Sunday, 31 January 2016

Love in many forms

This weekend I have been wrestling with an empty nest.  Every fortnight is the same- my energy reserves have plummeted to the point of wanting an hour or two without responsibility. But 48 hours without child 1 and 2 is much, much too long. So every other weekend is restless and it's at these times I toy with taking up a hobby, mentally booking a holiday I will never go on, planning a life overhaul which won't materialise come Monday or thinking about how I must get a pet to keep me company while the girls are away. None of these options are affordable or realistic and it's at times like these I am grateful for the many wonderful people I have in my life who bring me back to base camp without it feeling like they question my judgement.  We can't afford a pet or a holiday and we don't need life to change. I just need my babies. They're like my solar energy.
In cancer news,  the chemo (touch wood) hasn't given me too many nasty side effects this round although tiredness has set in to a point it feels like i've done ten night shifts and then come home to do all nighters with an unsettled newborn.  I'm asleep behind my opened eyes and walking as far as the town centre for a look around and back  (it's five minutes away) needs some stops along the way.
I did however find some energy last night to go along to a couple of good friends birthday party -a beautiful masked ball! It was such a treat to be a grown up, be glamorous and be in great company- and it also kept me away from finding guinea pigs online to coo over!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

FEC off

A couple of nights ago a large wasp made its way into the girls room at bedtime and being the only grown up in the house it fell to me to get it out. Armed with a can of furniture polish I charged upstairs, spraying with wild abandon until the beast was slain. Victory was mine.  Mummy the hero! Until this morning when I slipped on the very polished top step and landed on my back.  Why are those stairs, and not cancer,  my nemesis?!
The girls found me falling over hilarious and struggled to eat their breakfast as the memory if it tickled one of them and sent them both sniggering again.
After dispatching them to a friend's, my eldest sister and I were off to the hospital for chemo round three- the last FEC. While sitting in the chair waiting for chemo to be administered,  my sister was busy rummaging in her bag. "What do you need?" I asked.
Caught in her own thoughts she said;: "Hairband.  Don't suppose you've got one?"
I patiently waited for her to meet my gaze.  "Are you kidding me?!" We cried with laughter.
I'm really embracing being bald. Don't get me wrong,  the wig has its perks - I used it to convince a naughty child I was one of Roald Dahl's Witches by taking it off to prove I was  one, also when a woman in a shop said she loved the style of the back of my hair so I pulled it off and agreed. Her face was a picture! But baldness feels like me.
Talking of me, me, ME....I was on BBC South East yesterday and absolutely loved it. I'm off to BBC Radio Kent tomorrow for a radio interview too so i'm making the most or my five minutes! One of the best things to come out of the experience is all the messages from people from all walks of life.  Thank you to all of you for your words - I appreciate them all.
It's downtime for me now as the chemo tide draws in but give me a few days and i'll have found a surF board and will be riding the wave.

Monday, 25 January 2016

Baldy Gets Five Minutes of Fame

If we're not connected on Facebook and I haven't yet stopped you in the street to tell you ever so unsubtly I am going to be on the telly, well, there you go....i'm going to be on.the.TELLY!
I don't even care that my five minutes of fame has arrived at a time I am bald and have THE biggest dark circles around my eyes seeing as the only other times I have been on TV is on the opening credits of Newsnight when I was 12 and when I won a writing competition on Teletext when I was at middle school. I wasn't on the screen for that one, just my piece about My New Year's Resolution and I remember having to hold and unhold the screen for what seemed like an eternity before it rolled around to my bit.
I digress.
So today a lovely reporter from BBC South East came and interviewed me about the financial pressures us cancer patients endure. I also wangled in about the blog and i'm not afraid to admit I hope it picks up some more readers along the way because it's a bit of a pick me up to see how many times each post gets read. So far, since it started in November,  the blog's been read in excess of 18000 times. This blog. The one you're reading now.  The one that I wrote. I'm just a little bit proud!
So today Child 2, who is poorly with a nasty cold, was bribed with sandwiches and Netflix in a tent while mummy had her moment in front of the camera. It should be airing later this week so keep your eyes peeled!
After skirting with fame it was time to head to the hospital for a chemo review.  Round three starts on Wednesday and then i'm halfway home. I've been told the next three will come with the addition of painkillers as the aches and pains can get pretty intense.  But as I said to my sister earlier in a dodgy BA Baracas accent: 'i'll give you pain, Chemo Fool!'

