I’ve started this blog post so many times… it was originally called Merry Christmas, then Happy New Year and could now be called Jesus Christ How Is It February Already I Forgot To Plant My Bloody Daffodil Bulbs Again That’s Another Year Wasted. This is the first time I’ve been motivated to put virtual pen to virtual paper, and I needed to get something off my chest first (joke). It’s been an uneventful start to the year (joke again) after a spectacularly hectic festive period. It was great to have family here from far and wide to celebrate Christmas. My family Christmasses usually involve some mild PG rated violence at the very least but we were all well behaved this year and I think everyone genuinely enjoyed being together.
Afterwards our little tiny family escaped to a log cabin for a few days to soak in a hot tub and walk in the woods and ignore the prospect of my impending surgery. The Willow Foundation are a charity that arrange treats for “young” people with cancer and I am so grateful to them for giving us a little oasis of calm before the next stage of treatment.
January 10th was the day of my surgery. Obviously the car didn’t start, we had to nick my mum’s and arrived an hour late which definitely didn’t make me mutter darkly about bad omens and fill me with even more dread. But it wasn’t too bad in the end. It was the first uninterrupted five hours sleep I’d had in a while (when I’m King of the World new mums will be allowed a go on a general anaesthetic once every three months). When I woke up I had a prawn cocktail for my dinner. I’ve stayed in worse hotels. My besty arranged for our favourite song to be played on hospital radio and I had a moment, miming to it and crying, knowing once again my world had changed forever.
My mum and aunty nurse stayed with us to look after me and Super Ted during my recuperation. I’m ever so lucky and think of people who have to do this without the support of family. My recovery has been good, the worst bit was having to cart two surgical drains around (actually the worst part was having a couple of Proseccos and forgetting I had to cart the drains around. Ouch). One year olds do not respect major surgery. In fact I think Ted saw me as a sitting duck/ adventure playground who couldn’t escape. It’s hard not to pick Ted up because at this stage he is so desperate to walk and just wants to explore everywhere… he makes very funny little hand gestures begging to be picked up which I hate ignoring.
I knew it was time for life to return to ‘normal’ and for mum to leave when standards began to slip… one day the milk in my bran flakes was not perfectly cold, the home made sponge was a little dry. By now Teddy regarded me with complete contempt, not only would he physically shove me out of the way to get to Nanny, but his diet consisted solely of biscuits and cakes. Nanny allows him to do whatever he likes such that his favourite toy is the microwave (a matter of time before he jams something metal in there) and his favourite game is standing on the top step of the stairs as precariously as possible, laughing. It will take years to undo these behaviours. (By the way do not feel sorry for Nanny- she is frequently mean to me. I recently found a note of the list of complaints which she made about me when I took her on holiday to the South of France a few years ago. I shall digress to share them. The accommodation: dingy, unfit for a dog, too hot, too cold, too far. My car: seats uncomfortable, not enough doors, too cramped, too cold, too hard to get out of, windscreen wipers too noisy, (roof on) too dingy, (roof off) too windy. Me: my hair is untidy, my clothes are unironed, my hat is ridiculous, I am a know it all, bi-polar, too much like my father, I eat too fast, I drink too fast, I eat too noisily, I drink too noisily, I eat too much, I drink too much, I lick my knife, I always talk about food, I have an addictive personality, I am an idiot, I haven’t got a clue, I am unreliable, “ma fille est un fool”. Needless to say we had a marvellous time.)
Next up- pathology results. It’s not easy for me to say this- they were shit. My lymph nodes were affected and the chemotherapy had not worked. A large “footprint” of disease remained. The cancer had not behaved in the way we had expected. It was a double hard bastard. Cancer doctors don’t sugar the pill- they can’t. I am in a very high risk for recurrence and if this happens the cancer will not be curable. Psychologically this is difficult to come to terms with. I needed immediate CT and bone scans to see if it had already spread. Between the scan and results we stayed overnight near to the hosptial. It was a very unpleasant time alleviated only by the FREE TEMPURA PRAWNS AND PETITS FOURS available as part of the Croydon Hilton check in experience(I know right?!) The scans were clear, for now. I need to learn how to cope with the relentless anxiety I’m afraid will never go away.
So next it’s the final leg of “the journey”. Three weeks of being zapped. Many people say it’s a walk in the park compared to what’s gone before. The worst bit will be the journey to and from hospital but my nearest and dearest have made a rota for driving so Ted doesn’t have to go to nursery everyday which would be crappy for him and cost a fortune. I’ve promised the designated drivers free lunch at the Marsden which is an excellent incentive. FYI drivers: this offer extends to MAIN DISH only- vegetables/rice/pasta etc are payable yourself at a cost of 80p per item. Puddings are in the region of £1 and are always well executed school dinner fayre – think sponge custard, rice pudding etc. I wouldn’t be surprised if more people volunteer to drive having seen this offer.
Other news: my hair is ridiculous. I finally gave up the fringe and lopped it all off in January. My stepson’s beautiful girlfriend said I looked like an actress. “This sounds hopeful” thought me “she’s thinking gamine, elvish…. Kiera Knightly maybe?” “Sigourney Weaver in Alien” suggested Besty. It wasn’t even a joke.
On the subject of the youngest “stepson” (unofficial), both he and my eldest nephew turned 18 in January making me feel jolly old. Since my diagnosis and throughout my illness Victor has behaved with maturity, compassion and given me much needed moments of humour. Cancer is heavy shit for a 17/18 year old to deal with and he never complains about the disruption it causes. He’s a good boy. He went to Amsterdam with his friends for his 18th and spent an absurd amount of money. When I asked how he told me the Anne Frank Museum was very expensive and he’d been three times. He makes me laugh.
I’m planning to drown myself in a bucket of Prosecco on 15th March to celebrate the end of active treatment. Join me and I’ll share.
Thank you as always to everyone that helps me keep going. I’m thinking with so much love of family and friends who are coping with their own struggles xxx