Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Where I get all philosophical...........

Most of you are aware that I haven't written - again - for sometime but hey ho time goes on and you get caught up in  -well life, I suppose. So I gave it a tremendous amount of thought before I decided to put fingers to keyboard - so to speak.

When I started this blog I did so because it helped me to write down my feelings, feelings of frustration of how much more can I take? Why me? Most importantly, how the bloody hell am I going to get through this little lot? That was in November 2012.
 I decided that I would get through it all with lots of love and laughter ( not everyday you understand, some days I felt damn well sorry for myself) however it never occurred to me to sit down and think of doing it any other way. That's just the way I'm made I suppose.

If I pause for breath and think about it some more, there are a quite a few difference ways to get through cancer. Oops there it is again that word, yet that word has helped me realise what I really want out of life. No biggie here but it's helped me redefine my goals and dreams, sometimes they're a bit cloudy other days I think will they really happen?  Yet they tend to remain the same.
The biggest one being - get paid what you are worth and don't accept anything less.
The second one is - take time to see all the wonderful things around you.
Third is  - don't worry about what hasn't happened yet.
Lastly and most importantly, we don't control what happens in life but we can control how we choose to cope.
It's fair to say that some people get dealt a better hand than others, I am one of those people that didn't get the best hand - but before you go all moral on me. I am truly grateful for the hand I have been dealt. It's meant that everything wonderful that has happened has all been because of me and my hard work and for that I am truly proud of myself. I earned it. ( High 5 Wendie - oh yessss! )
I always knew these things, but was never completely accepting of them. I was always too nice, or too soft or too scared. Now I think what's the worst that can happen?
I'm sure stuff will come along and I will revert to type - for a while anyway, then I will get my head out of my arse and march on, setting goals, pushing myself, living my life the best way I possibly can, not giving up. Yes, of course I will procrastinate - so what? Sometimes when you don't fulfil you're dreams and goals it doesn't mean you have to stop dreaming and setting more. Take for instance my life in 2012, I was happily self employed working hard and running up and down the motorway for little or no monetary reward - now I've decided to work on that. No longer am I happy with not getting paid what I'm worth.
 So, I've taken all the experience I have, what I've gained -  through all the careers I've ever had and  of course life experiences - and I'm switching careers. I've set my sights high, yet I've been told not high enough, but slowly, slowwwwly...I can work towards that - another goal!
When my Dad died 3 months ago he left me a little bit of money, I wanted to honour his memory and I thought he would be pleased, so I have invested it in planning my future.
I've revamped my CV,  revamped the way I look at how to achieve the job that I want. Hired a project manager and although this was going along nicely, I was getting somewhere and my confidence was picking up, then... in the middle of all this my operation came up for my breast reconstruction..... it was much earlier than anticipated.
 All the hard work I put into achieving the dream job has been put on the back burner and whilst I was recovering, I felt sorry for myself. Again doubt crept in... however...
 I realised that the goal posts may have been moved a tad,  but my goals are still the same. I can still achieve what I want, so what if it takes a little longer? So what if I decide to move my own goal posts along the way?  I will never give up.
Yes money is in short supply in our household as Andrew is the only breadwinner, but he is successfully carving his career and for that I am extremely happy. Yet every day I still feel the guilt, I've always earned my own money and asking him for some- is still painful. However, he is my husband and I would do exactly the same for him, if need be.
Yes I will need a further operation and yes I will always be a tiny bit scared that cancer will enter my life again, but I decided long ago on this journey, that I cannot and will not let it hold me back. Cancer does not define me.

Looking at what we have and what we have achieved in life gives me a buzz every day. From the view outside of the window to realising that the world we live in is beautiful. When I worked for the NHS quite a few people on my team were discontented with what our country had to offer, I didn't understand them then and I now amplify that more then ever.
There is so much good out there, so many beautiful people and places. Things that happen in this country generally make me smile and immensely proud of who I am and where I was born.
 Watching the daffodils blooming is a miracle, watching Sports relief, people raising money and coming to people's aid. Wow! it blows my mind - and yes there will always be the negative side of everything but - that's life and we have to accept that not everyone shares the same views.
There will always be the moaners, the morons and the damn right miserable buggers. Again that's their choice.

When I was young I wanted to change the world, it took me years of growing up to realise this was never going to happen. I wasn't disappointed - frustrated a bit maybe, but - and as I teach my children. Always be nice to people, especially the miserable ones, after all your smile and your kind words may make their day. Always be mindful of others feelings and yes sometimes I can be as blunt as a spoon - but I am learning.

