They’re Everywhere!

Breast Cancer sufferers that is. I just found out that a lady who I’m mates with on Twitter has cancer and like me she gave up the chemo treatment, in fact she didn’t have any chemo at all and is now clear. Fabulous news for her and me. She’s also responsible for giving me my fix of cute kitten pictures! Oh and she’s a bloomin’ good writer with a great sense of humour to boot.

A while back I listed diet, de-stressing, exercise and lifestyle changes as the 4 things I would be concentrating on to beat this feckin’ disease, but I’d like to add one more element as well and that is humour. How can you feel or be ill when you are indulging in a huge belly laugh with your mates? For me it’s reading any of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books. That man’s writing has the capacity to totally soften my stiff upper lip and make me laugh out loud in crowded trains and possibly church, although I haven’t tried that last bit yet.. I’d also list the Monty Python films and TV series, Puckoon by Spike Milligan, Mrs Brown’s Boys, Father Ted, all the Carry On films, The Rocky Horror Show (Tim Curry in drag and the Time Warp!), Billy Connolly, Anne Robinson (yes really – she made me giggle all the way through the Weakest Link when I was a contestant on it a few years back).

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld Novels

Tim Curry
Cast of Father Ted

Norman Cousins’ story is often cited as a prime example of the curative property of humour. He was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis and was given a 1 in 500 chance of survival. He promptly fired his doctor, started taking massive doses of vitamin C and watched every funny film he could find. He managed to add 26 Years to his life since that first diagnosis. Not a bad result at all. I’d be happy with that!

The amazing Norman Cousins

Other things that make me laugh are creating quirky embroideries and what could be more quirky than a Flamingo in a cycle helmet riding a bicycle? I giggled all the way through making this one for my Etsy shop. It’s sort of a tribute to this year’s Tour de France! I hope it makes the eventual buyer laugh as well.

Cycling Flamingo Zippered Pouch

Slainte

Linda xxxx

Still Here Then?



I’m gradually fighting my way out of the chemo fog, my body is slowly being returned to my control. That bloody Taxotere drug has left me with quite a few side effects such as the need to go to the loo – immediately!!! And my poor burned hands and feet have shed their skin like a snake. I’ve put a pic of my poorly big toe at the end of this post – so if you are of a nervous disposition don’t read to the end!

I’ve been making up for lost sewing time now I’ve got my hands working again and have been making some embroidered pouches to stock my Etsy shop. BTW the government gives you absolutely no help whatsoever when you are self-employed and sick. This was another reason I had to give up chemo, I couldn’t afford to go on without any money coming in. Add up all the petrol money, car parking charges, taxi fares if you are too ill to drive, spent getting to the hospital with having to buy stuff that is not available on prescription and you have spent a small fortune! There is currently a petition going round to urge the Government to give Cancer patients disability status. This would certainly help us out, a blue badge for parking would help too. The number of times I’ve virtually had to drag myself so slowly across a supermarket car park while suffering the after effects of chemo and watched somebody who has just parked in a disabled parking space hop, skippety skip into the store. We really do need ‘equal status’.

Anyway I digress!  I love all the birdie designs that are around these days and I’ve made a few birdie inspired zippered pouches.

Also I couldn’t forget my adorable Daleks. Here they are facing each other ready to fight for leadership of Skaro their home planet!

I’ve been able to start knitting again, so hopefully I can get a decent amount of stock together for the Christmas rush (I’m being optimistic here!).

This is Tabikat wearing his Dinosaur hat I knitted specially for him, actually I knitted it for Lily but she wouldn’t wear it, so Tabikat was 2nd choice but don’t tell him that!
My lovely friends have sourced a bicycle for me and I’m looking forward to getting my strength back and going for some lovely country rides. I have been shown how to take the front wheel off so I can get it into the back of my car, but I may need some more practice with that with a few YouTube videos.
Well that’s me for now, watch out for the big toe picture coming up xxxxxxxxxxxxxx
See you soon,
Slainte xxxxxx

Why I’m Giving Up Chemotherapy

chemo drip

I’ve just finished session 4 of chemo. I’ve had 3 x sessions of FEC 100 and 1 x session of Taxotere and I can’t take anymore. My body is gradually being poisoned to death by these drugs which incidentally do not know the difference between good cells and bad cells. They wade in there and destroy everything leaving your body at severe, and I mean severe risk of infection which you can’t fight because they’ve also destroyed your white blood cells. I was proud of my immune system’s ability to rally and fight and now I find it is drastically compromised by these drugs.

