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Wednesday, 18 February 2015

New Beginnings

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
Martin Luther King
 
Its been a while since I last posted a blog and I feel I have to let you know how I am doing.  Well there is good news, great news and better news so where do I start?
 
Well, the good news is that I am heading towards it being two years in June since I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer and  I am feeling well, back to normal, (what is normal!).  When I say normal I mean heading towards a life again, a normal life rather than the endless monotony that only cancer patients understand, the endless treadmill of treatment and ups and downs of the cancer highway.
 
I am one of the lucky ones, the best news is that I have just had my first annual scan post my treatment finishing this time last year and guess what.  I am clear of cancer.  I will shout this again: I AM CLEAR OF CANCER, NED (No evidence of disease), ready to face the world again and do my thing!
 
The other bit of news I have is that I am going it alone, starting my own business, ridding myself of the shackles of corporate control or entrepreneurial ego and stress. Don't get me wrong, I have had a great career, enjoyed every minute of it but just don't need the politics any more. So yippee I am in control of my own destiny and the buck stops with me.  My efforts, my success, my rewards.  Yes it will be a smaller salary for a couple of years, yes it will be a different type of stress and yes I will work harder than ever, but, I will be in control and if I fail it will be down to me and I will learn from it.  The time is now.  The last two years have been a battle but I have come through it and out the other side and boy does that feel good.
 
I have been active in chairing a support group of strong women who have been treated at the same hospital as me and it has been rewarding and challenging at the same time.  Rewarding because I have met some of the most amazing women who like me battle breast cancer on a daily basis and the after effects of the treatments.  Challenging because some of those ladies have secondary cancers and are too young and full of life to be going through this.  Life plays its shitty cards and we have to get up and carry on.  Brave strong women who I am honoured to know and will remain friends with forever.
 
I have also joined a group called the Inflammatory Breast Cancer Network UK and again met many brilliant IBC cancer diagnosed strong women who have set up a charity so further research can go into this rarer but not that rare in that I know hundreds of women who have suffered from it.  Each with their own battle they have endured or are still enduring as all to often it is not diagnosed until stage 4.
 
Joanne my sister once again has stepped up to the plate to continue her unwavering support of me and my mad ideas and antics but hopefully I will make a success of my new venture and keep us in a life of the simple pleasures we have both come to enjoy, walks with our sausage dogs, holidays with our sausage dogs, cuddles with our sausage dogs, you get the picture!
 
I have also completed a coaching qualification with the ILM (Institute of Leadership and Management) as I wanted to make my time recuperating count for something.  However I have decided coaching is not for me, I am far to bossy and end up after asking the third question making suggestion on which direction the business should go in so I guess I am more of a director than I thought!  Certainly the  amount of psychometric tests I have done in recent weeks tell me I am a leader (they mean bossy boots!)  Most of you know that anyway! 
 
So what's next?  Well I am about to enter the world of the Big Data revolution and enter the Business Intelligence market and will explain more in a few weeks.  Its exciting, it sits in a growth market and it is where I have decided my career future lies in terms of the direction my consultancy is headed.
 
I have to be honest I have enjoyed the last six months I have been feeling better and have fallen into long lie ins, walks in the middle of the day and far to many coffee breaks but I am raring to go, raring to get my teeth stuck into something and tomorrow is the first day of the rest of my life!
 
Love to you all, thanks for the support this last couple of years both for me and Joanne.
 
Wendy :)
 
 

Thursday, 29 May 2014

“The key to life is accepting challenges. Once someone stops doing this, he's dead.” ― Bette Davis

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.” 
― Paulo CoelhoThe Devil and Miss Prym

For me Breast cancer or rather getting rid of the 'bastard' breast cancer was the most enormous challenge I have had to face in my life, but here I am a year later having fought and won that particular battle within the overall war!

I decided to to women v cancer ride the night at the very start of my diagnosis, it seemed like a good idea, a way of sharing with my friends and family that I was through the worst and out the other side. it was in my own way me shouting from the roof tops F**k Off 'Bastard Cancer, you didn't get me!

