Monday, December 15, 2014

Now the storm has passed...

Barry white's words are singing in my may be winter outside but in my heart it's spring...because when I saw my oncologist he said your bones are cancer clear. One simple sentence which like a red traffic light,  brought our jumble of fear, questions about the future and sleepless nights to a stop. 

Once again I have a future, it will be filled with an extra scan each year, but I know how to do annual scans, my brain tumour.saw to that.

Mr H and I keep casting glances at each other and grinning like lottery winners. We are lottery winners! Bad news has left us alone for Christmas. Mr H keeps hugging me extra hard and when he comes back from a run, with sweaty tears he declares his utter joy and love for me. 

Its a GTBA week all round. We are off to a wedding. This wedding has dangled like a golden carrot as I have trudged my way through this year of cancer.  I won't need an excuse to wear a hat and eat cake!!

...and I have made it onto the short list for the UK Blog Awards 2015 - Individual Health Bloggers Category. 
Thank you all for your votes which got me to this point! 
I raise my glass to you...and to further raising awareness of the impact that brain tumours and breast cancer have but showing that even with these life can be enjoyed

Oh and before I go... GTBA is my term for Its Good To Be Alive

Dance, Smile, Giggle, Marvel, Trust, Hope, Love, Wish, Believe. Most of all enjoy every moment of the journey and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.

Mandy Hale

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Having a hat of a time!

In Oncology I cannot pass the hat shop without dipping into my purse, in fact I have to plan hat buying time into my visits. Last week I spied a purple and red one...

I need it I told Rachael as I treated her to my hat buying grin. It is getting colder and it will match my coat...

I used to think hats were for wimps and when I rambled around the country I refused to cover my head unless the ground was winter white! But having no hair has thrown me into a playground of hats! I spend hours hat browsing on Amazon then watch with glee as the postman slides them through the letterbox and grab what I can when Accessorise have their 70% sale. 

Some have rain protecting brims, others are cosy warm wool, one has a feather and a few are just because I couldn't live without them!  

Each day I pick one out with care, a colour to complement my outfit and thickness to match the temperature outside. Then I do my mirror-look test before I leave the house.

I have inside hats too and as the evenings get colder Mr H often exclaims my little Eskimo you do make me I lie on the settee, a thick woolly hat on my head, scarf round my neck and blanket wrapped around me. The cancer treatment has stolen my body heat. 

I have a wedding coming up and am in a hat war with my sister in law. I know I will win! Although I have given her a hat start by declaring my hat wearing head...

When the clouds are grey a rainbow of colour brightens my day. 
I am having a hat of a time. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Life - Use the whole box of crayons...

That's not grey hair I tell everyone I see, I use a white crayon

I am greeted each morning with a black and white smile and for the first time in 7 months I woke with a few hairs out of synch. 'Jane' my sandy blond wig is now back in her box. But I have enjoyed my hair holiday, away from brushes and combs, getting showered and dressed then popping Jane or a multi coloured hat over my shivering head...

I have splashed out on colour for my new swimming costume too so it's blue like the sea. It has a pocket at the front to store my new silicone boob! 

When I emptied out my swimming bag, a musty towel went in the wash, rotten Zogg pool socks are now in the bin.and my toiletries refreshed. Today I shall dip my toe in the warm water of the baby pool a year after my last dippy dip!

I used a new crayon and Tamed another Tiger last week. I joined a Community Voices Acapella singing group and when I walked out the door after my first visit my heart was singing as much as my voice. The room was full of characters who use the whole box of crayons to brighten their lives.

But the black crayon keeps making its mark. A recent bone scan due to new hip pain did not rule out bone metastases so now I wait for an MRI scan and hope that it is degeneration not more bright red big C...

Make the most of the life that you have and use the whole box of crayons

Monday, November 17, 2014

Six years ago today...

