Monthly Archives: January 2013

i have my six week check up appointment tomorrow, and i’m worried. my psycho-oncologist tells me this is perfectly normal, that a lot of cancer patients get this feeling of worry and dread when it comes to these appointments but it doesn’t make me feel any better. i still have pains, and the last week or so there has been blood – this time from my bowel albeit – but it’s making me more anxious than I’ve been letting on.

the appointment isn’t until the afternoon – late in the afternoon, so I’ve got the whole day to carry on worrying about tomorrow. C is going to come with me as support instead of my mum; the first time since my first appointment there. i know already that there’s no way they’ll be telling me i’m cured. i’m hoping they tell me it’s going the right way though. and i’m hoping they can give me some reassurance that the new blood is just part of the side effects of the radiotherapy treatment and not something new. because the thought that it’s a new instance is terrifying. i’m nowhere near over the first tumour yet.

one of the first things i was told when i was diagnosed with cancer was how important it is to have a positive mental attitude. that i should consider the treatment to be curative, that i should keep my mind on being strong and believe i’ll get better. i managed it while i was in treatment, while i had the different nurses and teams at The Christie telling me i was doing great. i’m hoping to get a top up on that tomorrow, because my supply is running low at the moment, what with the hot flushes and mood swings signalling the early menopause they promised me after the radiotherapy.

if i were a religious person i’d be praying for good news. as i’m not, i’m just going to hope for the best.


when i first got sick, i told people in groups rather than everyone altogether; i wanted to tell the people i was closest to first, so they heard it from me rather than through a mutual friend (and if i’m honest i just couldn’t handle the number of questions and texts i’d have had to answer all at once). most people replied with questions; how long had I had it for? what treatment were they going to give me? how long until i got an ‘all clear’. lots of people sent messages of concern, and have checked in with me for updates on a regular basis. and there were a handful of people who took what seemed an age to respond and didn’t ask any questions, and i knew right away that when i got better those people wouldn’t be a part of my life anymore.

when you’re diagnosed with something like Cancer you really do find out who your real friends are. it’s one of those defining things – the people you know get split into two camps: those who don’t want you to die, and those who really couldn’t give a shit. it’s pretty harsh to label people that way but it’s harsh to deal with from the other side too. i mean, you’re basically telling people you’re dying unless you’re one of the lucky ones the treatment works for. and some of the people you know rush to your side, and other’s you don’t hear from again. not until you see them again at a show they didn’t expect you to be going to (because you’re dying, right?) and they look at you shiftily and you smile but ignore them mostly for the rest of the night. because you kind of know they’d either already written you off and are doing that ‘survival of the fittest’ thing or else they didn’t care anyway.

i’m feeling a little bitter today, you might have guessed.

it’s just easy to feel that way when there are friends who live far away, friends who have way more than their fair share of stuff on their plate already, people you are friends with but barely know, who come to your house and see how you are and send you cards and take you out for the day or do your shopping for you and hang around the hospital with you – or at least offer to if you need it; and then there are people you should be close to at this point, who disappear almost completely.

i’ve tried to look at this from the other side. of how i would be in the same situation. and i know i wouldn’t disappear. after the show, my friend apologised before we said goodbye. she said she’d been silent because she didn’t know what to say. i smiled and nodded and told her a few people had been the same. what i didn’t tell her was how disappointing that was as an excuse. if you give a crap, you get out of your comfort zone – because let’s face it, it’s not like it’s going to be a comfortable topic for anyone involved. i didn’t tell her that my opinion of her was changed forever because of the silence in my time of need, and that next time she needs anything she’ll be much lower on my list of priorities. i didn’t tell her how much it hurt that she didn’t offer to visit before i started my treatment, or during, when i was feeling low. i’ll be seeing her again at the weekend. i know already it’ll be a drain for me. i just don’t want to waste my time with her anymore; i know who she is to me now.

