Thursday, 21 August 2014

Win-win

It's August again, which means ... Shrewsbury Flower Show.  I went along of course and got more photos of the children's veggie art entries to inflict on you.

August was also CT result time (which comes along every three months, although it feels like every three days to me).

I had double cause for celebration.  First of all there was no change to the cancer.  So I remain stable.  Hurrah for my chemo, TDM1 or Kadcyla (which I receive as part of a drug trial), and boo for it not being generally available in England and Wales (the jury is currently out in Scotland)

The second cause for celebration was that I seem to have a new oncologist.  I wasn't keen on my old (and now semi-retired) onc, Dr Oily, as I found him patronising and, to be honest, I haven't forgiven him for his attitude to his department's cock-up (in my view) in my care last year.  Anyway, the new bod introduced himself, didn't speak to me as if I was seven years old and was pretty upbeat.  Top marks so far.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Nasty NICE

Last Friday the National Institute for Health Care and Excellence (NICE) confirmed their decision not to approve National Health Service use of TDM1 (trade name Kadcyla), the chemo I've been having for over a year courtesy of a drug trial.  The decision is purely down to cost.  It pissed me, and a lot of other people, off.  I didn't bother whinging about it here because you've heard it all before.

Today NICE continued in the same vein (pun intended) and turned down a drug for advanced prostate cancer.  That thudding you can hear is the sound of people throughout the country banging their heads against walls.

A writer at The Telegraph sums it better than I ever could, so I'll stop going on about it here but if you do want to read more and get an idea of how disappointed and angry many people are then please read this.(By the way, if you do read it, maybe stay clear of the comments section as there are some right-wing nut jobs on the lose.  Apart from my mate Tim that is, who valiantly took them on!)

I've been having a whale of a time lately with friends and family visiting, meals galore and the annual trip to the Shrewsbury Flower Show.  It's just that all the craptasticness from NICE and my impending CT results (next Wednesday)have left me feeling a bit like this Flower Show exhibit:


Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Me again

Just a short note to pester you with the fact that my latest burblings for Vita (an online magazine for the Breast Cancer Care charity) can be read here. 

Not the cheeriest of reads so here, have a free photo of Cyril, the three-legged monster cat, to be going on with:


Now, if you'll excuse me I've got things to do.  I want to finish this excellent book before this excellent film comes on in an hours time.  It's all go go go.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Ta dah!


And also wa-hey and any other self-congratulatory noises you can think of.  I have finished my pyjama bottoms.  No self-congratulations on the very poor photograph but I'm sure you get the idea.  Here's another crap photo just to make sure


The process was relatively painless (apart from standing on a pin with bare feet) so Coco Chanel had better watch out.  I'm not sure what will be next but keep your eyes peeled for more creations in the understated and elegant discombobulated style.

Not much in the way of health news.  I had a bone density scan recently but apparently it takes about nine light years for the results to come through.  However it's CT scan time again soon so stand by for the usual tetchy nervousness as I await the results.

In the meantime I've been enjoying the weather and earlier this week went on a jaunt to Leominster with Sisses 1 and 2 and Mr Sis 2 (otherwise known as The Sainted One, for putting up with Sis 2 for umpteen years).  We trawled the antique/secondhand shops and I indulged in my addiction for books, pictures and embroided bits and bobs.  If I acqure any more junk the house will burst.

Yesterday I went for an evening drive across the Long Mynd with the other-half.  The heather was out and all was lovely.  We admired the views


and watched the sunset


athen, predictably enough, we headed for the pub.  Night night.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Monkey business

Three years and one day ago the other-half and I got married.  

aah look, love's middle-aged dream
Yesterday to celebrate, and for reasons to complicated to go into, we went to the pictures to see Planet of the Apes.  I looked up 'third anniversary' and there seems to be some debate as to whether it's leather (oh I say!) or glass.  I think both are wrong  Given yesterday's cinema trip the third anniversary is obviously monkeys.  Incidentally if anyone is feeling the heat in the current lovely weather, may I suggest a trip to the cinema, the air conditioning was so intense yesterday I nearly got hypothermia.

Anyway, as yesterday was my wedding anniversary, today is the three year anniversary of my husband telling me he now had nothing to look forward to (as he'd enjoyed the wedding day even more than me, and that's saying something).  Romance eh?

For even more whinging my latest blog for the online breast cancer magazine, Vita, is now available here.  Have fun!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Fancy pants


Hold on to your hats.  I have bought a sewing machine!  As if my adventures in knitting weren’t exciting enough I have decided to diversify. 

I’m starting out with something simple; pyjama bottoms - no button holes, no zips and, hopefully, no frayed temper.  Behold the material I’ve bought.   

Sunglasses on
My plan is that I’ll be able to read in bed solely by the light of my incredibly bright night attire – no lights needed. 

You may think this latest step into the world of make do and mend is foolish on my part, seeing as I haven’t really progressed beyond scarves in the knitting department.  However, I am inspired.  Of late I’ve been perusing (and enjoying) the sort of arty-crafty blogs where the writers skip around their beautiful gardens with a paint brush in one hand, embroidery threads in the other while home-schooling floral pinafore clad daughters with names like Marigold, Petunia and Cystitis (I may have made that last one up). 

While I can hardly compete with those blogs in the angelic offspring stakes I can offer a rosy-tinted shot of Cyril, the three-legged monster cat, in my beautiful garden

Butter wouldn't melt
You'd never know from this photo that Cyril has been to the vet for an infection picked up while fighting again.  He's right as rain now though (after a course of anti-biotics which were next to impossible to get him to swallow).

Anyway, my beautiful garden.  Look how things have come on in the horticultural department:

June 2013

March 2014 (complete with pensive other-half)

April 2014

June 2014


July 2014
Please be especially impressed by the 'memory path' which is filled with odds and ends from beach-combing and the like.


I know all this is shameless bragging but really it's nothing to do with me, it's all the work of the other-half.  Sometimes he has his uses.  

It was a shame then, that on the evening we decided to invite the other-half's family, Clan Wiggins, over it rained buckets.  However, we weren't going to let a little thing like rain put us off and so the other-half erected a make-shift tarpaulin-covered seating area - so the family were forced to sit outside and admire his handiwork.  

The other-half comes from a huge family.  This can make entertaining difficult as my idea of cooking is putting together a cheese and pickle sandwich and I can get even that wrong.  Never, on the night Clan Wiggins came over, have so many boxes of supermarket pre-cooked snacks been opened.  Truly I am the hostess with the mostest.  Some of the family stayed over and although I had stocked up with the ingredients for a cooked breakfast I didn't have to raise a finger as the other-half's sisters rode to the rescue.  Hurrah for the breakfast pixies and many, many thanks.  Without them I'd have been sobbing under the kitchen table having a panic attack.

Lest you think all my adventures have been home-based, I've been out and about.  I've been back to Ludlow and bought yet another hand-bound notebook and gone over the border into Wales to see the the UK's tallest single drop waterfall, Pistyll Rhaeadr

see bloke in red on bottom right for an idea of scale
It was magical, as was the surrounding countryside





If goblins don't live under this tree then my name's not Rumplestiltskin
 We stopped for a cuppa at a nearby (and very lovely) cafe and shared a cake with one of the locals


 We then went on to Lake Vyrnwy and had lunch in a very unlovely cafe.  We should've guessed what it was going to be like given the signs on the path





Once inside there were more signs forbidding you to move any of the tables.  I was too scared to take photos of these as, surprisingly enough, the owners were not very friendly.  We sat outside in a rather rancid marquee type veranda.  I'm really glad the sun was shining as inside the cafe building they appeared to be playing things like this on a continual, hellish loop.  However, even this horror couldn't spoil the gloriousness of the day and the view.

