Sunday, 4 October 2015


We’re only 4 days into October and already I want to go to bed, pull the covers over my head and stay there until November. 

Why the despair?  More fool you for asking.  It’s October or, as it’s known in breast cancer patient circles, Pinktober.  Its ‘official’ title is ‘Breast Cancer Awareness Month’.  Not a bad thing in itself I suppose, although I think everyone is aware of it by now and what we really  need is more research.  What really gets my goat is the stupid, inane and downright insulting crap that appears in the name of ‘awareness’ every sodding year.

This year in addition to the usual mindless pink fluffiness (Tickled Pink? yeah Asda what a brilliant name for a laugh-a-minute disease), we have the tremendously badly thought out and completely undignified ‘show your strap’ campaign from Marks and Spencers (google it if you’re interested, I’m buggered if I’m supplying a link to it).  And far, far worse is the ‘set the tatas free’ nonsense appearing all over Facebook.  To add insult to injury the ‘tatas’ thing doesn’t appear to be linked to any charity or to raise funds at all.  It’s just a tasteless bandwagon jumping meme. 

I won’t go on.  A mega rant is not an interesting read nor does it do my blood pressure any favours.  Anyway my pal Kath puts it a million times better than I ever could. 

Enjoy your October.  I'm off to stick my head in a bucket of lager until it's all over.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Second Hope

So here it is, the exciting news I've been hinting at (with all the delicacy of a drunken hippo) for the past few weeks.

Second Hope is a brand new charity that I'm absolutely chuffed about.  It's the only charity in the UK specifically for people with metastatic breast cancer (also known as advanced, secondary or Stage IV breast cancer).  It aims to raise awareness, provide support, campaign and also fund research.

Please have a look at the Second Hope website where there is loads of information including practical advice, more about the charity's aims, founder, trustees etc  (and even a little bit by me).  

I've mentioned time and again in this blog how isolated and hopeless a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer can make people feel.  This charity is a real light in the darkness.  

Sadly the founder of Second Hope, Julie Phillips, died on Saturday, missing the launch of her brainchild by just a few days.  This heart-breaking news has rocked the online metastatic breast cancer group of which I'm a member, but we are united in our determination that Second Hope will go from strength to strength and be a lasting and fitting legacy for a remarkable woman.  

I cannot overstate how much the launch of this charity means to me.  Please, please take a look at the website, like the Facebook page and maybe even consider making a donation.

Thank you.

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Making hay

So it seems that Eribulin (my latest chemo) is something of a mixed bag.  It frequently gives me high temperatures in the days after infusion which means me having to make trips to hospital to make sure my white blood count is OK and that there are no infections about to run rampant in my system.  The chemo also seems to give me headaches and make me feel a bit blergh, but on the week I don't have to have swamp juice (two weeks on, one week off) I feel pretty good.  I've just had one of those good weeks and so I made hay while the sun shone.

I've had a trip to Shugborough, an historic house about an hour away from home 

It was OK, but to be honest I've been to better stately homes - the whole Patrick Lichfield thing was a bit of a pain (he used to live there and they make a big deal of it).  Much as I love an historic house, I'm not really into royalty and their relatives (to put it mildly).  Anyway don't let me put you off if you fancy a trip there.  One huge plus point ... it's got a cat monument, no home should be without one.

A couple of days later we ventured out again to another historic house, well a castle actually, Powis Castle.  It's only about a half hour drive from home and I just can't believe we hadn't visited before because it's absolutely stunning.  I loved it.  Bear in mind we are well into Autumn now and it was still beautifully colourful, look:

Stunning views
Borders to salivate over
And I do love a lumpy hedge (the other-half included for scale)

Not bad eh?
There was, sadly, a distinct lack of monuments to cats.  However they did have dragons, and that's the next best thing

Then, to round the week off, we went to the seaside (West Wales).  The weather was glorious and I walked my legs off

 And also succumbed to a seaside selfie

Ah well, back to the swamp juice next week and, no doubt, a lot less gadding about and a lot more moaning.  

