The C List and other stories

“When are you going to get your writing mojo back?”  I was asked from time to time as moss gathered on the inside of my blog.

The truth is after Kate’s death, every time I tried to write it just felt contrived and to be perfectly honest jabbering on about the pressures of life just didn’t seem a fitting follow up post. So I kept schtum and got on with the busy business of living.  As Barbara on twitter beautifully summed it up; “the first wish of those dying untimely is to live their dreams for them”.

So I have been doing lots of dreaming and as Kate got so much pleasure from working, I tried to do quite a lot of that too.  At times so much working that I was beginning to leak yin all over my new found yang.

But with 2 clear scans since we last spoke, I am in a good place again and I have more news.

The book that I cranked out during chemo, called The C List, got picked up by a publisher and is being released finally on the 3rd of April in the UK and the 22nd in America.  And as Kate helped me so much with this book from the first edit to being my daily muse, I feel it is only right and proper to announce it here now in her memory.

I have also been signed up to blog for The Huffington Post so there will be all manner of thoughts spilling out of me now I have got my writing mojo back (or my blah blah blah as my Spanish CEO prefers to call it!). Please feel free to suggest topics. No reasonable request turned down.

My publisher has fixed me up with more interviews for the book so if I apologise in advance, can you please put up with the odd shameless plug from time to time if I promise not to overdo it? And please, don’t just point the finger at me, spread your blame wide to Melinda Lord who challenged me on this very blog to write this book in the first place!  And Andy Blackford who forced me to write daily and supplied the title. And anyone else who told me I should write.  You only have yourselves to blame!  And no, I have never pretended to know where to put apostrophes so apologies for that too.

photo (5)

(you may have to copy and paste link for the mo as I need to do some stuff on Amazon to get the link working apparently)

Much love till next time x

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  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 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.  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.

Onwards and 40ft upwards

So… on with challenge 2 and we’re getting a feeling it’s not going to be as simple as it first seemed!

A search for “architects with experience building 40ft giraffes on residential properties” returned zero results in Google.

And they say you can find just about anything online?

I remember when I was young, for my homework I did a cross section drawing of a giraffe lowering it’s head to drink water, showing the leg bones squeezing the main neck artery from the heart. I wrote that if it didn’t reduce the pressure from the heart to the head, it would blow off.

The head that is.

I still have no idea how it works in a real giraffe, but we’re assuming a giraffe, real or otherwise is a highly technical piece of building that we can’t just trust to any fly-by-night architect… so we’re going for the best-of-the-best of famous award winning UK architects.

It’ll be a 10-way pitch situation, so we’ve put together a request for designs (which we’ll upload later).

May the best architect (with no previous experience of building 40ft giraffes on residential properties) win.

[Guest blogged from David, Rachel’s brother, as she’s suffering a fair bit from the 3rd chemo & too sick to post but wanted to get the challenge started.]

(By the way – for the giraffe homework I got an ‘A’, my only ‘A’ ever… until my teacher asked how I knew that was the reason the head didn’t blow-off… and I confessed that I’d made it up as it seemed possible. She immediately marked it down to a ‘D’… in-front of my face! I must have been about 10 at the time and it put me off homework forever after.)

YouTube has been invaded by bananagiraffes

I am now the lucky recipient of not 1 but 2 youtube videos!

First one by Lauren Pettitt age 13 and pretty fantastic it is too! I think there is part 2 coming soon.  She also took all the photographs of the day, quite a few are on her movie and some more are on the bananagiraffes facebook page.


Second one by Tom Van Kaenel (age …no I can’t do that)from  huge thanks for all the support on the day.


Bananagiraffes can play the piano (well badly)

Huge thanks to everyone who donated money today to Beating Bowel Cancer, not least BBC Radio Oxford and Malcolm Boyden who publicised it so well yesterday.  Will let you know how much we raised later. Photos coming later for Decembeard, courtesy of our photographer for the day Lauren Pettitt.  And I may dare point you towards a YouTube video courtesy of Tom Van Kaenel from Hopeful Notes and the Sea2Sea challenge.  Massive thanks for his excellent compere duties today and drumming up such great support.

Here is the audio clip from the BBC Radio Oxford telephone interview after the piano knock about.  Listen out for Lois, very moving.

And Challenge number two – watch out for news of a 40 foot Banana Giraffe poking out of our roof!

BBC Radio Oxford interview updated and working now


Had a lovely interview with the nice people at BBC Radio Oxford.  Malcolm Boyden made me so relaxed I think I nearly moved into his comfy chair.  Mentioned bowels on the BBC! Shocking.