Sunday, 24 January 2016

To Me, To You

It turns out I have the decorating skills of one of The Chuckle Brothers. On Friday night,  knowing a friend from college was coming to stay the following day, I decided to gloss the very chipped and tired looking staircase. I set to it with gusto,  feeling all GI Jane and a combination of defiant and smug (you don't usually think of cancer patients renovating their homes do you?! Although if I see The Bald and The Beautiful as a programme listing in the near future I know they stole my idea).
I started at the top of the stairs,  having set Child 1 and 2 in front of a film, and in no time at all I had painted to the bottom - treads included.  It was ok, we were going to camp in the front room. Until I remembered the bedding was upstairs,  as was the switch to turn the heating on, as was seemingly everything we now needed.  A whole 13 freshly glossed steps away.
I set the girls up to sleep on the sofa,  which usually seems a normal size but a two seater does not a bed for three people make, and settled myself in the armchair as the temperature in the house continued to plummet.  I swear I saw a penguin try to set up home.
At one point I tried to climb onto the sofa to snuggle with the girls. Big mistake. Child 2 sensed her warmth and blanket were under threat and kicked out like a hobo in a turf war. I gave up and sulkily  retreated back to my chair, all the while consoling myself that by the morning the paint would have dried and we would be able to once again access the luxuries of heat and clean clothes.  (Thank God for downstairs bathrooms!)
Some hours later,  feeling as cold as Kate Winslet on that raft in Titanic,  I got up to assess my handiwork.  Want to know what happens when you paint wood and then essentially put it in the fridge? That's right, IT DOESN'T DRY! Not one bit and one of my slippers actually got stuck to one of the stairs as I admitted defeat and went to turn the heating on.
I now have 7 footprints to sand down and gloss over again but at least I now see my friends are justified in refusing to lend me power tools.
My college friend arrived,  helped the girls and me turn the house around again and laughed at how I haven't really changed that much in ten years. I must say it is  nice having a string of adults pop in and lend a hand as i'm more about instigating Taylor Swift dance offs with the girls than I am for housework.  Once The Cancer has made its retreat I might look to finally give in and become a bit of a grown up but for now I wouldn't want to miss out on all the fun the three of us have.  Plus they're still young enough to think I look, sing and dance just like the real Swifty so I'm milking it for all it's worth.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

The Magic Hat

I've now learnt what doing too much in good week results in: another cold.  I had one at the same point in my last cycle but this cold has left me feeling like i'm about to run out of battery.  Exhaustion has set in and I forgot I have swapped Super Dad's weekend with the girls until next weekend  to fall in line with chemo so there will be little opportunity to rest up.
I see the sensitive soul that is Child 1 weighing me up and considering every cough, sneeze and yawn as a sign I may be about to keel over, while Child 2 keeps up her relentless comparisons of me and Groo from Despicable Me.
I had my PICC line, the tube in my arm which my chemo  is delivered through,  cleaned and redressed today and I was half expecting to be kept in because in my disaster making brain, cold+chemo= infection and death. Cheery bugger, aren't I?  Turns out colds are still just colds providing my temperature stays  normal and I have to just get on with it.
So Child 1 and I had a chat about all her worries tonight while Child 2, seeing I was distracted,  tried to stuff as many small objects up into the bobble hat I was wearing without me noticing. I thought I had recovered everything but when I took my hat off a moment ago a chocolate, a coin and a pen lid fell out.
Despite wanting to put myself to bed early, it's time to pull myself up off the sofa, clean up the kitchen, prepare for the morning rush and play tooth fairy to Child 1, who has written an accompanying note most probably asking for an increase on the usual £1. That kid is resourceful. About a month ago I asked her to rub my back for 10"minutes which she dutifully agreed to. As she started, she said :'i'll do it for pocket money.  How about  £10?' With that kind of savvy it would never surprise me if she didn't start buying teeth for dirt cheap on the black market and fobbing me off for tooth fairy money.  I wouldn't mind but this is the fiftieth time the tooth fairy has come for her.  How many teeth has one child got?!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

A New Pet For The Family

Just over a year ago I had to make an agonising decision to rehome the family dog, a hairy Chihuahua named Bruce. We needed to move and I couldn't find a habitable,  affordable rental which allowed pets and especially nowhere that would allow a pet that made dirty protests anywhere on a whim.  So Bruce was found a loving home and since then the girls, particualy Child 1, have been on and on and on and on about replacing the furry void he left behind. Bruce looked like an Alsatian that had been shrunk in the wash crossed with Yoda, but to Child 1 he was her spirit animal and nothing would ever be right until a hairy,  smelly pooping, nipping thing was in our home -and apparently Child 2 wasn't enough. 
So today I decided to give in and allow something hairy that needs a lot of TLC into our home but won't poo everywhere and can be left on its own. The girls are in love and have been playing with it all afternoon although we're struggling to come up with a suitable name. Take a look and see what you think!