if someone tells you they’re sick, or that someone close to them is sick, or that someone close has died – in fact, any form of bad news – they’re telling you because you’re in the privileged position of being someone they would care about in the same situation. if you care, you call, or you email, or you text the person and you tell them how you feel. you tell them you don’t know what to say, or how to act, and they’ll tell you they don’t know either, and laugh nervously on the other end of the phone until they’ve cheered you up instead of the other way around. what you say doesn’t have to be the most profound thing in the world, or the funniest, or the answer to their problems. you just have to be on the other end of the line.

all you have to do is Say Anything.

that’s all they need.

it’s my son’s fourth birthday. for the next few hours still, at least. we had a good day. he went to school, took in the obligatory sweets to give out to his little friends, and came home with presents and a ‘Star of the Week’ certificate for good behaviour the past five days. i sat at home in the cold while our boiler was fitted, wrapping up his presents and blowing up balloons – which is always harder than i remember it to be. and then he was home. he unwrapped his presents, his favourite being a build-it-yourself marble run, pipping the balance bike and the post. we batted his balloons about the room. we had cake, and he blew out his candles. and i banished all thought that this could be the last birthday of his that i get to see.

Happy Birthday 4 Today

Happy Birthday 4 Today











i started crying today looking at a photograph of myself from when i was two or three years old. i feel like I’ve failed that child. that i’ve not reached anywhere near her full potential. instead of living the life she deserved i’m sitting here in my bomb site of a house, only half-enjoying my time off from the job i don’t like, while i try and think myself free of cancer. who’d have thought that that kid in the picture would end up with cancer. it breaks my heart. it broke my heart. and so i cried.

when i first found out i had cancer my brain went into overdrive, thinking of all the things i would do if i got better, all the changes to my life i’d make. but now i’m through treatment and i actually have a chance to make some of those changes, to do some of those things, i’m dragging my feet. and i realise that i haven’t already done all these things i want to do, not because i didn’t have the time or the money for them, but just because i’m either too afraid, or too lazy to do them. that makes me sad. i’ve already wasted half of my life and after the wake-up call of the century, i’m still here, preferring to sit in bed and daydream rather than do things, wasting the other half.

maybe i’m being too harsh on myself. maybe it’s an energy thing. i don’t know. it’s made me angry though. i’m disappointed in myself. after what i’ve been through the last six months i should have more about me than this.

maybe it’s time to really get on with my life.

this one isn’t about anyone’s health. unless you’re counting my mental health i guess – which you should – i am seeing a psycho-oncologist every two weeks for the foreseeable future after all. but anyway. this latest crisis is to do with space.

our house isn’t huge, but by ‘typical English’ standards it’s a pretty good living space. we own a Victorian terrace. not just a two-up, two-down, but one of the larger ones: entrance hall, two reception rooms, three bedrooms, upstairs bathroom, fourteen-foot kitchen, and sixty-foot garden out back. we have an attic too, which we could convert if need be (for a price). but somehow, with all of this, we don’t have enough space in our house for all of our stuff. i’ve realised the last week or so that it’s mostly my stuff that is the problem. i have a problem; i am officially a Hoarder.

it wouldn’t be so much of an issue if we didn’t need to get a new boiler. the one we have installed at the moment has to be at least fifteen years old, if not older. we’ve been told more than a few times that soon we won’t be able to get replacement parts for it, so we decided with the cold weather expected the next month or so to bite the bullet and get a new one. except when gas was plumbed into our lovely Victorian house, they plumbed it in with 15mm pipes. and modern boilers need 22mm pipes. this wouldn’t be a problem for normal people. pull up a couple of carpets and floorboards and refit the house with new pipes, job done. but it’s sent me into panic stations. as the pipes run through the whole house, front to back, every room will need to have the furniture moved and be de-cluttered – which roughly translates to me needing to go through eight or so years of accumulated crap to see what i need and what i think i need so we can move things for the builders. and it’s going to be painful.

it’s not as though i haven’t had to do this before. when we moved out of our last place, i threw bags and boxes of things away. but i think that’s where part of the problem probably lies. i’ve since spent days or weeks trying to find a specific thing, like a shirt, that would go great with that skirt i just bought, only to find it’s not in the vacuum packed bag in the attic, it was in the ‘to go’ pile when we last moved. so i guess since then i’ve become reluctant to throw away my things. just in case i need them at a later date. just in case i lose a bit of weight, or in case i need it for the zombie apocalypse.

i’m watching ‘Storage Hoarder’s‘ for inspiration. i need to work out how i’m going to do this. i have a ten day deadline. i’ll let you know how i go.

right, i’ve finished moping for a little while now, i promise. while there have been a lot of things that have made me sad this week, there are small things – or maybe big things, i don’t know – that have made me happy this last week too.

