Thursday, 28 April 2016

Nailing It

I'm never going to be a Pinterest mum as you can see by the charming array of delicacies pictured here. What you are seeing is my last minute efforts to rustle up a doll's tea party for the girls. Yes, I did cut out the sandwiches with a cookie cutter with best intentions to make a sandwich caterpillar but Child 2's continuing obsession with corned beef means they don't stack so well. Yes, you are also seeing in my desperation to make the plate look interesting I threw logic to the wind and speared party rings on cut down Pepperami. Savage.
On the cancer front I had my last surgical appointment before the big operation. It was a day for ordering implants and talking over the fors and againsts for keeping nipples.  It turns out if they can't be saved you can get stick on prosthetic ones for close fitting clothes in summer.  This gave me visions of a barbecue gone wrong.  "Oh, that's a funny looking ice cube in my drink..."
"No, sorry about that, it's just one of my nips has fallen into your glass. Go on, give it here..."
Anyway, mine got a stay of execution. That's one less thing to have to stick on these days I guess.
Talking of things being stuck on and equally falling off, after smugly declaring I had escaped losing any nails during chemo,  my left thumbnail has taken it upon itself to have a wobble and is wafting about like an over ripe milk tooth. Except I doubt I get any coins under my pillow, just a disgruntled note from the tooth fairy- much like when the binmen decide you've left out the wrong kind of rubbish and they decide to take a stand.
All in all, not a bad day for the girls and me- the tea party rolled nicely into a board games marathon session- despite super dad's efforts to cast a cloud. One thing i've steered clear of until now is touching on how draining co-parenting AND cancer is.  Especially if you are co-parenting with someone whose response to your diagnosis is 'I don't care' and when asked if they can contribute to a hobby for Child 1 told me I was using cancer as an excuse.  The mind boggles. Now, Boggle,  there's a good game..

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

That's My Potato!

I've been called many, many things in my reasonably short time on this earth but normal has never been one of them. I suppose it's a good job, all things considered because the wait between recovering from chemo and having surgery is like being teased with your old life- the tiredness and breathlessness have faded, once again I can do everything I used to- I feel 'normal' but out of the blue reminders/limits will pop up like mole hills. Take for example this weekend just gone when I set off for a couple of days away in Whitstable in one of the lovely Fisherman's Huts. It's a fantastic, thriving seaside town and i'm so glad I was feeling well enough to make the most of it.  So much in fact my friend and I decided to go out in the evening  to a pub. Historically i've always been a big fan of a night out. I love dressing up but when you're carrying extra weight from steroids  (and eating too much because your appetite has come back after all this time), and you have to stick on eyelashes,  studiously adjust a wig and draw on most of your face, I felt less girly and more Mr Potato Head and spent half the night concerned that one big gust off the North Sea would unmask me. Ho hum.
Still, I have a couple of things up my sleeve to stop me from sitting around and festering. Firstly,  I have found that while I'm undergoing treatment i'm allowed to work up to 15 hours a week which is just the right level of commitment for me at the moment- so time to get the freelancing show on the road, and then there are the comedy geniuses I share my home with. Like every great comedy duo,  my children have impeccable timing and each contribute differently.  Child 1 is quieter and sensitive but very good at being mischievous under the radar, while Child 2 is just an out and out clown who is blatant in her shenanigans and makes no attempts to cover her tracks.
Aside from telling me recently 'Come on, get your act together, ' when I was too poorly to take her to nursery,  my other favourite gem from Child 2 was her quizzically carrying her picnic tea at arms length back to me in the kitchen and in the same tone you would speak to a hotel receptionist about something amiss, she said: " Er Mummy, these are the wrong sandwiches. You need to do them again with corned beef. I'll be waiting through there, ok?' All the while squinting and animatedly pointing at the front room in case i'm confused by life in general and not just sandwich fillings.
Child 1 on the other hand will guffaw with laughter at her little sister's antics and has nicknamed me 'chick fluff' due to the soft, babylike hair i'm sprouting on my head.
She thinks its hilarious i've begun washing these first signs of life with something called FAST shampoo and quipped it sounds like something Roald Dahl would have written about.
Yet it was Child 2 who surprised me the most this week - who privately uses my bald head as a drum, will intersperse calling me beautiful and calling me a potato, when she corrected another child for laughing at me in all my baldness.
"You don't have any hair, you look silly," the child said loudly.
In a flash, Child 2 was there. "My mummy's poorly and her hair is growing back," she replied while giving a Paddington stare.
Seems like if I don't 'get my act together' she's going to do it for me!