With the help of my friends /miracle workers at The Pickering Cancer Drop-In Centre in Tunbridge Wells  I started the day like this :

And end it like this....

I now have in my possession a beautiful,  real hair wig. I  had so much fun trying on every single one and once again the fantastic volunteers lifted my spirits with laughter and hugs. It's thanks to Polly and her team I live by the mantra 'Cancer is a word, not a sentence' and the fact the centre also supports the families of sufferers has made it an invaluable source of advice on navigating the emotional aspects of a cancer diagnosis. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

And....How Are You?

I'm relishing this week and all the simple pleasures I not only took for granted but wholeheartedly dreaded before the chemo life. Coming up for air from the side effects,  I'm back on form and as well as keeping on top of all the house stuff, i'm decorating,  socialising and getting all types of creative.  I think chemo kills procrastination cells too.
At the weekend my oldest friends surprised me with a visit from halfway across the country and cooked a roast for the girls and me. I'm so proud to know such intelligent and thoughtful women who as teenagers, we sat together and wrote reams of diaries about boys and secrets and glitter and bacardi breezes. Now, all these years later,  we share still more secrets, memories and enjoy watching as our own daughters navigate their own paths, even if we do hope they don't make all the same choices. (Cutting your own hair and kissing boys that look like Pob being examples).
I'm certain I feel as good as I do this week because of all the love and support I have around me and i even gave in and finally wrote a song for a friend's band which he assures me didn't totally suck and i cant wait to hear the recording later on in the week.

So it brings me back to the title of this blog- how are you? I've spent so long in a haze of chemo and fear i've lost touch with everybody else's lives and I worry the carer fatigue will set in soon for all of you who have kept me lifted up.  In short, hit me with it. All your news. All your usual conversation.  Nothing is off limits.  I'm all ears. I miss being a friend, a sister, and a daughter.  If I can help you,  let me. I have a pocket of time to live before the chemo wave rolls in again.

Monday, 18 January 2016

Love and other four letter words

It's my good week and I'm packing in as much as I possibly can. I'm filling my time with the ferocity of someone doing a trolley dash and it's the morale boost I need. The Cancer is becoming much more of an afterthought than the only thought, although i'm pretty sure dipping my toe into the online dating swamp has also played it's part as a distraction.
A few of you have been asking about 'The Chap' I mentioned in a previous post.  To be clear he is A Chap. Not The Chap and definitely not My Chap. He is however part of a dating horror story, (my doing , not his) which I won't detail here.

Online dating is a bit like dredging the Thames.  You have to pull out a load of buckled bikes and wonky trolleys to find a scrap of something you might want to keep and men online are ruthless.  I'm pretty sure most of them have spent a lot of time alone watching Scrapheap Challenge because of the humourless way they present themselves in their quest to find the working parts they need.
 I'm up front about the kids and The Cancer and I thank God for my sense of humour because I have lost count of the number of times I have been told I have too much baggage or that i'm too much to take on. Gone are the days of being wooed.  Instead now I am weighed up like an awkwardly shaped, doesn't fit with the rest of the decor, piece of furniture.

 I know you could say there's plenty of time for all this when i'm better but i'm still just about  (if you squint a bit) young enough to hope i'll get a second chance at lifetime love.  My lovely friends tell me they have a feeling if will happen and list all of all the things they love about me (friends are good like that) but soon the few swamp dwellers left who don't consider my baggage too cumbersome and still want to date me will be faced with a new dilemma -the possibility of having a cleavage bigger than mine. I thought you got a straight swap, old for new, but it turns out there will be many a month inbetween stages while healing commences.

Not going to lie, i'm still holding out for Keanu Reeves.  That has to be why he's still single, right?