I am trying hard not to worry about things that may happen, I have learnt a new mantra, "what's the worst that can happen". I've had to push myself out of my comfort zone and believe me I like it in there. I've had to make myself do things that I know I can do, but never had the confidence to carry them out and most of all I've had to stop worrying about the maybes and the what ifs.
Quite frankly they have never really been as bad as I have anticipated. The amount of time I've thought what if this happens, what if that happens, the sleepless nights etc, and if it does, well then you are never prepared for it anyway. So you have to get your head round it and deal with it. There's no other way, and as previously mentioned I tend to laugh my way through anything bad that happens. After all I have looked death in the face twice now and I'm still here.

Control - do we always have control? - maybe not, but we have choices, we always have choices. Do we give up or do we carry on believing in ourselves? Do we put our faith and trust in others, or do we become too scared to move? So many choices. Personally I believe that whatever choice we make in life we learn from it and we grow from it. We may not understand people's choices but we should be respectful of their reasons for making it. Remember they are not you.

You may be asking yourselves why has she written all this philosophical babble... well its just me coming to terms with how wonderful my life is, how my choices and journeys have been full of wrong turns, wrong choices and no immediate lights at the end of tunnels, but I muddled through, as one has too, it doesn't make me an inspirational person, but it makes me human and a very humbled and thankful one at that. Now that's what defines me......

Monday, 30 December 2013

Out with the old and in with the new?

2013 was definitely a strange year. Albeit it is now Christmas time and disasters always happen before and during it. Someone dies, someone has an accident and in amongst all that, there is always a baby born. Or you hear of someone pregnant and life doesn't seem so bad.

This Christmas my Dad died. So it was closer to home. As I sit here and type, I can say I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I walk around smiling as I take another trip down memory lane. Other times the pain seems unbearable but  I have to remind myself that he is no longer struggling and in pain -and I do not wish him back.  Still, I am angry that I have nothing and no one to blame for him being taken away from us. He was 80 years old, we expected him to live for ever. I stupidly thought he would get better and be there with all the family at Christmas.

The weeks leading up to his death were excruciating to watch. The day he died was so unexpected we thought he had a little longer. Yet sitting at the hospital afterwards and in amongst our grief our family still managed to crack jokes about his funny ways.  Everyone said what a lovely man he was. Even the nurses cried and said what a lovely gentleman he was.

On Saturday we finally finished clearing the rest of his house out and the keys went back today. Its funny how you find out so much about your father when you clear out his stuff. Bibles and birth/death certificates, cards and notes, photos and discharge papers. He kept everything that reminded him of his family. He knew that his time was coming to an end. He had written Christmas cards to us, and left little messages all over the house.
He had lived there since 1945 with his parents, my sister and I grew up there and my sister's girls grew up there. 4 generations spanned. So it was with a sad heart I said goodbye with its memories and its secrets. However as I closed the door for the last time, I felt that he was no longer there, that he had moved on.
We took home lots of his belongings, but tons went to lots of different charity shops, some we sold, but a lot we binned. It was very painful -  not a lot for 80 years of life. Even though we have tons of pictures that he took of us playing in the garden as children, our children playing in the garden and loads of fantastic memories. We cannot ask for anything more.
 He travelled the world in his time and even though we have the photos, he took all those wonderful memories with him.

" I can't wait to see the back of this year",  I hear people say, well I don't think that, I remember everyone saying the same thing last year. I didn't think it then either. Every year has its ups and downs and we have to roll with them. Yes I had cancer treatment, yes my Dad died, but do you know what I have a whole bunch of great memories from this year as well, same as last year. Saying goodbye to 2013 is not going to make our life's infinity better, there will always be good times and bad times. Its called life. We just have to get through the bad stuff and appreciate the good.
For instance in amongst my grief, my hair has grown back and I have had it coloured blonde. I have lost 19 pounds ( although I might have put a few of those back on in the last week or so) we had a brilliant Christmas day with all the family. Even though Dad wasn't there we weren't sad we just made the most of all being together. There is so much to be thankful for this year, a warm summer, a new royal baby, our friends getting married and now they are expecting a baby.  My children achieving wonderful things, my husband's business growing from strength to strength. Wonderful holidays. Great times with friends and family on and on are my memories of this year. The good far outweighed the bad.

New years resolutions - or as I like to put it -  goals. Well basically get a decent job, stay positive and stay healthy. Oh and not forgetting,  a new pair of breasts. I had my mammogram the day after my Dad's cremation and I was told I would get my results last week at the latest. Well I haven't rang for them as I feel sure they are clear. I asked my Dad to say a little pray and as he was a deeply religious man I know he will pray and look after me, so I am not worried. I have an appointment with my plastic surgeon this Friday so I'm hoping I'll get a date to have my new boobs fitted and this bloody air bag thingy taken out of my chest. I am sure once it is removed I will weigh less! It is like having a brick stuck on your chest. I've had it there for over a year now. If you remember it was over inflated back in the summer to stretch the skin so that I get a natural droop. It is still blooming massive, my real boob looks like a little sausage roll in comparison - poor thing.