Six years ago today 
I drove a manual car 
Wore high heel shoes 
Carried a briefcase 
Walked without a limp or a stick 
Danced with abandon 

 Six years ago I didn't need to 
Concentrate on every step 
Worry about tripping over mats and cracks 
Book assistance when I travelled abroad 
Let energy dictate my day 
Use handrails and lifts 
Wear a softie in my bra

 Six years ago 
I had yet to become Mrs H 
Mind The Gap A-Z had not been born 
I had never been to the sunny Caribbean 
I hadn't discovered mindfulness and meditation 
I had no idea how determined I could be 
 Or realise that every moment should be treasured…

Thursday, November 13, 2014

I thought I had reached the mountain peak...

It has taken me ten months to climb the breast cancer mountain. I struggled over the stiles of surgery then clambered my way through chemotherapy before I finished with daily rambles to be zapped in radiotherapy. 

Its all over everyone said when they rang to congratulate me on reaching the mountain top. I wanted to grab life, move on to a new mountain, go out to play...

But when I reached the third peak my weary body groaned as a fourth peak loomed ahead: The peak of Patience.

My body has been battered and my mind is so muddled I haven't been able to write let alone walk to the park to go on the swings, I need time to recover from the the lashing rain, rocky paths and numerous tumbles.

So I have filled the last three weeks with as much rest as I could grab with my tired fists. My settee has a dent where my bum has been and a few grubby marks because I was too tazy (my new word for tired and lazy!) to sit back up to drink.

With so much finger tapping time on my hands I have, at last, much to my dear friends Swimming Sue and Chris's delight, rediscovered the art of crocheting. My settee is blue with blooms and I have not planted a seed. 

Tomorrow I am going to Penny Brohn Cancer Care Centre to refocus my mind on mindfulness and meditation to ensure I live well with and beyond my cancer...

There are currently 1.8 million people in England living with and beyond cancer and 2 million across the UK as a whole. The National Cancer Survivorship initiative aims to ensure that those living with and beyond cancer get the care and support they need to lead as healthy and active a life as possible for as long as possible.

Friday, October 24, 2014

I thought I could (bracket Breast Cancer)...

After my diagnosis and once I stopped smashing windows and throwing plates at the wall,  I drew brackets in the air and declared to everyone who asked :

it's OK I will get through the treatment then get on with my life

But without realising it, I set those brackets in concrete. The space filled with (sore wounds, drugs, IV lines, jack out of the box nausea; hair dropping out onto my shoulders and finally twenty trips to be zapped....

But when I came to close the brackets, Tamoxifen and further surgery blocked the closure... 

I was stuck in a tunnel of treatment

So for the last two weeks I have tucked myself underground. To reflect. To cry out the anger about things gone wrong. My messed up 50th birthday year. My changed body. My energy so low even crying is tough...

Now with my badger like head I peek above ground to see light, a bit of blue sky, and to discover my pen again.

I needed the time underground to root out a way to close the brackets. 

And with tears of relief! (Breast cancer diagnosis, Surgery, Chemo, Radiotherapy) or as Jude calls it (Cut, Poison, Burn!!)

So today I drop my first Tamoxifen tablet (hormonal therapy to treat breast cancer) into my palm, ten days later than planned, and I open a new phase of my life... Menopause and a new look...

Monday, October 13, 2014

How Are You?

When I started writing my Blog and using Twitter a new world of support and information opened its arms to draw me in. I have made some fabulous 'Twitter Friends' and am fortunate to have met Chris Lewis who has a personal experience of living with cancer. 

Chris runs an International Cancer Community; 'Chris's Cancer Community' - to connect people around the world who are affected by cancer. Alongside this, Chris works tirelessly to campaign for better support and services for people with cancer. 

I am thrilled that Chris has agreed to write a guest post for my Blog, Chris has linked his post to the theme of my previous one Playing The Fine Game  and I gasped when I read it because the poem he includes could have been written for me!