Friday, 15 January 2016

A Perfectly Ordinary Day

Today my good friends at Love Inc Ltd let me go to HQ and pretend to work there for the morning.  It's a workplace like no other- it's Heaven out of its box. There you can be as off the wall as you dare and someone will double dare you to go one step more.  I love the energy from all the creativity and the fact that everyone genuinely loves doing their work.
It was great to do something so ordinary, to be amongst normal 'stuff'and talk about things other than my health.  Thanks for letting me be part of the gang, guys.
So, that really kicked the day off. From there I went to see a friend for a coffee and a catch up before it was time to collect child 1 and her friends as i'd promised them they could get ready at ours before the school disco. We had so much fun. There was playing,  pizza, pop music and the best bit for me- giving three little girls a makeover which involved hair crimping,  nail painting and a light dusting of makeup.
I've missed doing hair.
In other exciting news, the chesty lump has made a very obvious retreat with this but of chemo - you can feel it's got a lot, lot smaller.  I say 'you' can feel it  but this is by invitation only of course.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

Jobs, dates and other grown-up stuff

A friend and I were talking the other night about what I might do career-wise once I've been restored.  She's coming up for retirement and was a journalist at the time when anarchists ran newsrooms,  reporters lived and drank and died on the job, press statements just didn't exist and rebelling from anything you were told by authority was actively encouraged. In short, when it was still fun.
We both share a cynical wit about stuff and in particular, when as a Public Relations specialist, you are invited along to a company meeting about an 'exciting new initiative that needs promoting'. Most of these aren't new, exciting or used much initiative to conceive and when you have launched ten awareness campaigns you have launched a thousand.
"The trouble is, " I said," I think I would have a real job being employable in a conventional sense as I spend too much time in big meetings resisting the urge to shout 'this is all dog shit' and walk out."
"Then my girl,  you need to invent a time machine or work for yourself because i've been resisting the same urge since the seventies," came her reply.   So, it's led me to think what grown up job I will do once i'm better because if anything, being ill has made me even more outspoken and more rebellious and less likely to sit through three hours of meetings which could have been watered down to a ten minute chat if we all didn't just fancy an easy afternoon. All ideas welcome.
Talking of being outspoken,  it does back fire at times. Namely yesterday when I decided to blog about my day of no poo. Despite being a baldy on chemo, i've been keeping up with the online dating.  It's surprising but it's not been the put off I expected it to. I forgot I had mentioned to one chap I had been talking to that I blog and as we added each other on Facebook he has been able to see my updates.  He would have chosen to read yesterday's, wouldn't he?! I awoke this morning to a suggestion of 'try green tea to improve motion' with a ton of crying laughter emojis.  Its not your usual topics of conversation when dating and the sheer horror of what happened made me think of running outside and burying my phone in the garden to make it all go away. Must remember to censor self or create alternative 'normal' profile. Still,  I think the gravity of the situation did the trick; )

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

The Chips Were Down

I'm not so sure my chemo nurse is real and i'm pretty certain he's an angel.  He's seen me for both my treatments so far and has had the measure of me both times. The first he saw straight through my bravado and distracted me with stories,  the second he gently reassured me when i couldn't pretend I was anxious .
 Today when I visited to have my line flushed, he seemed to sense I wasn't feeling upbeat and out of nowhere he appeared and gave me a big hug while I had a big cry. My back's been hurting and I now know it's down to the white cell booster injections i'm having each day and you know you really are comfortable with someone when you can blurt between sobs 'and this is so unladylike and i'm so sorry but i'm.....constipated! '
Yes. I did just mention poo and yes I did consider a working title for this post as 'Not Giving Any Shits', but I wasn't sure how that would go down. The fact is, we all do it, although some more frequently than others. It's a really common side effect of the anti-sickness medication and can make you feel like... you guessed it. The irony. 
Aside from that i've been blessed with a day of rest - as my lovely friends have popped in to do the washing up and swept in to take both girls to school and nursery, collect them and feed them  Meanwhile I gave in to the cravings at lunchtime, put the healthy foods aside and had a great big bag of chips because quite frankly,  there's only so much being good that's good for you.   
Pam returned after the girls bedtime as the pain in my back reached its worst yet and it sent me spiralling into disaster mode. This in turn led to a relaxing bath where I stupidly forgot myself and plunged my arm with the line in straight in the bath. Looks like I might be taking another visit to hospital in the morning to have it redressed again.
 Oh poo.


