Monday, 29 April 2013

Strop central

Hello.  Have you come here looking for some not particularly amusing tales of three-legged cats, errant sisters and dopey other-halves?  Well sod off, you’ve come to the wrong place at the wrong time.  I’ve got a right strop on.

If you’ve been paying attention (and if not do try to keep up) you’ll know that I’ve been complaining about breathlessness and a cough.  Last week, seeing as the idiots health care professionals at the hospital didn’t seem too interested, I went to my GP.  It was there I discovered that the CT scan I had had three weeks earlier, to check for blood clots, had shown that the cancer in my lungs had grown.  The GP assumed that the hospital would have informed me about this.  He assumed wrong.  Since then my GP has been in touch with the hospital and I managed (after much gnashing of teeth) to get an appointment with the oncologist.  The oncologist says I have to have another CT scan and wait for results before he can decide what action to take.  That will take us to the middle of May. If they went any slower they’d be going sodding backwards. 

I am not impressed.  I’m not impressed with waiting, with not being told that the cancer was growing, with struggling to get appointments and when I do get appointments half my notes being missing.  So I hope to be heading to London in the near future to see an oncologist who knows his onions and who can move faster than an arthritic snail.  I will keep you posted.  In the meantime here’s a soothing picture of Wollerton Old Hall which I visited on Sunday, and very nice it was too.

Friday, 19 April 2013

The duck of doom

Meet Cyril the three-legged monster cat's arch enemy.  

He does look a little bit menacing I suppose

As mentioned previously, we are currently staying at my sister’s house while the building work back at Discombobulated Towers goes on and on and on (more on this later).  This duck sits under the chair in the hall of my sister’s house and Cyril is terrified of it.  Don’t ask me why.  I never said he was very bright.  Anyway this fear at least gives my sister’s cat, Tuppence, a safe spot to sit where Cyril will not dare to attack.

Oooh ducky, please don't let him get me
I just googled ‘fear of ducks’ to see if it has a specific name.  Weirdly I can only find a name of the fear of being watched by a duck.  The world is strange.

The building work is progressing but has been delayed by the discovery of a lack of foundations, dodgy electrics and The Thorny Issue of The Cat Flap.  The new kitchen will be twice the size of the old one but still not exactly the biggest room in the world.  So finding space for cupboards, french windows and a cat flap has been problematic.  The builder, who has no sense of priorities felt that cupboards and doors were more important than cat access.  After we explained the importance of all things Cyril the builder sketched a variety of options on the kitchen wall and we have gone for the cat tunnel:

Under construction

The electricians have offered to put a light in the tunnel.  I feel that they are not treating this matter as seriously as they ought.

To change the subject to my favourite thing, me, me, me I am now two thirds through radiotherapy.  Just one more week to go.  Here's a picture of the machine that does the zapping.  

All I have to do is lie still and do nothing - something I'm very good at. 

Monday, 15 April 2013


The planets must be curiously aligned, or it’s the dawning of the age of aquarius or something, in other words all three of my sisters are once again in Shropshire.  While the sister-glut means that I’ve been getting yummy grub and have been ferried about all over the place, there are also darker moments.  For example, I have been heartlessly abandoned at the hospital after a radiotherapy appointment with some flimsy excuse about mobile reception.  This abandonment forced me on to a bus (oh the horror).  To add insult to injury I’ve also been told that my hair is like a doormat.  How I suffer.  Would anyone like to adopt me?

I’m still at my sister’s house as the building work at my place continues.  Fingers crossed I might get a kitchen roof this week.  Cyril and my sister’s cat, Tuppence, are slowly learning to tolerate each other.  See below for a united approach to Squirrel Watch.

Let's get 'im!

And, finally, if you’re sick to death of cat photos you’re in the wrong place.  I went to Shropshire Cat Rescue again today and look what was there. 

Want one, want one, want one!

Wednesday, 10 April 2013


Have I ever mentioned that having secondary breast cancer (SBC) is a right bag of bollocks?  Well it is.  Look, I’m not denying that some good stuff has come out of it:  Early retirement from work – big tick, no longer worrying about who’ll look after me in my old age – big tick, people being extra nice to me – very big tick.  However, the bottom line is that sooner or later, given a lack of out-of-control double-decker buses or rogue elephants, cancer will be the thing that kills me.  And please, please don’t say ‘oh well, any of us could die at any time’ or I will have to set about you with a rancid kipper and a tray of used cat litter. 

