Archive | April, 2013

I’m fine… really… I am!

21 Apr

Firstly, a little retrospective on being ‘fine’.

Obviously I’ve been asked a lot recently how I am, and I think I always answer ‘I’m fine’. That’s not just me being polite, I do really think at the time that I am fine. People close to me know I am a terrible terrible liar, and so trust me, I do (and did) believe it every time.

But, I have learned over time that I am often wrong on how I feel, strangely enough. I’m not trying to be a martyr, or selfless. It’s more that I really do think I’m fine at each stage, but it’s amazing how every time I look back I think ‘wow, I’m so much better now, I really wasn’t fine then… but I’m fine now!’. And then a few weeks/months later I think… I really wasn’t in as good shape as I thought. It seems that as well as being a terrible liar, I am excellent at kidding myself.

Image

This image is a bit dramatic, but in many ways it was me hiding things from myself. Insane I realise.

Some key moments I look back at when I was ‘fine’, include the mistake of going back to work at a time when I was dealing with leaving family, accepting I have cancer, doing IVF and somehow thinking I could manage a smooth handover. I thought I was fine… but clearly I wasn’t, and I’m not sure what planet I was on thinking work was a good idea – either for me or my uncomfortable workmates. It took a minor breakdown in the bathrooms, and a visit to a counselor to snap me out of it and realize I had to stop going to work. Lets be honest, I wasn’t actually doing any effective work anyway.

Another good moment was the excellent decision to walk to the GP the day after I was out of hospital, because I was ‘fine’. And numerous others… not quite as individually silly, but things that look totally different looking back at them, and I find that quite interesting.

I’m sure psychologists have theories about why we kid ourselves that things are fine when they aren’t, but I do think it’s a useful part of recovery.Perhaps I am naturally optimistic and I think once the treatment started I never really believed it would go badly (except at 3am when my brain wouldn’t shut up – but no one is asking then!). This document captures it a little.

BUT – ignoring all that, I thought I’d let you all know that I’m fine! For sure this time! 

I reserve the right to look back and change my mind if necessary, but at the moment I feel stronger than I have in a long time. I’ve learned that getting better is a long road, as much mental as physical, and I shouldn’t be surprised to look back and see things differently in time.

And even looking back a few weeks to the afternoon tea, I’m better now than I was then. I think the holiday was great as it got me out of the house. I feel physically stronger, and mentally more resilient too. We did a lot of long walking touristy days, that were soooo tiring to start with, but by the end I felt so much more confident in myself and in my body. It’s easy to be ‘fine’ at home with everything familiar around you, but now I also feel like I can confidently face the world.

Tomorrow is the next big step – going back to work. I’m a little nervous, but I’m sure all will be back to normal soon enough, the only change will be that Health and Safety will make sure I have a fancy new chair and and as much desktop egonomics as they can find! It is an insurance company after all, they know a risk when they see it.

Image

Next appointment with the doc is actually only a week away, so I will do a quick update after that, but I’m assuming everything will be ok as it’s a standard checkup. I will also find out when the next set of scans are planned, which will be another good milestone.

End of tonight’s rambling. 🙂

Advertisements

Thank You

8 Apr

As we prepare to go on holidays, this is just a quick note to say thanks to everyone who came to the Afternoon Tea yesterday, as well as all those who have donated online. We also raised another £100 yesterday from our mini race meeting, and thanks to everyone as I sense that most of the winnings were returned to the pot.

We totally forgot to take any pictures, so apologies I have nothing to show apart from this one before people arrived.

IMG-20130407-WA0001

As you can see – we have to give special thanks to the sun, which made a surprise appearance on Sunday! It was last seen around August last year, so it was some good timing. Hopefully when we get back it this winter will finally have finished properly.

As promised, I will add £500 to each fund, but I will leave them open for a few more days just in case anyone has forgotten! Here are the links again

Cancer Research

MacMillan

7 April Afternoon Tea Fundraiser and Celebration

1 Apr

invited_4665c

This Sunday, 7 April, I am opening up my little flat to have an Afternoon Tea Fundraiser, and general celebration of getting better! Technically this week is my last week of sick leave, then we are headed off to Spain for a proper holiday. I go back to work on the 22nd of April, so the end of my long winter ‘holiday’!

It won’t be too posh, but I can promise homemade scones, cakes, various savouries, and Disney movies to keep the little people distracted if needed! And, of course, alcoholic beverages to keep the adults distracted.

Devonshire Tea

 

The cakes and champagne will be laid out from 2pm, and if you are in the area I would love to see anyone who I may not have already spoken to directly. Please get in touch on kmmr99@hotmail.com and I’ll send you all the details. While I have pretty much given up all my sense of privacy these days on this blog, I’m not quite there with giving out my address!