The ride is this Saturday 31st of May, that's in two days time and now let me tell you I feel WHAT THE F**K WAS I THINKING!

100km (62 miles)
In the middles of the Night
In LONDON

Now I think AGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Seriously I am just dreading it in terms of the physical drain  on my already tired and achy body but in terms of what it will represent it is the pivotal  point to a very hard year so I am going to ride like the wind and do my very, very best and hope that I will do everyone who has sponsored me proud.

Jo is doing it with me and we must not forget what a shit year it has been for her as my caring supportive sister.  There have been times when I have been a cow this last year and typical Jo she has taken it all in her stride.  I know when we cross the finishing line or maybe even before there will be many tears that flow with the relief of the past year being over and the dawn of a new day.  A day where I get my life back and get my show back on the road!

I go into hospital next Friday for the start of reconstruction which firstly will be a reduction of my remaining breast.  Can't wait!

So thanks for all the sponsorship and support and we will speak again real soon

love Wendy x

Friday, 11 April 2014

Because I'm happy - Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof!

That which does not Kill us makes us stronger!- Friedrich Nietzsche

  • I was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer - June 2013
  • 8 Rounds of Chemo
  • Radical Mastectomy & full lymph node removal
  • 15 Rounds of daily Radiotherapy
  • My Last treatment - 27th March 2014
  • Thank-you so much for all your support
  • Whoop whoop!


So there it is, my last treatment ridding me of my ‘Bastard Cancer’,  I feel as though I have been a hamster in a cage on one of those wheels with everyone gazing in.  Don’t get me wrong it was my decision to write a blog, I wanted to educate other women to check themselves and catch potential problems early and also help people understand what it feels like to be diagnosed with breast cancer. 

Truth be known I also wanted it to be cathartic an expression of my emotions as I was feeling them that I could look back on and see my own journey as often when you are living it you are just going through the motions.

Today, I feel mixed emotions, really relieved and proud that I have come out the other end after the longest of nine months of my life but really scared that after all that I am not cocooned in the safety of treatment and having to go back to the reality of life, I don’t want to live my life scared and waiting for the cancer to return so after discussion with Joanne we have decided that the best way to tackle it is to think of the last 9 months as wiping the slate clean and therefore, I, like the next person may end up with another cancer or not.

So what did I learn?
  • ·       I learned that I could not have done this without my sister Joanne who has been my rock and is the best sister anyone could wish for
  • ·       I learned what amazing family & friends I have are near and far, new and old who have supported me through the last 9 months and I can’t thank you enough with your kind words and encouragement
  • ·       I learned that I have an amazing network of people on line through my blog and face-book who have really supported me in my hour of need and I have really appreciated it
  • ·       I learned that there are many different types of breast cancer, I never knew this before and that one out of every eight women are diagnosed, this means that most of you will have someone in your immediate family or friends who will get it and if my blog makes all women check themselves then I will consider that it has worked
  • ·       I learned that the type of breast cancer I have which is invasive inflammatory breast cancer is quite rare only affecting 5% of the above
  • ·       I learned that I there are four contributory factors in the type of breast cancer I have, these are;

