Checklist

It’s Sunday morning and I have just finished writing my “check list” for today.  Later, I am travelling down to work for my first visit to the office in over 6 months!!

I admit I am full of mixed emotions, I am so excited to be seeing work colleagues again, I’ve not seen them since before Lenny and I am sure there is going to be a whole lot of hugging happening!

But at the same time I am apprehensive for a few reasons…..

  1. Forgetting the important things!

Yes, I am more anxious than normal about forgetting stuff, especially the stuff I can’t live without for the next few days!

I am not talking the laptop either although this is fairly high on the list!

I am talking about tamoxifen for a start! I am so paranoid about leaving it behind, it is the first thing on the list! There is no way I am missing one of those little pills and although I know missing a couple probably won’t cause issues, I am not taking risks in that department. In all the risk mitigation actions, this is the bloody important one!

Secondly my oils, OMG I need them in my life. With mixed emotions comes my  set of emotions oil! Oh yes I have one for bloody every emotional in life!

“Cheer” for positively, energy and potentially any wobble moments!

“Balance” to calm me down and reduce the anxiety and stress that 3 days of budgeting may bring!

“Motivate” for getting shit done

“Spearmint” for confidence and not taking any shit!

I am also taking about enough supplements to keep Holland and Barrett in business for about 3 years plus some magic “On Guard” to keep germs away!

I’ve been so lucky to not really get anything during chemo but the reality is my immune system is still low and I ain’t got time for being ill! I know how many germs are around that bloody office too, I don’t care if people think I have “OCD issues”, my boss will have issues if I end up off sick again!!

So that’s just a few things on the “list”!!

2. Being Alone

It’s also been a long time since I have been on my own and I mean without family and friends for months and months. Before Lenny I was frequently away with work and being on my own never bothered me. But I am conscious that for me being alone, especially at nigh,t can be when a wobble starts.

I am so glad that I have been seeing my psychologist though as already I feel like I have some “tools” in my little wobble suitcase for coping with the feelings.

Even seeing her for 3 weeks as really helped me to be more aware of my thoughts and how to deal with them. At some point I will fill you in more…..

3. Leaving the boys

I’m also nervous about leaving the boys. Again, never something that has bothered me. My “Rock” is an amazing dad and when I’m away I just leave him to it. I don’t like calling them lots as I don’t want him to think I am checking up on him and I think it is important for them to have “boy” time.

The nerves are more about worrying about the Rock, worrying about me.

This isn’t easy for partners, they try and hold back their feelings, being “strong” for us but they are human as well

My psychologist called it “adjustment disorder” . That’s the official term. The good thing is that me and the Rock are talking open and honestly about how this is affecting him too. It might have taken him a while to open up but he’s getting there.

The thing I am learning through all this is to have an “open mind”, I will try anything to get my family as “healthy” and as “happy” as we can be.

I’ve even given the Rock a lesson in applying little man’s daily oil. Oh yes little man is also oiled with”On Guard”, I don’t want any bloody germs coming back home in this house!!

4. Hot Flushes

Yep, they are happening several times a day and nightsweats are still a frequent occurrenceworkchecklist throughout the night.  I can deal with them at home but the thought of them happening in the middle of presenting a budget to the big cheeses does fill me with some anxiety!!!  Who’d have thought that in the middle of winter I’d be taking a fr$cking fan with me!!!

Oh well, best get back to the packing, oh and did I mention I have a new red work bag? – needs must!!!

Back to work

This week marked a big milestone, Monday was“officially” the day I returned back to work……..Eeeek

I say “officially” as I have done bits of work all the way through this but that was entirely my own doing and actually it’s helped….. ALOT!

It’s helped to keep my brain active and I know on the confidence o meter it’s made a huge difference!

People have made comments about me returning so soon after active treatment has finished and whether I should be taking more time off but honestly I feel ready.

I do work from home which means I don’t have to worry about sorting out my work clothes or making sure I don’t have any wig malfunction!, at least for a couple of weeks anyway when I’m due to visit the office.

In true “Gem” style I did get ultra organised before Monday. Last week I got rid of all the crap in my she shed / office.  For the last 6 months it’s been a dumping ground for anything and there was no way I was working in a shit tip!

The clutter has well and truly gone, as they say, clear room, clear mind!