Still by the time my friends wedding in Cyprus comes in August I will have a great pair of knockers my hair will be longer and I will be super slim and slinky again.

 So whatever the year is 2013, 2014 its about how you live it and its not to be wished away. 31st December and 1st January are just days. We are all on a journey and how we travel it makes the different. Not the date.

Happy New Year lovely people and remember everything happens for a reason and makes us who we are, and I kind of like who I am ............. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

I have been asked over and over again to write another blog. The reason I haven't written for a while is that life is slowly getting back to normal and I didn't want to bore readers with the humdrum of my life. But hey ho it seems I still have a lot to say.
At the moment my life is pretty quiet. I have decided to close down my business and go back into the world of general employment. Now, this may be a big decision and it may be the wrong one, but at the moment it is the ONLY decision I can make on my future. Nothing has come to me, no great ideas, no real need to get out into the world and set it on fire, no wonderful creative dream – career wise that I would like to fulfil. Quite frankly, I am worried as my whole life up to now has been – a real urge to do something, to research it train for it and then I have moved into that path. I have followed my career dreams and done everything I've ever wanted to do – or have I?  When people ask me what do you really want to do, what is your dream? I no longer have an answer.This is my dilemma.
Meanwhile, I am taking my time and redecorating the house, not that it needs it, I have ripped down wallpaper that has not long been hung, I’ve painted walls that I are barely dry – oh and I have sold all our furniture.
I have been waxing, scrapping, painting and pasting whilst walking round in a pair of paint dribbled tracksuit bottoms ( yes me!) and no wig, it’s terribly liberating. I have even begun to open the door to people without a wig on and I watch their face’s as they wonder.
Today for example we lent a tea urn to someone who is doing a Macmillan morning this Saturday. I wasn't expecting anyone but when I opened the door to the lady's’ husband he just looked at me. I could see his think bubble, I could see him going home and telling his wife that I probably had cancer, and do you know – it didn't bother me. However going out of the house is a different matter.

 Anyway, I've decided that my wardrobe will be next, so the charity shop will have a good day, as shoes, boots and dresses are on the way out. Also I have gone back to slimming world and in one week I lost 5 pounds - so hopefully what I do keep clothes-wise will fit me again. However, another dilemma -I cannot even decide how much weight I want to lose. For someone that has spent their whole life being too thin, the last few years have been a real struggle, what with the over/under active thyroid, giving up smoking, age and now cancer tablets for the next 5 years, it’s been really hard to keep my weight stable – but I am determined to get back down to a weight that I am happy with. What that is, I have no idea.

Back to my  hair, it's now a mixture of brown, blonde and grey and it’s curly! I haven't known what my colour is for over thirty years and now it’s grown back grey and curly! Also, I've been told by my oncologist that I’m unable to dye it no matter what, not even with any special chemical free colours. So I've decided that I'll have it done for my birthday in November. I'll  have it coloured and cut into a style that hopefully I can grow in time for next August and September, as this is when I'm going to be Matron of Honour for two of my wonderful friends. As I write this I have a little teary moment just thinking about it. Something else that I thought I would never do was to see these friends married and settled.
 If you remember I wanted to go to Ibiza for our dear friends' wedding. When I last blogged I was in the middle of radiotherapy when they jetted out. So I was unable to go. However our friends that are getting married in August are getting married in Cyprus and we have already booked to go! So for both weddings I want to be slim and blonde and back to the old me – not to overshadow the beautiful brides but to just look good in their wedding photos.

I question myself every day as to what my future holds and there I draw a blank – at the moment I am living in the here and now, and it worries me. It worries me that I am in no rush to go back to work or to forecast where I will be by the time I am 50. No I am happy, I am happy just being me. Cooking for my family, god forbid - housework, and just generally pottering around. Not rushing things, not setting deadlines – all the things I lived by have now become insignificant.
Is this the new me I ask myself ?  Is it wrong to just take the time to smell the roses and listen to music?

My husband is happy for me to do this, but I fear that may not last. Should I give myself a kick up the backside and get back out there?  – and yet I don't want to, I am happy. Just popping up to Tesco or driving over to Bedford it feels like I'm doing everything for the first time. Being able to be free to come and go when I want and where I want is fantastic. I have spent so much time being chauffeured around, being looked after, cooked for and generally being bloody useless, that the freedom of just jumping in the car or walking round the corner is something I am loving, and having time - all this lovely time to waste and not regret a single thing. Not regretting that I could have been doing something more constructive than watching the birds in the garden or playing with the cat. Or taking my time, reading a book, cooking a new recipe. 

