Wednesday, 24 August 2011

A lovely surprise

This lovely surprise appeared in my Inbox yesterday. As regular readers will know I love roses, so my friend Jules sent these to me. She also did some of our Wedding photo's which were truly gorgeous.

These roses they will never fade
always bright and clear
will brighten up your desktop
bring you a little cheer!

I spent the afternoon today
working on these three...
specially for you Alison
with love to you from me xx

Jules xx

If any of you would like to see more of Jules' work, look here   Post Box Prints

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Spots. lumps and hospickle!

Having thought I was through with many things hospickle, my body decided otherwise. While quietly sitting on the sofa watching a Harry Potter film, my face suddenly felt as if it was flaming. My cheeks were red and hot and mysterious red lumps were coming up! I took my temperature a couple of time during the film and my temp was over 37.5oC. Usually 38oC is the number that precipitates calls to the Oncology ward, but continued temps over 37.5 also send alarm bells ringing. Coupling the temperature with my now alarming appearance it was time to call the ward.

A scary sight on a Saturday night.
Twenty questions or so later we were summoned into Northampton. I rapidly packed my nightie and toiletry bag plus meds, along with a number of pastimes (books, ipod, DS). Later I discovered I should also have remembered towel and toothbrush - doh!
Because the Oncology ward was very busy, we waited for the many stages of assessment to be performed. A heart trace was done and bloods taken to check my platelets and white blood cell count. The heart trace was interesting as the machine malfunctioned twice and the tracing looked as if my heart was having a volcanic event. After waiting over two hours and having no evidence of the blood test results, the Staff Nurse decided, at midnight, that I should stay the night at the hospital. However there were no beds on the Oncology ward. A porter was summoned and I, along with my belongings, was piled into a wheelchair and whizzed, with Mr G trotting along side to the other side of the hospital. I found myself in the female bay of the surgical ward. I must say the staff were fantastic and made me feel most welcome, a feat at half past midnight. As I had managed to completely miss an evening meal I was given some cheese and tomato sandwiches and a cup of milk. I was a bit beyond cheese and tomato sandwiches (as very tired) so ate about half and collapsed into bed. My night was a fairly typically hospital night of fitful, interrupted sleep. I was awoken by the haemotologist arriving at 6am to take blood from the other four women in my bay. I then had a LONG wait until midday when the house officer finally arrived from the Oncology ward. I told her I felt fine and wanted to go home. She checked with the Registrar. It was decided I could go home there and then. The paperwork was completed in about 20 minutes! It is utterly amazing how quickly some things can be done.
I'm lucky, I was in less than 24 hours. It was a stark reminder that the fat lady has yet to sing. I won't be over the last cycle of chemo until Thursday or Friday, and will be a bit more vulnerable to infection until my system completely recovers from the battering it has received.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

A letter to two absent friends.

Dear Margaret and Felicity,

Firstly to say that I still miss you both.
It's sixteen years since I last saw you Margaret, just before you went into hospital for that second operation. How we laughed about the silky nightie and your clever sexy consultant. But he couldn't save you. Your body was too frail from your first surgery and the chemo, and you never came round from the operation. We had such plans, you and I. We were going to open a nursery together and give a wonderful start to learning for lots of little people. You'd be proud of me. I learned to drive and I'm a full time teacher too. I remember all you taught me about how to handle children and I do believe I am a better teacher for it.

Felicity, it's only about seventeen months since I last spoke to you. I knew how much you loved me, despite my failings. You did not want me to see you dying. You believed in me even when I made mistakes. I remember sitting at the hospital with you, when they were first trying to find out what was wrong in 2005. I brought you strawberries to tempt you to eat, and a holding cross that fitted neatly in your hand. You nearly died then, but your indomitable nature won through and you were just strong enough for your chemo, and then your surgery. I admired you so much, as you told me you only had more chemo when it started to hurt. You served the people you loved selflessly for years. I'm sure they all miss you still in your small town.

So ladies, you'll be wondering why I'm writing. You both became my friends at the same time, but first Margaret died, then years later Felicity. The point, my friends, is that the same bloody disease that took you, Ovarian cancer, has got me in its clutches. I'm lucky they got mine early, and surgery has been successful, and the chemo seems to have zapped those evil cancer cells.

So my dearest friends, here's the deal. I'm going to do all I can to make you proud of me. I'm going to show this disease who is boss, and that boss is me. I'm going to tell the world until they are sick of hearing what the symptoms of Ovarian cancer are, and how to spot them. I'm going to show the world how brave and strong you both helped me to be. I only hope I can be half the women you were.

Thank you both for being my friends. I love you both.


Ali x

Thursday, 11 August 2011

I had a hair cut...

No, no, ... sorry people, this was a one hair cut. Mr G and I popped in to show my lovely hairdresser my fluffy hair and she spotted an errant longer hair and (with my permission) snipped it off. We all laughed a lot!

In other news, I did have to pluck my eyebrows as they have grown with such enthusiasm and abandon. There are quite a few fluffy hairs mixed in with the smooth dark brown grown-up ones. I have tidied up the fluffy ones so I look less like a teddy bear.

