Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Starting a course of Father Jacks FEC

After my brain tumour swear words tumbled out of my mouth like a waterfall. Following a period of grace Mr H said

Dawn you are worse than Father Jack, this needs to stop...

But B*****, S*** and F*** continued to slip from my grasp. 

Then my nephew told me the first swear word he learnt, when he was two, was from me when I dropped scissors onto the floor and I realised this was not new...just worse than before.

I retrained my brain to replace B*****, S*** and F*** with sugar! Or oh...then I held my breath...

But when the oncologist told me that the course of chemotherapy I would need was called FEC 

I couldn't keep a smirk from my lips. 

Permission to swear!


Mrs Doyle: Who's for tea?
Father Jack: Tea?! Feck!
Mrs Doyle: Now... (pouring Jack a cup of tea) ... and what do you say to a cup?
Father Jack: Feck off, cup!


Father Ted is a sitcom that was produced by Hat Trick Productions, written jointly by Irish writers and starring a predominantly Irish cast, from 21 April 1995 until 1 May 1998.
Set on the fictional Craggy Island, a remote location off Ireland's west coast, the show starred the eponymous Father Ted Crilly alongside fellow priests Father Dougal McGuire and Father Jack Hackett. Exiled on the island for various past incidents, the priests live together in the parochial house with their housekeeper Mrs Doyle.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

An Easter donkey surprise!

Last Easter I sat on my bum in the rhubarb bed. This year when Mr H asked me what I wanted to do I said

Sit on a beach with Uppity, Dippy and you, hammering stones in search of fossils.

My love of natural things means the house is full of jars brimming over with scratcy, spikey shells picked up from beaches. Long stones, crazy stones and an occasional fossil.  I always want more...

The sun opens its arms as I sing I can see the sea, I can see the sea... But my battery is low so instead of sitting on windy beaches we eat strawberry ice cream on a seaside bench, placed there in memory of a loved one. The ozone tickles my nose as we watch children bend to stare into rock pools, their fishing nets held in hopeful fists, an orange sandcastle bucket waiting for their catch of the day.

When the blue sky is covered in a grey blanket we ride out to visit Walter. A pale donkey who lives in a sanctuary and is sponsored by our friend Corinne. Walter is teased out of his stable by a ginger biscuit. He saunters over in his blue winter coat and Mr H strokes his ears. I tweet Corinne a picture.



As soon as I get back I wash my hands; clean my stick handle, handbag strap, iPad cover and camera. Can't be too careful with chemotherapy starting this week..

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I wanted to write something funny

I wanted to make you smile, to turn up the corner of your lips, hear you giggle. But as hard as I try, like a stubborn child the words I need refuse to settle on a page. So I take a smiley spring stroll in the sunshine. I watch the ground beneath my feet to prevent an oops a daisy when I step into a pothole. The more I hunt for words to make you laugh the deeper they crawl into the undergrowth. Even though today is a good day. The only words I could find were these...

Words lie like stones at the bottom of a pond
Pain screws sentences up in his fist
Sleep steals ideas and sets them free before I wake

Scribbled notes fold their arms and refuse to be read
A tug of war has drained my thinking tank
and I abandon half written blogs 

My head puts up a sign saying 'do not disturb'
I am on a decision making holiday
I revel in my silent mind


Photograph taken in Cornwall by my Special Friend Sue 
A peacefulness follows any decision, even the wrong one. 
Rita Mae Brown

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Choices; we may not like them but we always have choices

My brain tumour and brain abscess were life threatening emergencies. Now breast cancer temporarily sits behind the steering wheel of my life I have the chance to navigate each stage of the journey.  

I made a choice about how much of my breast I wanted to loose and opted for radiotherapy on my remaining lymph nodes. Now a chemotherapy decision glares at me. The scales of risks versus benefit teeter from side to side. My head is a cyclone of  thoughts. Mr H is as muddled as me.

Last night I spoke to my cousin, she has driven this route; took the high road went on the rocky journey and arrived at the end. I phone Macmillan and get a bit closer to the right turn. I collect information on suggested routes by seeking the support of others: my Neuro team about the effects on my already damaged brain and my epilepsy. I talk to my GP, my sister. friends...and I am reminded yet again of Jim Lawless's Ten rules which will help me to tame this tiger. Rule 5 the tools are all around you

It always seems impossible until it is done - Nelson Mandela

Friday, March 28, 2014

Special Moments - Happy Memories

My niece; Lois Dawn sent me a text during a break between her hairdressing clients, I have written a poem she said:

It's my lasting memory from our holiday in Cala D'or in 2008

...three months before my brain tumour...


The sky was dark and the stars shone bright,
over the bannister we climbed
Lay on the hard scratchy grass,
we stared up at the twinkling lights.

Isn't it beautiful she said, whilst staring up at the sky,
I was more concerned about foreign bugs
crawling in the grass,
wondering if any could fly.

