Friday, 15 May 2015

Relief and shame

I got my latest scan results yesterday and, considering what I was half-expecting, they were a mighty relief.  

The scan of my head revealed nothing.  Oh shut up.  I do have a brain in there but, hurrah, there was no sign of cancer.  My bones although showing a couple of iffy bits on my ribs (which have been there for at least two years) are OK, in fact the iffy bits have improved so the oncologist still doesn't reckon it's cancer.  My liver (cancer detected there last year) has improved and my lungs (which have had cancer ever since I was first diagnosed just over three years ago) are stable.  The onc reckons my dizziness is due to low blood pressure and my back ache to old age.  Never have I been so happy to have someone tell me I'm an old crock.

This means I carry on with my current chemo, which although causing me fatigue and sometimes an exciting dash in the direction of the bathroom, hasn't caused hair loss or major sickness.

As I was very concerned about the outcome of the latest scans I haven't been planning ahead massively, but that's now changed and already today I've been out and bought some summer clothes and, now I know I'm not going to lose my hair in the near future, have booked a haircut.  My thoughts are now turning towards summer holidays.  Watch out world, I'm on the rampage.

In order to distract me from chewing my non-existent finger nails, the other-half, sis no 3 and I headed out to Cheshire on the day before I got my results to visit Bluebell Cottage Gardens and Nursery.   It was glorious, look




However it's not all joy and bluebells at Discombobulated Towers I'm afraid.  On Wednesday evening Cyril (the three-legged monster cat) caught his first bird.  Thankfully I don't have any pictures as Cyril took his prey next door to give it a good munch there.  He made a quick exit from our garden due to the other-half yelling 'drop it' at him as if he was some kind of obedient dog.  So, I have raised a bully and a murderer.  Where did I go wrong?

Monday, 11 May 2015

Reasons to be grumpy

Scuppered plans

Because of the delights of chemo side-effects my plans for a mega sewing day have been abandoned.  If I tell you that it is 10 steps to my bathroom from my bed and that, in recent days, I've really needed it to be 8 steps I think you'll get my drift.  Further lurid details available on request. Sis no 3 was going to come round and help me attack my dress-making project but that's a real no-go today.  Sigh.  I am hoping, at some stage, to get a bit further than this:



Thunderous Thursday

On Thursday I go to see my oncologist to get the results of my latest scans.  I am not at all confident that the current chemo is working so I'm pretty apprehensive about it, especially as the scans included bone and brain this time.  If chemo hadn't already destroyed my fingernails I'd be biting them to the quick.  I've written about the delights of scanxiety a million times before but, of course, the process doesn't get any easier so I'm going to continue whinging about it.  So there.

Cantankerous cats

Cyril, the three-legged monster cat is continuing his reign of terror in the neighbourhood.  As well as regularly attacking all the local mogs he comes home with his fair share of scratches.  I despair.  Added to all this is the added horror that is Snooky.  Snooky (a black and white cat with the added bonus of four legs) lives down the street.  He was rehoused there by sis no 1 in her capacity as a volunteer at the local cat rescue centre.  She has a lot to answer for as Snooky and Cyril have become arch enemies.  Snooky is just as rufty-tufty as Cyril and neither of them are prepared to admit defeat.  In fact we drove past Snooky the other day.  I actually should say drove round, as he was sitting in the middle of the road refusing to budge an inch.  That cat is a tough cookie.  If the current state of affairs persists, I think Cyril may take a contract out on him. 

Yeah, yeah OK it isn't all doom and gloom, on the plus side

Cantankerous cats go soft

Look what happened yesterday



The three-legged monster cat decided to get all smoochy and we had a major love-in.  I was honoured (and sleepy).

Out and about

I'd be a big fat fibber if I said I felt grotty every day so I've been out and about a bit including a trip back to Wollerton Old Hall.  Even though the gardens aren't at their best yet it's still lovely, look

 
And I leave you with a photo of the loveliest bloom in the garden


Ha, ha, ha.  I am very funny.

PS.  If you haven't had enough of me already my latest post for Vita (online breast cancer magazine) is available here

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Hello


I am a sad enough specimen to check, from time to time, the number of people who've looked at this blog and whereabouts in the world they come from.  I'm chuffed but mystified to find that I've been getting a large number of readers from Russia, the Ukraine and Poland.  So the above is my attempt at saying hello to people from those countries.   Rather recklessly I got the translations by googling so if I've made any horrible, offensive mistakes, like Mr Brown in the film ' Paddington' then please accept my apologies.

Since my last post we've had heaps of sunshine in England and, mercifully, I've had several days of feeling well so I've been out and about including to the lovely Berrington Hall where I took these spring time pictures.



It was a beautiful day, especially if we gloss over the fact that the other-half did possibly the loudest belch ever burped in Britain right in the middle of a quiet tea-room.  Oh the shame.

Health wise I've no idea if the current chemo is still working or not.  I have days when I feel fairly grotty but I just don't know if that's due to medication side-effects or the cancer.  I had a bone scan last week as my ribs still give me the occasional twinge and my back has started joining in.  Next week I have a CT scan so, in the middle of May, I'll be seeing the oncologist to find out the latest.  I've been having the occasional dizzy spell.  This could again be a side-effect or possibly low-ish blood pressure but there is also the possibility of spread to the brain.  Metastatic breast cancer can spread anywhere but the most common sites are bones, lungs, liver and brain.  Obviously I'm really hoping I haven't collected the full set but the CT scan next week will also include my head (it's usually just chest and abdomen) so I'll have the answers fairly soon.  I will probably be an utter nightmare to be around come the middle May and the approach of results day - be warned!

In other news having just about recovered from my last foray into sewing (who can forget, even with therapy, the stunning pyjama bottoms I created) I am about to embark on trying to sew a dress.  The pattern describes it as simple but its got a zip and darts and requires something called 'stay stitching' (which I will google later) so wish me luck.  What with scary results and even scarier dress-making in the offing I predict some fraught times at Discombobulated Towers!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Decisions, decisions

Match pot frenzy
Decorating.  Yuck.  Not that I did any of the hard work, that was all down to the other-half, but I did put up with having the contents of the dining room (which was the room being done up) scattered through out the house driving me bonkers.  I hardly complained at all.  Truly I am a saint.  In the unlikely event that you're interested, after purchasing virtually every match pot known to man, we finally decided on the colour in the middle of the bottom row called 'scullery green'.  It must be a great job making up the titles for paint colours, I think 'disgruntled dormouse' or 'hangover horror' would be good names, but for all I know they might already be just that.  Anyway the decorating is done and normality, such as it is, has been restored at discombobulated towers.

I now have another vital decision to make.  I have a hair appointment next week - do I remain a brassy blond or go back to being brown?  Oh the indecision!  The chap at the hospital who does my regular heart tests (to check the chemo isn't wrecking my ticker) told me, unasked, that he though my old colour was better.  Nothing like a bit of unsolicited 'medical' advice is there!  The other-half is sitting on the fence on the issue (what a chicken).  Oh what to do?  The weight of the world is on my shoulders.

Pressing decisions aside, I did had some fun in March.  I left sleepy Shropshire for a trip to London, to meet up with some fellow metastatic breast cancer bods.  It was great to meet up with people face to face and if I tell you we arrived at the pub at 12.30pm and that I left at 6pm I think you'll get a flavour of the day.  Booze flavoured!  Yum, my favourite.  After that I went to my pal M's place in North London where I collapsed in a heap over a lovely plate of bangers and mash while watching the Lego Movie.  I have had a certain song lodged in my brain ever since.  My pal has a lot to answer for!  After a short stroll on Hampstead Heath the next morning I left for Shrewsbury, if I'd stayed any longer I might have been corrupted by those fancy London ways and ended up getting groovy, and that would never do.

Not content with going to the Big Smoke I also went to the pulsing metropolis that is Much Wenlock (population 3000) to see Jeremy Hardy, who was, of course, very funny and very scathing about the cockwomble, which is always a good thing in my book.

I've been continuing with my current chemo, capecitabine, with no idea if it's working or not.  My next CT scan, at the end of the month, will reveal all.  It's an odd chemo for me as it makes me feel intermittently yuck but with no discernible pattern.  So one day I feel, to use a medical term, like a bag of bollocks and the next day I'm tickety-boo.  Very odd.  I'm just making the most of the tickety-boo bits (and moaning like mad during the bollocky bits).

I've also done another whingy blog post for Vita (the online magazine for Breast Cancer Care) that can be read here if you're that way inclined.

Finally I can report that Cyril, the three legged monster cat, is keeping me on my toes.  Yesterday he decided to repeatedly attack a hapless (and very large) ginger and white cat who had the temerity to stroll down our street.  I had to run down the road after the pair of them in an ineffectual effort to stop the fight.  The street was littered with ginger fur.  Oh the shame.  And just look at him, butter wouldn't melt!