When radiotherapy finished in July I thought I would go back to the old Wendie straight away, but unfortunately, cancer treatment does not allow for that. Even now my bones ache, and I still get tired easily. Getting up from the sofa or getting out of bed is painful – I do loosen up after a bit, but I still can’t walk miles and miles like I used to. Also I have been diagnosed with osteoporosis so no doubt this has a knock on effect.  

When we were on holiday we had to climb up a big hill to get to the hotel. It was a chore, along with the hot flushes, and tiredness. But my god did we need it – the holiday that is. Unfortunately, the hotel which was meant to be 4 stars, would maybe have achieved 2 - and us being fully inclusive - the food was inedible. 
So we decided as a family to sit down and make a pact that we were going to make the best of it and we did. Thank god we have teenagers and not little ones. 
 On the second day a rep came round to talk about trips. I was so hot with sweat dripping off me that I decided there and then that wig wearing was not an option, so in front of the rep and with some encouragement from my daughter I took off the wig and hat and carried on listening to him. He didn't even notice. However, I had to go to the ladies with my daughter, where I cried and cried no matter that he hadn't noticed - I felt exposed and raw.  I knew I couldn't wear the wig, as I would have collapsed with the heat and the hot flushes. Every holiday I have ever been on I always pinned up my blonde hair in a ponytail and styled it in the evenings. So after crying most of the day on and off, we looked round and found me a trilby hat which I wore most of the time. I kept the wig for in the evenings, so I managed to style that differently instead. I still had terrible hot flushes but I managed to survive them.  
Anyway in the end we went on tons of trips, swam, ate out and had a really great laugh. Only one person at the hotel asked me why I had different hair in the evening and I told him that I'd had cancer, it’s funny how that word transfer’s all over the world.

I have applied for a few jobs but admittedly a bit half hearted and the couple that I really wanted I didn't get. Through all my experience and qualifications I have decided that I do not want to work in an office, I will only work for a certain salary and I will not be bossed about. The downside of this is, I have been self employed for 3 years, and there are a lot younger, more qualified people out there that will be happy to accept less money than I want. Have I made myself unemployable? Another worry. If I stay self employed I will need to retrain – but in what area? Again no light bulb moments.
 I am sure when the time is right something will come up. Again fear of turning up for an interview wearing a wig, having to explain about the cancer, will it hinder? Then if I do get the job, will the staff take me seriously walking around having hot flushes and adjusting my wig? Also at some point in the new year I will have to have some time off for a reconstruction, will this also be taken into consideration?

I still hate looking in the mirror, I think my mojo is coming back and I am gradually getting back to the old me personality wise,  but looks wise I am a bigger, balder version of what I used to be. Yes I can slap on the wig and makeup and still look okay, but inside I wonder if Wendie will come back completely – whoever she is?
I have moments of sheer happiness that I am alive, and that my family have albeit at a price come through all this. Then there are the days that I think I am sick of hearing about cancer. All the stories of people that have been touched by it, all the stories of hope and optimistic cancer survivors that we see every day,  it’s like when you want to buy a certain make of car, everywhere you go you see that bloody car and cancer is the same – albeit this is a poor example, it follows you. Everyone knows someone that has been touched by it. It is like a stain that will not come out.

There are undeniably brave and beautiful people out there who are battling through – some are nowhere as lucky as I have been, some will lose their lives or the lives of someone they love, but I am numb to it.  I do not want to hear any more stories of people losing their lives; I do not want to watch it on television, and most of all I do not want to be labelled as a cancer survivor. I see my friends and family beginning to treat me normally now, and not look at me in that knowing way. 
Things are certainly going back to normal at home too, the kids want to know what's for dinner and have I washed that top or trousers that I promised to have clean for them? They want lifts to friends and demand my attention to tell me about their day. My husband comes home to the smell of a dinner and asks if I've been shopping, is his uniform clean? All the ordinary things that I used to moan about are now a welcome return to normality.  I know that cancer will never be far away from any of us, but I want to be able to get on with my life – no matter what it may bring and no matter that I haven't got a clue what it is I want from it any more. So for now I will just take my time and look forward to the next lot of twists and turns, the little bumps in the road and the smooth journeys that it will inevitably bring me.  

