Birthday spoils

Breakfast and pressies in bed!

Breakfast and pressies in bed!

It’s love potion number 9

No, not really…

It’s chemo treatment number 9!

It’s also a lovely, overcast, rainy day – a welcomed respite after a scorching week…Yesterday was my birthday – I had an amazing day of spoiling!  It certainly started well – pressies and breakfast in bed!  I was so busy reading birthday messages and chatting to people that I almost forgot to shower and go for bloods!

Wendy brought me lunch – she was horrified that my birthday lunch was going to consist of a boiled egg (for the protein you know)!  Pete took me out for sushi, I managed the vegetarian selection without a problem!  With three flower deliveries thrown in, I can honestly say  it was the epitome of being spoilt rotten!

This year I felt very differently about my birthday, don’t get me wrong, I am a true birthday hussey, I love birthdays (especially mine)!  I usually have a birthday countdown about a month before the event.  Poor Pete is usually ALL birthdayed out by the time the day rolls around!  He sets a high benchmark and always seems to out do himself from the year before (you can imagine how hard that is for me to cope with ……NOT 🙂 but no wonder he is looking exhaused!  It’s just how frequently those years seem to be coming around which tends to be the problem…

I have celebrated my 25th birthday (plus VAT) for the last 15 years, although now it’s realistically looking more like 25 PLUS the American deficit.

This year however, I have a new respect for turning a year older.  Something I have recently learned to not take for granted…

All those months ago while sitting in my GP’s waiting room, vaguely concerned about a lump I found that just didn’t feel as “normal” as the others I have had looked at since I was in my very early 20’s.  I saw a notice which I must have barely glanced at for years.  It read: “Do not complain about growing older.  It is a privilege denied to many”. ANON

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Remembering

Just a quote today:

“If you know someone who has lost a loved one, and you’re afraid to mentionthem because you think you might make them sad by reminding them thatthey died–you’re not reminding them. They didn’t forget they died. Whatyou’re reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and…that is a great gift.” Elizabeth Edwards ( adapted)

Darren Shawn Erasmus 29/01/1972 – 28/02/2003

A gold star week

Today is day 2 post chemo.  Day 2 tends to be my “flat” day which means I can laze around the house all day and not feel guilty!

This past week has felt really productive with a couple of “firsts” thrown in, making me feel even less guilty about all the lazying around I did today…

On Monday I was back having my first (and hopefully last) “fill” since the end of November – part of the “over” expansion process.  My plastic surgeon is happy with the progress and wants to see me again for an assessment once chemo is done.  My expanded and sensitive skin has had 2 months to rest and I was nervous to go back, terrified of stirring up an infection which could jeopardise all the healing already achieved – especially while having weekly chemo sessions.  (Prodding a bee hive is the picture I had in my head).  But so far, as I touch my now peach fuzz covered LBD, all seems to be ok.

I even managed a pilates session on Monday afternoon!  I hadn’t been to classes since the beginning of September and Allison, my instructor, was very complimentary of my efforts.   To be really honest, I just think she was awfully kind, surreptitiously allowing me plenty of time to rest in between sequences.  But hey, I take my compliments where I get them!  And BOY did I sleep well that night!

Wednesday I had a physio appointment to help with some lymph drainage issues.  The last few weeks of stinky hot weather have not been the ideal conditions for the draining of lymph, despite the 2ce daily manual drainage I do.  I also needed some extra help keeping my arm mobile as the fills often affect the muscles.   Fortunately not much damage had been done and after the lymph drainage session, I felt 10 kgs lighter!  I made a vow that when I grow up and become a trillionaire, Gillian will move into my mansion and I will have lymph drainage on tap!

She was also supportive of me going back to pilates as well as my efforts in taking short gentle (daily) walks – but also gave me a stern reminder not to overdo things.  I had a quiet chuckle to myself, I have NEVER EVER been warned about doing too much exercise!  She also pointed out that if I was planning to do a lot of walking, I would need to start wearning a compression sleeve to avoid the lymph pooling and causing too much swelling in my right hand  😦

Thursday I had my first reflexology session, and for once I was the practitioner and not the patient!  It was great to feel productive again even if it means only seeing one client a week for now.

So for the first time in a really long while, I felt almost like ME again!  A little defective, but I’m definitely getting there 🙂

“Whenever I feel the need to exercise, I lie down until it goes away.” Paul Terry“A bear, however hard he tries, grows tubby without exercise.” A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

“It shouldn’t be easy to be amazing. Then everything would be. It’s the things you fight for and struggle with before earning that have the greatest worth. When something’s difficult to come by, you’ll do that much more to make sure it’s even harder―or impossible―to lose.” Sarah Dressen

“If we all did the things we are capable of, we would astound ourselves.” Thomas Edison

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” Theodore Roosevelt

(Un) join the club

The half way mark has been reached!7 treatments left, and if all goes according to schedule: 7 weeks to go, 49 days….but who’s counting 🙂

I saw a different Oncologist today as the Dent Doctor was away and he was happy with my bloods: white blood cell count good, liver and kidney functions good. Whew ** wiping brow** not sure if that was due to a hot flush or relief!

Wendy came with me this morning to hold my hand, it was nice not to be there on my own –  an uncomfortable thing for an independent, mature and very capable woman to admit!

I’m always mindful that if  I don’t want to be there I certainly can’t expect anyone else to voluntarily be there either.  No matter how welcoming the environment, how fantastic all the staff are and how grateful I am to not be having treatment in an impersonal hospital where I would just be faceless number; it is always daunting walking into the cancer centre as it’s a stark, uncomfortable and scary reminder of how real this new life of mine acually is.

“Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I’d rather not belong to.” Gilda Radner

“That’s what people do who love you. They put their arms around you and love you when you’re not so lovable.” Deb Caletti

“A true friend is someone who is there for you when they’d rather be somewhere else” Anon

Holding hands and Celine Dion

Here I am again with chemo dripping through my veins.  Wow that sounds quite poetic, maybe a possible line from a hit song – I could make a fortune!  Maybe I could get Celine to sing  a sequel to “my heart will go on”.  *sorry -chemo humour* 🙂

Chemo brain is now clearly giving me  delusions of grandeur and not only making me put strange things in the freezer or yelling at the credit card division for daring to phone me to say my credit card payment hadn’t been made.

I gave the consultant an earful, (peppered with just the right measure of wit and self righteous sarcasm), I had NEVER in 15 years missed a payment, I pay my card off in full every month and how dare you phone me to say I owe R25 and waste my time ( that was delivered with a particular dose of sarcasm!) would they like me sign a payment plan to pay it off or put that on budget?  Pete dared to suggest perhaps I should just check that I paid my card last month, this was met with a deadly stare and a curt,  “of course I have paid it!”.

So yesterday after having received 3 sms’ s and a computerised voice recorded message from the bank, I checked last month’s eft’s solely for the purpose of sending them a rude email substantiated by my electronic receipt!  Imagine my surprise when I could find no proof of payment….in fact I could not find proof of me paying ANY accounts last month.  And just like that my indignant sarcastic self righteous bubble deflated .  I quietly paid my card and accounts and avoided my phone for the rest of the day…

So where was I…. oh yes, Celine Dion, did I ever mention, I saw her in concert before she was even really famous, it was in …

Just joking, today is my 7th chemo, 8 to go whoo hoo!

Last night after having a bit of a wobble,  Pete is here today holding my hand.  I am very grateful, especially when one soldier had a bad reaction while saline was being administered through his port, an apparent infection the cause.

The thing I found most upsetting wasn’t seeing him shivering and shaking under a layer of blankets on a blisteringly hot morning, or the oxygen being administered to him by the the calm efficient sisters or even him being loaded up on a stretcher and taken off to hospital by the professional ER 24 paramedics; it was seeing him sitting on his lazy boy all on his own with no-one holding his hand.

“Nothing in this world compares to the comfort and security of having someone just hold your hand.” Richelle E. Goodrich

“Have you ever really held the hand of someone you love? Not just in passing, a loose link between you – but truly clasped, with the pulses of your wrists beating together and your fingers mapping the knuckles and nails like a cartographer learning a country by heart?” Jodi Picoult

“It’s like waking up and finding there’s a war on. Nothing’s the way it used to be and it’s difficult to get your balance. That’s why I held Billy’s hand.” Glenda Millard

“In joined hands there is still some token of hope, in the clinched fist none.” Victor Hugo

A weak week

This week has proven to be rather emotional and physically challenging.

The joint pain I was warned about at the start of my new chemo drug decided to make an appearance today in the form of hip and lower back pain.  I was told it shouldn’t last much longer than a day or two.

Constipation my constant companion (slaps forehead).  The sister at the cancer center says it must be better than the alternative, diarrhoea – me thinks not so much when it accompanied by haemorrhoid issues (tmi I know – just keeping it real).

My eyebrows and eyelashes have shown signs of increased shedding.  Bizarrely,  I am still having to shave my legs weekly (slaps head again).  I remember speaking to a breast cancer fighter just after my surgery, she was undergoing chemo at the time and told me just how much this disease lays you completely bare.  So much taken from you, your whole identity especially all the physical things that make you YOU.  Nothing left to hide behind, not even eyelashes…

Hot flushes and weight gain…compliments of the chemo and their accompanying side-effect-combating drugs, pushing my poor confused and battered body into a menopausal state.

The positives this week however are that my veins seem to be holding up.  The sisters are still using a normal sized needle to access my veins, which I have been assured is a very good thing!  AND chemo treatments are down to single digits, 9 more to go.

Most importantly Pete hasn’t run away – despite my severe mood changes, although his three days away in Joburg may have something to do with that 😉

“You can’t make yourself feel positive, but you can choose how to act, and if you choose right, it builds your confidence”. Julien Smith

“Seeing the glass as half empty is more positive than seeing it as half full.  Through such a lens the only choice is to pour more. That is righteous pessimism”.  Criss Jami

“I am a survivor.  And like the moon, I have a feeling it would take actruly spectacular event to keep me from taking my place innthe scheme of things, waxing, waning and eclipsing notwithstanding”. Janet Rebhan

Tumble weeds

Today is marks my 3rd Taxol treatment and my 6th chemo.

No premeds this week, so no setting my alarm for a 3 am pill.  I even felt confident enough with the side effects to drive myself to the Cancer centre.  An injection in the bum and the drips go up.  I had my choice of  lazy boy chairs and so far there are only two of us having treatment.

My neighbour is having her third lot of chemo after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000, a stark reminder that remission is relative.

“No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become.  No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell.  There are no maps of the change.  You just come out the other side………or you don’t. ” Stephen King

“Does anything in nature despair except man?  An animal with a foot caught in a trap does not seem to despair.  It is all closed in, to a kind of still, intense waiting.  Is this a key?  Keep busy with survival.  Imitate the trees.  Learn to lose in order to recover, and remember that nothing stays the same for long, not even pain, psychic pain.  Sit it out.  Let it all pass.  Let it go.”  Mary Sarton

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives.  It is the that is the most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

“Life’s under no obligation to give us what we expect.”  Margaret Mitchell