The after effects of my final chemo were quite horrid and indeed I can still feel them. I had quite dreadful pain for two days where my skin was sore and ached to the extent I could not bear to be touched. The fuzzy muzzies are still in attendance. However, I can now get my head round the knowledge that this part is over. I shall have to be very careful to avoid infection over the next week or so as I am sure that my white blood cell count is very low. I am gradually allowing myself to acknowledge that I don't have to go for treatment in two weeks time. The relief is enormous. It will be a grand day when I take all the meds I no longer need back to the pharmacy.

Mr G and I are chatting about things we fancy doing - eating some recently forbidden foods features quite highly. I fancy a trip to the seaside but can't risk paddling for a couple of weeks yet. We are really looking forward to seeing our granddaughter, and to meeting the new grand children in time. We might take in some animal watching at a zoo or safari park. There are lots of National Trust properties for us to explore.
The sun is starting to shine once again...

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The first day of the rest of my life...

So here I am. It's been a long journey from first symptoms on 7th January, surgery on 2nd March and beginning chemotherapy on 21st April. It has all been going on for thirty weeks so far. I have a follow-up appointment in four weeks time, I guess I will find out then about the procedure for my follow up check-ups. I know I will be seen for five years, with the interval between appointments increasing as long as there is no recurrence of cancer.

The picture above is of a significant date for me. Those who know me well will know that it is my birthday. This year, I will be 55 years old. I am going to have a big party, one to celebrate my birthday but also to celebrate being here. There have been moments this year when I wondered if I would make it... when they thought I was riddled with cancer, when I faced major surgery, when I wondered if I could cope with the rigours of chemotherapy. But I'm here, my scan showed no cancer, my cancer marker is absolutely normal - just now there is no visible cancer. The watching and waiting begins. I need to work out how to be watchful without being obsessive. I need to wait without allowing my life to drift between checkups.
This is part of the reason I'm having my party, It is to be on 5th November as my birthday falls on a week day. It will definitely go with a bang with all the fireworks around.

Mr G and I are going to spend some quality time having fun, once I come out of the dark side. We are going to relish not having to work out good days and bad days. August 25th will see me feasting on the foods I have had to avoid for months - soft cheese, pate and bagged salad for me! September 5th is the day I return to work.
Life here I come, cancer will live in the back seat... not rule my life.

Monday, 1 August 2011

A wedding and other fun!

Mr G and I spent this weekend in the Peak District. We drove up on Saturday morning, leaving very early. We arrived in Buxton at 10.00 am and to my surprise and delight were allowed to book into our hotel room immediately. This meant I had a base for all my things. We had a coffee and a sandwich before we headed to the church for Smart car pictures before the wedding. Oh yes,I need to tell some of my readers that Mr G and I are Smart car enthusiasts. I have a Smart fortwo and Mr G has a Smart Brabus Roadster Exclusive. We were in Mr G's car on this occasion.

My car, Roxie.

The wedding went without a hitch, the bride looked fabulous. My hat was a huge success, I felt gorgeous for the first time in ages.
After the ceremony, the Smart car owners went off into the country for more pics.
Mr G took this picture of H & J and the cars.

We went back to Buxton and enjoyed a fantastic reception. I was able to hit the dance floor again and managed to keep going until 11.00pm! Considering I had got up at 6.00am, I impressed myself.
After a restless night, strange bed, bells ringing every hour, we decided to get breakfast early. The spread on offer was extensive so we both enjoyed a large meal fuelling ourselves for the day.
We had decided to go to the Blue John Cavern. We had both been there before, but some time ago, in other company. I vaguely remembered the many steps and was a little apprehensive. The climb down the 245 steps was not too bad, because we had stops as our guide explained about the caves and mineral deposits. My real challenge came on the climb back up. The guide had said we would take our time but I got stuck at the back of the group (because I was as slow as a two year old girl!)
This meant that I had only just caught up when we started climbing again. This escapade brought home to me very sharply how debilitating having chemo is. I was close to tears when joy of joys I saw daylight and the surface. I don't regret the visit one bit, but it was very hard. I am still sore and stiff!

Entrance to Blue John Cavern.

A view inside the cavern.

After we left the Cavern we explored Edale and then we travelled across the Cat and Fiddle road to Macclesfield. We stopped for excellent tea and cakes at the tea rooms on the way. In the evening we discovered a super Italian restaurant and had some of the best Italian food we have enjoyed outside Italy.
Today, I woke up still tired and sore but happy that I was there enjoying REAL life. We had planned to go to Chester but it was raining so we journeyed home via Lichfield. We explored the cathedral and looked round the town. My legs complained at every set of steps and up all the slopes, but I definitely felt stronger.
I am REALLY not looking forward to my last chemo on Thursday. It has been so good feeling well and being able to join in. However, I must try to remember that by the time two weeks have passed on from Thursday I should be feeling better. After three weeks have passed I should be starting to get stronger. Then I will be looking forward to enjoying some more adventures with Mr G before I go back to work in September.