o    too much Oestrogen produced, I will be on a drug called Anastrozole which will inhibit this
o   too much sugar intake (I practically lived on latte and cake) which lead  to;
o   too much weight gain common to women who get inflammatory breast cancer
o   Too much stress – I had a difficult job and don’t get me wrong I loved it but there was too much travel, too much stress and mess and I know this is no good for your health (money means nothing – you cannot put a price on health)
  • ·       I learned that chemo therapy is as crap as they say, you can’t describe it unless you have gone through it
  • ·       I learned that chemo therapy turned me into a monster due to the steroids and I apologise profusely to my sister who bore the brunt of it!
  • ·       I learned that despite me keeping most of my hair, my bloated face, my loss of eyelashes and the two stone I put on because of the steroids, that this made me feel more sad than ever and I am a little ashamed to be so vain but the eyelashes have grown back, the bloated face has nearly gone and I am craving a bit of glamour in my life and if that sounds shallow well hey I will live with that!
  • ·       I learned that having a mastectomy is actually not so bad but being lob-sided is and I can’t wait for my reconstruction/reduction
  • ·       I learned that I am very creative in terms of the use of the many lovely scarves I have accumulated in the past couple of months
  • ·       I learned that radiotherapy is a bloody doddle compared to chemo a bit like getting lightly burned in the sun
  • ·       I learned not to eat too many sticks of celery (see previous blog!)
  • ·       I learned that I can laugh in the face of adversity
  • ·       I learned that I am a strong woman, and that I have an inner strength I didn't know I had, and to coin a phrase ‘you can break down a woman temporarily, but a real woman will pick up the pieces, re-build herself and come back stronger than ever!’  - I  like to think I am a real woman!


So what’s next?
Once my body has healed from the mastectomy and radiotherapy I will have the next phase of reduction which will be in June and reconstruction which will be towards the end of the year so it’s a long, process.
I did ask did I choose a new pair of boobs from a book like when you chose a new hairstyle but I don’t think it works quite like that! I will be grateful for whatever they can do.

Over the next few weeks I am going to be in training for my charity bike ride, women v cancer - ride the night, which let me tell you I would have found difficult before the last 9 months so I know it is going to be challenging picking myself up and starting to train, however, I really feel that when I cross that finish line, however long it takes it will  be the final kick of ridding myself of this evil disease and I will be doing it for women just like me. I know it is going to be so emotional but it will be an amazing night of shared experience riding with an amazing group of women the most important of which is my sister Jo. 

If you could see your way to sponsoring this I would really appreciate it, thanks to those of you who already have.


I am losing weight with Slimming World and my group leader Debbie Wilson is collecting for my bike ride which I am really grateful for, I have to say I am really enjoying the diet and have already lost 26llb through the support of the group.

For now though I am going to book in for a long awaited bit of pampering starting with a facial.

Talking of which:
'A woman is like a tea bag; you never know how strong it is until it's in hot water.' — Eleanor Roosevelt 



I will end with an uplifting playlist which I will be dancing around my kitchen to this weekend with Jo and the sausages hope you will be dancing with us…..


Kelly Clarkson - Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xn676-fLq7I

 


Pharrell Williams – Happy - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgHGjM4GnE4

 

Roxy Music - Dance away - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DMSeOFyskRk

 

Rudimental - "Not Giving In" - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9-Lwpgfd1E

 

 

 

 

 

 

 





Sunday, 9 March 2014

Brave, Strong, Smart

Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. (Christopher Robin to Pooh – A.A.Milne) 

The most difficult one to write yet

Firstly let me start with an apology that it has taken me so long to write my update after the end of my chemo which finished on December 6th.  I then had to face the start of stage two my mastectomy.  I don’t really know why I have put off writing my blog, well perhaps I do that’s a fib, I just did not feel like bearing my feelings and a lot has happened.  Get yourself a cup of tea it’s going to be a long blog!

Let me start with New Year’s Eve; I have never liked it and for a person who is generally upbeat most of the time I turn into the most melancholy miserable and quite frankly annoying person to be around. (Just ask Jo!)  It makes me sad, I know not why but it does, I always end up having a good cry and reflect the ‘what might have been’s’ that have happened during the year.   This year, as you already know has been the most challenging yet for me.  ‘Bastard Cancer’ diagnosed in June, followed by my company going into administration in August, yep, as years go 2013 (unlucky for some!) was diabolical and this was going to be a NY’s eve that my ‘one night only’ of melancholy was really going for gigantic proportions with the aim to wipe out the old with a good weep and welcome in the new and the thought of finishing my treatment and resuming some normality into my life and let me tell you it was appealing. 