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Life as a giant toddler

Last night I made an epic mistake.  I fell asleep on the sofa without the heating on.  This might not sound much of an error to those of you with a) strong backs and b) hair. I woke,  curled up like a dead playing spider at 3am with a definite chill of the scalp regions.  It took about half an hour of willing myself up to get up to bed and the result of last night's hunching has left me with a sore bod. Could be much worse.
Child 1- the only child I have ever known to want to go to school-  made use of her sick bug confinement by writing long letters to her BFFAE (Best Friend Forever And Ever, apparently), while Child 2 decided out of nowhere to wow us with her abilities to colour mix paints. I swear I didn't know what combos made which colour when I was 4.
We're not making waves but we're coping.  I've rested a lot and the house is ticking over despite the fact my eating habits are more whimsical than the average three-year-olds. Current enemies are soup, cheese, talk of soup and or cheese and anything tomatoey except tomatoes.  In effect,  chemo has turned me into the nightmare, fussy kid at a children's party.
However, our reasons to be thankful once again outweigh the rough bits- i've been lent some seasickness bands by a friend and they're helping,  my amazing BFFAE and her husband who help with collecting children or just appear at random times to do bath and bed despite having a family of their own,  a community that brings meals,  friends to check in with us and a family who support us from wherever they are in the world.  I think we're winning.

Monday, 11 January 2016

UPDATED: Oh Kit Kat, I really would like to have a break

After going through my first cycle of chemo being waited on hand and foot while the girls were at Super Dad's,  I suppose I hadn't expected what the early days would be like after throwing two little people into the mix.
Child 1 came back last night feeling sombre. Under normal circumstances that would get my mummy senses tingling but last night nausea and tiredness had taken hold. I fed and bedded the girls but they didn't stay there.  Their routine was out of sorts. They wanted to phone Super Dad, his mum,  his dad. They certainly didn't want to sleep. By 10 o'clock I was putting myself to bed and a few short hours later was woken by ; "Mummy, i've been sick!"
Cue bleary eyed bed stripping, child washing and order restoring,  all while holding back  my own queasiness. A few more hours of sleep until morning and Child 2 was wide awake and full of her usual limitless energy.
The sick bug has continued- while i'm suffering from tingling and sore hands and feet, a headache and something similar to morning sickness.
I'm hoping to put everyone to bed early tonight and start the week tomorrow.

Update: So, this happened.  Today = worth it!

Saturday, 9 January 2016

This time next year

That's right, the outpouring of positivity from all of you since I discovered cancer and particularly in the past week has led me to think of this time next year.

I dare to dream.

It's not a bucket list because cure is the word of the moment. But I do have a list or a mind explosion of all the things my little adventurers and I will do when cancer was a had and stops being a has.

It might seem strange go talk of bankruptcy and days later speak of plans but I live in a dream world most of the time anyway and hope and dreams are a great medicine.

So I dream of this time next year, the girls and I will have been on holiday.  We are at the beach.  I won't care about what I look like in a bikini because the three of us will be wearing healthy smiles and sharing moments.  We will have played games and pretended to be sea monsters.  We will have eaten ice creams and laughed all day long.  

This time last week my hope had left me. A week on and I am planning the rest of my life. A week ago I was turning my house upside for Diazepam -but all I needed was you. Coincidentally I found the missing box an hour ago. I don't think I need it 

From my dear friend Kim in Texas came a beautiful gift yesterday.  Kim and I are joined in the battle of the BC and were introduced via the power of social media via her cousin and my dear friend, Father John When Kim was diagnosed  a friend of hers gave her a bracelet which helped her through her own battle.  Kim kept it with her through her journey and with Lisa's kind permission it now sits on my wrist to help me through mine with a promise to pass it on when it has served me like it has those before me. I cannot thank these beautiful women enough for their gesture - we have never met in person but through this bracelet we share a bond. I love you with all my heart xxx

On another note,  I received a print from my sister's friend, Lucy today with a touching note about the many perfect,  sunny days I have ahead. The power of words is a wondrous thing. 

