January chemo sale – 20% off!

Back in today for cycle 4 after 2 blood tests to make sure the little white blood cells are conquering their fear and standing up straight and defending their stations with more than the usual feeble “say no to cancer” placards.  So imagine my shock when they passed their physical for the first time ever this morning.  What heroes. I can only assume they were watching Birdsong on Sunday or maybe it was the bone marrow injections or maybe it was the acupuncture or the new pills which I have been gagging on all month. Who knows?

Yesterday my oncologist, confronted with my lazy bone marrow and a growing list of side effects had decided it was time to lower the dose by 20%.  Not quite the deal offered on the high street (Lois got Ugg trainers yesterday reduced from £150 to £40 so even I can work out that’s more than 50% off, but Super Dad will have calculated the true % by the time I have finished typing  this full stop).

Jenny was chemo caddy today and kept the whole ward amused by ‘Jenny TV’ as I call her when she is in entertainment mode. She also did a good job of alarming my chemo nurse by saying how we met; “we worked together, fell in love and then….when did we have our children Rachel?”.   My nurse nearly dropped my medication in shock and now has us down as a couple and will no doubt be totally confused when Tim accompanies me tomorrow to have the stomach injections. 

Anyway, I can feel the chemo fog descending as I type so you will forgive me if I am a silent for a few days as I take to my bed and bathroom.  Guest bloggers welcome!

P.s. I do however have new challenges on the horizon (in addition to the Giraffe challenge of course)

  1. Back at work a couple of days from home during the good weeks.  Wolters Kluwer been very understanding and supportive. 
  2. Placards and PR stunts to Number 10 when brave Ruth Dunn http://www.helpruthie.co.uk  and I are strong enough.  She is organising a demonstration and I and many others will be joining in.  Need ideas. 
  3. Robin Hesketh, author and scientist at Biochemistry Dept at Cambridge has written a book “Betrayed by Nature” about the war on cancer, out in May, but he also has a blog http://www.cancerforall.wordpress.com called Betrayed by Nature.  This man is a true find.  He is both funny and super clever and I feel I have taken at the very least an O level in biology the last few weeks from our email exchanges.   Anyway, for some reason which I am sure he will regret, he has asked me for some help in editing his blog and helping make sure it is written in a way that the interested Joe public can understand. 
  4. http://www.Sea2Sea.org  advising Tom Van Kaenel on any social media or marketing tricks to help him raise a staggering few million for American and British veterans when he cycles from West to East coast of USA in 79 days.  Tom has been a massive support to me and Beating Bowel Cancer with his concerts over Christmas and general time for everyone, despite being pretty badly injured himself.
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Be Loud Be Clear

Fancy wearing a pair of these to work this week?

This is a post free from euphemisms and 19th century sensibilities, so I make no apologies if I offend any today!   Because the annual Be Loud, be Clear awareness week for bowel cancer starts this Monday and culminates on the 30th  with the launch of the government’s first TV campaign for bowel cancer.  And as early detection is a matter of life or death, it’s about time we got to grips with all this embarrassment and help knock bowel cancer of its unwelcome top 2 slot for cancer deaths in the UK; we lag behind the rest of the world so something is going wrong in this genteel island me thinks.

No other language comes close to English with the sheer volume of euphemisms that you could safely say in front of your maiden aunt and most of them referring to our bodily functions!  We have thankfully moved on from a time when terms for the parts of a chicken, such as breast, leg and thigh caused such anxiety and fainting spells that they had to be replaced with terms like drumstick, first joint and white meat.  So it’s high time we were a bit louder and clearer about what’s going on with our bums and go and see our doctor urgently if we are suffering from these symptoms for 3 weeks or more;

  • Bleeding from the bottom without any obvious reason. You may also notice other symptoms such as straining, soreness, lumps and itchiness around the back passage. These can often be caused by piles, but this is also a “red flag” symptom for urgent investigation, so it is very important to see your GP, who can take a full history and do an initial examination.
  • A persistent change in bowel habit meaning any unexpected or unexplained change to your normal habits of going to the toilet and emptying your bowels. It can sometimes be problems with constipation, and feeling that your bowel is not completely empty. It is especially important if you are going to the toilet more often or experiencing looser stools and/or passing lots of clear, “jelly-like” mucus.
  • Abdominal pain that is constant or which comes and goes. You should seek help immediately if it becomes severe.
  • A lump in your tummy especially on the right hand side.
  • Unexplained tiredness, dizziness & breathlessness (signs of anaemia).
  • Unexpected and unexplained weight loss.

Beating Bowel Cancer also have an excellent film called the Bottom line which I wish I had been aware of and watched. http://www.beatingbowelcancer.org/bowel-cancer-symptoms.

Lecture over. Thank you for reading!

My Mum and Dad

My Mum

a rare phone as she hates her photo being taken!

