Saturday, 26 May 2018

FEC T. One down, five to go.

''What did you do on the bank holiday?''
''Oh, I spent it on the chemo ward.''
And this bank holiday?
Same again!

I had so many preconceptions, yet little idea of what it would actually entail.

My first reaction to the initial cancer diagnosis was sheer terror.
Am I going to die?
People die of cancer!

Followed swiftly by 
''If I don't have to have chemo I'll be okay, it can't be that bad if I don't have chemo.''
''I can't go bald, I can't cope with bald, everyone'll know I've got cancer, I'll look ill!''

I'm having chemo.
And my hair is starting to shed.

Strangely enough, I feel quite calm about the whole thing.
Having a plan in place, a timetable of treatment, is a huge help.
It's the not knowing, the endless waiting for results, that causes the most stress.
As soon as I learned that my sentinel lymph node had tested positive for cancer I knew that chemo was going to be offered.
And that was when an inner calmness just seemed to kick in.

Chemo is doable.
It's not easy, and I'm sure it'll get harder as time goes by, but with two good weeks out of every three, I can cope with that!
Gentle exercise and fresh air is key.
And sunny weather.
My veggie patch has never had so much attention!

Entering the chemo ward for the first treatment was emotional.
I felt I was signing the death warrant on my hair with the first red syringe.
I cried a few silent tears.

Two hours later I was leaving the ward, no more tears and armed with a bag of medication and the dreaded box of seven syringes, along with a shiny yellow sharps container.
The only instructions I had received for self injecting were 
''grab a piece of tummy fat with one hand and inject with the other'' 
I was apprehensive.

Google brought up some dubious sites, but I figured it out and the thought was worse than the reality.
And they worked...I had more energy than before chemo!

The mouth ulcers, now they were painful.
I wasn't expecting the mouth ulcers.
But Difflam mouthwash eventually worked its magic there.

And then there's the hugely emotive issue of the hair.
The oncologist had told me I'd be bald by my next session.

Day 11 and it started to shed.
Just the odd strand here and there, but a definite loosening.
Every morning I check my pillow, expecting to see large chunks of hair that have migrated from my head.
The hairbrush collects so much I'm surprised to still have a covering.
It's resiliant, and to the outside world my hair looks no different, but I can feel that it's thinner.

Today is day 19, and the shedding has picked up the pace at an alarming rate.
I'm having to wrap orders wearing a hairnet.
A headband in the wind.
And this morning I was picking stray hairs out of a tea cup.

I want to prove the oncologist wrong and still have a covering on Monday.
I'll be happy if my hair is still there on Monday.
But I think I'll be bald within a week.

Bald is going to be emotional.
While I still have hair it's a bit of an abstract concept.

The wig voucher is still sitting in an envelope, unused.
I'm not sure I want a wig.
I've seen some lovely wigs, but what I want is my own hair, and not an imitation.

I can't get my head around wigs, so will probably stick with an extensive selection of headwear, but never say never!
I'm sure by the end of chemo I'll be sick of scarves and ready to embrace a wig whilst my eagerly anticipated and frustratingly slow growing new hair is bedding in.

Two days until chemo number two.

My favourite hat by

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Still Me.

18th January 2018.

A date that will be forever etched in my mind.
The date of my first national screening mammogram.

I remember the morning vividly - crisp, cold and sunny.
My only concern?
That I must be officially old to have received that particular invitation through the post!

Fast forward three and a half months and I am sitting here, two surgeries later and twenty lymph nodes lighter, contemplating the start of chemotherapy in thirteen days time.
It's a scary step into the unknown.

My world has been spun on its axle and breast cancer has appeared out of nowhere.
Small and early, but grade 3.

Each set of results was an emotional body blow.
Words like lymph nodes and oestrogen and calcifications acquired a whole new significance.
FEC T has become shorthand for my weapon of choice to obliterate any rogue cells still lurking around.
Cancer has suddenly become very real but I won't let it define me.

Still me.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Clouds of grey.

Sewing by fairylight.
For the past five days my sewing machine has remained in an unused and hidden state.

Today I reclaimed it for a retro Paddington coffee cosy, but only after I'd braved the grey clouds to mooch in the veggie patch, abandoned for most of December.

I'll use the term veggie patch loosely, as in December it tends to resemble a mud bath.
Although this morning, due to the compost bin upending itself and splaying the contents across the mud it looked practically tropical!

I love my veggie patch.
The perfect antidote to hours on the sewing machine.


Saturday, 23 December 2017

Winding down for Christmas. The twitchiness of adapting to the post orders lull.

