It’s been a while since I’ve written an update and it’s getting increasingly more difficult to find the time to. I thought I would have time over Christmas and New Year to do it but I didn’t, then I thought I’d have time to do it in Hong Kong but I didn’t, so I after much pondering, I’ve decided to call it a day and finish my blog.
I started my blog way back in September 2012 after my cancer diagnosis to help me, Ade and my immediate family. It was such a sudden diagnosis that we had trouble keeping up with what was happening, never mind coming to terms with it. It was actually Ade’s idea and the whole purpose was that it was a way to keep all our loved ones informed on what was going on without the need for them to come directly to us. The original purpose of the blog changed very quickly, it soon became a way for me to cope and get through the hell, but most importantly, it became a tool for other cancer patients, their loved ones, and even members of the medical profession.
If I’m honest, I didn’t think the blog would last, but when people started contacting to tell me how valuable the information and insight I provided was, I carried on, it then became one of the few things that kept me going. I found the blog therapeutic and it was mainly because I knew that it was somehow helping others. Cancer is really awful and if some good could come out of it, then I was happy to have made a difference.
I realised my blog meant something when I was nominated by several people around the world for the Lymphoma Association Beacons of Hope Award 2013 and won. I’ve read some of the submissions and it was really odd seeing words like courage and inspiration being used to describe me, they weren’t words I had ever associated with myself but it made me feel proud. It made me realise that writing the blog and committing to it was the right thing to do. I’ve somehow taken a really horrible period of my life and created something good.
I’m now 1 year and 8 months into remission and although I still have some ongoing health issue, there’s not much more I can add to my experience, hence the lack of updates. All I can hope for now is that my remission continues, so please hope with me and pray you never see me blogging about cancer ever again!
So now, I will sign off for the last time, at least on this particular blog. Thank you for all your kind words, your encouragement and the faith you had in me. Thank you for reading and being my audience. It’s now time for me to do what I do best, move forward, live and enjoy my life! I hope you all do the same too!
As usual, some recent random photos below for you enjoyment!
Much love and good health to you all!
Goodbye – 再見 – Sayōnara – Au Revoir – G’day – Hejdå – Auf wiedersehen..
Ade and I at BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards 2014 in Glasgow
Big Bear Lake in California. Spending quality time with friends and Ade at the log cabin in the mountains Dec 2014/Jan 2015Santa Monica Beach, Southern California. Dec 2014/Jan 2015
Hanging out with friends on Sunset Blvd – Dec 2014/Jan 2015Thailand Jan 2015
If you really want to know what’s happening in my life, then you can follow me on Twitter @ – though I must warn you, I talk a lot of rubbish!
Unless you have psychic abilities or prophet like intuition, who knows?!
Before I explain why I asked the question above, I’d better give you a quick update on what’s been happening as I know some of you have been wondering! I’ve almost recovered from the renal infections, the e-coli has gone and the uveitis has cleared up. All positive, except I’ve managed to get a really nasty chest cold pretty much straight away. After 3 weeks of it, it’s clearing up now. If you haven’t had it.. you’re next!!! It’s doing the rounds at the moment! I can’t seem to go anywhere without hearing sneezing, coughing and nose blowing. If you have yet to catch it, start dosing up on your vitamins now or better still, hibernate until March-ish!
Anyway, apart from the chest cold, I still have a low haemoglobin count and mysterious bruising on my legs – my consultant is keeping an eye on both of those issues. I’m hoping the haemoglobin sorts itself out soon as it has really affected my fitness training, I feel so unfit.
So, back to the question at the top. It doesn’t really require an answer as it’s more of a rhetorical question, but the fact is, we really have no idea what’s around the proverbial. It all came to a head this morning when I was as usual, listening to BBC Radio 5 Live on my drive into work. The headline news was that the Australian cricketer Phil Hughes, had died after being struck by a cricket ball two days earlier – he was only 25 years old. This news filled me with sadness, not because of his age but the fact that he had died from a ‘freak accident’, a blow to the side of his neck. Having heard this, I was trying to make sense of why it happened and why he had to die. And it was all borne out of what I went through and what had happened since my last blog entry.
The same week I posted the last entry, I received news that two of my friends within 24 hours of each other were diagnosed with cancer. One with Myeloma and the other with Uterus cancer. A few weeks later, a friends 7 year old son was diagnosed with Leukaemia. Each of those families are going through hell at the moment, and no doubt the family of the Cricketer is also going through hell. That radio report really hit home when it was juxtaposed with a news story about mindless violence and the David Mellor taxi driver rant. I couldn’t help but wonder whether some people could do with a little perspective and a little reminder of their own mortality. I’m not saying they should be struck down with anything nasty – oh god no, I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, but if there was a way to make them realise how short and precious life is, maybe they would think twice about their actions. Wouldn’t the world be a better place for it?! God, I sound naive.. but that is what perspective does for you. I’m not saying I’m perfect, I’m far from it, but what I do know is that the way I viewed life 3 years ago is vastly different to how I view it now. I appreciate it for what it is, I enjoy life a lot more, but I’ve also developed a fear that I’ve never had before. The fear of not knowing what will happen next – to me, or to the people I love. It’s absolutely terrifying which is all the more reason to appreciate and treasure the life and the time you have on this earth. Like the cricketer, it could be snatched away when you least expect it. Nothing is beyond the realms of possibility. As the last few weeks has proved, no one is immune to freak accidents, illnesses or anything.