Joanne and I had booked in for afternoon tea at a posh tearoom  (we really know how to live !)  Unfortunately when I woke up on NY eve I had a temperature of nearly 40 degrees and my cancer breast was bright red and clearly something was not right. Turns out I had an infection on top of the cancer in my breast and was told that there was no way they could operate and do my mastectomy the first week in January as it was too risky.

Now when you have gone through 8 rounds of chemo and you feel as weak and sick as a kitten and you have come to the end of it knowing you have to gain quick strength for your operation you really have to pull out all of the stops to carry on regardless.  The end is in sight, you want the ‘bastard cancer’ to be cut out of you and so to be told that it cannot be done due to an infection is heartbreaking.  Your worst fears of the cancer spreading take over and you become paranoid with every ache, pain or itch.  My consultant finally gave the go ahead for the mastectomy at the end of January but gave me the news that they where no long prepared to do the reduction of my other breast and put the tissue expander in preparedness for the reconstruction and that the main priority was for the them to get the ‘bastard cancer’ out.   This was because they felt that my weight, coupled with the recent infection meant I would be under for too long and they felt this would be too risky for a 51 years old heavy woman. Seemed sensible but secretly I was devastated.

So, four weeks ago I had my mastectomy, all of the medical staff in the park hospital, including my consultant Mr Ali Jahan were amazed that I was up and doing lap rounds of the ward so quickly and that my healing process went as it should.  I have developed a seroma which is quite common  Seroma  (The Science Bit)
http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/breast-cancer-information/treating-breast-cancer/surgery/after%C2%A0surgery
 Many people who have had breast cancer surgery or lymph node removal develop a collection of fluid called a seroma. This can either be under the arm and/or in the breast or chest wall. The build up of fluid may cause some discomfort, but is not a cause for concern and is usually reabsorbed by the body over time.
If the seroma is large, restricts arm movement, causes discomfort or doesn’t subside, your specialist or breast care nurse may decide to draw off (aspirate) the fluid using a needle and syringe.  This is usually a painless procedure as the area around the wound is still likely to be numb.
Sometimes a seroma will refill after it has been aspirated. Some people may need to be aspirated several times over a period of weeks before it goes away completely. This can be a frustrating experience.
My take on it!
My consultant told me the record in his hospital is 1000ml (A litre), I have been aspirated now each week and the average he has taken out has been 450ml, told him we need to go for the record as I am competitive but he is having none of it!)

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom:  (Thomas Jefferson)

For those of you who know me, you will understand that for the most part I am strong, I am resilient, I like to work my way around problems or knock walls down.  However, what I did not bargain for was how low I feel about my body image which was the very last thing I thought I would feel.  I have always carried weight, it has never really bothered me the way it affects other women, I don’t know why I just thought sod it and only the health side of carrying weight made me at least try off and on to diet.  I was rubbish at dieting, still am!  I therefore did not bank on feeling distraught at the lack of symmetry, the lopsidedness and the sheer pain of trying to cover up.  What makes it worse is that mastectomy bra’s which tend to fasten at the front and have a pocket to hold prosthesis in only go up to a certain cup size as they assume that you have already had a reduction in your other breast.  If you wear an ordinary bra it rises up so you end up with lobsided breasts which although we have laughed at to start with really does cause misery and sadness and makes you feel unwomanly.   

During these past few weeks it has really made me introvert and a little withdrawn and although I do still go out I cover myself artistically with elaborately tied scarf’s and wraps but as the warmer weather beckons I really do not know what I will do.   I am not scheduled to have my reduction for a while yet.

Ironically I don’t mind my mastectomy scar, It’s my battle wound and I am proud that I have come through it so well.  It’s my remaining breast.  Boob’s are plural for a reason,  I am growing to hate it, I can’t describe really how it affects a woman I will never underestimate the words ‘even’ ‘symetrical’  ‘proportioned’ and ‘regular’.  It’s strange not having a cleavage, its strange the way clothes hang.