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The end of one the start of another

As I write this I am gradually returning to being Wendie. Very slowly my hair is growing on my head, I have a couple of eyelashes, a few eyebrows and hairy knees!
My weight is slowly going down and next week I am - hopefully - having my PICC line removed. In the meantime I've had a long chat with my oncologist who has told me about the next stage in my treatment - radiotherapy. Last week I went along to Addenbrooks to be "tattooed" and scanned, and as promised within 5 day of this, a letter arrived telling me my treatment would start at the end of this month.  Its going to be every day for 3 weeks.
 However as I type I am still experiencing the aftermath of chemotherapy, still my taste buds have not returned and my mouth is extremely dry. Still I am bloated, and still I tire very easy. In fact the week I had my last session - I should have been over the moon, but unfortunately it was two days before our friend's Karen's hen night. I sat on the sofa and try to muster up the energy to go and two things came to mind. One I would just be having hot flushes all night - in between worrying if I was going to be sick and two I would probably ruin it for everyone else because they would feel they had to babysit me - you know - lets look out for the fat bird in the wig because she has cancer! No I decided that I didn't want to spoil anyone's night out especially the Hen's. Besides the thought of dancing, eating and drinking in a hot place just filled me with dread. Anyone that knows me, will know that normally I would have jumped at the chance and would have been up on the table with the girls dancing the night away! Again another night of fun robbed because of chemo!

So even though it was expected  the letter arriving to tell me about the next stage shocked me - so far my treatment has been consistent, well planned and completely on the ball. Why would the next stage be any different? No I think it was the fact that I haven't had chance to catch my breath. So as soon as I opened the letter, I though " here we go again", unfortunately there is no pause button when it comes to fighting cancer.

In addition on the 23rd of this month I start hormone therapy - again another letter was given to me regarding the side effects - and guess what, weight gain is in there again along with lethargy. So a week before I go for my radiotherapy I start these tablets which I continue to take for 5 years. In this time they should mop up any cancer cells that may possibly be left after treatment. So even though there is a price- they are important in curing me.

As I already mentioned there's been no let up for me and last week I felt a wee bit sorry for myself - that was until we booked a mini cruise. Yes I felt a little break was needed to pick me up before I start the next battle. Hubby and I discussed the fact that we would - at the end of all this - like to renew our vows. Andrew stated that he'd like to do this on a cruise ship. In fact he often mentions how he'd love to go on cruise regardless. I've always said its something on the bucket list that we can do when the kids are older. However in the grand scheme of things I am very much in the here and now.
 No we can't afford to go on a full blown cruise, and no our son is not old enough to be left for more than a night with his sister - to be fair, she may kill him knowing her like I do.  If he annoys her she is quite happy to pick up a large object - like a chair and threaten him with it! So one night is as much as she can take of him and to be fair,  I don't want anything broken!

The idea came to mind after I looked around for a mini break - something different to do for me and hubby before the next stage in cancer busting. I came across the Marco Polo. Mini party cruise overnight to Scotland full board ( steerage obviously ) for the May Bank Holiday the week before Radiotherapy starts.
 A little adventure, which would in my mind kill a few birds with one stone. One it would be something for me and hubby to look forward to. Two it would give us both an idea of what to expect. Three - and most importantly, should I fail to mention, I have absolutely no spacial awareness on a boat  - as in I am unable to stand up. Unfortunately, the minute I get on a boat I cannot walk properly. Let me explain I've been on a ferry and some large boats on holiday trips and every time I feel the need to hold on to everything in my way that's nailed down or not as the case may be ( I have grabbed strange men before - obviously to aid my walking) No I don't need a drink, because I sway with every step I take. Also I think its important to mention that when my son was younger we watched Titanic far to many times. This ship we are going on has around 11 floors and we are deep inside the bowels of it  - cabin wise so anything could happen.
To say this will be an adventure is an understatement. It could also mean that in 5 years when we come to renew our vows I may have to be held upright in a hoist or be as far away from a cruise ship as possible.  It just depends how I get on with this overnighter.

 Since I have mentioned this to family and friends. My son has talked about the Poseidon Adventure and would I like to watch it - again? Hubby however just keeps putting the Love Boat on the i pod and dancing and singing in the kitchen he's that excited - bless him.
However, last night after having friends round the conversation ranged from underwater portholes- to the theme tune of Titanic being hummed in my ear. So I am planning on taking the following, earplugs, sea bands and I may just pack some tenor ladies in case I feel the need to wee a lot with all that water around me.

As I type another letter has just turned up from the hospital - I need to have a bone scan DEXA on Monday the 3rd June. This is to measure my bone density now.  After all my treatment it will be measured again to make sure I don't get the onset of osteopenia which if left unchecked can lead to osteoporosis.  See - well planned, consistent and completely on the ball, that's the NHS. As for my body, well only time will tell I don't have a crystal ball. However what I do have is faith that all this treatment will allow me to have a good dance the next time we have a " do" on dry land!

Monday, 29 April 2013

In which I become a blown up cartoon version of myself......

