘he’s a great laugh pissed at the Christmas Party when Gangham Style comes on as he can do all the moves.
Dr Woo was lovely and with trolley assembled and bed maneuvered to get into my neck with ease he started taking biopsies. The local anesthetic helped ease the discomfort and he prepared me for the gun shooting noise that I would hear when he was doing the deed. It sounded like an ear piercing gun. I lay there as still as possible as we mustn’t make a fuss. A single tear rolled from my right eye and the lovely nurse asked if I was okay. I thought back to the nasty colonoscopy incident and thought, what a contrast. Do our nursing teams really understand how much their kind words mean to us? Dr Woo took two biopsies and that was it, job done. The nurse said that I’d been so good she was going to give me a sticker but I didn’t get one. I did however get a plaster on my neck, wow a plaster everyone can see, excellent I thought. If you have a visible plaster people can see there is something wrong. There aren’t any plasters for cancer and heart break so it’s hidden away from everyone.
Dr Woo asked me how I had found the proceedure, I replied that next to major bowel surgery it was fine, which made him smile. Mom then decided to tell them that they would be appearing in my blog. OMG mom you can’t tell them that, but of course she was right. For me to reach the people I want to help they are actually the people I need to be talking too.
We had to wait for 1/2 hour to make sure I was okay, so back in front of reception in the busy Xray department we waited. One of the main problems with hospitals is that they are mainly full with sick people, all at different stages on life’s journey of shit. Outside it’s another lovely sunny day with the majority of people just doing normal stuff and for some the day is just full of pain, tests and worry. There was a traffic jam of hospital beds all trying to jostle into position their patients in order for whatever tests had been ordered. Then a trolly went past us with an entourage of medical staff and machines, whoever was in that bed was obviously not well at all and as the bed went past us it was a young man who, as predicted didn’t look well at all. His poor family was my only thought, his poor mom.
We were eventually told we could go :-) I was soon back home, in my garden with a coffee and a fag. The sun was out, the birds were singing and I was back home and safe. You would think I would be happy but mom and I just sat silence. The bitch of it is that going into hospital and having tests reminds you that you are ill. I have cancer and when you say it or talk about it, it slaps you in the face again. The other elephant in the room is that we are all now back to the waiting game and we all really don’t want these results.

After two coffees and another fag I text Rebecca, Emma, Alison and Nicky to make them laugh about the fact that I almost had a sticker for being a good girl and that the blog would be up soon (my biggest fans see) And then I’m sad again, not the cancer thing but the fact that it’s stock take in my store today and for the first time in 4 years, that’s 8 stock takes I’m not there. I’m missing it, I’m not there to help Emma and I’m not there to shout at Troy (my Operations Manager) who I do like to shout at occasionally and on a stock take it’s kind of traditional. I’m sorry Emma for not being there. Will I be there for the next one in 6 months? you bet I will :-)

On the phone to Nicky, with my plaster :-)
On the phone to Nicky, with my plaster :-)

The Greeting Card

As soon as I had posted the ‘Cancer coming out’ post on facebook I was so touched by the cards, flowers, presents and messages I received and that I do consider myself very blessed everyday. For weeks we had flowers everywhere at home, we ran out of vases and started using pint glasses, they were in every room including the loo! Now that’s posh hey.
The cards remained up for weeks and one day looking at them all I did think to myself how long can you leave up greeting cards that say ‘Get Well Soon’ when we were looking at the best part of a year of treatment?
Now to those of you reading this who sent me a card I don’t want you to think of me as ungrateful but I wasn’t going to ‘Get Well Soon’ and it started me thinking. The greeting card industry have missed a trick, anyone with cancer is not going to ‘Get Well Soon’ and ‘Thinking of You’ cards are just to general or remind me of bereavement and I think there is a gap in the market.
I shared my thoughts on this with Leanne who actually agrees with me and she sent me some of her designs for the front cover of cards that should be available in the shops for such occasions like cancer as an alternative.
IMG_3614

IMG_3616

my favourite
my favourite

Oh and here is a photo of Leanne who took me for a meal two days before chemo started, bless her and thanks Leanne :-)

Pre chemo meal with a mate
Pre chemo meal with a mate

I can assure you that I have kept all of my cards and they will be treasured, I just think I need to go into the card design business or at least Leanne should :-)

Good news at last :-)

On 28th May I went for a mammogram. I was invited to be part of a trial locally to see how many more lives could be saved by starting to breast screen women from the age of 47 and not at the normal age of 50.
When the letter came through I did phone them and say that I had stage 3 bowel cancer and I’ve had 3 CT scan in 3 months and was it really worth it but they said that the mammogram detected cancer cells that a CT scan couldn’t and that if I got the okay to do it from the oncologist that they would still have me on the trial.
My mom said that a mammogram was painful and she didn’t like it, my mom was one of the ones at the front of the queue for breasts as was my lovely daughter Rebecca.
Compared with other tests I’ve had to endure over the past 3 months I thought it was okay actually and not painful at all, uncomfortable maybe and I did ask the lady if my tits would go back to their normal shape after being squashed but she assured me they would.
Anyway the letter came this morning and there is no sign of breast cancer and I don’t have to go again for 3 years, happy days! Now we aren’t used to getting good medical news in this house and I was dreading the results coming back in but there you have it, my tits are cancer free, good news at last :-)