Now I feel strange, I am numb where my breast was, under my armpit and down the inside of my arm, I feel alien and uncomfortable and I find myself putting my hand up to cover myself if I am out and engage in conversation with people.  I have always been confident but this last few weeks have been harder than I imagined.

BUT and there is always a BUT
I am alive and kicking,  spring is in the air and at this moment about to start the final stage of treatment radiotherapy tomorrow for three weeks.  I am not looking forward to it but everyone tells me it’s a doddle compared to chemo.  I have also started taking the drug Anastrozole which prohibits estrogen the hormone that has caused my cancer, I will be on these for five years and the hot flushes have already started to such a degree I now sleep with a fan on every night but this will hopefully keep the cancer from metastasis in other words from forming secondary cancer somewhere else in my body. 
They say that it takes at least a year out of your life and they are not wrong, but hey what’s a year in the grand scheme of things.
At the end of May I am doing another cycle challenge, my biggest yet in that it’s for 100km throughout the night in London, some might say ‘Are you Mad?’  to which the answer undoubtedly is ‘Yes, Yes, I think I might be!  Then again there is a little madness in us all……..


If you are able please check out this site and read the most powerful, amazing, determined, heartbreaking stories from amazing women who in the face of adversity are brave, strong and smart.  Just like me………


when you see the navigation panel click onto ‘a letter to my body


Love Wendy x

Saturday, 21 December 2013

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment” Oprah Winfrey (Open Blog - To me from me with love x)

(To me from me with love!)  This is an open blog to me from me!

Dear Wendy

There is no denying the last six months have been difficult but we are finally at the end of stage one ‘The Chemo stage’.
 
We know that together we have abused our body for the past 30 years, however, it really has held up this last six months when the demon side effects of chemo have ravished us. The only people who understand what we have been through are the fellow cancer sufferers going through chemotherapy.  There are many and we wish those of you that are in the same position or who have family sufferers all the best for health and happiness in 2014.

What can we say Wendy that we haven’t already about phase one?  Eight rounds of chemo, on a three week cycle that has taken us six months to complete.  Six months of an up- hill struggle, a battle Wendy that we have tried hard to hide from family and friends for fear of watching them suffer but have failed miserably on occasions knowing they were there to pick us up at our worst despairing moments.  

The way to look at phase one ‘Chemo’ is that you need to view it as the fuel to propel you into phase two, it’s necessary fuel that allows you to get from A to B, but, it is also the most debilitating fuel that drags you down and stalls your engine numerous times before you get to you next destination.  Wendy we cannot describe fully the immediate after effects of each three week cycle of chemo from the nausea that we went through, the painful headaches from wearing the cold cap, the pin cushion feeling from the many veins that collapsed along the way, the painful aches and flu like symptoms or the exhaustion we felt, but,Wendy we did it.  

We have relied heavily on Joanne who has witnessed it all first hand, giving up her life and moving in with us, sharing our worst moments, always there to pick us up, watch us cry, make us laugh and help us move on.  
Wendy, we have never been emotional, we are more of a ‘chin up’, move forward and get on with it sort of girl, yet there have been so many moments over the past six months that sadness has got the better of us and we have felt oh so broken.   Somewhere though our inner strength takes over and we hold our head high and we slowly, ever so slowly continue to move forward.

Sometimes the stupid things have bothered us.  We have kept our hair but lost all our eyelashes which makes our eyes stream constantly and gives us a weird hooded look that is unattractive and odd, that along with the moon face we have developed from all of the steroids and the weight gain, which we definitely did not need has added to our plight and although these things are all cosmetic which in the grand scheme of things are totally unimportant, they have just added to the overall consuming effects the ‘Bastard Cancer’ has taken from us.     