I’ve also put my oil diffuser in there! Oil lady will be proud! Another advantage of being a home worker means I can have whatever I want on without someone commenting “wtf is that smell”!!!

oil

Everything was good to go and I must admit I was so excited!

Ask me again in a couple of weeks and I will probably be swearing my head off with “I’ve had enough of fu£$ing budgets!

My first meeting was with my new business partner at 9:30am.  I needed to make a good impression, that I knew my shit, and I really hoped chemo brain behaved otherwise I was going to look like a muppet!

I did put some risk mitigation in there by preparing for my “crucial conversation” beforehand and smothering myself in my “Motivate” oil also known as “getting shit done” oil as well as Spearmint also known by Gemma as “not taking any shit” oil!!

Well I can honestly say the bloody oils worked their magic as the meeting was a success and I got so much stuff done this week I was proper proud of myself!

What I didn’t tell you at the start was this week is normally the most stressful week of the quarter yet alone your first week back but with the help of my right hand lady, we did it!!!

Woohoo!

Not only that but I’ve also managed to increase my running from 2 minutes to 20 minutes!!! It’s a bloody massive achievement given what a killer that initial 2 mins was. Those muscles are still in those legs and I am seriously gonna be kicking butt at the 5k soon!!!

Right, it’s time to decide what to wear for our PTA Christmas party! Thinking some statement killer heels!!!

 

Happy New Year!

Well hello 2018, ok, ok,  I am a day late but yesterday was a well earned pj day in this house!

Hope you all had a good one, we actually had a quiet one at home with the little man and a very special visit from Rosie.

It was perfect though as I am still bloody shattered from chemo and the full on birthday and Christmas celebrations.

happynewyear

We had some posh nosh followed by a gorgeous Eton mess cheesecake homemade by Rosie-Mary Berry as I call her!

We still had loads left, in fact it is the main reason why my healthy eating plan starts today.   There is no bloody way I was throwing that left over cheesecake in the bin, I don’t care what the scales say at fat club later!

The last few days I have been working on my 2018 goals.  Yep it’s that time of year where I like to start my yearly planning!

But before I get on to 2018, I wanted to say a few things about 2017.

It certainly wasn’t the year I had planned and yep, at times, Lenny did cause a lot of shit in our lives but you know what… so much came out of 2017 and looking back I achieved so much.

Let’s start with the achievements:

  1. Ran 5k in sub 30 mins – huge achievement for someone who is not a natural runner!
  2. Ran my first ever 10k and completed Race for Life!
  3. Got into all my old clothes that had been too small for years including my favourite dresses
  4. Raised over £3000 for “brave the shave”
  5. Became a Cancer Survivor!

Yes the old boobs went, well they were “somewhat drooped” and I got a revamped pair! Sure, the scars are still there, but let’s call them “war wounds” and, with my special skin balm, the main scars are starting to fade.

Don’t get me wrong the Lenny invaded boob is still so very sore, like I have been punched several times in it but the chemo doesn’t help that and the healing process takes time.  I am still thankful I have them though!

Our holiday plans had to change but we still had loads of family fun and we have already starting to plan camping fun for 2018!

Unfortunately I am not going to be able to help out so much with the “putting the tent up” duties.  That ba$tard Lenny has left me with what they think is mild lymphedema which means I can’t do heavy lifting or reach up high for things.  It’s probably one of the side effects that I have struggled to cope with the most as it has changed a lot in my day to day life, more than most people know, but on the plus side I can still cuddle my little man and the condition is “manageable” if I behave myself and don’t over do it!

Of course the big C has changed my life, I do worry about it returning but I know I have done everything I can to give me he best possible chance of it not coming back.

I now have to learn to manage that worry and since diagnosis I have always been open with my worries.  I was chatting to my Rock and Rosie about this on New Year’s Eve and we all agreed that I will just have to learn what “triggers” my worries and how I will deal with them when they do happen.

One thing I am going to do to help manage this is to keep an anxiety diary as recommended by the book I am reading.

But you know, the big C has changed and will continue to change me for the better.

I’m stronger mentally than I have ever been and I really don’t take any shit from anyone so watch out! Lol…

I’ve said it before but my priorities have changed. When people used to say your health comes first I never really appreciated it’s true meaning.