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Two FECs down

Just a short one to let you know yesterday's FEC wasn't as traumatic as the first.  I set off for Maidstone in the morning and had a PICC line fitted in my arm for the chemo to go through and bloods go be taken from.  It's a really simple procedure and If you're inquisitive as I am it's cool to watch.
Then it was back to the hospital in Pembury for chemo and a new to my cocktail blend of anti-sick meds. It's working!
Also great for the spirits was going with my sister who made me laugh the whole time.
In other news- kindness is abound.
My eldest sister sent a food shop as a surprise and the next day an old work colleague and friend sent another. An anonymous samaritan put £100 through the door.
A lovely, brave fellow sufferer has selflessly offered to set up a fundraising site for the girls and me and I finally called Macmillan to see if they can provide a bit of support.
I don't know how I start thanking everyone. Taking is not in my nature and I always think about how people will manage after helping me.  I'm grateful beyond words. It's also important to mention messages from old contacts. These are brilliant.  Just a simple message with 'I wasn't sure if I should message after all this time....', 'I don't know you personally but I know XX,', 'I don't know anyone you know but I read the blog...', these are all beautiful.  You're giving precious time and making mine feel valued.
There's so much to be thankful for in this life we live and most of it comes from the people around us.

Monday, 4 January 2016

You Guys

I'm not in the habit of posting twice in the same day bit I needed to update on what's happened since my public implosion earlier on.
Love happened. From everywhere. In all forms. I've told you before about the community I live in but to really explain, it went like this- prayers and hugs, a bag of essentials and arrangements for the girls to be cared for while i'm at chemo round 2, a friend arriving with black bags who spent hours tidying the house and came armed with more essentials,  dinner and dessert being dropped off, a packed lunch being volunteered for child 1 tomorrow, messages of support - so many with phone numbers and 'what can I do?'  Offers to write letters to creditors. Not failing to mention my Crazy Cat Lady Doll who put a huge smile on my face. The list goes on. We live in a magical place. I truly believe a greater plan brought us here and I am overwhelmed by the love and care we have been shown.
Then on top of that is the unbelievable response from former work friends who are sharing the blog everywhere they can, sending fleece lined hats to keep my cold head warm, old friends who are offering to turn up and do anything we need, and my family who are always in the background coordinating and arranging without an expectation of thanks ( I include my best friend in this category too).
It may seem like I have just listed a lot of stuff i'm gladly receiving but while all those things are undoubtedly making life easier,  it's the giving of time and thought that astounds me. In church it's the genuine love and prayers from others who selflessly give while going through their own trials. Yes, I may feel sorry for myself for being financially poor but I am rich because of all of you.  If I am brave, you made me so.
A new friend asked me today whats the first thing I will do when I get better.  Easy. I'll give back.

When I Grow Up

I'm not coping today.  Not one bit.  Waking up was hard enough- i'm not sure if it's the chemo or the cold that has left me feeling bone achingly tired but ache I do. 
The house looks like a squatters den where I attempted to spring clean during an energy surge and went from room to room pulling bits out of cupboards and now have piles on the middle of rooms that need bagging and binning although there's too much for the bin men to take so I will have to store it and leave it out in stages if I get round to ever bagging it up at all. 
Supplies were low so I had to get the girls dressed to go to the cafe for breakfast. 
Child 1 had a realisation of what cancer is and had a meltdown about not wanting me to die and asking what will happen to her and her sister if I do.
I went to call the Oncology unit to see if my bloods from A and E could be used as my pre -chemo results but EE  has cut my phone off because they can't find evidence of my direct debit despite it being paid and verified by my bank. 
The council has given me 7 days to send in my P45 from work or they will suspend my housing allowance and I can't afford to cover it while they reassess my claim. 
I eventually got to speak to Oncology and they do need another blood test so that's more taxi fares and more hospital for the girls.
The pile of collection letters on the doormat when I arrived back from Christmas says bankruptcy is imminent and I don't have the energy to fight it.
I'm scared i'll have to surrender my girls go their dad. Not because he's a bad father,  he's the best. I just don't know if I am the best for them right now but they can't keep starting anew.  If they go,  thry'll then permanently live with him and only visit me.  If you see a fairy godmother,  please send her my way.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

A Different Day

You have all played a part in getting me through today.  From the comments, inbox messages,  texts, calls and blog shares- each one has lifted my spirits.  I went to see an old friend today, the same I have mentioned before, who knows the right things to say. 
In truth, this dear friend of mine is a therapist who I began seeing in the Summer, before I had my diagnosis but at a time life felt too tough to do alone. I was suffering panic attacks which are a legacy from my dad's sudden death three years ago and lonely after relocating for what became an abusive relationship.  I felt hopeless and- i know other single parents who can relate- to occasional bouts of despair where you can sometimes wish the next morning doesn't come.
During this time a friend of mine recommended 'Live  Life, Love Life ',  a self help book  by the life coach Sue Stone and after reading it I emailed Sue with my story and she was kind enough to give me a phone call to motivate me into making change. 
Life felt pretty desperate in a first world problems kind of way,  so I researched therapists in the area and  went to visit mine,  my guardian angel, a few days later. 
I originally went because I thought I was going mad.  For more than a year I had spent my life with someone who encouraged me to believe I was mentally ill and it had taken its toll. For weeks on end I argued my case for being mentally ill, a burden on my children and the cause of every failure. For weeks on end my dear friend reassured me I was actually quite healthy, definitely not diagnosable and eventually I came to believe it myself. 
There is no greater luxury than comfort in your own head space and I am so fortunate to have had that opportunity when it arose as it's meant I can face The Cancer while being much kinder to myself.  
Therapy is beautiful. It's a wonderful, giving,  sharing, experience and an absolute lifesaver to me at this time.  It's a place I can weep for me and my children, where I can be guided to coping strategies and positivity and life.  It's a treat and my dear friend is a genuinely beautiful soul.
Dear reader, life is tough at times. Some people  may judge others for seeking help . I know when I was being convinced I was bonkers I was also berated for suggesting I 'see someone'.  The absolutely most healthy thing you can do as a human is reach out whether it be in Church,  through therapy, with friends. Be kind to yourself,  it's the greatest kindness you can give to  people who love you most.  

Friday, 1 January 2016

Hair today, gone tomorrow

I'm really struggling at the moment.  I've been holding off posting because it's new year and it might be a bit depressing but it everything has hit home all in one go. 
I didn't expect my hair to come out in one day and it quickly turned from a novelty to feeling like I was in an unsettling dream. As a mum I was able to hold it together until the girls went to bed and then set about trying to restore order where we've all been away for almost two weeks. But my hair kept on shedding and by the end of the night I was bald.
It'snot what I thought it would feel like. I expected it to feel like the rest of my body but it doesn't.  My head feels permanently cold and it's rough in parts where stubble remains - my vision of wearing a nice silk scarf is marred in reality by the sensation of it snagging as it goes over my scalp. It puts my teeth on edge.  I feel exposed and dehumanised.  It's not how I look that bothers me as such - I once used a make up free photo as my online dating profile so prospective suitors knew what they were getting in to.  It's just the vulnerability of it.
On New Years Eve morning I took the girls with me to have the remaining wisps buzzed off and while I was out my sniffle developed into a full blown cold. I called the Oncology unit and they suggested I go to A and E to get checked over and by the time I arrived I was in full blown panic. The doctor who saw me couldn't have been kinder.  A woman of my age, with children of similar ages to mine who could so easily have been dismissive  after my bloods came back infection free. Instead she gave me all the time in the world to ultimately release all those worries i've been pushing down while I fix on a smile and pretend to be brave.  I'm not brave.  I don't want to die. I have small children I want to see become adults and I want to live for myself too. I want to go back to the time before cancer when I took being alive for granted, as a right.  Now I think about dying a lot.  I worry about the ripple effect it will have in my girls lives,  I wonder who will sort my house, what will people say about me if and when they remember me. I now choose my words carefully in most conversations for fear they will be the words that haunt loved ones later on.  I see my  newly decorated bedroom and fear a day the bed will be stripped one last time . 
I told the doctor all these things because I haven't wanted to see the heartbreak on the people I care about's faces and to feel their pain and know I can't do anything to make it better. 
She told me I can do this. That given my circumstances it's very normal to be afraid.  I asked if there were things they could do if I die to make me less afraid and not feel it and she assured me that for people whose cancer is ending their life that is absolutely what happens.  But she reminded me my cancer is curable. That although the road ahead is scary and uncertain I stand a great chance of getting better.  I told her I has stopped taking Diazepam as I was worried it would get taken away from me if I appeared to be depending on it.  Again she assured me that won't happen and it's probably something that could help me through things.  So Pam returns and i'm aware i'm only five days away from round two. I was going to put on a full face of make-up to unveil my new look to the world  but the mask has slipped now anyway. Check out the not-really-that-ballsy-after-all baldy.