I won't know if this chemo is working until the end of October (having a CT scan in the middle of the month).  I have my doubts to be honest, as I'm still coughing like mad and have to stop for breath if I encounter even a slight slope never mind a hill.  The worrying thing is that I seem to be running out of chemo options (although there are a couple to try yet).  I may not yet be in the last-chance saloon but I do feel I'm clunking up the steps to the bar door getting ready to order my two fingers of red-eye.  Still, it's hard to differentiate between what the disease is doing and the side-effects of chemo, so I'll just have to wait and see. 

I haven't entirely lost my optimism though.  I'm going to attempt sewing again.  After the last dressmaking disaster I'd say that makes me incredibly stoic!  I am going to attempt a skirt with a button hole, zip and darts, so stand by for swearing.  I will report back with details of my amazing prowess as a seamstress, in the meantime admire the lovely second-hand fabric before I destroy it begin work.

At least something is coming up roses
Talking of stoic, the other-half has just assembled our new bed.  This has been something of a trial with an oily salesman, late delivery, missing parts and general grumpiness.  However, it is now done and we can now sleep easy.

To end on a positive note, I will have something very exciting to announce in the next couple of days.  I know I've tormented you with this before but the day is nearly nigh.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Pick 'n' mix

I've been a busy little beaver lately, so here are various bits and bobs I've been up to.  Do try to stay awake.

At the end of August I turned 54.  Yay me. I had a lovely birthday with a slightly  rabbity theme.  First of all there is bunny - pictured as the blog's header.  Bunny has been with me since I was three.  He is very tatty, a bit smelly and loved to distraction (indeed disintegration might be more accurate).  In the last couple of weeks bunny has been joined by:

The wooden bunny I got from the local  flower show
A bunny night light from a pal

And, from my sis, a hare from France who lives in the garden
These are all lovely.  Not so lovely is my hair (not hare - see what I did there).  This is me just a few days ago (with a slumped other-half) experiencing hysteria in Plymouth (more on that in a mo)

But this is me now

Yep, I'm a baldy bonce once more.  The swamp juice I'm on at the mo, Eribulin, causes hair loss in about 50% of patients.  I was hoping that I'd get away with it but over the weekend I started leaving a trail of peroxide tufts wherever I went, so I bit the bullet.  Thankfully one of Nev's sisters is a dab hand with clippers and she gave me a good shearing (just like she did three years ago).  I plan to spend the money I would have spent on bleach and hair cuts on scarves and hats instead.  A spending spree is a silver lining of a sort I suppose.  Oh well.

Plymouth.  The other half's uncle died recently.  Obviously this is very sad but he was well into his eighties, had a full life and was much loved.  Eighteen members of the other-half's family made the journey from the Midlands to the south west to pay their respects at his funeral.  We all stayed in the same hotel.  If I tell you that their was much running about in between bedrooms, scoffing of biscuits and general carrying on, including a telling off from a member of the hotel staff, I'm sure you'll get the picture.  The general consensus was that Nev's uncle would have totally approved of all the shenanigans.

We had a stroll around Plymouth 

where I was particularly impressed by a big fish

And yes, you are not mistaken, we had blue skies!

No sooner had we returned from Plymouth then we set off for a weekend in Yorkshire, visiting my aunt and cousins and, once again, seeing the sights.  We were treated like royalty and, if I had my way, I'd move in with my cousin tomorrow to be pampered ridiculously including being fed cake and wine at regular intervals.  And look, she has cats.  The incredibly handsome Jack

and Roger who has the life of riley but here is doing his best to look like he has a tough time of it with this paw to his fevered brow

While we were in Yorkshire we drove around the beautiful dales, taking in the Ribblehead Viaduct


Skipton Castle

East Riddlesden Hall
Where we got a special tour (courtesy of one of my cousins who's a guide there.  It's not what you know, it's who you know)

And before I bore you to tears with all my showing off about having been here, there and everywhere, here are some pictures of the Flower Pot Festival (yes you read that correctly) which was taking place in Settle 

And to bring things to a tidy end, let's end on a rabbity note with a flower pot bunny

I'm hopping off now.  See you later.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Green eyed monster

Yay, it's time for the Annual Shrewsbury Flower Show with it's usual brilliant display of kids' veggie art.  Here's just a few examples.  I've got heaps more of these to come but will save them for future posts, after all I don't want to spoil you.

There were other displays that made me green with jealousy

and hello to the lady in the pink coat

Not to mention the fluorescent loveliness of the park itself

Do not adjust your sets, the colours really are this bright
My sisters came away with plants galore, whereas I came home with, obviously, a two foot tall wooden bunny

Every home should have one

My jealousy of all things floral continued with a visit to some friends in nearby Staffordshire who live in a lovely old cottage.  To make matters worse they have the most gorgeous garden (these photos really don't do it justice) I was positively emerald with envy.

And now on to green eyed monsters of a different sort.  The other-half has been decorating (yes again) this time the bathroom and bedroom.  Cyril, the three legged monster cat, decided to help.  Here's some of his handiwork.

Freshly painted window sills, wooden floors and a delinquent cat definitely do not mix.

OK, on to the tedious medical update.  I had the first dose of my new chemo on Wednesday.  The following day I was back at hospital as my temperature went haywire.  It was much like the time a similar thing happened in Cornwall a few months ago.  Once again, thankfully, my white blood cell count was ok, so the temperature wasn't indicative of a rampant infection.  I had some IV antibiotics and some oral ones to take home just to be on the safe side but the doctors seemed to think it was the result of new chemo on top of old chemo and my body deciding it was all a bit too much to handle.  Anyway, I'm OK now.  We shall see what happens next week when I go back for a swamp juice top up.  Let's hope it doesn't result in this:

Although frankly that would be an improvement on this, a picture of me looking truly dreadful while recuperating, truly I have no pride when it comes to seeking sympathy.

Hello beautiful!

Thursday, 13 August 2015

Head in hands

Bugger, bugger, bugger.  My latest CT scan has revealed that the cancer in my lungs is growing.  This means I stop the current chemo and move on to a new (to me) swamp juice, Eribulin, next week.  Hey ho.  To console myself, since returning home from the hospital, I've had a glass of sherry, a custard tart and a snickers bar.  Now to add insult to injury I'm feeling a bit sick.  I wonder why.

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Steamy weekend

As part of the never-ending celebrations of this year being the other-half's half century, we got together last weekend with several of his old childhood chums (also all 50 this year) and headed to the wild delights of Bridgnorth.  In their younger days they misspent a deal of time in this particular town.  This was all before my time so I don't want to know the details, after all what happens in Bridgnorth stays in Bridgnorth.

In between drinking and eating and more drinking we decided to take a trip on the Severn Valley Railway, an old stream railway running between Bridgnorth and Kidderminster, this being the sort of thing that people in their 50s do.  I loved it.

What's not to love?
Although I'm just a little bit too young to remember steam trains being in general use (I am!)  the carriages on the train were just like the ones I remember, all wooden and lovely and with windows that actually opened (unlike today's hermetically sealed trains which almost give me panic attacks).  I only took one interior photo (more on that in a bit) but found this on the internet which is the more or less the same as the train we travelled in and the ones I remember from my childhood. Thems were the days!  Except I never went first class of course.

Picture from here, with apologies for swirly thing

We got off at a village stop and headed straight for the pub.  Where more regrettable aspects of modern life were revealed.  Have you ever seen such a thing as this:

It's a travesty!

I tell you the country is going to hell in a handcart!

While I'm moaning about reprehensible things (like modern trains and 'ploughman's lunches'), the other-half behaved disgracefully on the train.  Look what he did

Look mum,  no head!

To be fair to modern train designers, the above (ie a twit sticking his head out of a moving train) is probably the reason that train windows no longer open and the doors are remotely controlled by hands unseen.  What a nitwit!  We had words.  He was unrepentant.

Anyway it was a lovely weekend and helped keep my mind of this Thursday, when I get the results of the latest CT scans, oh fuck, fuck, fuckity-fuck (which is much like the sound the train made as it trundled through the Shropshire countryside).  Till next time (when I'll be either gleeful or miserable), stay tuned.