For the past month or so my life has revolved around the daily post office dash, interspersed with the odd fabric crisis and packaging alarm calls before the sun has risen.

On the plus side, those early alarm calls meant the daily serenade of bird song.
And for the cats it meant an extra breakfast and extended snoozing, while I wrestled with cellotape, cellophane and the temperamental printer.

And then it stopped.

Thursday was my cut off date for sending before Christmas; the orders whirlwind has ground to a much needed halt.

And today I'm twitchy.

The sewing machine is packed away, and I'm getting withdrawal symptoms.
The garden's soggy, no distraction there.
By tomorrow evening I'll be fine, but for's taking a lot of willpower to maintain a distance between me and the fabric!

On the plus side, the machine free table, newly beeswaxed and bedecked with gingham, is looking rather wonderful.
Yesterday it was used for my first ever sit down meal for six.
A pre Christmas family dinner, and the perfect opportunity to dust off an ever growing vintage glass collection.
Cut glass bonbon dishes, delicate shot glasses for mini desserts, vintage trifle bowls...everything I love.

Christmas is family time, more than ever this year as my son emigrated to Austria a few months ago, so family time is precious.

And I love any excuse to bake, to rock a new apron!
(This one is blue and white whales)

Merry Christmas!



Sunday, 5 November 2017

Measure, measure and measure again!

This week, at the grand old age of fifty, I made my very first pair of grown up-lined-and-complete-with-header-tape curtains.
Many things surprised me - that I'd never done it before, that header tape is cheaper now than it was 20 years ago - that my slapdash measuring wasn't accurate.

Ah yes - the measuring.
After a brief and approximate flurry of a tape measure, when it came to seam allowances I decided my eye would be fine.
Fine meant one curtain hanging a good inch longer than the other.
And a hurried repair job resulting in a double seam on one curtain.
Luckily I love the fabic enough to overlook this minor failing.
Afterall, it's flamingos, backed with pink and white polka dots.

I have my eye on more fabric, this time for the bedroom.
Having recently gone sofa free I now have the space I've craved to spread out with reams of fabric.

I've had a love hate relationship with the sofa.
Sometimes there's nothing better than being sprawled under a blanket on the sofa, chocolate in one hand, remote in the other.
But it was making me lazy.
And taking up valuable floor space.
Suddenly, I was resenting the sofa.
Glaring at it.
So, last week, as a victim of my recently acquired decluttering frenzy, it was unceremoniously ousted to the pavement, enroute to the local recyling centre.
And I haven't missed it at all.

For anyone interested in making their own curtains, I found the Craftsy blog post above very easy to follow.
And my tip...measure, measure and measure again!

Saturday, 29 July 2017

F-F-F-fifty. Clearing out and starting afresh.


Well, two weeks in and my world didn't spin on its axle.
I didn't suddenly find my inbox innundated with Saga offers and Plan your own Funeral promotions.
I didn't suddenly wake up feeling morose.
But what it did give me was a sense of restlessness and craving for adventure.
Which is a bit tricky when I struggle to stay awake past 11pm and have a tolerance for alcohol that fails after a two glasses of wine!

When I think back to the alcohol consumed from communal blue jugs during my backpacking, kibbutz hopping days...
Or the partying till 3am and still up for work by 6...
Now, I have an out of date passport, an over stuffed coalshed and get excited by branch loppers!
And an urge to streamline my accumulated clutter and chuck out anything that isn't useful or beautiful.

It's amazing how much clutter we accumulate over the years, all that ''just in case'' stuff we keep for a time when it may be useful.
Layers upon layers of STUFF.
I'm still working my way through to the darkest depths of the coalshed, through the coal blackened cobwebs and dustballs hiding decades of accumulated clutter destined for the skip.
Inside, I've thrown out so much clutter that if I ignore the shop stock it's looking practically minimal :)

Strangely satisfying and definitely a knock on effect from reaching fifty.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Suki. Diary of a cat with hyperthyroidism.

So, a week in from the first diagnosis and I would say my pill giving technique needs some improvement.
A combination of me still learning and Suki being wise to all the tricks.
''Just mix it in with her food''  the vet said.
Ha!!! Suki just nibbles around it.
''Coat it with something sticky, like cream cheese, and the cat won't notice it''  said the forum post.
Well, notice it she did!
So for now we're perservering with the pill-down-the-throat technique.
And eight times out of ten I'm sure it goes down.
Although today, after Suki dutifully made all the swallowing actions, I later discovered it on the outside mat.
We're getting there, but she's upset with me today, and hiding under the raspberry canes.
And I feel suitably guilty.

''I'm sure there's a hedgehog here somewhere...''