1) i watched tv downstairs after 9pm.

it wasn’t the first time this had happened, obviously, but it was the first time i sat there and actually took stock of the fact that there i was, sitting in front of the tv catching up on the programmes i’d missed since august and i was actually feeling like it was a normal thing to do again. i mean, for months i’ve been going to bed pretty much as soon as our son had fallen asleep, and we’d have to watch tv on the small screen upstairs. it was a small sign that things have improved since i finished my treatment, and made me smile.

2) i put on music of my own accord for the first time in – i don’t know how long.

i used to listen to music all the time, but recently my heart just hasn’t been in it. i’ve listened to the radio in the car, or if C has something on, but i hadn’t been moved to put anything on to listen to of my own accord for ages. which isn’t like me at all. so getting my ipod and asking C how to work the Bluetooth speakers he got for xmas was another breakthrough in me being myself.

3) i’ve been playing with my son. this is actually a major thing.

i’ve not been well enough since August to play with him, to get down on the floor and play make believe, go on trails, build dens, swing him around. but this week i’ve done all of those things. i feel so much better for it, just seeing the look on his face, and getting the cuddles like he knows his mummy is getting better, coming back to him. it’s brilliant.

4) i’ve started writing again.

not just on the blog – though that has happened. but in personal journals, and a story i’ve been writing for a while. i’ve finally got space in my head and energy to pick up the laptop and do that again, which is great.

5) i’ve started to do housework again.

i know this wouldn’t be a good thing on most people’s list, but to me it means i’m getting a little of my independence back. it’s only loading the dishwasher, doing laundry, or running the hoover about a little bit but it means i’m not counting on and waiting for someone else to do it for me.

6) i’ve cooked actual meals. from scratch. amazing.

before i got sick we used to eat pretty much everything cooked from scratch. we didn’t own a microwave. but as i spent more time in hospital and couldn’t do that anymore, we’ve fallen into some bad habits as a family. too many ready meals and takeaways. not anymore though. i’ve taken back the kitchen!

7) i’ve been getting outside on my own.

i’ve not been going far, but Ii’ve been taking our black labrador out to the park at the end of my street and getting some fresh air, and just getting outside. i feel like i’ve spent months indoors, and i guess i have, only being outside on the walk to and from a car. so going out to the park with the trees and the grass and the cold and the mulched leaves and squirrels and birds has been lovely this week.

8) i danced again this week.

i don’t mean ballet or anything real or strenuous, i’m talking about the shuffles you do when you hear a favourite song and you’re making a cup of tea or putting away the washing. earlier this week, i caught myself dancing, and i was so happy about it i went to find C to tell him i’d been dancing afterwards and he was just as happy as i was.

so there you go. eight things that make me feel like i’m getting back to normal. eight things that make me smile. it’s the small things that are the big things these days I guess…

… to buy stuff that makes you smile.

okay, so the last post i made about a t-shirt i bought is still my most popular hit, so when this turned up in the post today and i got the same feeling of butterflies as when the good old zebra one from whip it turned up, i figured i’d post about it.

stuyvesant physical ed. leader t-shirt

stuyvesant physical ed. leader t-shirt

anyone alive in the 80’s will recognise it as the t-shirt Adam Horovitz wears in the video to Fight For Your Right To Party. or the shirt Elijah Wood wears in the Fight For Your Right, Revisited video. either way i wanted one in the 80’s, 90’s and though i may have forgotten about it for a while in the 90’s and 00’s. i may only ever wear it around the house, but i finally got one.

yay, go me.

here it is in it’s original glory: