Monday, 1 December 2014

Bad ideas

If anyone is looking for some bad ideas I have a few you could use:

1.  Lose the ability to tell the time

I woke up this morning, got out of bed, turned the heating on, made my morning cuppa and fed the cat.  Then I double-checked the time.  It was 3.30am.  

2.  Try to compete with the cat for warmth

Strangely enough, this afternoon I felt rather tired (I wonder why).  I decided to have a snooze in front of the electric fire.  Stupidly I failed to take into account what Cyril (three-legged monster cat) would make of the situation.

Della 0 - Cyril 1

3.  Give poorly liver a good bashing

So, what do you think would be a good thing to do on finding out that not only has the cancer in my lungs grown but has now also made an appearance in my liver?  Maybe double check my will, meditate like mad or increase my vile green juice intake?  Nah.  Instead I gave my liver a (very enjoyable) evening out and a thorough hammering with an exciting lager/wine combo.

4.  Behave like a 17 year old (with apologies to all sensible 17 year olds out there)

So what next after mixing several gallons of the grape and the grain?  Some damage limitation maybe, like straight to bed with a pint of water?  Nah.  Let's live dangerously, get the felt pens out, and draw on the face of my hapless friend who'd fallen asleep on the sofa.  Thankfully, the following morning, the pen washed off.  Otherwise I would not be around to type this today.

5.  Indulge in public nudity

As you can imagine I attend a lot of medical appointments.  Dignity is a thing of the past and I now peel off my clothes at the drop of a hat.  However, it really wasn't a very good idea to walk into a reflexology appointment on automatic pilot.  I was half-way through taking my top off when I caught sight of the poor reflexology lady's face and remembered that this was most definitely not a stripping off sort of appointment.

6.  Expect any form of co-operation from our feline overlords

This weekend I accompanied friends to the heaven-on-earth that is Shropshire Cat Rescue, where they were choosing which cat to adopt.  All of this is of course, a very good idea.  However I, rather optimistically, decided to take a photo of Pickle the soon-to-be-adopted cat.  My photographic endeavours were scuppered by Pickle's ginger and white cage-mate, Ed. 

I believe the young people call this photo bombing

7.  Experiment in interior design

I've included this one to make myself feel better, as this isn't my bad idea.

A loo roll cover seen in a cafe toilet in Alnwick.  The owner assured me that she'd won it in a darts competition and had not made it herself.

So, there you have it, a selection of bad ideas you might want to try yourself.  No need to thank me.  

I start my new chemo, capecitabine and lapatinib, next week.  Here's hoping that my cancer thinks this is a very bad idea and receives a good kicking from the combo.  Fingers crossed.

And finally, it's December now, which means I am officially allowed to mention Christmas.  So here, have a courgette penguin, as seen at the flower show in the summer. (Oh, OK a zucchini penguin then, if you don't speak English proper like what I do.)

Don't scoff, it's heaps better than the mawkish nonsense produced by John Lewis.  And if you don't agree with me see Charlie Brooker's view on Christmas adverts, a man after my own heart.  Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

A shit sandwich and seeing the sights

First of all let's deal with the shit sandwich, and thanks to Sarah for that expression, I'd never heard it before and am now using it at every opportunity.

My latest scan results show that my current chemo, the lovely TDM1, has stopped working for me.  I had a good run on it, nearly 18 months but now the cancer has outwitted it and is on the move again.  The crap in my lungs has grown and it also seems to have spread into my liver.  I saw the oncologist last week who gave me this news.  He wants to go over my scan again with his doctor chums (why he couldn't do this before my appointment last week I don't know but hey ho).  I go back to see him this week for his decision on what to do next but the most likely option seems to be a change in chemo.  So grim news, but there will be other treatments to try and, at the moment, I feel OK so for now just sticking my head in the sand and fingers in my ears while singing la la la.

More news of the shite variety this time regarding treamtments for advanced cancer.  If you've read my rants for any time you'll know all about certain cancer treatments not being made available to National Health Service (NHS) patients purely due to cost. However, people in England have been able to access these treatments if their NHS oncologists applied for funding through the Cancer Drug Fund (CDF).  Now the NHS have decided to look at excluding 42 cancer drugs from even the CDF due to cost.  Of course several treatments for advanced breast cancer are on the list.  Read more about it here.  This is dreadful news.  It makes me depressed, scared and very, very angry.  It feels like the NHS are saying 'oh just fuck off and die' to people with advanced cancer.  I shan't say anymore here other than if you feel like signing a petition about it then there's one on the go here.  Just like most people I have my doubts about the effectiveness of petitions but it's worth a try so if you've got a spare five minutes please do sign.

OK, on to happier stuff.  We had a refund from the holiday company after our stay in the dirtiest holiday cottage in the worldThis refund coincided with a 30% off everything sale at Laura Ashley.  What can I tell you?  I was weak.

Also I've been gadding about again.  

We've been to see friends in Monmouth and visited the spectacular Chepstow castle (the town of Chepstow itself is a bit run down but if you close your eyes and head for the castle it's great). 

We went to London to see the poppies at the Tower of London (one for every British soldier killed in WW1), just as spectacular and moving as everyone says

And we spent a weekend in Somerset in the gorgeous town of Wells.  Everyone should rush there at once, it's beautiful, look:

To add to all the delightfulness, the town was cat central.  The stunning cathedral has it's own resident cat Louis who we met but failed to photograph.  Never mind, I nicked a lovely picture of him from off the internet:
Picture from here
 The Bishop's Palace also has a resident cat, Maisie, and here she is showing me around:

Win big prizes by admiring my lovely new coat!
And to cap it all the B & B we stayed in, which was utterly lovely, despite it's unpromising name of Beryl had two cats, twenty-two year old Clementine and the much younger Willow, pictured below, who was very cuddly indeed:

So to sum up, despite crap news on the health front, I'm still having a great time.  I shall end with a picture of some brilliant artwork made and sent to me by a friend who also has advanced cancer but still thought of me when she heard about my latest scan.  Aren't people lovely, not to mention talented!
I'm a lucky ducky

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Doom, gloom and killer cattle

Picture from here
I warn you now, I am in a bad mood.  I was awoken at 3.45am by the claws of Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) who decided he'd quite like his breakfast served early this morning.  I have not been able to get back to sleep since, which is more than I can say for the bloody cat, who is now snoring at the foot of the bed with a full tummy.  Yes, I know I have created a rod for my own back.

While lying here wide awake I've been mulling.  Never a good idea.  Here are some edited highlights of my disgruntlment (and if that isn't a word it should be):

And now I've got a new message of doom.  Although people with cancer in England and Wales have been denied TDMI (and other treatments) through the NHS, we have been able to access these treaments through the Cancer Drug Fund (CDF).  Or at least we can at the moment.  The NHS has decided to open a consultation on changes to the CDF which means it will take the cost of treatment into account in the future (something it hasn't done before).  Call my cynical but aren't consultations by government bodies usually just an exercise in asking people what they think and then going ahead and doing what they planned anyway?  If my worst fears are realised many life prolonging drugs will no longer be available to those unable to pay for them privately.  The consultation ends at the end of this month and I urge you to have a look and complete the survey if you can bear to.
So there you have it.  The cat woke me early and I've been lying here fuming and decided to share it all with you, you lucky, lucky bunnies.

I then went on to consider that, had I not had the good fortune to be born in a country with good health care, I'd no doubt be dead and buried by now.  Which in turn led on to thinking about the dreadful hardship endured by so many people in the world, like 748 million people not having access to safe drinking water and the state of the world itself with all the horrors of war, pestillence and climate change.

It's enough to want to make me stay in bed for the rest of the day with a bottle of sherry and a family pack of custard tarts.  All in all that cat has got a lot to answer for.