Nothing is going to get in my way of putting my health first in life   I come first and as my little man told me

“Mummy, you have to love yourself before you love others”

Wise words from a 4 (now 5) year old!

The little things just don’t bother me anymore and I apologise if I don’t emphathise with the rest of you at times but the truth is when you are faced with something that lies between you and your life, the little stuff just doesn’t matter.

Life is so precious and so god damn short and I intend on making everyday count.

If you are not happy about something in your life then do something about it! Nuff said!

So what’s in store for 2018?

Well firstly with health in mind I am gonna get myself “fit” again. Not being able to run for months has bothered me but 3 days ago I went out for my first run with my step daughter around our village.

It nearly killed me, my legs felt like lead weights after 2 minutes but I did it! We walked/ jogged almost 5k. I am so unfit at the moment but it won’t be for long. My first goal is to increase the running and reduce the walking so I can get to a full 5k then 10k and then wait for this… I have signed up for the Great North Run. Yep I’m running it for Breast Cancer Care!!.

I have 9 months to get trained up and I will bloody do it!!!

I am also gonna go back to weight watchers, it works and it is a lifestyle change. I have missed my “fat club” friends so much and still strongly believe if I hadn’t lost the weight I would not have found the lump.

2018 will be the year I get to goal and I have already said to my mum that her and me are going to be on all the covers of the magazines!

Being as fit as I was really did help me to recover and deal with this shit.  I may have gone up a dress size but I have to remember I am still 2 dress sizes smaller than what I was.

Carrying the extra weight has been messing with my head, things have got tighter over chrristmas especially from not running but I will be back on it in no time!

I am also really looking forward to getting back to work properly, I love my job and the people I work with, I know though I need to take it slow!

The next 2018 goals are to spend quality time with the people who really matter to me. This journey does really allow you to learn who the people in life that you can truly rely on and I’ve also made some amazing new friends through this as well as friends I didn’t know so well who I’ve really developed strong bonds with.

So here’s to a very healthy and happy 2018 and remember:

  1. Make your health a priority
  2. Live more, worry less
  3. Look forwards not backwards

And finally

  1. Don’t take any shit!!! – or send them my way!!!

Oh I wish it could be Christmas everyday!

Wow, is it really 11 days since I wrote my last blog post?…..Well they do say time flies when you are having fun!

It’s certainly been a busy couple of weeks in the Davie house! There have been 3 birthdays for a start and we still have one to come!

Mine was first followed by the little man’s and then  my step daughter’s.  The Rock’s is in a couple of days!  It gets so busy here that we have to have a rota system on displaying the birthday cards!

Never mind slotting in Christmas plays, church services and finalising all the prep that goes into Christmas … plus Christmas itself!

At times it’s been exhausting and yes I mean by 7pm I’ve literally been falling asleep sat up in the chair, but it’s been worth every minute!

Nothing was gonna stop our family having amazing birthdays and Christmas this year and I mean NOTHING.

I was talking on fb with an other Breast cancer survivor a couple of week’s go…… a “younger” lady like me…. yep I can still say that, despite a birthday I am just about clinging onto those 30s!!!

…..We were saying how we were both so glad that we had finished treatment and gone full on into Christmas mode.

On a serious note, it has meant that I have been able to focus on Christmas and try to put any worries behind me for now. I am also fully aware that the worries are still gonna be there but this strong cookie will deal with them later, sorry worries but you can “f$&k right off” for the next couple of weeks because this house is buzzing with Christmas spirit right now.

Even the constant hot flushes and night sweats have not got me down. My hubby may think his wife has been swapped with “Sweaty Betty” but at the minute I am not letting them get on top of me and dampen my mood!

I am still playing Christmas tunes 24×7, the new neighbours must love me -NOT!

xmas

Everyday has been so special, I was well and truly spoilt on my birthday despite eating my own body weight in cake at Betty’s tearooms.

I even managed to attend my son’s Christingle church service on the last day of term. I can’t begin to tell you how much it meant as I have had to miss out on so many things due to he chemo. I couldn’t help but cuddle and kiss the little man as he sat holding his orange with his lit candle, singing his heart out to carols.

He even knew all the words the the Lord’s Prayer – I was so bloody proud!!!

Although I wasn’t proud of his 45 minute meltdown, yep you heard me 45 bloody minutes and in front of his best friend and Mum who came back to ours!!!

Thankfully she knows me well and from talking to other parents it appears it is that time of year when kids are exhausted from their first term at school and all the events and build up to Christmas.

As my friend said to me the other day, they are only 5 years old! At times I forget that and I do tend to be self critical on my parenting and worry I am not in control.

But then I have to remember, I have just finished chemo too and although to the world with my wig on and a bit of slap on I look “normal”, my body has taking a fricking battering over the last 6 months and in particularly the last 12 weeks from this bloody poison going around my body.

But that bit is over, no more poison and hopefully the side effects I am still dealing with will start to fade.

I’ve actually now started taking my vitamins and food supplements as I was advised not to take anything during chemo so they can monitor the true effect of the chemo so I am hoping they “kick” in soon and that my energy levels start to come back.

It can’t be much fun for hubby having a wife who’s in bed for 8pm and there’s only so many times I can get away with playing the old chemo Card 😉

However despite the chemo, I have actually been able to do all the things I normally do over Christmas. I will probably collapse in a heap today but I don’t care, I really don’t.

I managed to make my little man a birthday cake.  It almost killed me trying to get the bastard icing on the cake, my arm strength is not the greatest with this stupid mild lymphedema and dealing with my sons meltdown didn’t do it any good…… but the cake was a success and it met the little man’s strict criteria!

I felt like I had won the bake off when he gave me his approval although he did correct my grammar. “Mummy, it should say “is 5 today” not just “5 today” ffs!!!!

I decided to refrain from screaming back at him with “do you know how long this bloody cake took me to make?” and instead I to took in the proud moment that at 5 year old he was correcting my grammar!!!

Little monkey is definitely his father’s son with his perfection!!

On Christmas Eve I even managed to go ice skating for my step daughter’s birthday, yep we have Davie birthdays 23, 24 and then it’s xmas day! – if I had a £1 for the amount of times I have been told “bad planning”, I’d be well on my way to a millionaire…. well ok slight exaggeration but you get the gist!!!

I told you it’s full on in this house!

We all loved the ice-skating, well hubby watched from the side lines as it’s not his thing whilst the 3 of us had so much fun!

But the highlight of the week was Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day.

The little man was so excited about Santa coming …….

“Mummy can you get everyone to come to bed now so Santa can come” he shouted down at 8pm!

Actually I managed to stay up that night until 11:30! Think it was a combination of pure excitement and perhaps the potent Christmas Martini that hubby made for me!!

Christmas Day was then the icing on top of the cake.

It’s the day I have been focusing on for weeks, ever since I found out I would be done for Christmas. I love Christmas so much but I can’t tell you how special it felt watching the kids open their stockings with such excitement to sitting around our table with my family.

I even did a little impromptu speech, oil lady will be proud as I had a sniff of my spearmint oil before hand which is supposed to be good for public speaking and confidence…. I did come back in the room smelling of Wrigleys chewing gum factory which actually wasn’t to everyone’s tastes.

It must have worked as my Nanny Noble then said a few emotional words….. for her to stand up was a huge massive thing as it’s been a bloody hard year for this lady. Super proud daughter moment!!!

It was a perfect end to a perfect day and to top it off my hair is starting to grow back!

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s been a bloody good one at the Davie’s!!!

 

Life after the Bell… what next?

Well active treatment is over now so what happens next?

So many of you reading this blog are probably asking the same question? Does the blog end now you have finished treatment? Now it’s all over?

The answer is no bloody way, absolutely NOT!

In fact I know this blog is going to help play such a big part in me coping with the next part of my journey and I know it will help so many others through theirs, as well as helping family and friends of others going through this.

Active treatment aka Surgery, Radiotherapy (aka Rads) and Chemo are only part of this bloody roller coaster

I am told the toughest bit starts here……

Well Lenny if you can hear me from your jar, then you best get ready cos this Yorkshire lass is stronger and tougher than ever before!!!!

“Oh yes I am”

“Oh no you’re not”

“Oh yes I am”

Sorry had to get a bit of Christmas panto in there!!!

So why is this is this next bit tougher?

Well let’s start with what’s happened the last six months.

As I’ve said previously it’s been a whirlwind of treatments, appointments, life changing decisions and all this time I’ve had my medical team by my side, particularly my superhero the Prof. After you finish that your “comfort blanket” is taken away and your pretty much on your own with the exception of the odd review.

Shit bollo£ks what happens now? Panic can start to kick in!

The fact is the person who started this journey isn’t the person who stands here today and the outside world can feel like a scary place.

I know I am not alone with my worries and anxieties going into the next bit, even the strongest and most positive of us have apprehensions……

How will I cope with the side effects of the 10 year tamoxifen?

Will I turn into full on little miss mood swings?

Will I drive my “Rock” away?

Will I ever get over this fatigue?

When will my hair grow back?

How will I cope going back to work full time?

Will I ever be “great” at my job again?

Will I ever be able to run 10k again?

And last but not least

What IF the big C returns?

Pretty scary list right?

The truth is I know for a fact I am a much stronger person coming out of this. Over the past few months I’ve done everything I could to give me the best possible chance of coming through this journey in the best physical and mental state in preparation for this next phase.

Yep planning and preparing is what I do best!

It’s the main reason that I saw two important people this week, my gp and my clinical psychologist.

They won’t ever be my comfort blanket in the same way as the Prof but I know how much I am gonna need them over the weeks, months and potential years to come.

For me it’s all about being proactive with this, at the moment I feel on top of the world, ready to tackle anything but there are little voices that came inside my head at times, yep we call them “wobbles” and I want as many tools and tricks to help ensure those wobbles keep low on that bloody wobble-o-meter.

Right – time to finish writing those christmas cards!!!

 

lifeafter

 

 

15 sleeps till Santa!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and only 15 sleeps till Santa!

15sleeps

It’s Sunday morning, day 7 since my last chemo and there is snow on the ground, it’s a perfect scene from a Christmas card.

I feel like I have been waiting for his weekend to happen for so long, having our little family all together again and decorating the house ready for Christmas.

When I first began Chemo we didn’t know if I’d be done for Christmas and we were waiting on my Onco Dx test. But here we are, it’s the 10th December and all though the side effects are still looming, as Yazz said in the 80s “the only way is up”

To be honest, it’s been a bit of an emotional week, I still feel like I’ve got a lot of “release” to get out.  I am not ashamed to admit there have been a few tears, I’m finding it’s a bit like a grieving process although I can tell you for sure, I have not grieved Lenny the bloody lump for 1 minute!!

The last few months have been a whirlwind, there has literally been no time to “think”, to “digest” to live.  I’ve been on auto pilot for months and now I think reality is just catching up with me and I’m now actually starting to process in my chemo head what has happened.

The Chemo drugs obviously play a part on your emotions and at the start of the week I had the “high” from finishing Chemo combined with my steroid mates!

Actually, the insomnia hasn’t been so bad this time and I really believe it’s the essential oils I’ve been using. I’ve been taking a natural herbal complex 30 mins before bed and it has worked wonders!

On Thursday, I took my last ever steroid……I hope no one was listening to me “talking to myself”, I was in fact saying goodbye to those little basta$ds who have tried to mess with my body and mind for weeks!

Truth is I had a little leaving speech for the steroids, not that they deserved something so grand but it was all about “closure”!

On Friday the steroid slumps began, Yep it’s that day I feel like I am drunk without the booze!

Thank the lord that Super Nanny and Super Papa came to the rescue and took the little man to his Christmas fayre!

Originally I had planned to take him to both, I was gutted as I’d been so involved in organising the fayre but I knew I could not put myself amongst 100 little people’s germs this close to Christmas.

I will make up for it next year, little man, I promise!

Bless – He brought me back loads of goodies and Papa made me a video of his visit to Santa! – It really melted my heart and it was the next best thing to being there!

Saturday was when the full on steroid slumps took effect and to be absolutely frank I was such a horrible moody cow in the morning.

It hasn’t helped that this chemo cycle I’ve been having constant and I mean constant hot flushes and night sweats that have got me down and worn me out   I also know this could be my life for the next 10 years. Sometimes it feels a bit overwhelming but hopefully they will get better and on the grand scheme of things it’s a small price to pay for being here!

I was so grumpy thought that so I was “advised” to go to bed before I did damage, that Rock of mine has taken some crap off me over the last 24 hours!

The little man has been an absolute pain in the arSe and I have zero patience from the drugs. I can’t help but feel guilty, but I know it’s my worst weekend and strong gem will start to return in a few days!  As I actually write this blog it is like deja-vous of the last cycle and I struggled the same on exactly the same part of the cycle.

But this time, there won’t be another cycle and omg that feels sooooooo good!

So as me and little man sit snuggled up having cuddles at 6am, waiting for the other half of our little family to get up, I look up to the snowy sky and feel so blessed to be here with my beautiful little family.

Ring that Bell, I’m a Chemo Graduate!!!

 

Christmas jumper – check

Reindeer antlers – check

Huge cheesy smile on face – check

Cancer Survivor book -check

Yes someone is a bit “de mob” happy that it is my last Chemo today!!!  Just gotta pass these final bloods today.

I’ve written my list for Prof too, top of it “Can I have a letter so I can have spa treatments again?”

Yep, getting my priorities sorted! No more questions about these lumps, it’s about moving forwards and we desperately in need a little spa break next year!  I’ve missed them so much and Spa’s don’t seem to touch you with a barge pole when you are labelled with the big “C – yes it does pi$$ you off at times but hey, soon I will have that magic “Yes I CAN  have a treatment” letter – take that to cover your ar$es!!

Amazing how cancer makes you less tolerant to Shit, I am still a nice person….honest!!!

We are the first as always to arrive at the Chemo ward and I am literally skipping down the ward with my Christmas jumper, reindeer scarf and antlers.  Hubby says people will think I am a weirdo but quite frankly I don’t give a monkeys!!! No one is taking the smile off my face today!

I unpack my bag, and get my bell out ready.  There is a story behind the bell, my Dad got it Hubby as a wedding present so he could “ring me for attention”!!!! Yes my Dad likes to wind me up but thankfully Hubby has never rung it, he knows better!!! It may be small but boy is it loud!!!! Bit like me really 😉

Well an hour later and bloods are back and we are all set to go!  Being an “analyst” I have asked to see them, oh you can’t take the numbers geek out of me.  You know to say I am on my final chemo by bloods are still pretty damn good! Must be those oils!! – what a bit a frankincense does for your system!

Nurse does my assessment, we have a laugh about this month’s side effects and my calls to the chemo line, oh you really do have to laugh it off!

Then the Prof makes an appearance, he’s early today, good job I am prepared!!!

“It’s my superhero the Prof” I shout!!!

And no Rosie I didn’t not ask if he was wearing his super hero pink pants although I did opt for pink pants today – it had to be done in celebration!

A few months ago I would never had made the “Superhero” comments but Prof knows me and I know the Prof.  Feel so thankfully that to Prof and the team I am certainly a name and not a number!

I thank him for arranging the CT scan and for calling me so promptly with the news, it has helped me more than I can ever imagine!

Then I ask him whether he will sign my cancer survivor practical handbook – he isn’t the author it but I feel it right that he signs it for me.  I don’t look what he has written, I will save that for later!

We agree I will start Tamoxifen early in the new year and I need to make an appointment to see my GP – good job I am so organised and have arranged it already!

I will see him again in Feb, wow seems like a long time, a tad daunting in fact but I’ve prepared for the brief goodbye.

Time only for one last thing – a team photo.

 

Team “we kicked Lenny’s butt photo”. Prof, Me and the 2 amazing nurses! It’s a keeper to cherish!

His smile is almost as big as mine today and then we say goodbye ☹

The chemo bit passes quick, at the end of the first lot, the nurse tells me I am not having the second lot today – Prof has taken it off, probably due the to CT scan results and I have read that actually 3 cycles of the same drug are typically the most effective.  I am so pleased as the second drug always does weird things to my head and sinuses when it goes in!

In no time at all I am packing up, given my thank you cards and gifts to the Nurse’s

Time for the grand finale……. RINGING THAT BELL!!!!!

I rang it hard, hopefully you all heard!!!

I pack up the bell and get out my book…. I turn to Prof’s writing….

“It has been a pleasure looking after you”

That comment really did mean so much….

Thank you Super Prof, love your very proud and happy Chemo graduate!!

ringthebell.png