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Cancer: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

I would say it's a full on one person pity party over here but that would be making light of something I need to get off my chest on behalf of me and all other people with cancer.  Well this point and a bloody inconvenient tumour...
I'm finished from chemo but still, two weeks on, i'm breathless and achey and melancholy.  Yes, I know that's hopefully the worst of it over and yes, I also know the sun is out.  
Here's the thing.  I've just spent five months in a constant spin of line flushes, blood tests, chemo, feeling ill, growing stronger,  scans, consults and repeat.  For five months my life became only about cancer, the nurses in the Oncology day unit became some of my closest confidants and then suddenly it was gone. No appointments to go to, no distractions. The real world has hurtled on five months ahead of me. My friends and family are at work, Child 1 and 2 are at school and nursery and I still don't have the energy to do much more than survive.  i'm not able to give myself a sense of achievement by decorating, ot gardening or exercising.  My biggest achievement these days comes from washing up and hanging out laundry all on the same day. 
That said I have decimated Netflix. At first I was picky and would only watch top rated films and series. By yesterday I knew I was in trouble when I realised I'm now scraping the barrel with any old thing and was even starting to say things like 'wow, look at that!' despite there being no one else watching with me.
I don't want to go outside too much because my self-esteem has taken a right old beating. I don't want to dress myself up because I can't hide being pale and bald (even I have had to give up my beloved beany in the heat) and dressing down has never helped anyone. Plus I have absolutely ZERO to say for myself other than giving a running commentary of the day's ailments. 
On top of all this are thoughts of how I need to change my life once i'm better. Part of me wants to be a proper grown up again and do a proper grown up job but there's also a whisper that won't be silenced which says 'you can't do that,  you've had too long out of it, give up, give in.'
A lot of people are aware of how cancer impacts on your physical identity but it's the changes it makes to your emotional identity which can at times be harder to deal with.  Who is this defeatist i've become?  When did I stop hoping and dreaming in favour of moping and feeling sorry for myself and frantic to change all at the same time? 
When I was first diagnosed I felt like I was living a nightmare. Now its turned into a combination of the dream where you're naked in front of a crowd crossed with trying to run but not going anywhere. 

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Me Again....

It's really not been long enough for me to come back blogging after I signed off but today was one for big decisions about surgery and it didn't seem right not to include it in the journey.
I took a taxi out to the hospital in East Grinstead this morning and it felt like a luxury. The sun was shining and the route took me  through woodland and countryside. Anyone else ever go out for a drive with their parents growing up? You weren't going anywhere but the whole family piled in the car and drove aimlessly about narrow lanes; the serenity of the outdoors often contrasting with the commotion inside. Today the driver and I respected each others silence and I daydreamed all the way there.
Arriving early, I decided to grab a can of Coke from the cafe and sit out in the sun but thought better of opening it when I was besieged by flies and wasps and instead sat looking like I was in a bad disguise not fit for the sunshine,  complete with winter  coat,  beany hat and sunglasses.
Soon enough I was in my appointment to find out if  using donor tissue and fat from my own body was an option to reconstruct my new chest. This involves looking at either your abdomen, bum or inner thighs and while i'm now used to exposing my top half to all and sundry, I hadn't really thought I might have to stand in my knickers in front of a nurse and a Consultant- today would be the day I kitted myself in my bright,  rainbow Happy Pants, wouldn't it?! And I announced to the room I was wearing my happy pants- god , I hope they know it's a brand and they didn't think I meant lucky pants because that just makes it all kinds of awkward.
Anyway,  the upshot is by going this morning my three options for surgery have been narrowed down to one.  It turns out, despite looking like my skin is melting off me,  there's not enough there to do the trick, ruling out the option of a donor site.
The second option,  using muscles from my back and channeling them through under my arms to make a cleavage would make life as a single mum quite tough as it would have an impact on lifting and a longer recovery time than the preferred option for me which is......drum roll please....implants.
The surgery for implants is the shortest and boasts the quickest recovery time - which is an absolute must when you're single-handedly rausing two young children.
So there you have it. Surgery is set to take place on the highly auspicious Friday 13th, with a six to eight week recovery period, all being well.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Time To Say Goodbye

Now seems like as good a time as any to hang up my blogging boots and get back into the swing of normal life.
I did think about blogging a bit longer but i'm not sure how entertaining the usual humdrum would be and it seems a bit self indulgent to carry on when all that's left now is to gain strength for surgery and recover post-op.
There's a life to be lived out there,  plans to be made, dreams to be realised. Thank you doesn't seem to cover it for all of you who gave time from your day to read, to respond to listen or to help in the past months but I thank you all the same.   You made me feel important when I felt so very small.
Something as simple as seeing people were reading the blog gave me a sense of purpose when my days felt they had none and it gave me an opportunity to throw out all the scary bits I couldn't deal with on my own.
It's thanks to all of you my lovely girls and I have a town we call home,  fantastic friends and hope for a healthy future.  While my cancer journey isn't entirely finished it seems right to wind things down- save for a few photo updates here and there.

Here's to the future xx