And of course it’s the same for all the other people with SBC who I’ve met (virtually and/or in real life) via Breast Cancer Care’s forum and a Facebook group specifically for people with secondaries.  Already this year some members of the Facebook group have died and, while no death is any more tragic than any other, I’ve been particularly saddened by the loss of Laurie.  I won’t be able to attend her funeral today as I’ll be back in the radiotherapy room, but I’ll be thinking of her, her husband and children.

Fourteen months ago when I was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer I was devastated, terrified and also mightily pissed off.  I turned to Breast Cancer Care’s online forum as an outlet for my shock and fear.  Luckily for me Laurie was an active member and, right from the start, she gave me the most incredibly caring, sensible and funny support.  Her unique mixture of wit, realism and kindness was instrumental in helping me get back on my feet and start living my life again (up until that point I had been trapped in a fog of fear, sherry and dreary daytime tv).  Laurie not only responded to my posts on the forum but also took the time to email and phone me.  She did all this even though she had a busy life and, of course, worries of her own. 

And I am just one of the people she helped.  The comments on UK and American forums and also the Facebook group following Laurie’s death show that she made an impact on many, many people.  If you’d like to see more of her, she made a short film last year which can be seen here.    

So I’ll be thinking of her and her family this afternoon while I’m being zapped at my radiotherapy appointment and will try to take a leaf out of her book by trying not to moan about the hand I’ve been dealt, making the most of life but also swearing my head off when the going gets tough.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Cyril's squirrels and my niggles

Cyril (three-legged monster cat) is enjoying our stay at sis no 1’s (while the building work continues back at Discombobulated Towers).  His war with Tuppence (my sister’s cat) keeps him fairly busy. He now no longer has the upper paw as he has received a few well-deserved cuffs to the head courtesy of the ginger ninja.  And as if this wasn’t exciting enough he has also found a new hobby.  Squirrel watching.

That looks yummy

On the health front I had my first radiotherapy session today.  One down, fourteen to go.  Nothing exciting to report yet but obviously it’s early days.

Since the mastectomy (at the end of February) I’ve been getting out of breath every time I go up the stairs or have to go anywhere even slightly up hill (I’d never noticed how much up-hill-ness there is in  Shrewsbury before, but blimey I’m well aware now).  I’ve also got an annoying dry cough.  I reported all this to the medical bods last week when I went to hospital for a herceptin top-up.  I was given a blood test, an x-ray and a CT scan to make sure I didn’t have a blood clot (I didn’t).  I have to wait until later this month for another fuller CT scan to see if that reveals what’s going on.  I veer between thinking it’s nothing to worry about to being convinced all sorts of horrors are going on in my insides.  My outsides aren’t too wonderful either – my hair is still curling like crazy.  I thought ‘chemo curl’ was supposed to calm down after a couple of months.  Not for me though.  Still to be honest I’m just grateful to have hair even if I do end up looking like Art Garfunkel.

Me or Art?  (Picture from here)

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The big question

Sis no 2 has just returned from Australia bearing gifts (see above).  I’d never had a Tim Tam before but understood that they are similar to the mighty Penguin.  In fact there seems to be some internet debate about which is the best.  So, purely in the name of scientific research, I have tried them out.  It is my unpatriotic duty to announce that Tim Tams win hands down.  They are Penguiny but also with a hint of Crunchie Bar.  A marriage made in heaven (or New South Wales according to the packet).

Anyway I’m soothing my soul with Tim Tams while the building work continues.  My uninhabitable house currently looks like this:

I shamelessly (and rather cheaply) ‘let slip’ to the builders that I’ve got cancer.  My not very subtle subtext being ‘so please do the work extra quickly and extra well’.  My cheek has been rewarded as now, every time I go to see the work in progress, I get a hug from the chief builder.  As a result, I am now about to tour the building sites of Shrewsbury, pulling my poorly face, in search of sympathetic cuddles from all and sundry.