Be afraid, be very afraid





 

Friday, 27 February 2015

Going loco

The other day I went out to buy a water filter jug but came home with this instead


Not the world's best picture I'm afraid but who wouldn't want a tin 1950s toy train (plus signal!) on their bathroom skirting board?  The other-half is threatening to paint scenery on the wall behind the train, but I quite fancy the real 3D McCoy that I saw recently in an the window of an old style model shop in York


It would certainly make trips to the loo a bit more interesting.

So yes, I've been to York for a few days.  It has two of my most favourite things - history and shopping.  I had a great time, ate too much, slipped off the Lent no-booze waggon, spent too much money (new red boots and a picture!), went sight-seeing and walked my legs off.  

The glory that is York
I'm absolutely knackered now but it was worth it.  Did I mention new red boots and a picture?

Before we went to York I tried to kill sis no 1.  We went to see the snowdrops I talked about last timeIt was as lovely as usual although a bit on the chilly side


Then we headed off to a pub for Sunday lunch.  We decided to go via the Stiperstones (if you've the misfortune to live somewhere other than Shropshire and have no idea what the Stiperstones is, I'm talking about a big hill)As we drove up and up the weather got colder and colder and snowier and snowier


until we were almost in a white-out


Sis no 1, not a lover of all things wintry, was not impressed.  Anyway, we made it down the other side safe and sound, took refuge in the pub and stuffed ourselves full of grub before driving home, taking a less dramatic route.  I think sis no 1 has just about forgiven me.  Yhe other-half, on the other hand, enjoyed his Ice Road Truckers moment.

Have you notice I've been tinkering with the blog header again?  I'm not sure I like it but a change is as good as a rest.  And in that spirit I decided to experience some spring madness myself and go blonde



I'm not sure about this either as it's a bit too Bet Lynch for my liking



Picture from here
See what I mean

At my most recent hospital appointment I asked the oncologist what chemo options were left for me when the current regime (capecitabine and lapatinib) fails.  I was relieved that there are still two or three options to try but the reality is that nearly all of them would see me lose my hair again.  So I decided to have a bleach blitz while I had the chance.  So, no regrets there.  But no promises that the next post won't see me back as mousy brown and/or with another change in blog header.

While I'm on about all things cancery, my latest blog post for Vita (an online breast cancer charity magazine) can be read here, this month's not particularly happy subject is times when medical staff aren't all they could be, something most have us have experienced at times.  Big sigh.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

A spring in my step


I'm just back from the oncologist's and am pleased to report that my cancer is stable.  In other words it isn't shrinking but it isn't growing either.  So I will continue on my current treatment, capecitabine and lapatinib, and then have another CT scan in late April to see what my insides are up to.  So, for now, I'm a happy bunny.

And spring time is just around the corner.  There are snowdrops and crocuses and the beginnings of daffodils here in Shropshire.  In fact, any local-to-Shropshie bods, if you'd like to see a kabillion snowdrops in one place and give to a worthy cause then come along to Winsley Hall this weekend (Sat 21st and Sun 22nd Feb) and stroll in the grounds for a fiver and see more snowdrops than you'll know what to do with.  The money goes to the Lingen Davies Cancer Fund.  More info on the snowdrop walk here and on the Lingen Davies Cancer fund here.

In other news I seem to have started a mini debate on Facebook about the correct way to eat a fish finger sandwich.  The correct answer is, of course, with tomato sauce.  I'm already aware, courtesy of the other-half, that some dimwits prefer brown sauce.  In addition to this heresy, it seems some benighted souls think that mayo or tartare sauce are the way to go.  I feel sorry for them all.  But not nearly as sorry as I am for the person who has never tried the gourmet delight that is a fish finger sandwich.  It really goes to show that the old cliche is true, there's always someone worse off than you are.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Cancerversary


Three years ago today I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer.  I believe the average life expectancy for breast cancer patients with metastases to an organ (or organs) is two to three years. So I don't know whether to be delighted or depressed.  I think I'll go for the middle way and settle for my usual frame of mind - discombobulated.

We marked the occasion in the traditional way by going to an oncology appointment only to find that the results of my CT scan haven't been reported yet.  To be fair this doesn't happen all that often and, in this case, we were forewarned.  Anyway, I remain on tenterhooks until I go back next week sometime to hear the results and find out if the current treatment, capecitabine and lapatinib, is working or not.  But just to keep me on my toes I'm also having a (planned) mammogram tomorrow so then I can add worrying about my remaining breast to the mix.

Blimey I sound glum.  I'm not, honest.  In fact on the way home from the hospital we sang 'Happy Cancerversary to you' in both the traditional and Stevie Wonder versions.  I know how to have a good time!