I was given Taxotere last Wednesday and once the steroids I had to take as well had worn off I fell prey to diarrhoea on Sunday which has stayed with me to now.  A panicked call to the chemo unit on Sunday night invoked the response “Oh yes, Taxotere is known for that”. On describing the rest of my symptoms I was told to come in to hospital for assessment. When I said that I couldn’t drive myself and my neighbours were out, I was asked “Can’t you take a taxi?” I said I couldn’t afford the fares there and back. They refused to call an ambulance and advised me to call the Out of Hours Doctor on 111. When I went to bed on Sunday night crying my eyes out I was unsure if I was going to wake up the next morning.
Patients getting intravenous chemotherapy
In desperation this morning I contacted my fellow chemo chums on our Facebook group. Immediate replies from these amazing women told me to take Imodium straight away which I have done. In the 3 calls I have had with my chemo unit since Sunday night I was told to just keep up the fluid intake, not one single mention was made of taking Imodium. This is just one incident of the unsupportive nature of my regime. My oncologist has deigned to see me just once during the entire period of chemo, yet I know from my FB ladies that their Oncologists at the very least telephone them before each chemo session to discuss side effects, reduced doses etc. At my appointment the Oncologist spent more time looking at his computer screen than talking to me the human being. I asked him the question “Will I have another scan when chemo has finished? He said No, we got it all at the op. So really, what was the flipping point of chemo in the first place?  And the answer to that is, it is  Protocol and a Cash Cow. It doesn’t matter how the patient will cope with these toxins, just blindly follow Protocol laid down, one size fits all and pay the money to the Pharmaceutical Companies. Incidentally each patient on chemotherapy is worth £200,000 to the industry.

pharma truth

Well this patient has had enough, I know instinctively that my body will respond better to a diet wholly containing foods that are known to be anti-carcinogenic, exercise and a de-stressed lifestyle. My Oncologist wants to see me next week to discuss, I will speak to him and I will tell him that in 100 years time this form of cancer treatment will become known as the most ‘Barbaric Treatment of its Age’. It is sheer and utter hell and I for one am not taking it anymore.

In a Similar Vein

Apologies for big gap in posts. My first chemo session knocked me for 6. You know you’re in for a rough ride when you can’t even keep your anti-sickness tablets down! Still I was only (and very violently) sick on the evening of my chemo session and fine the next day. Nausea persisted for about a week and then my wonderful body innards got a grip on everything and started getting me back to what passes for normality. I think I’d like to nominate my innards for some sort of humanitarian aid award.

Obviously the PICC Line has been inserted. Was a bit of a woose and didn’t look at the actual thing going in. I pretended to be very interested in the machine they had me hooked up to. They showed me a sample of the line and it is sooooo tiny in diameter and it’s purple which is nice.
Here is a picture of it attached to me  – I’m thinking of sending the pic to Steven Moffatt, the head writer at Doctor Who and suggesting that he write about a Worthing Craft Artist who is slowly morphing into a Cyber woman all funded by the NHS.
cyborg-small
Gruesome isn’t it? They said I would soon get used to it. I doubted that for the first 10 days as it was a bit sore but it doesn’t cause me any problems now and when I’m wearing long sleeves I totally forget about it.  This  is the cover I made for it.