I have spent the last month organising a wedding fayre, and to be honest it has been extremely difficult. However I have patted myself on the back for a job well done. In between  I've built up a Wedding Networking group and ran our friend's company while they have been away. Yes I have been exhausted, yes I had to push myself, as in the middle of all this I have had another bout of chemo - which wasn't any where near as as bad as the last lot - see last post -where my whole perceptive on life changed.
 However I did it and now as my last chemo looms - hurrah I move into the next stage of my treatment -radiotherapy - I am feeling a little more satisfied that hopefully it will be my last ever chemo and in a couple of weeks I can have the PICC line removed. ( the line that is permanently in my arm that goes from my arm round to just above my heart inside my body. This is what the chemo goes into ) Then I'm looking forward to my hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows growing back so I won't look so much like a alien.

I recently described myself to one of my friends as a " Blown up cartoon version of myself" simply because everything about me is false - hair, eyebrows, eyelashes. Obviously one of my boobs is now made up of a temporary implant with skin grafted from my back, so this is false - however it will be corrected after radiotherapy finishes.
 I am so blown up with all the steroids that I simply do not recognise myself any more. I can now fill out a pair of jeans in the bum area - which my husband loves. My legs are unrecognisable  as normally they are skinny, but now they look a normal size and trousers cling to them which is unbelievable. My arms are huge and my face has ballooned up. Apart from the fact that nothing fits me, I have now borrowed my friend's size 12 jeans and have given her some of my size 10's. (The cow has lost weight )So everything that was Wendie has now been erased.

A couple of weeks ago we went to a friends for dinner, or a " Food orgy." A few things happened, first of all I had to wear an elasticated jumpsuit, which to be fair looked very elegant and once I had dressed it up it did look good, however teamed with a long wavy wig, false eyelashes etc. the person looking out of the mirror was not me. Elegant yes - funny, chatty, kooky, slim Wendie - no, it was bloody fat version of Jessica Rabbit!
  My friends were amazing, the food was fabulous  however I couldn't taste it. I managed a glass or two of wine, and joined in the conversation, in-between hot flushes where sweat was dripping of me, everyone noticed my struggle and suggested that I take off my wig as I was amongst friends. I was nearly in tears as I felt quite poorly, but I refused to give in - I've had to cancel so many things due to bloody cancer-  I was staying put if it killed me. Anyway, eventually I took the wig off and sat there dressed up, full make up and a bald head. Do you know what? No one was bothered, they were more interested in trying on the wig. Andrew said he was proud of me and the others said I looked good bald, even though I was pleased that the wig had come off and felt better I still felt strange that I was the only female with the bald head.
 Then just as I was beginning to feel okay about the lack of hair on my head, I was sick - all over our friend's kitchen - Errr taxi for The Webb's........

I know that as time goes on my fight with Cancer will end. My hair will grow back and the steroids and chemo will wear off. I look at other cancer survivors and they're all really positive people - after all what is the alternative?
 I will - hopefully - get the all clear when I am 50 - five long years, however I don't think you every stop worrying that it will come back,worst case scenario is that it could spread or it won't have all been zapped, what a way to live thinking about that every day. However,  I have plans - so many things that I want to do, I don't have time for cancer- it just seems that some days it gets the better of me and I have to make time for it, much to my annoyance, but even now I am fighting.

 In the last couple of weeks I have had someone I know who has been diagnosed with it, and someone else die from it. Now I could get all philosophical here, but to be fair - I am angry, not for me you understand,
 No, for me I have never really been angry I have been accepting I have just done as I am told and got on with it.No I'm angry that this terrible disease can grab anyone, at any time. The friend that had been diagnosed came round for a cup of tea. I poured her a large glass of wine - what should I say to her? She asked me if she was going to die. I said no the aim is to cure. She cried because she felt that she would not see her children grow up. I told her that I couldn't pretend as there was no good news, however she needed to stay strong and bloody minded and she would see her children grow up.She would have good days and bad but if she stayed strong she would get through it and before she looked round her life would be back to normal. She may not have to have chemo, or radiotherapy she may just have the lumps taken away and that would be it. However she cried and cried........... why her? She just wanted to be normal, this is what made me angry this woman minding her own business and getting on with her life who has already been through stress in her life, all of a sudden she has her world turned upside down because of bloody cancer. It broke my heart, that night I thought about her, did I help her? Did I say the right things? How can you give good news when there isn't any, but like I told her there is always hope, and strength. Maybe I wasn't the best person to ask! I cried on my husband why her? Life was so cruel.

1 in 3 women are diagnosed with cancer, what is the world coming to? The flip side is of course cancer can be cured, in this day and age we don't just get handed a death sentence.  Yes its bloody horrible and its a long fight, but we can be cured, and this is what keeps me going, this is what I hang on to - every single day.  I just hope my friend I don't know if I am strong enough for both of us.

Friday, 29 March 2013

It's life Jim - but not as we know it!