We are about to head into Phase Two– Mastectomy week commencing 6th January,  followed by five weeks of intensive radiotherapy every day.   Wendy this is it, this is the phase that will rid us of the evil presence of the ‘Bastard Cancer’.  Yes, it will ravish our body, yes, it will be painful, yes, it will be devastating, but, like the many other strong women that have had it before us we will wear the scars and the mutilation of our body with pride knowing we will conquer this terrible disease that affects so many.  We feel strangely vulnerable now that the chemo has stopped as bad as it was it kept the ‘Bastard Cancer’ away. 

Our way of coping as always is to bring out our sense of humor, think of the many new bra’s we will be able to buy, the fact that we will no doubt lose a fair amount of weight in one go (they weigh a ton!) We therefore will win slimmer of the week at least one more time at Slimmer’s World, (Is that cheating!)  To be fair we did win it last week with our breasts still firmly attached!

Christmas is a few days away, we are having a quiet one with Joanne, Sydney Biddly and Roxy Boo, nothing too grandeur,  It will be a time for us to reflect on the positive things the future holds, the many friends and family who have supported us in our battle, a time of rest, a time of recuperating.
For all of our rantings and our sadness over the past six months we have made it, we are proud, we, that is me and my ravished body are ready so BRING IT ON!

We have tried to be honest in writing our blog, sometimes it has been hard, but we have been truthful and honest to the way we have felt along the path of phase one.

We wish those that have taken the time to read our blog the very best for 2014.  A very merry Christmas and happy New Year.

We are doing OK Wendy we are doing our very best!

“Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment”
Oprah Winfrey


Tuesday, 12 November 2013

“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.”


pe·nul·ti·mate (phase one of the process is nearly over)

adj.

1. Next to last

 

I know it’s been a while, and I won’t lie these are getting harder and harder to write. Mainly because I don’t want to sound like a broken record but mostly in truth because I set out with the intention to remain positive and that does not always happen so I have to take each day as it comes.

I remain positive in thinking about the long term outcome but the day to day  drivers of coping with the treatment can sometime overtake my thoughts and I feel sad, angry, low and in pain.  Then I remember that there is always someone worse off than me and have to drag myself back to the long term outcome which is to ‘Kick the ass out of my bastard cancer’, and I gain some calm for short bursts.

Having cancer is a great leveller.  Some people shy away from it and cannot face that I may have changed or be a reduced version of myself in some way and talk about everything but it.  Some people tackle it head on and want to engage me in a conversation about it, learn from it and spread the word.  There is no right or wrong way we all just have to come to terms with what it is, because it is what it is ‘Bastard Cancer’, the proverbial elephant in the room with me, always there, always silent.

Joanne bears the brunt of my mood swings which can range from loud, brash, aggressive on days I am on steroids (some may say no change there then!), to the slow realisation that I am battling with my life which can mean overwhelming sadness and being withdrawn as I disappear into my thoughts of what lies ahead.  I think is ok to admit it gets a little scary but being a tough nut means I usually manage to pull my- self through it.  

You can’t escape cancer; it’s on every night on the TV either because it’s in soap, or an advert and the amount of people who know someone with it is immeasurable.    We are in the month of November which means ‘Movember’ to my men friends and like breast cancer one in eight men will be diagnosed with it in the UK.  So please dig deep and support our men friends who are participating in this worthwhile cause.

I am on my penultimate chemotherapy session this Friday and my final session is the 6th December which gives me just about enough recovery time to have a great Christmas before I start the next phase my mastectomy in early January.   When I was first diagnosed this was the part of the process I was least scared of.  Having large breasts which let me tell you are a pain in the neck literally and metaphorically speaking I thought secretly it would be my chance to get a reduction and a perky new set of boobs for all my trouble of getting rid of the ‘bastard cancer’.  However I find myself thinking the nearer it gets about how attached I actually am to them.   I mean I haven’t seen my feet in years and it will be a strange feeling looking down and seeing nothing.   

I see the breast surgeon in the next couple of weeks so will let you know how this goes as before I can think of reconstruction phase I have to have 5 weeks of radiotherapy every day immediately after the mastectomy so it’s a long way off yet.  Please don’t think I am making light of it, it’s my way of coping with the enormity of a mastectomy and possibly a double mastectomy and I don’t know how I am going to react until it happens.