Kicking Cancer small

Now the next hurdle to overcome is the loss of my hair – gulp! It has started to come out. I noticed this yesterday and in a panic called the wig shop to see when my wig will be ready as I was convinced I would be bald by tea time. ‘Hedwig’ should be with me or on me by the end of the week and I still have loads of hair on my head to play with as I write this. One unexpected pleasure is that after years of brushing cat hair off my clothes I am finally getting my own back on them and they are now walking around with Linda hair all over them. Revenge is mine, Kitties!!!

Lock of hair small

This is a pic of Fluffy one of the full time resident pussycats at PAWS animal sanctuary. My friend Susan and volunteer there brought me a lovely big grey mouse shaped cat bed. She put it down for a second to do something and in a flash young Fluffy had jumped in and claimed squatter’s rights. I didn’t have the heart to turf her out, how could I when she puts on a cute expression like this.

Fluffy Cat small
Susan was so sweet and found a replacement bed for me, this lovely wicker bed. As you can see I did get possession of it and now Lily is happily installed in and on it. Sorry about pic quality – taken on my mobile phone.
Basket for Lily

Nest chemo session is next week on 22nd. So I will apply what I have learned. Take sickness tabs before I need them, have loads of ginger biccies and beer on hand and drinks loads of water – easy peasy!!

Slainte

Linda xxx

PICC Me!

So I turned up at the hospital this afternoon expecting to have the PICC line inserted, but it turns out it was just the Meet and Greet session. I chatted to a lovely chemo nurse who even made me a cup of coffee. I’ve decided that free coffee and biccies are very important elements of chemotherapy treatment. She was very impressed to hear about my bc Facebook group and I was very aware of trying not to say “Yes, I know about that. We’ve discussed that in our group” when she was talking about side effects, temperature taking etc. One thing, I will have to do is inject myself with a certain drug. I can scarcely watch a nurse inject me, let alone do it myself. Should make a fun video though!
She took me to the actual chemo ward where I’ll get the treatment. Eight bays in all with nice comfy chairs and more monitoring equipment than N.A.S.A. There were about 3 people there undergoing chemo. Nice and bright and airy, no trace of ‘let’s hold hands and contact the living’.
mission control
I’ve got my wig voucher now, so I’ll be off to have a hairy time of it at the studio. Soooo tempted to become a redhead. I was also given a bottle of Scrub wash to slather all over myself pre PICC insertion and permission to drink red wine during the 18 weeks of chemotherapy. Am happy with that – didn’t want to push my luck with single malt whiskey.
Whiskey-Barrel
I’ve also agreed to take part in a clinical trial run by the University of Dundee. You get a gadget on which you get to press a load of buttons about symptoms etc. One thing it does – if you are not feeling too good you can answer a set of questions and if they are answered in a certain way it will send a red alert to the chemo nurses who will call you straight away. Nifty. 
No reason for picture below, I just like looking at it Winking smile
Poldark

Slainte

Linda xx

New Friends & Nicknames

My first new friend is named Fezzy and comes round to visit twice a day. Sadly not for my scintillating wit and conversation but rather for the handfuls of wild bird seed I throw out for him. Yes, Fezzy is a boy Pheasant and a very handsome one at that. Even the cats are impressed by his good looks. Here’s a short video of him strutting his stuff outside my back door

Fezzy the Pheasant

Isn’t he adorable? I was watching how the light was bouncing off his feathers which made them go from midnight blue to purple to russet. Nothing to beat Mother Nature’s palette. As with most male pheasants he is particularly vocal especially when he sees that I haven’t put down any seed in a while. I’m half expecting him to come through the cat flap to remind me.

I have decided that if I lose my hair through chemo I will most certainly wear a wig with a little bit of scarf tying on the side. My wig will be named and after a deliberation lasting 2 seconds I settled on the name ‘Hedwig’. I just have one teeny reservation which is that she won’t live up to her onscreen namesake and fly off! 

Hedwig

I know the internet comes in for a battering every so often for the violence and taunts and trolls but there is a lot of good going on as well. I’ve joined a Facebook group for ladies who are about to undergo chemo for the first time this month. There are 18 of us so far from all over the UK and it really is one of the most supportive groups ever. We swap info on our ops/medication/effects of chemo/nerves at the first one/cyber hand holding and of course jokes. Every single lady on it is a superstar and I count myself so fortunate to have been invited to join it. I think we are going to be cyber friends for a very long time and there will definitely be a few fact to face meetings in the future.

