None, none!? I haven’t got any hospital appointments for a whole month. A whole month! I can’t remember the last time I went for that long without a trip to the oncology department, a dose of radiation, a scan, chemo, results or something or another.
For a stage 4’er this is certainly a strange, novel and rather wonderful experience however also a little unnerving to say the least. I’ve had almost constant treatment for the last three years, often weekly, sometimes daily and now at the nineth hour I’m free from the constraints of the hospital and can actually think about a whole week stretching ahead without having anything in the diary.
I refer to myself as a chemo junkie…
Today’s piece is dedicated to my big sis, Lucy and Winston her horse. Lucy is a breast cancer survivor, animal welfare activist, champion and adopter of everything with four legs and in her spare time a realtor (that’s an estate agent to you and me) noter and writer.
Lucy and Winston’s story begins in 2010 when my sister was recoverying from a breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy. Now 7 years later she has just found out that her beloved Winston has been diagnosed with Cushing’s disease. It’s caused by a tumour in the pituitary gland, it cannot be cured. Exactly like me the symptoms can be managed with medication in order to improve the quality of life, it’s terminal.
I would like to share with you the introduction to my sister’s children’s book ‘Winston comes Home’ it’s the tale of how a woman recovering from breast cancer saved a horse and …
THE HOODED CLAW I’ve trawled my way through numerous cancer treatments especially for you and here is my personal ‘Which Guide’ to some of the best and the worst.
‘You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.’ At 12.55 on Wednesday I was demob happy. By 12.58 I’d done a total u-turn and was back exactly where I’d started a couple of weeks earlier. I’d had a lovely morning, chatted to a nice English couple down in -2, the bowels of the hospital, the radiotherapy department. My new mate from our ‘Breast Cancer Women’s Group’ was with me.
- She’s a fellow stage 4er and when I met her I knew immediately that we would get on and of course we do. There’s a lot which we have in common, same age, same year of diagnosis, metastasis, we sat and compared where it had gone to. But she wins that game hands down, she’s had a brain tumour not once, not twice but three times. I can’t tell you how inspirational that is for me … she’s a real fighter. If you met her you wouldn’t see any traces of her treatment unless you look closely, a scar here and there.
- Anyway she was due to be zapped too on number 3 brain tumour so it seemed fitting that she should be there with me for my last session. I’d said farewell to the techs, the secretaries, the guy who gets zapped after me, I’d been signed off by a new doctor, I’d smiled at all the people still sitting in the waiting room, the three old guys and had actually managed to get past the glass doors and as far as the lift. I was about to get out of Hades and was heading for the exit, the ground floor, sunlight, the cafe, maybe even a celebratory tea when … I heard my name being called. SHIT!
‘Life is terminal and it’s sexually transmitted,’ John Cleese
TERMINAL – DISTANT – STAGE 4 – ADVANCED – METASTASIS? Call it what you will but what does all this jargon actually mean for you and me?
Girls you all know who you are but for all the others not in the know let me fill you in. I have a gang of entirely virtual friends from all over the globe and we are united by one thing breast cancer. This is a sympathetic, warm and loving bunch, ready to listen and share virtual tears and laughter. They respond any time of day or night as someone is always awake somewhere in the world.
You’ve already met some of the stars of this group, Norma and Rose but there are so many more; I’d like to introduce you to Jill who guides the group and keeps us in check, Ethel who provides us with wonderful turns of phrase and humour, Keri who always finds just the right response and tone with everyone in all situations and Tracy, Jan, Melissa and so many more wonderful women besides.
We are from America, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Scandinavia, Europe, Turkey and the Middle East. We are an international and pretty classy bunch sharing our daily trials and tribulations, both good and bad news, rants, tears and sometimes things not connected with our breast cancer.
before you bolt them by the head to the table Today I’ve got my final radiotherapy session for now.
- I could be back here again any day … it is never over but let’s just say it’s the last one for the moment.
- I’ve found the 3 hour round trip everyday in order to be stapled to the table by my head whilst wearing a hardened plastic airtex t-shirt exhausting and challenging.
- The mask itself is something else altogether. It’s so tightly fitting that during the daily zapping, it only takes about 10 minutes, you cannot speak, you cannot open your eyes but you can PANIC
What really happened on Monday? Well Mystic Rose was right about almost everything!
Today I’ll be back swimming in the Med, the hip is buggered and under investigation, I didn’t have to wait to see the orthopedic surgeon, a Mr. Kunt, that rhymns with runt by the way and I was finally escorted out of radiotherapy and told not to come back for a month. Whippee … there was a big and very loud internal cheer and some virtual and wild dancing took place. Oncolgist seen, bloods done. All in all a good result. But today there is something much more important that I want to share with you. Today is my third wedding anniversary. In normal years one is paper, two cotton and three leather but I think we are working on at least dog years so today is my twenty-first and according to tradition is celebrated with a brass gift.
This post could also be entitled Stamford Hill Wives, ‘The Soup Diaries’ or perhaps it should simply be Girlfriends – They Rock!
Before tequilla slammers: Rosie, Mo, Lucy, Charl (1998?)
The same girls have been with me from the begining of my story and they’re still here with me today.
Despite not living in the same country for the last 17 years our friendship has survived, ebbed and flowed but we are all here for eachother as ever.
These are the girls I have grown up with, bunked off with, slammed tequilla shots with, vomited with, on one occasion even shared a boyfriend with, although I’m pleased to say not at the same time and along the way I’ve gone from being arty farty Rosie at Central/St.Martins, to Right on Rose, the North London teacher, and then later whilst carving out my new life in Turkey they offered me nothing but support until I finally became the person I am today.
So can you tell me what I have in store Mystic Rose, can you see what kind of day lies ahead on Monday?
Well, I can see that you have a nasty case of … wait, it’s coming to me! Yes of course, plague of almost everyone in the western world, a particularly bad dose of MONDAYITIS
Yes, tell me about it and do you know what? It began at about 9pm on Saturday so this one must be really bad. I know the cause of it of course but that doesn’t actually make any difference or seem to help in the slightest. Mine has been brought on by usual stresses of Monday and back to the office – oh scrap that, should read Monday at the hospital. I’ve been having a few ‘Oh shit’ thoughts about what may be in store.