 

“The pain you feel today is the strength you feel tomorrow. For every challenge encountered there is opportunity for growth.” 

 Love Wendy x

Monday, 21 October 2013

“Life don’t cost money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.” (Steve jobs)


13 unlucky for some!

 

Today I have sat and pondered.  I have had a morning where I get up at 8am (a luxury as when I was working it was 6am) I go downstairs and spend an hour sorting Syd and Roxy out, they are still poorly and I have to mop up, clean up and then feed them and medicate them.  Finally its then cuddle time.

Jo then comes downstairs as thankfully since my last blog she is out of hospital and recuperating with me.  So you can imagine there are four of us siblings together all under the weather you could say.

The district nurses then arrive mid-morning to tend to Joanne and I spend the time again mopping and laying out new puppy pads before I am able to go and sit down for a rest.  It was far easier going to work.

The last few weeks I can admit I have struggled.   Struggled to get my head around this year 2013 our ‘annus horribilis’ and all that has happened to us.  I have found myself being emotional probably for the first time in my life thinking what the hell have we done to deserve all of this shit.

·         My Bastard Cancer

·         Loss of job (not the best when you are ill and need the support network of your employment)

·         Jo then falls ill with terrible infection of her leg likely to take months to heal which has completely masked the fact she did an amazing thing and cycled 450km in Sri Lanka for charity and had support of some amazing women

·         My new puppies have started off their little life so poorly

I have found myself crying often; sometimes from the pain that chemo is causing me in my bones which is like the worst flu symptoms in the world and constant.  Sometimes just because I feel sorry for myself and for Jo and think WTF! Sometimes because my life has turned upside down and has so radically changed I feel I am having an out of body experience.   I am tired, so very tired that there are some days I wake up and wish it was bedtime and I could sleep all over again.

Somewhere in between feeling sorry for myself though my inner strength and self-preservation takes over and I tell myself to get a grip and recognise that there are people in a worse situation than mine.

I think about my positives:

·         I have the best sister in the world who I adore and is always there for me

·         I have the best support and love from TP

·         I have two adorable new puppies that despite not getting the best start are so innocent and lovely they bring both me and Jo much Joy and love.

·         I have family who have been supportive and generous as always like my brothers Andrew and Nick,  my cousin Deborah, and my step daughter Jenny and my good neighbour Janet who looks after me every day.

·        I have a very good friend in Jane McKenzie who has been with me to the last two chemo sessions and about to come with me to my next one.   It is not pleasant to watch and she has been brilliant in her support of me

·         I have many other friends who have been supportive coming to see me and some supportive from afar. (I realise that people are really busy but it would be lovely to see some of you though as I am struggling to get to you and don’t get to see many people living in Nottingham!)

·         I only  have three more chemo sessions to go, the last one being on the 6th December

·         I am in a lucky position where I have enough money not to work for the next year in order to heal myself

·         I am a lady of leisure whoop whoop ! Probably a bit of an over statement but I am getting there!

·         I am going to survive my ‘Bastard Cancer’ and when I do 2014 is going to be the best year ever my bucket list is for ever increasing.

Thanks also to the wonderful Sharon Greenland and ladies of Sri lanka who gave me the most amazing tribute picture below so I could cross the finishing line with them.

 

So there it is, my life has changed and I am battling the next phase and who knows what that may hold.  I believe though if you do the right things, the right things will come so I have to accept those changes and move to the next chapter.
love wendy x

 

Thursday, 3 October 2013

If you're going through hell, keep going. ~Winston Churchill


If you're going through hell, keep going.  ~Winston Churchill

This is probably the hardest blog I have written to date on the eve before my 5th chemo.  Hard because it does not involve just me in terms of dealing with a difficult time, but now involves my dearest sister Joanne.

