Sunday, January 31, 2010


I've had a good week. Most pleasing is that I did plenty of exercise. I went to an aerobics class on Monday, a spinning class on Friday and a long walk up to Bagnall yesterday with Mark, Tracy and Luke. I tried hard to stick to my diet despite eating out a fair bit and seem to have lost a couple of pounds since Christmas.

I've seen a few other mates this week, including Woolfy, Mr K, Anne and Anna.

I also saw Kelvin and Mario at Sandra's funeral, which was hard. I am still reeling from the shock of Sandra's death, and then heard from another pal on line that his daughter's condition had deteriorated rapidly and she's died before Christmas, and another internet pal with advanced bowel cancer has had mets discovered in his brain. These are harsh realities of life with cancer and it is hard to absorb all of this and still keep my head in the sand about my own outlook .. really, not easy!

On a more mundane note, B has been proper poorly with a nasty virus this week. She took to her bed for hours on end every day. I hope she hasn't passed it on to me, as I feel a bit weedy now, but it is hard to say to what extent that is just how the chemo makes me feel anyway ? My mouth, nose and throat is generally a bit of a war zone, with raw skin and blood dripping every day, so it's possibly just that. And the low blood counts make me feel tired about now, too, I think.

I'm back inside on Tuesday, but there are visitors to look forward to, not least, B's brother will be here tomorrow and for a couple of nights. I've also got some pals from college coming in to see me, so I will be kept occupied, it seems.

We're also making progress with our holiday plans for the Summer. Dr Adab told me to go ahead and plan, so we are doing! Bad news and scarey prognosis pushed out of my mind and reliving the sun and cheery memories of Provence is pulled firmly forward.

Friday, January 22, 2010



Out of hospital and the ghastly medical smells all washed off. Replaced with the fragrance of lovely Molton Brown bath products (thanks to B's christmas gift from Huw and James !).

B collected me and we got out at about 7.45pm. last night. I'd hardly eaten anything cos I feel so sick and uninterested in food when I'm in there, but I was hungry, so we went to Frankie and Benny's. This was a good plan and it felt very normal and "nearly the weekend."

This morning I woke up very bright and breezey. I think last time I came out I felt quite rough, perhaps I was still a bit down with the impact of my chest infection and the anti-biotics, but today I feel OK. A bit sick, obviously, and probably not got much energy really, but we got up and did stretches together and I made us a nice breakfast.

I'm going to get some shopping soon, and hope the rain stops this afternoon so I can get out for a bit more fresh air, perhaps round the lake.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I've been a bit reflective this week. Partly, I guess cos it is time to do some thinking, after the diagnosis that the cancer is back and the sudden whirl of treatments, and then Christmas comes buzzing in, and now it is a lull.

I think Sandra's death also filtered into this reflective process, as well. In addition I had a letter I got from a mate saying " Do you plan on working for as long as you can then? I could see me cashing in my critical illness cover and travelling off round the world for a year. "

Well, what do I want to do?

I've generally taken my lead from Dr Adab (live your life) and my own philosphy that happiness is garnered from living a normal life, but I start to wonder now if that made more sense when I could think that I was going to get better and could think of a relatively normal life-span and now we know the bugger is back and in general ppl do not "get better" from this, it is a matter of a shorter life span and a lot of treatment to secure even that.

One of my internet pals has started to plan his treatment more on the basis of what he wants in terms of quality of life, in discussion with the palliative care staff at his hospice. I don't think I'm at that stage yet, my two secondaries are only small and there is the hope that this chemo can blast them and then I can have some time with nothing, again ..

some time

No-one can tell me how much, that's not what I'm reflecting on .. but how to use my time now, just carry on the same/ think of going back to work? keep a normal routine going .. or think of branching out in different ways while I still have capacity to choose and undertake different options ....

What do you think?

btw I updated my Take Heart Blog today .. more reflections on mortality if you're minded to take a look.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sad about Sandra

I've just heard the news that a friend I've known for 30 years has died this week, after her bowel cancer operation.

Sandra was a mentor for me in my early 20s when I was learning the ropes in my first jobs in community work and with the Workers' Education Association in Hanley. She was a few years older than me, and I really looked up to her as an inspiration in terms of her political awareness, feminism, local activism and also her sense of fun and ability to enjoy a night in the pub!

We used to see each other very often in our campaigning and trade-union activities and I learnt a great deal from her. We even spent a weekend in a hotel room together at a Trade Union conference in Blackpool in the early 80s. She really kept me under her wing and tried to save me from my own naivety at times like this, mixing as we were with older and probably predatory chaps!!

Time went by and we lost touch, only recently getting back in contact last year.

When we met up again, or talked on the phone, it was as though those years melted away and we got on as easily as we ever had. In the late spring of 2009 we arranged to meet for the first time and she was telling me about her various symptoms even then. For some reasons, lost in the mists of NHS mistakes, a proper diagnosis of advanced cancer wasn't made until around Christmas. It's hard to believe that we've had this same diagnosis and the same surgeon in common now.

Sadly Sandra only surfaced from her operation for a brief few days, before complications set in and she was taken into HDU. I understand that she never regained consciousness.

I am sorry that our re-aquaintance was only short, we had planned little trips together since she was already retired from work and I have time to occupy now that I work part-time. Unfortunately my own cancer came back to stop one of our planned lunches in October and we had anotehr one pencilled in for this week which will never happen now.

I am sad that we will not be able to rekindle more of our closeness, but I am really glad that Kelvin fixed it for us to meet up again after all those years. I am glad that I was able to tell her how important she seemed to me as a young woman, and how much of a pedestal I had her on. She was still great company and could laugh and entertain with yarns as well as she ever did and I would say she really hadn't changed much in 30 years. Even her trademark eye-liner was in place.

When her husband joined us it was also immediately obvious that their relationship was still vibrant and close. They've been together for 30 years. Sandra was a warm and energetic woman, and he will miss her dreadfully. If there is one thing worse than dying, in my opinion, it is being the one left behind from a close and loving partnership. Everything around him will resonate with loss and absence.

My heart goes out to him and her son today and in the future.



Saturday, January 09, 2010

home again

Jut realised that it will be less than a week b4 I have to get blood tests again for next chemo -- bleugh. Dr A is being A for Adamant that we don't waste anymore time getting on with my chemo, so we are aiming for a two week cycle again, reverting to Tuesdays despite the late start this week ...

I was really grumpy this time, but it makes the coming home nicer! There has been a bit of snow here this morning but it is now super sunny bright, and I think we should pop over to Trentham and get some fresh air.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

newsflash -

this week's chemo is delayed until tomorrow

bet you think that's cos of the snow?


it's cos the chemo drugs are LOST, obviously the druggies in Stoke have got their wire crossed and stolen the wrong stuff ... OR the poison with my name on is sitting on the wrong shelf or truck due to an error in some scanner or something ... hey ho!

Monday, January 04, 2010

New Year II

I have mixed feelings about this New Year thingybob .. all the looking backwards, looking forwards .. it's not really a great thing for many of us to do, I reckon!

Anyway, leaving aside my reservations about the rigmarole attached to New Year conventions, I have adapted these thoughts from something one of my friends sent to me ..

I hope that in 2010 each and every one of you has:

  • Better health than you have had this year.
  • Better times than you have ever had.
  • More joys than sadnesses.
  • Regular satisfaction and pleasures from your daily routines.
  • The ability to be amazed by beauty and art.
  • A sense of appreciation for the good things in your life.
  • Ways to help, and to be helped by, your family and friends.
  • The privilege of being truly loved.

And I also hope that you'll all keep bobbing back in here to see me, and leave your comments, cos I like it!