How awe-inspiring can one women be? She has been my rock, my best friend, my comfort all my life.  I wish everyone had a mother like mine.  But not mine, so hands off!  I have been asked countless times to ‘lend’ her out over the years and she does sometimes go on missions, but always comes back!  She is with me on my dark days, when none of you really know, and she celebrates my up days too.  She is best friend to my friends, mother to my kids, she cleans, hoovers, brings water, food, takes the children home at the drop of a hat, and stays strong when she herself has been through hell and back. I will never get over my Mother! 

My Dad

What compassion and generosity!  My lovely Dad has done more for my cancer than any person I know would, from research to taking his very own airmiles and travelling to Hungary to pick up a suitcase full of cancer drugs from a women he knew remotely.  He reads and studies all the time for new things to help me, he books and pays for nutritionists, acupuncturists, pills and potions and anything else he can get his hands on.He brings me daily nutrititous juices which he juices himself and drives like fury to get them to me within the 20 minute optimum drinking time!  I have not yet found an hour early enough to get up to catch my Dad out!  Waitresses, therapists, shops around the country will testify to the phsycial battles that take place over payment everywhere we go!  I haven’t won yet and I am 29 years younger than him and in full time employment!

Everytime anyone says “your are very brave, how do you do it?” etc, I refer them to above! I love them to bits and am very blessed.

Laughter and enjoyment and Qi are coming my way this week!

This week is a good week.  A very good week.  A terribly kind friend of David’s has given me 5 tickets for his box at The Royal Albert Hall to see Cirque de Soleil during half term. He says it will do me good as it’s an inspirational show of strength and courage.  What a spoilt spoilt girl I am.  Thank you very much indeed David, Izzies Dad, I can’t wait! xx

And keeping up with my promise to try new experiences,  I am now enjoying the pleasure of lying down for half an hour each week covered in ultra fine needles, courtesy of my new acupuncturist.

This isn’t as painful as it sounds but I am naturally disappointed that I leave the session without having given a least a test tube of blood. Turns out he is not your average Dracula.  Keen observers of qi may not be suprised to hear that mine is blocked and in need of a good old flush out and rebalancing.  Whilst this is all supposed to help with the nausea and the white blood cell problem, an excellent by product of all this is a clear head. I have energy!  It may still be like a typical journey to Kingston, fast, slow, fast, slow, stop, Crash. But I sincerely hope to see more success with removing my roadblocks than I would expect from the 3 motorways I used to have the pleasure of travelling on every day!

Observing that the biggest obstacle to getting properly well might be the nonsense that still circulates in my head, he gave me a good talking to about tapping into the power of my mind.  I have left with the following two challenges and will update you on my progress;

1) Imagine I am lying on a golden yellow blanket and starting from the top of my head breath in white light from the universe feeling it purifying and cleansing every cell in my body from the top of my head to the tip of my toes, concentrating for longer on my liver and intestines.  A kind of holistic CT scan I guess.

2) To practice drinking a cup of green tea slowly tasting every mouthfall, smelling the tea and feeling the warmth on my face and concentrating on nothing else than the sensation of drinking and the feel of the new bone china cup!  I need also to apply this to the task of eating a meal!

A far cry away from my usual practice of eating and drinking whilst on the computer, watching the TV and on the phone all at the same time. And at speeds that would make a hamster feel giddy.

And if I can do all this and keep my sense of humour, he prescribed a regular jolly good laugh, although not whilst eating or meditating I presume.  Wish me luck!

What a day!

Yesterday I had the rarest of days and went for a girly lunch on my birthday at my parent’s house and it was a real super sized tonic.  As I wasn’t sure until the day whether I would be well enough, the lunch was organised with 5 seconds notice by my BF Jenny and included relatives some of which were so rare only a few sightings or news had been received from them until recently.  So it came to pass that a whole bunch of them who don’t normally feed in public together turned up and were without exception, mad as badgers.  After a few “you look better than I thought” rituals and the passing of cards bearing giraffe motives, I took a few moments out for a quick radio interview with BBC Oxford who wanted an update on the growth of a giraffe out of my roof. Then it was down to a lunch fit for a forever changing her mind cancer diva!

Jenny, I have decided is the type of person who is impossible not to love and I am sure everyone who meets her must fall under her spell and agree to anything she says.  Yesterday, she pulled together the most delicious of meals with more ease than I could display un-wrapping a supermarket sandwich, but I swear she could even feed a puppy into a blender, garnish with a sprig of parsley and ask everyone if they want seconds and we would still say “Oh yes please, she’s such a nice person you know”.

The day went so well, I didn’t even notice myself slipping down the hill of the 40’s mountain and into the next survey bracket. So…. if you want to sit and laugh for hours and forget the existence of sickness, time and space then my cousins are your man.  If, however you prefer to discuss the state of your latest tax return or your bunions, then please go and live in a different universe!

click here for the BBC OXFORD interview