Monthly Archives: October 2018

The chance to do more

I am delighted to report that I am back home and reunited with my ever faithful sidekick Parsnip.

After much deliberation by the medical team I have returned  with my appendix. The risk  of seizures coupled with the damage caused by  pelvic radiation makes my case a complicated one. I am due to return to the General Surgery team in the new year to discuss an appendectomy  in more detail but for now my next surgery is Craniotomy #2.

In 2018 alone  I have spent 20 nights in hospital, relied on 3 ambulance trips, benefitted from numerous appointments across a variety of specialities and been supported by a countless number of nurses. At this point, may I say I have NEVER met a harder working group of people than the NHS nurses; 12 hour shifts which  include everything and anything from cleaning a range of body fluids, literally picking people off the floor, drying tears and so much more. I do not know how they do it but I remain in awe of their energy, empathy and ability to make the worst of times somehow better!!

Today is STAND UP TO CANCER. The Funny Boy and I were due to  attend the Live Show in London but due to my recent bout of illness we were forced to cancel. It is only when you are faced with a chronic condition you appreciate how frustrating and devastating  it is to be constantly losing  out on opportunities and experiences. From the everyday things like meeting a friend for coffee, singing in your car at the top of your lungs or playing your favourite sport with your team mates to the life changing events like starting a family or going for that promotion at work. These are the things that make life and when you miss those it is hard not to  feel like you are missing out on life.

Everyone faces challenges in their life but as long as you have your health you always have an opportunity to start again. This is the second time I feel my life has been put on hold as a result of badly behaving cells. In 2014 cancer stole my fertility; something  I may never truly ‘get over’ but I am slowly coming to terms with. The struggle I am facing now is  a loss of independence and an underlying fear of the unknown.  It is hard and I would be lying to dress it up as anything else. Equally, I know things could always be worse.

Never, ever take your health for granted. For as long as you have it you always have the chance to do more!

#FUCANCER

 

FU Appendicitis

You won’t believe me – I can barely believe it myself but 6 weeks after my craniotomy and approximately 6 weeks before I am due to return for my next one I am back in hospital.

After another ugly episode of vomiting and diarrhoea which led to a seizure (due to dehydration and lack of sleep) I found myself in the back of an ambulance for the third time this year!  A few hours in AnE with very vivid hallucinations of Parsnip and a Funny Boy who was not feeling his fittest (more of that to follow in the next blog) I was admitted. A series of tests confirmed appendicitis.

Due to my existing health concerns the doctors are calling my case ‘complicated’. Usually I would be heading straight for an appendectomy but with a risk of seizures I am currently on IV antibiotics and under observation whilst they decide the next steps

So, how am I feeling?

Homesick, fed up and sick of being ‘sick’ if that makes sense. Literally being thrown one curve ball after another… Get me home to Parsnip please!!

As always #FUCANCER and for today #FUAppendicitis

Not Knowing

On Wednesday this week I attended a spa day at the gorgeous Fletcher’s Cottage Spa at Archerfield in North Berwick. The day was specifically tailored for people with cancer and included a session which focused on mental wellbeing. I never thought I would find myself walking bare foot, lying on the grass and staring at a blue sky in 20 degree sunshine  in Scotland, in October! It was complete bliss and fully funded by the Made For Life Foundation – if you or someone you know is affected by cancer I would recommend looking them up!

Wednesday also happened to be Mental Health Awareness Day. I have always vowed to maintain an open and honest blog. Admittedly I have been somewhat silent over the past few weeks and a large part of that is because of how I am feeling. It has been over two weeks since we got the third dose of bad news. I am  slowly coming to terms with the fact that this diagnosis is likely to be something I will have to live with for the rest of my life and that prospect is not a welcome one.

On paper nothing has changed for the foreseeable. We know I have more scans ahead, another operation and inevitably  a discussion about chemotherapy and or radiotherapy. But it is the ‘not knowing’ which I find challenging.

Whilst at the spa day, I had the pleasure of meeting other women who are all cancer survivors. Naturally we got chatting and I found myself saying something I hadn’t realised until the words came out my mouth:

’…before I was diagnosed I had this blissful ignorance that I would live forever – you always assume you can ‘do it in the future’ but right now even planning next year’s holiday seems like a fantasy…’

Despite being in remission for four years  that blissful ignorance never returned and thanks to these (excuse the language) b*stard gliomas , I  doubt it ever will. I miss that feeling so much:  the luxury of limitless plans of what I can do and the dreams of what I will achieve.  Don’t get me wrong: I have plans, big plans,  but right now I can’t help but feel a little  envy towards my peers who have the ability to  make them happen now.

For me, life feels like it is on hold and as I do my best to make peace with the ‘not knowing’ I do have days where it is a struggle. At times, it is simply overwhelming.  My mind frequently races forward to the day where I’ll receive my next round of results and as it does I imagine every possible outcome. Today  I spent 2 hours picturing  those thoughts whilst simultaneously  trying to rationalise the tingling in my left arm and a racing heartbeat. I genuinely thought I was having a heart attack!  In hindsight, I think it was a mixture of the sensation gradually returning in my left side and stress. I suppose given the circumstances is to be expected.

I am an advocate for the phrase without mental health there is no health and with more surgery on the horizon I know how crucial it is to nurture my mind and body over the coming weeks.  Nurturing my body is the easy part but my mind will require more effort! I have already identified a few techniques which definitely work for me such as taking time away from my phone and practising sleep hygiene. But I do accept this area of mental wellbeing is something I need to work on. As always, the team at Maggie’s have been on hand to provide some practical advice and I have a few new techniques I intend to try. They say practice makes perfect so  wish me luck and watch this space!

On a separate note I just wanted to apologise for the radio silence – particularly  to everyone who has reached out via messenger, text or post!  Please do not think I am ignoring you. Your thoughtful gestures and very kind words are not only hugely appreciated but act as a source of great comfort. The Funny Boy, Parsnip and I have been shown so much love and support over the last 6 months and I can’t tell you how grateful we all are. Now I am beginning to feel stronger I hope to see you soon. THANK YOU x

As always, #FUCANCER

*Sleep Hygiene is another valuable lesson introduced to me by the team at Maggie’s. Unlike the name suggests it is nothing to do with the cleanliness of your bed sheets  but techniques to improve sleeping.  If you are a bad sleeper or like me go through phases of insomnia I’d highly recommend reading about   It at  the link below:

Sleep Hygiene

 

#MeAndMyDogSelfie

October is #Standuptocancer month – please help us bring forward the day where we find a cure for cancer by posting a #meandmydogselfie and texting PARSNIP to 70404 to donate £5 to Stand Up To Cancer UK which funds lifesaving research.

Don’t have a dog? Cats, rabbits, lizards or even a cuddly little toy? The more the merrier! Please share with your friends – Join us and STAND UP TO CANCER!!

#FUCANCER