Ignore the power lines, you picky sods
I'm not sure if it was all the gadding about, the side effects of the chemo (still mercifully few) or good old cancer related fatigue but I did end up pretty tired for a good few days.  I was forced to rest up at home and eat food that even I could cook

Many thanks for the spiffy new egg cup J!
But I suspect my tiredness was as nothing compared to that of my ex-husband who ran the Shrewsbury half-marathon in blistering heat for Breakthrough Breast Cancer (a charity I've got a lot of time for), so hats off to him.  Also hats off to Frances, who took part in a recent Race for Life bearing my name on her competitor's bid.  Thanks Frances

That's all the news from Discombobulated Towers for the time being. I'm off to do battle with my new sewing machine in the hope that next time I'll be able to post a photo of my luminous new PJ bottoms.  You lucky devils you!













 

Friday, 20 June 2014

Gadding again



I’ve been gadding about all over the countryside again.  That’s my excuse for not posting recently. 

Apologies for anyone left in the lurch about my latest CT scan results (although I did plaster it all over Facebook).  I've seen the oncologist and there was no change in the cancer, in other words I'm classed as stable (for now) and I can carry on with my current treatment.  This made me very happy.  I would have been even happier if the cancer had shrunk but that’s just me being greedy.

I recently posted a blog entry for Vita, Breast Cancer Care’s on-line magazine, you can read it here.  However, it’s mostly just me whinging on about waiting for scan results which, if you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you will have already endured several times.  So, here’s a get-out-of-jail-free card, you are excused reading the Vita blog.  I’m good to you, I really am.


Anyway, since getting my latest test results I’ve been here, there and everywhere. Well, Birmingham, Yorkshire and Cornwall to be precise.

I went to Birmingham to meet up for lunch with several other women with secondary breast cancer.  It was great to put faces to names (we knew each other from an on-line group) and chat about this, that and the other – and not solely cancer.  While I wouldn’t wish this sodding disease on anyone it’s a blessed relief to talk to other people who know exactly what this whole stage IV cancer malarkey is like.

After that I went up to Yorkshire and what a lovely county it is.

Aysgarth Falls (bloomin' lovely)
First of all we went to the north bit of Yorkshire for a very happy, joyous wedding.  I can safely say this was the only wedding ceremony I've attended where the vicar (a Benny Hill look-a-like) threatened to kill the bride for laughing.  Then on to the west of the county to see my aunty and cousins.  It was a fantastic visit and I hope to go back  again soon to inflict myself on my long-suffering relatives some more.

Then there was just time to squeeze in some hospital appointments (physio and chemo) before dashing off again, this time to Cornwall, where the sun shone and I did lots of Cornwally things which included visiting lovely villages like this one,

I think this was Ruan Minor or maybe Cadgwith
buying a picture at St Ives, eating a pasty, drinking cider and, oh bliss, a cream soda float,

Food of the Gods
getting serious, serious house envy



want one, want one, want one!
and making childish jokes about gardens.


The photo above was taken in the stunning gardens at Trebah.  There's a number of huge plants called gunnera there.  You could walk though a tunnel of them.  This walkway was named 'gunnera passage' which really does sound like some kind of embarrassing disease that you'd put off going to the doctor about until the itching really was unbearable.

I was in Cornwall with the other-half, two of his sisters and their husbands.  I'm afraid they led me astray and drink was taken.  I had a brilliant time, the sort even having just one toilet between six adults can't spoil (Bear Grylls has got nothing on me).  I'm not sure whether the highlight of the stay was the other-half slumping over the stable door to our cottage in an effort to make passers-by think he was dead or the time when he, half-cut, decided to drop his trousers to show off his knees - which were stained a patchy rust-brown by his cack-handed and ill-advised use of my self-tan lotion.  Happy days.

Anyway, I'm now back home surrounded by sisters (all three of them are in Shropshire at the mo) and enjoying the sunshine.  Don't worry I'm sure I'll revert to my normal moaning for the next post.  Later taters.