Saturday, 22 June 2013

Race For Life

Tomorrow I, and nine of my friends and family, are taking part in Race For Life. This is one of a series of races that you can run or walk to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Between us, and in the name of my beautiful brave DD, we've raised over £2,000.

Words can't describe how I feel right now. One of the things you get in your race pack is a piece of paper that you can pin to your back to say who you are running Race For Life for. My list is too long to fit on the piece of paper. I think I'll take a lot of tissues with me tomorrow.

For all the injured and the fallen in the battle against cancer. For every parent who has had to watch their child go through it or had to tell their child they have cancer. For every child who's asked if Mummy or Daddy or Granny or Grandpa will die.

We will win.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


 Can I tell you a secret? It's a horrible secret, a filthy secret, something I definitely shouldn't even contemplate and certainly something that doesn't suit my cancer survivor status.

Sometimes I wish the cancer had won.

There'd be a noble tragedy about it, and I wouldn't have to take the blame in the same way I would as a suicide. And I'd be out of here. Sometimes that feels like a win-win situation.

The key word here is "sometimes". I'm not about to do anything, btw. I'm writing this because I had a rubbish day, right down in the black depressive hole. It wasn't even all bad, in fact most of it was good. I spent a lot of it in meetings and was effective in them. I went for my first outside run in 10 months and didn't completely suck. But then, come the children's bedtime, I could feel my fuse shortening and shortening. They wouldn't listen. I shouted. I looked around and saw piles of stuff to do everywhere, and before I knew it I didn't know where to start or how. I needed to take time out and eat supper but didn't want to eat because I am still putting on weight at a rate of knots and I hate myself for it. The evening progressed through a small sobbing panic attack to me sat on the sofa in my little shell, not talking. And at times like these, I want a way out.

It's 4 am. After food and sleep I feel better but also guilty, for thinking this way, for being so horrible to my family. And angry, bloody angry, for the first time. Because I didn't ask for this and I didn't do anything to deserve having my life torn up and the pieces scattered on the table for me to somehow stick back together.

I just hope my family can forgive me for what I think, what I have become. It isn't me, it's fucking cancer.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Borg free

No, I have not given up tennis nor committed a typo relating to a film about lions. The portacath, the marvellous device that has made chemo so much easier whilst making me feel like Seven of Nine without the catsuit, is gone. Lots of waiting around, a good dose of sedative, what felt like an eternity of tugging and some stitches later and it's gone. I did ask to see it and the actual line is bloody long!

So that is the end of that. Normal life, ish, can resume.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Line on the left...

There's a distorted version of society in day spas. My text-hugging friend and I have a day booked at The Sanctuary to enjoy a catch up and some non-toxic therapy. The clientele seems to divide into the following:
- Women over 50
- Women in need of a day's sleep
- Pregnant women
- Cancer patients
It's like a hospital, but with nicer facilities, although they do make you write your own notes. Filling in the medical questionnaire takes ages.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Angelina's choices

The press today is full of discussion about Angelina Jolie's decision to have a double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer.  She carries the BRCA1 gene, giving her an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 50% chance of getting ovarian cancer, the same cancer that killed her mother.  The process has meant some pre-operative preparation, the mastectomies and then reconstruction, taking 8 weeks or so in all. During this time she has continued to work and no-one has noticed a thing. Now she has taken the plunge, others are revealing their cancer battles too. Her interview, with The Times, is incredibly matter-of-fact: I had these odds presented to me, I wanted to give myself the best chance of a future with my family so here is what I did. The articles praise her bravery - and take the "opportunity" to publish pictures of her in the skimpiest outfits possible.

This all sets me thinking - is it really that brave to take the treatment, preventative, curative or palliative? Or is it a courage born of necessity? No-one wants to go through pain and illness but when, like Angelina, you're faced with the choice between treatment pain and dying pain, between seeing your children grow up and them seeing you crumble away, that doesn't strike me as courage.

Please don't misunderstand me, I am in no way denigrating what she or any other cancer affected person has gone through. It just made me think a bit about the times people have said to me, "You're so brave, going through that horrible treatment". And I've smiled shyly, shaken my head and rejected the compliment in that terribly British way. Then I look at my children and realise there's nothing else I could have done. When cancer leaves you with only one choice you can make - between living and dying - that's no choice at all.


Having been pretty anti supplements previously, I've reconsidered my position. This is mostly due to feeling the effects on my body of the recovery process, on my teeth in particular. They were really sensitive, probably from the chemo stripping out all my calcium, but as the days go by they feel better and better, to the point where I can eat ice cream again (as long as it's only on one side - the other is still pretty raw). I might even stop microwaving my cereal to take the chill off it.

So I hit the Internet and my supplement list now reads:
Multi-vitamin and mineral - for general support
Ibuprofen - for the joint inflammation
Turmeric - good for bowel cancer patients, apparently (I figure it can't hurt)
Garlic - said to be good for health generally (and I happened to have some kicking around!)
Maxi green - a capsule containing wheatgrass, spirulina, chorella and some other green substances. Fresh wheatgrass is supposed to be better but as I can't be bothered with juicing it fresh and we're going away on holiday soon, this is more convenient. The whole lot are said to be full of minerals and vitamins and help with energy levels.  We shall see.

Definitely ALL CLEAR!

One week after the colonoscopy and I'm waiting for the phone call from the surgeon's secretary asking me politely if I wouldn't mind bringing my appointment forward. This is what happened last time and the part of me that can't bring myself to believe that the cancer has gone is anticipating a re-run. But I try to keep cheerful, even saying to my Mum that no news must be good news.

The very minute I finish my phone call with my Mum, the phone goes again and the surgeon's secretary's number flashes up. My heart sinks into the floor but it's good news - no sign of anything at all.

At last, the proper All Clear. Somehow this one feels like it truly might be over. There are no more areas of doubt or uncertainty. The cancer is gone and I can pick myself up and move on.