I will leave you with Chris's inspirational writing...
How are you?
"How are you?" This is possibly the most common greeting that we use today. In fact we probably use it so frequently, that we have almost forgotten what it actually means. It is a question, not a statement and therefore prompts an answer, which may then start a conversation! In truth, that is not what we necessarily want to do. What we are actually doing is acknowledging that person.
"I'm fine" is generally the answer which comes back, and for most of us that is probably a relief, as we will not then get involved in a heavy conversation. We all have issues of course, in most instances, not really of interest to anyone else, and if they were, possibly far too complex to be discussing in a brief encounter.
However, when I am involved in a cancer environment, the question is asked slightly differently, with the expectation of a more complex response. In my five years of personal experience, I think that I have encountered most situations, good and bad, yet still, things arise that shock me.
I was at a social function, where I saw two people who I hadn't seen for some time. Both looked extremely well, and it was great to see them. So when I greeted them with "How are you?" I also expected the reply of "I'm fine". However the response in both instances was far from fine! I was shocked. In both cases their cancers had returned, more aggressively. They were both having treatment. I was not prepared for those answers, as they looked so well, but I considered it a compliment, that they felt they could share their story with me.
In both instances, we talked for some time, and they appeared grateful, to be able to talk to someone who understood. Would they have responded in this way if they weren't aware of my own situation? I don't think so. To most people they would be saying that they were fine.That is the most convenient response for both parties.
Most people who ask me how I am, ask for genuine reasons, and have a concern for my health. But I find that I have to tailor my response, individually.My issues are very complex, and I struggle at times to understand them, so how can I expect anyone else to? Some people have a better grasp on what is going on, and others just want to touch the surface. In truth, I still want to say everything is fine, and move on! It just seems easier.
A friend of mine, wrote the following, which I feel sums up brilliantly, "How are you?"
 "How are you?" everyone asks, "I'm fine"
"You are looking well" everyone says, "Yes, I'm fine"
"How's it all going?" some people say, "Oh, I'm fine"
"You must be strong" people say, "Oh I'm fine"
The simplest of phrases that won't let you know, all the pain and the fears that I don't want to show.
I can't tell you I cry when I sit on my own, and that my mind is in turmoil, I don't want you to know.
My body's in pain and it just won't subside, and I feel like I have left my life far behind
If I told you these things, how could you see, your world is so far from my reality.
It's falling to pieces inside of my head, so I tell you "I'm fine" as this puts it to bed.
You smile as I say it and you look so relaxed, so I'll say it each time when you venture to ask, "I'm fine"
  What response do you hope for when you ask "How are you?"
You can also follow Chris on line through his  Cancer Community 
Or on Facebook  and Twitter @christheeagle1  

Thank You Chris

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I want a kink in my follicles...

Chemotherapy has two potential benefits I tell my friends; kicking the cancer into touch and putting a kink in my follicles...

I tell everyone I meet that I want a kink in my follicles... that and to be a red head!

So now that the hairs are poking through I do a daily inspection for a curly one...

Can't see any at the back...

difficult to get a skyline view ...but nope none there either...

But hang on a follicle watching that grey one a bit bent? 


Now about this red head...

Monday, October 6, 2014

Playing the Fine game...

When I answer the phone I'm fine slips out of my mouth when the caller asks how I am. 

When the radiographer calls me in and says so how are you, I'm fine trips out before my brain has time to think..

Recently when the course coordinator on the Penny Brohn Living Well with Cancer course asked us to choose a word... just one word that describes how you are feeling this morning, adding... I don't want you to use the word Fine as we all know what FINE stands for:

Fed up (for the less polite F****ed!!)

So Alert was my reply...

This week as my energy levels take a ride on the big dipper but stop at the bottom, I decide that I will not play the Fine game any more.... 

I send conversation stopping Text responses with... when I am not at the hospital I am resting all the time...I have no energy...can't wait to get my life back...and on the phone... if the cancer doesn't kill me then the treatment surely will...tired and weary

And today when the radiographer greets me with that's a lovely hat...did you have a nice weekend; my polite reply...

No not really...I am too tired...

is met with  a seconds pause as she walked ahead of me then oh I am sorry to hear that... Once inside the treatment room her colleague also enquires, then confirms how many more zaps I have remaining before doing the important checks...  can you tell me your name, date of birth, address and which side we are treating...

Bored of my honest, conversation snatching phrases, I shall once again spatter my replies with Fines' replacement... OK, Surviving....lovely to see a bit of blue sky today...

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