I can't even blame my mood on the onset of winter.  I like winter.  I like snuggly winter clothes, sitting by the log burner and my latest knitting project, an incredibly (and unintenionally) wonky scarf.  OK, by February I've usually had enough of cold, driving rain and dark nights but up till then I embrace the gloom.  By the way here's some top notch and enjoyable research on seasonal affective disorder from the Daily Mash

Having moaned for several million paragraphs I should point out that, on a personal level, I'm having quite a jolly time.  Maybe, in the spirit of fairness I should list the good stuff too:
  • I am now on a different bone strengthening medication.  This one seems to have no side effects (unlike the last one which was yucky), so hurrah for that.  
  • I've had the full compliment of sisters (nos 1, 2 AND 3) in the UK recently.  Which was lovely.  Sort of.
  • Started a brilliant mindfulness course (mock me at your peril).
  • Some good friends have recently raised over 1000 pounds for the excellent Breakthrough Breast Cancer.  They did this by forgoing anniversary presents and, shudder, running a half-marathon.  Many, many thanks to them.  My cockles are warmed.
  • I've been out and about enjoying the autumnal sunshine.
The being out and about included walking up a sodding big hill.  The intention was to walk around the bottom of the hill rather than climb it, but the lower footpath was blocked by scary hairy cows (see picture at start of this post) so I took the high road.  Once I reached the top (and stopped sobbing) the views were fantastic.


And finally, here's a picture of me ascending the steep slope.  I'd like to tell you I was being brave but actually at this stage I was too out of breath to cry.

  Onwards and upwards.

Friday, 10 October 2014


Here's my latest blog post for Vita (an online breast cancer charity magazine).  It's about how pissed off Breast Cancer Awareness Month can make me, and others with secondary breast cancer, feel.  Stand by for whinging.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The filth and the fury

At the beginning of September I went off to Northumberland for a week long holiday.  Northumberland was gorgeous.  The scenery is fantastic and the weather was glorious.  I'm not sure if I came back with a tan though or if it was actually a layer of dirt, as the holiday cottage we stayed in was beyond filthy.  

Admittedly when I booked the place I could tell from the pictures that it had a certain 1980s look to it (curtains with swags and tails anyone?) but I had expected it to have been cleaned since then.  The yuckiness of the place was apparent as soon as we arrived and much argy bargy, discussions, foot stamping and even tears (tears from the owner not me) ensued.

Ah well.  I've been back for a month or so now and I don't seem to have come down with bubonic plague.  I won't bombard you with pictures of the grottiness of the place but this gives you an idea of the cobwebby horror of it all:

mmm lovely!
 Thankfully the rest of Northumberland was its splendid atmospheric self:

Although if I'm going to be 100% honest I wouldn't mind if I never went back to Alnwick gardens again - talk about bling!
All fur coat and no knickers, in my snooty-for-no-good-reason opinion
On the health front the results of a bone density scan revealed I've got osteoporosis.  This wasn't a huge surprise, but my intolerance to the bone strengthening drug I've been prescribed wasIt made me feel far yuckier than my current chemo.  So after three weeks persevering I've been prescribed something different.  I'm not brave enough to try it yet as it's a chemo week for me and I don't fancy a possible double whammy of vileness. 

After a lovely, lovely summer Autumn has arrived.  This isn't all bad news as I much prefer winter clothes and love being snug.  The love of snugness is probably the result of my mum repeatedly telling me to tuck my vest into my knickers so as not to get a cold on my kidneys. Anyway due to the passing of the years and the eating of many biscuits, this year I had to go up a size when buying woolly tights.  I may now be a medium horizontally but I remain a small vertically - which means when I pull the tights up they come up to my armpits.  Here's to a cosy winter!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

An opportunity for Scotland

My latest blog post for Vita (the online magazine for Breast Cancer Care) is available here.  Be there or be square.

Monday, 15 September 2014


First Fig
By Edna St Vincent Millay

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes and oh, my friends-
It gives a lovely light!

This morning the lovely and inspiring Ismena died of secondary breast cancer, aged just 40.

I never met her in person but knew her through a marvellous Facebook group, of which she was a mainstay.

You can read about her in her own words here.  I think this post in particular has something to say to all of us regardless of the state of our health.

Thank you Issy.