You are probably aware that she has just returned from Cycle Sri Lanka which she pushed herself to finish 450km in five days and I am so proud of her.  By all accounts she had an amazing time sharing the bond of a remarkable group of women who give up their time to cycle for ‘Women for Women’ - The genesis research Trust charity. http://www.genesisresearchtrust.com/

I can’t wait to hear all her story’s, I know there will many tales of laughter, sadness, toughness and bonding.  Thanks to all the ladies who looked after her from the bottom of my heart.

You are also probably aware that my sister is fighting her own battle right now having taken ill on the flight on the way home.  She was feeling flu like symptoms all of the way home which at first was thought to be exhaustion, however, she was admitted into hospital on Sunday and since then has had to endure a very nasty leg infection which is horrific.  Ankle to thigh purple and covered in blisters she is really suffering a nasty infection. She has not got better for five days despite being on two antibiotics, has not eaten and not even able to drink much.  She is struggling to stand as she is in agony and is now on morphine. 

I can honestly say that my heart is breaking that I cannot go to her.  I am the big sister and for the last few months those roles have reversed as she has been the devoted sister to me looking after me in my hour of need.   I could weep all day thinking about it, however, now is the time to muster up all our strength and carry on regardless as they say.

She has had amazing support from Deborah our cousin and her daughter Ros and Sai, from Jenny my step daughter and from cousin Laurence and other friends who have gone to see her when I have not been able to.  That is what family and good friends do.  They pull together when the going gets tough.  Jo and I are tough cookies so we will get through it and know that it is all part of life’s rich tapestry.  

I know God will not give me anything I can't handle.  I just wish that He didn't trust me so much.  ~Mother Teresa

I could go into my hard as nails fight mode which many of you have come to expect and say bloody hell she is going to lose so much weight and I will be well jel!  But, this would just be a brave face because I ache with sadness.

 Tomorrow I have my good friend Jane McKenzie once again standing up to the plate and coming all the way from Chester to be with me as I have round five.   I am scared as it’s the start of a new cocktail so I don’t know what side effects to expect but the list is endless along with losing your nails and blistering of hands and feet.   I am trying to remember that whatever I get I will not be in as much pain as my little sister is going through right now and if I could take that pain off her I would in a Nano second.

 

I can’t go without mentioning that October is breast cancer awareness month:   http://www.breastcancercare.org.uk/news/media-centre/breast-cancer-awareness-month-press-pack

 The facts


·         The number of people being diagnosed with breast cancer is increasing, but the good news is survival rates are improving. This is probably because of more targeted treatments, earlier detection and better breast awareness.

·         The biggest risk factor, after gender, is increasing age – 80% of breast cancers occur in women over the age of 50.

·         Breast cancer also affects men, but it’s rare – around 400 men are diagnosed each year.

·         Breast cancer is not one single disease there are several types of breast cancer.

·         Not all breast cancers show as a lump, and not all breast lumps are breast cancer.

·         Less than 10% of all breast cancers run in families, so having someone in your family with breast cancer doesn’t necessarily mean your own risk is increased.

The stats

·         Every year nearly 55,000 people are diagnosed in the UK. That’s the equivalent of 150 people every day or one person every 10 minutes.

·         1 in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.

·         Nearly 12,000 people die from breast cancer in the UK every year.

·         Breast cancer is the second most common cause of death from cancer in women in the UK, after lung cancer.

·         Of adults aged between 25-49, breast cancer accounts for 45% of all female cancers.

·         There are an estimated 550,000 people living in the UK today who have had

* Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is an early form of breast cancer, sometimes described as anintra-ductal or non-invasive cancer. ** This refers to invasive breast cancer. Statistics correct at time of publication.

 

Diseases can be our spiritual flat tires - disruptions in our lives that seem to be disasters at the time but end by redirecting our lives in a meaningful way.  ~Bernie S. Siegel

 PS Little Sydney is back to normal and in rascal mode, has found his bark and tonight has discovered humping my shoes lol! 


love Wendy x :)