So much has happened in the last couple of weeks that I didn't know how to write about it - so I didn't. I find that as long as I can coast along in life I am okay, but if anything comes along that slightly rocks my boat, I am no longer able to deal with it rationally. I can cry at the slightest thing, my resistance is at an all time low. I always thought I was stronger than I am - I have come to the realisation that I am not invincible neither am I superhuman.
 Let me explain, last week I went to see my oncologist Dr Sarah who told me what to expect with my next course of chemo - I was half way through - hurrah, it would be super sailing all the way - or so I thought. Any preconceptions I had about myself and my ability to fight this dreadful disease flew out of the window last weekend. Dr Sarah called me in as normal the day before my 4th chemo session. I told her how well I had reacted to the last dose and she told me about Taxotere. The next 3 doses that I was due to have.... after we discussed all the new symptoms that I may or may not have, rather blase I said " So it will just be like having the flu then" this was not a question rather a statement.  I then left the chemo suite went home and convinced hubby and myself that it was going to be anywhere near as bad as FEC the last treatment of chemo that I had just had. Brilliant,  I thought now just get through the next couple of months get the radiotherapy out the way and get my boobs re done and that'll be me sorted.

 Oh how we deceive ourselves when we are eternal optimists. Not once did I think this next course of treatment would hinder my life. Yes of course I have had to adjust my life around cancer, and it has been a bit stop start, feel sorry for myself, but stiff upper lip Wendie. Put on your make up and wig and don't play the victim. Other patients have told me how gruelling they found their treatment, and I..........yes I,  in my infinite wisdom on what we call life, have been smug - yes bloody smug, when this wonderful people have told me their stories of horrific times they've had through their chemo, I've always thought " well that won't be me, I just get my head down and work my way through it" I cannot believe how narrow minded, and near sighted I have been.

Now I could beat myself up here but to be frank - I don't have the energy to waste on such trivial matters. Basically I have got too big for my boots and Taxotere came along and made me realise that I am no different to the next person. I am no braver, no stronger and certainly no more a fighter than anyone else that has ever battled with cancer.

The day after Chemo hubby and I went to Spec savers and picked up our new glasses and to be fair I felt no worst than any other time I still managed to look in the odd shoe shop.
However, Saturday onwards was a different matter. I never left the house for a nearly a week, I struggled between sofa, toilet and bed. Nothing could prepare me for the great takeover that I experienced.  Every part of my body felt like it was screaming out in pain, by Wednesday I felt that my spine was being drilled into. My fingertips were so sore that I could not hold a cup or glass so typing was out of the question. Besides I was rarely conscious for most of the week. Chemo took hold in such a way that my brain couldn't tell my body whether it was full up with food, or empty. I didn't know the different between wanting to go to the toilet or not. In fact on two occasions I am ashamed to say I wet myself. I didn't know if I was hungry, so I kept eating. I couldn't taste anything and I craved my brain to recognise food. I put salt on dinners and sugar on cereals. When I wasn't lying on the sofa I didn't know if I was asleep or not. My brain took on this tunnel like fog that I didn't recognise. Standing proved painful, sitting down was agony. I couldn't support my head and I was so weak that walking proved impossible. My breast that had been operated on had the most unbearable stabbing pains. My back where the scars are felt like someone had stabbed me with red hot pokers, and my arm where the nerves had been stripped out along with lymph nodes had pulling sensations that felt like my arm was going to explode. My legs and feet felt like someone had trampled all over them and my whole body felt like someone had taken away my frame as I could not sit or stand upright. My stomach was so swollen that I couldn't get any clothes on apart from yoga trousers. To top it all when I looked in the mirror I had become what I feared most - a cancer victim. No hair, no eyebrows, barely any eyelashes and a grey like pallor.  A look of total defeat was written all over my face. This was one battle I could not win. It had taken me over. All I could think of was - no more, I cannot take any more. I am done. Complete. Defeated.
As I lay there in pain I had a chat with God - I questioned him over and over, if you exist then why? Why? I  lay in the bath in a haze of half living, dribbling and exhausted. I thought of my wonderful husband who had that half out of his mind with worry look,  I realised how soul destroying this was for him. My children who had sat and spoke to me when I was in the land of consciousness with smudges under there eyes and fretful looks on their faces, when I struggled to tell them everything was going to be fine. Just give me another day or so and I'll be fine. In my head I am ashamed to say I realise now how - people make their peace with God. How they pick a day and say, this is a good day to die. I planned my funeral in my sleep and when I was awake I told my husband that this was the end of the road for me. I could not put my body through any more. "You realise that I don't want any more chemo" I told him. He nodded his head and turned away, after what seemed like a lifetime he faced me again, took a step closer and said " Yes you bloody well will, you are not giving up do you hear me - don't be so bloody selfish, you have me and the kids and family and friends that rely on you, we've got plans. So no, you will finish this treatment do you hear me? You are not bloody giving up, because I won't let you" I glanced at him and managed a weak laugh. Slowly I put my arms around his neck  " No darling" I whispered. " I won't give up, because it is not all about me, but if there were no one else for me to fight for, I would not fight. I would not put myself through any more" again he nodded.

We both realised then that everything we had hoped and dreamt for would never be the same again. Our lives had changed. I had changed, cancer has crept up through the back door and stole something from me and mine when I wasn't looking.  When it first came along  I took it on the chin we all did, because I insisted that I would be fine and everyone believed me, and trusted in me, put their faith in me - but now it has stolen something precious from me. It has taken my foundations and my very soul and shook them. Everything I thought I was and everything I believed in is now in question. My strength, my beliefs, me and who I stand for have been tossed around. I don't know who I am any more, but more importantly I don't know what I stand for, my instincts are gone, my zest for life- bland. Like the snow on the ground this springtime, everything is covered and nothing is appearing in shades of colour.

Yesterday the sun shone and I painted my nails pink.

Monday, 11 March 2013

New wig - Hollywood wives are calling!

Last week I expected to feel really rubbish, but apart from the Monday where I spent all day sleeping and reading on the sofa in my knitted slouch hat and dressing gown ( Oh yes I did and I didn't beat myself up) I worked the rest of the week without being propped up.
Hubby told me how proud he was of me for taking the day off and doing nothing. Obviously I didn't tell him about the cleaning of the bathroom and the couple of loads that went into the washing machine, but honestly he was so relieved when he came home from a long day at work to find me cuddled up on the sofa.
Normally he's telling me to sit down and rest. My chemo nurses say the same. So on Monday I did what I was told and I loved it, also after sleeping in-between chapters I managed to finish my book!

Tuesday onwards I was still waiting for the chemo to kick in, apart from my mouth feeling very strange, really sensitive, dry and metal tasting and having a problem with my back and neck - another story. I felt okay. At least a 6 out of ten maybe a 7 and it lasted all week much to my delight.

Also on Tuesday another new wig turned up - drum roll please - it was a long wavy blonde/brown one, I was so excited - however I wondered if I would look like mutton dressed as lamb? Or some old bird out of a Jackie Collins novel? Or heaven forbid - my mother? Would transvestite's look at me and want me to join their new dance troupe or would the kids and hubby roll their eyes and laugh at me? A million thoughts ran through my head. So with great trepidation I put it on - and pulled it off - no not off my head but really pulled it off - it looked great. Hubby told me I looked lovely. The kids told me they liked it - heaven forbid!
So I got dressed and went to work wearing it. No one saw the hot flushes and the frantic tucking behind the ears whilst swearing as I tried to get used to it. In fact I sauntered round Tescos afterwards and was suprised that no one laughed at me.
Now I've put on weight recently - I blame the steroids and not the fact that I cannot stop bloody eating and do you know what a long wavy wig along with a large handbag definitely makes you look thinner. Don't ask me how, it just does.

On Thursday I sashayed into Chemo wearing it. Caroline one of the other ladies who also has chemo the same days as I couldn't figure out what was different about me. The nurses thought it was fabulous. Apparently they love Andrew and myself coming into the ward, they guess what colour outfit I going to be wearing, how high my shoes are going to be and what wig I'm going to be modelling that week. The words I hear often are " We love it when our Wendie comes in she always looks so glamorous"  this  makes me feel fantastic. Admittedly we did get put in the naughty corner last week for giggling Andrew and I.
We laugh all through my treatment, we giggle with the nurses and we smile at all the patients. Don't get me wrong I hate chemo, but I look forward to seeing the lovely nurses, tea ladies and everyone else that makes the chemo unit so bloody wonderful. These beautiful people are allowing me to stay alive. So I'm doing it in style.

On Friday we took the kids bowling. I had so much energy that I was dancing and moon walking in the lane - much to my son's disgust. The more he ask me to stop the more I wiggled and jiggled. Don't get me wrong I am not an exhibitionist, I just felt so happy to be alive and out and about with my family having a good time. We laughed and jumped up and down every time one of us scored cheered each other on when we were rubbish and generally had a great time. Its one of those days I will cherish - it doesn't happen very often now being the fact that they are both teenagers. I did at one point run into the ladies and have a bit of a grizzle with happiness, sad I know but wow, what a great day.

Saturday afternoon I met up with some friends had a fantastic lunch and a gossip, I was suppose to go out again in the evening but I was done for. So hubby and I had a great dinner at home and put our feet up. Then just to finish off a great week Sunday for Mothers day was the perfect ending. No wonder I'm putting on weight!

I have to say that lucky stars are well and truly thanked. My life is fab!