On that philosophical note, I shall leave you to ponder (or go to sleep)! Next time you see someone you care about, give them a hug and appreciate them, you won’t regret it – even if you do come across a bit weird!
… sang James Hetfield some 11/12 years! Although I’ve stolen these lyrics from a song called The Unnamed Feeling, it pretty much summed up how I felt in the waiting room yesterday waiting to see my consultant.
My consultant was running about an hour late and that extra hour of waiting was probably the most agonising wait I’ve ever had to endure. I’ve had 9 PET scans in total over the last 2 years so I should be use to it, but the truth is, the more I have, the more anxious I get. Each scan seems to be more and more important.
In that hour, so much went through my mind. I was kind of aware that it was manically busy but in my mind, I managed to conjure up a different scenario. For example, I saw my stem cell nurse who has spent a good couple of years looking after me dashing from one place to another. She didn’t make eye contact with me or say hello like she normally would and she just looked so serious. Instead of seeing that she was incredibly busy, I read that to be that something was wrong with my results and she couldn’t look me in the eye. It’s completely irrational but at the time, in my mind, it made sense.
When I was finally called in, I was a wreck, I felt sick and I knew the moment I stepped into the office my consultant could see that. I was sat in a chair opposite her hunched over with my shoulders slumped as if I had a tonne of weight on them. That weight lifted completely when she told me, “the scan was good, it’s all clear”. The moment she said that, I sat up as if that weight had fallen off and I couldn’t stop smiling. I wanted to jumped up and do the Snoopy dance and punch the air and now I think of it, I’m not sure why I didn’t! Instead, in my head, I was screaming..
I’M STILL IN REMISSION! F**k CANCER!!!
I’m still screaming it silently as it happens!!
At the moment, life is good! My hair has grown a lot more, I just need to get my arse back to work having been off a few weeks and hope that my kidney function has improved. Results are die back today.
Love to you all!
One of my friends left the BBC today so I should be enjoying a glass of bubbly at his leaving party, instead I’m sat in bed sulking and feeling pretty miserable. I’m back in the same hospital and the same ward as I was 18 months ago when I was fighting cancer.
..Oh my god, the guy on whatever BBC antiques programme that’s currently on TV at the moment looks like Vladimir Putin. Poor bugger…
Anyway.. I’m in because I’ve been hit down with a nasty infection which my doctors believe have caused a multitude of other issues.. Think ‘buy one, get one free’. I have renal infections so we’re talking kidney and bladder here. I also have a low haemoglobin count which meant I’ve had nasty headaches and constant tiredness, I also have e-coil and cloudy vision in both eyes. All the above has caused nasty temperature spikes as well and the inability for me to sleep very much. My symptoms started over a week ago but has really ramped up over the last few days. At the moment, I’m on a 24/7 fluid trip and twice daily IV antibiotic drip.
Feeling quite miserable and extremely tired. Today I woke up with a very sore neck, shoulders and back due to the uncomfortable bed. My sleep was broken up with trips to the toilet as I have constant fluid being pumped into me and at 3am I was woken up to go for a CT scan of my brain and head. I’m also bored still and desperately hoping I can go home soon but I have a feeling I’m here for a few more days.
When I was admitted, I was absolutely distraught. I’ve managed to stay out of hospital for nearly 18 months and hearing the news depressed me. When I got to the ward, it felt like a nightmare. I remember every single thing about the ward – the sights and clinical smells brought everything I felt when I was in here in 2012 and 2013 back. It was like having horrific flashbacks. I have an amazing view from my room, I can see The Shard, the London Eye, St Paul’s Cathedral etc but this view has haunted me ever since I got here. Over 18 months ago I was desperately ill, unable to leave my room and stared at that view – I felt like that person all over again.
As as the nurses here are great and the facilities are world class, it’s a place that’s full of ghosts. It made me realised how much my time here still torments me.
So please send me good thoughts and pray I’m allowed home soon.
Anniversaries as we know them tend to be occasions to mark and celebrate something joyous, or at least that’s what I use to think. But what I’ve discovered is that once you been through a life changing trauma, anniversaries serve as an awful reminder.