We were hoping to see some shooting stars whizz past up above
It didn't matter that I missed them
I was just happy to lay there
next to the Auntie I love.

One of the last glasses of wine I drank with Lois beside me


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Getting out to smell the hyacinths

Mr H has arranged a bouquet of spring pots outside our front door. As I pass, the sweet fragrance of hyacinths floats in the air. Tiny yellow and white daffodils smile as they sway in wisps of spring breeze.

I smile too. 

I push my nose down into the delicate flowers, as I breathe in I close my eyes and summer meadows float into view. Bird song permeates the air despite the odd car passing by. I open my eyes as a blue tit passes and watch as he dips his beak into the feeder and takes a seed before flying away.

I have just been for a walk, for my waxing, keeping my routine in place. Myriam my beautician and friend treated me to a manicure while I was there. My hands are so relaxed they flop over the key as I open the door...


Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference - Winston Churchill

Friday, March 21, 2014

Everyone should snog a giraffe

My welcome home from hospital was a sparking candle on an Ecake, it's @dawn_hamill  first Twitter Birthday. 

It is also the week that Uppity was born.

I turned my head away from Uppity in the beginning. But I am happy that every cell of her is mine. She is blue and yellow; train tracks run underneath her and also around her black grafted nipple.  She throbs like she has her own heart. When I let her soreness grow, Uppity is as heavy as a sack of spuds and I cradle her in my hand. The nurses scold me for being mean with the pain killers so now like a military operation I swallow some every two hours. My dad's reply only when I laugh rings in my ears every time someone asks if it hurts! 

I decide to name Uppity's sister Dippy...

I felt cradled and safe in hospital and met some gentle kind staff... an arm around my shoulder when I could no longer keep tears trapped inside... questions answered with facts...tablets given as soon as pain peeked its head out.

The dark haired, smiley male doctor tells me a sports bra will help squash the swelling and ease the pain when I move.  Swimming Sue arrives M&S bag in hand. Mr H, Sue and the ward housekeeper leaning on her broom, giggle as with rolling eyes I pull the monstrosities out one by one...

Chats with hospital staff have kept me entertained; a shared love of Lindt chocolate;...when I first trained the turn back on the sheet had to be the length of Matrons forearm...but I am left bemused when a nurse shares tales of his African adventures and says: everyone should snog a giraffe once in their life! 

Before we head for home my Breast Care Nurse and Surgeon bring The news...

The cancer in the ducts has already formed a tumour and has cheekily swum its way into your lymph node...you have grade 2 invasive ductal carcinoma...

I see an oncologist in a week...


My exhaustion consumes but I still want to blog. To write, sharing my news calms my mind.
That and our Peach Tree blossom.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Breast Cancer blows the A out of Z

As you all know a brain tumour blew up my old life and as debris fell, epilepsy settled in the dust. As I grew my new normal I found writing and Blogging. 

Choosing my Blog name was easy. Like a petulant child 'Gap' bounced up and down squealing Me. Me. Me! A Gap in my head which I had to protect. Gaps in my life which the debris had caused. And when the train conductor calls out 'Mind the Gap' I tremble. No longer able to step off without launching myself head first at the briefcase carrying businessmen as they carefully avoid helping me...

So Mind The Gap was born but the name already existed. Somewhere. I added A-Z and whoopee I was in. I had something to focus on each day. I decided to start at A and slowly work towards Z. Occasionally I broke my rule if an out of sequence blog demanded to be written.

Until now.

Breast Cancer has destroyed the structure in my weeks. Like a volcano my life has once again erupted and the A has been blown out of Z...

By my next blog I will be different. I will feel different. I will look different. I wonder if my writing will change?

But Ray Bradbury reminds me...You fail only if you stop writing...


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The milk that went in the teapot...

Some years ago I went on a birdwatching holiday cocooned in welsh countryside. From the first introductions we filled the minibus with laughter. But we over-heard bickering between the couple looking after us. Then one day at breakfast as we recapped on birds seen, I poured the milk into the teapot thinking it was extra water. I told the lady with long brown hair and we never saw her again... 

This breast cancer is like the milk that went in the teapot...the final straw...I feel like I have been tipped over a cliff, into the stormy sea and am fighting the powerful waves to get to the shore. But I have recently learnt to swim and I must reach solid ground. I have Mr H to think about. I love life. I want to live. So I find my way through the treacle of days leading to surgery...

Days out with friends talking until their ear lobes throb, taking short strolls on the blue sky days and on the wet ones I devour a good book. As questions pop into my mind I drop them into the recommended websites. I cry a flood when my heart beat runs a marathon even though my feet are still, then cradle myself in the calm of camomile tea and Mindfulness. Mr H and I watch a box set of Frasier and titter together before bed. I go shopping and buy a new dress, camouflage blouses and of course a new smiley bag to take my things into hospital.

Mary Poppins be jealous...



At the end of the day  as Nelson Mandela said...…I learned that courage was not the absence of fear but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid but he who conquers that fear...

... I am trying...

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