If you can’t make it – then can I please ask you to have a read of the posts below and make a small donation.

party

The importance of Research

1 Apr

The other important thing is research.

Since Mr Papanicolaou first created a screening test for cervical cancer, a series of steps was being prepared to ensure I got through this whole thing as safely and healthily as possible – by an army of researches. Without that test, I wouldn’t have known I had cancer, I’d still have it now – but it would have doubled in size and would be preparing to properly kill me. My cancer was about 2-3cm in size, and doubles every 3 months or so – so it really was discovered just in time.

Without research into less invasive treatments, I would have had an instant full hysterectomy, as well as a good blast of chemo and radiation. Leaving me infertile, in menopause, missing key functions (like bladder and bowels), and a much shorter life expectancy.

Instead, I am happy and healthy now. With a good chance of still having kids, and a normal life.

I am SO grateful for everything that brought me here today.

I have said before, but in so many ways I feel incredibly lucky, lucky it was found, lucky I could get the best treatment, lucky I was referred to Prof Shepherd, and lucky the operations have all gone so well.  I could say I was unlucky to get cancer, but you can’t have it all!

Here is the link to the donation page for my fundraiser for cancerresearch

As I am the one who benefited most from both of these charities I will also match any donations between the two charities – up to £1000 – so please give generously!

As you can see, its for an Afternoon tea this weekend, and if you are in the West London area feel free to get in touch as all are welcome. Contact me on kmmr99@hotmail.com

The importance of Support

1 Apr

Hi all,

I’m doing a little fundraising in support of the two most important parts of cancer treatment (in my limited experience). So the next two posts are explaining why and how to help. I’m also doing an Afternoon Tea this Sunday, and will put up details of that from those who may be able to attend.

1. Support.

This ad started recently, and it reminded me so much of the whole experience.

My experience was very similar. The doctor started with ‘Ok – well, we have a problem. There is a tumor, lets get the word out’. And then gave lots of information, and suddenly I went from being fine, to fairly non-stop crying. The fear that hits you, and I think a form of grief. Sort of loss of a simple life that you used to have, and entering a world where you don’t know anything, and the doctors keep asking if you have any questions!  That sadness, not overwhelming terror or anguish, but a general sadness is what stays around all the time – like you’ve forgotten how to be happy. And it hits again and again.  I’ve sat on the tube, on buses, at work, at home, and regularly at night just not able to stop the tears.

The questions you want to know are, how bad is it, how long will it take, will I die from this, how bad are the side effects, can I ever had children, and will I come out of it with most of my body intact. But… they can’t answer that, and that is what is so scary.

The next step, having to tell friends and family is almost as hard – as you are bringing this horrible thing into their world. Finding the words was so difficult – telling your parents you have cancer isn’t a fun conversation. I remember sitting with the whole family in Australia when we arrived, and I literally couldn’t start the sentence, it was too unreal, too hard to tell them something that I knew would cause them pain, and that I couldn’t easily solve.  Telling friends was the same, I felt like I had the ‘fun-destroyer’ grenade to throw into every situation.

But, what made it possible was the support I had.

Eric was there from day 1 at every appointment, and there to help me ask the questions I needed to ask. And then to help me tell people, and to find the words when I couldn’t. And especially to just let me cry and be there in the long nights we both went through.

My family and friends were, and still are, very supportive, rarely a day goes by without a message, a whatsapp, or email, or blog post (or flowers!) or something. And of course, Susan, who delivered herself to us in January, and has been a massive help over the last few months – making sure I don’t wallow in self-pity, and keeping up a regular schedule of spa visits and afternoon teas!

And while I don’t always say it, I really appreciate it – every single time. Sometimes I don’t answer as I don’t have much good to say, but I do know that without everyone’s support this would have been a even scarier and lonelier experience.

Which brings me back to this MacMillan campaign. The Campaign is called ‘Not Alone’, and ensures that everyone who gets cancer has the support they need. So, although I didn’t actually didn’t need to make much use of their services (thankfully) I would like to raise a little money to ensure that no-one has to go through cancer alone.

Afternoon Tea Fundraising page

As I am the one who benefited most from both of these charities I will also match any donations between the two charities – up to £1000 – so please give generously!

(MacMillan, for reasons unknown, make it very hard to donate directly to them! So this is a ‘tribute’ fund technically, but don’t worry – I am alive and kicking! They have agreed to funnel the money to the Not Alone campaign for me)

That is the first charity, and I will put the details of the next one in the next post. Both are equally important in my opinion, so feel free to choose which one you would prefer to donate to.