Today, the 28th of August is an anniversary for me. One I wish I could forget but has haunted me for exactly two years, the day I was told I had cancer. I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember when I was given the diagnosis, I remember the excruciating walk out of hospital, I remember phoning Ade from the car – the hardest phone call I have ever had to make and I remember breaking down like I have never broken down in my life. I remember going to my parents house to break the news to them that evening, I remember the look on their faces and I swear I could hear the sound of their hearts breaking. To this day I can remember every single detail and sometimes when I close my eyes, I’m forced to relive it and feel that same pain all over again.
There’s a common misconception that if you’re as lucky as me, you come through and all is good again, but this awful disease leaves a legacy that you never get over. It’s like a death of a loved one, you never get over the trauma, it becomes easier to live and deal with. I’m ok now, I have my moments, mainly due to the consequences of the treatment I’ve had, but I’m handling it much better than I thought I ever would. But for my family, particularly my parents, it has taken much longer. My mum has been so strong and she still does so much for me to make sure I’m not overdoing things despite the fact I’m working full time and I’m back to being active – she treats me as if I’m made of glass. My dad still blames himself for my illness. It’s so irrational and off course it’s not his fault at all, I was just unlucky but I understand why he feels the way he does. Cancer doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t matter if you’ve been a bad person or a saint all your life, it will get you if it wants to. But for someone like my dad, he struggled with the ‘why me’, he needed a reason as to why I was the one who got ill. I remember the day after I told my parents, I was admitted to Accident & Emergency at Southend Hospital, my dad came into my room and broke down, he kept saying that he had been a bad father and that he shouldn’t have disciplined me as a child, he should’ve been nicer to me and paid more attention to me. It broke my heart to hear him say that and to see that he believed what he was saying. I had an amazing childhood with the best parents anyone could have, but this is the nature of such an evil disease, it didn’t just screw me, it screwed my family as well.
It’s taken a while, but two years on, I have beaten cancer. I’m in a much better place now with a better outlook on life. My family although scarred, have recovered too. The ghosts are still there but we’ve all learnt to accept that they will never completely go away. I’ve just got over a nasty chest infection (turned up just after I got over the Shingles) and I feel fantastic. I had my best pool session in over two years, and I’m on course to do my first post-cancer triathlon next week. At the end of September, I should be exorcising the ghost that is the Ealing half marathon – the event that I had to withdraw from in 2012 as I was having my first ever chemotherapy treatment.
So, although this is an anniversary I wish I could forget, it’s here to stay but I’ve marked it by being “normal” (don’t laugh). I went to work today, I had a great session in the pool and I’m ALIVE!
As usual, I’m finishing this entry off with a few photos, but not before I thank my amazing family and friends for getting me through the last two years. Special thanks to my husband Ade for being with me every step of the way, to the donor who gave me a second chance by selflessly donating their stem cells to me, for my employers at the BBC for having faith that I would recover and return to work, and also my personal trainer for helping rebuild my strength, fitness and confidence.
In some warped way, The Wait by Killing Joke is a pretty appropriate song to have had stuck in my head the last few days. The song is reportedly about waiting for the truth to come out of politicians but I guess in my head the song is just about an excruciating wait for the results of my PET scan I had 2 days ago.
My PET scan went according to plan and without delay, I came out hungry as I had to fast for it. For those of you who are newer to my blog, the reason I had to starve myself is because it forces my blood sugar levels to drop. The glucose can affect the results of the scan as the radioactive dye that is injected into me before the scan can pick that up. The radioactive solution highlights any activity so it’s crucial I’m nil my mouth. After my scan, I went to the predictable Starbucks just down the road from the Macmillan Cancer Centre and got myself a coffee and a croissant, and I can’t recall the taste, I think I literally inhaled it!
The wait for the results this time round was hell. I’m always anxious when I’ve had a scan but this time I was a mess. I was already nervous beforehand but it really escalated afterwards especially as I haven’t been feeling too well. With the mixture of a crazy week at work, moving house, unpacking boxes, lack of sleep from worry and the stress of the scan, I had managed to run myself into the ground. After my appointment with my consultant earlier this week, I was under doctors orders to stop and rest. Very hard for someone like me to do but I forced myself to not look at the mass of unpacking that needs to be done and slept a lot which has done me a world of good. I had a personal training session today which I almost cancelled because I was almost ill with worry and I’m so glad I didn’t, that session took my mind off all the worries and anxiety for an hour!
Anyhow, an hour after my training session, I was given the result of the scan and I can now relax and breath!
1 year remission confirmed! I’m still cancer free! My doctors and I can now relax a little bit more because the longer I stay cancer free the closer I am to a cure! The cancer I had was very aggressive so the first year is crucial!
I actually cried when I heard! I’m so happy! Life is good, I’m in my new house, I’m a year out of transplant and I’m fittest I’ve been my transplant. This is like a new start for me, so I’m going to mark this occasion by publishing this and then do the Snoopy dance!
Stay safe and healthy folks.. Remember.. Life if precious, treasure it and have an amazing weekend!