One of the lovely ladies gave me an idea when she posted a picture of a PICC Line cover that you could buy. It’s basically an armband that covers the bits of line that stand proud of your arm. So I got out my embroidery machine and a piece of fleece and came up with this!

PiccLine cover-small

It’s not sewn at the seams yet as I need to fit it once the line is inserted (next week – gulp!), but I’m pretty pleased as to how the design turned out. In fact I might just celebrate with a small Irish whiskey this evening (yes my whiskey taste buds have come back post op!).

Slainte

Linda xxx

Dem Bones, Dem Bones!

The Thinker Skeleton
I had a letter on Wednesday asking me to call and make an appointment for a Bone Scan (item 3 on The List) at the hospital. I called and was lucky enough to get a cancellation appt for the next day. I got there for 12.45pm when they gave me a mild (I hope!) radioactive injection. Then I was told to go away and drink 2 pints of liquid before coming back in 3 hours for the actual scan. I joked about downing 2 pints of Guinness expecting a tut tut, but apparently they don’t care what the liquid is as long as you don’t turn up again inebriated! I did have a bottle of water in the car and I downed it along with a very healthy lunch.
After acquainting myself with all the charity shops in Chichester, visiting all the public loos in the city, indulging in a coffee and a prayer at Chichester Cathedral I ambled back to St Richards. When I saw the notice in reception that one of the cameras had broken down I thought that the session would be cancelled but apparently it meant that the bed they lie you down on was out of action and I would have to be scanned in instalments – 5 to be accurate. I had head, chest, hips, legs and arms and got into some pretty amazing positions which would have put a Yoga instructor to shame. After the head one was taken I happened to glance up and saw a glowing skeleton of my head and shoulders on the monitor! Totally fascinating! The Radiographer was laughing as I pointed at it twittering “That’s me up there, not in the flesh”. I guess it’s not a sight most of us ever see, I found it intriguing especially as she told me I was emitting Gamma rays.
Beam me up Scottie!
Although it took more time it was in the end more beneficial to me as each section of my body was scanned at a higher resolution than it would have been with one all over image.
Actually trying to get out of the car park at rush hour took longer than the appointment.
CT scan already arranged for next week – yippee!
I couldn’t help it, this lovely Arthur Wood Teapot meowed at me from the top shelf of a charity shop!
Cat Teapot_small

Cat Teapot_small_bottom

I don’t really need another teapot, but it just makes me smile and when the hilarious image of my glowing skeleton has faded from my memory this little chap will keep me laughing.

Slainte

Linda xxx

Yes, I am guilty of blog neglect!

No posts from me since June 2014 – where did the time go? A lot of tea cosy making and stuff, but mostly frittering away my time. I reckon I could clean up on Mastermind with Eastenders as my main subject. For someone that has no tv I do remarkably well on BBC catchup.

All that has changed now as at the beginning of the year I got the news that I have breast cancer (no capitals, this nasty disease doesn’t deserve them). If there is one thing that makes you rethink your life and priorities bc is it. I’m just about to embark on surgery followed by chemo. No, I’m not going to post all the gory details as they unfold. I made the mistake of reading a fellow sufferer’s blog where she had described every single minute of suffering. I cried myself to sleep that night.

The one thing those wonderful MacMillan Nurses (capitals here cos they are great!) do is to warn you to stay off the internet and not to Google the disease as you can scare yourself witless. So I have decided to focus on real life in the flesh people – MacMillan Nurses, ladies I meet in the hospital waiting room and friends that unknown to me have gone through it. I prefer my situation to be one of hope and of appreciation of the great gift of Life. So here is a nice hopeful pic to be going on with until my next post.

dolphins
Dolphins expressing the sheer joy of living.

Slainte

Linda xxx