Spend all your time waiting, For that second chance, For a break that would make it okay

For a reason that I am yet to fathom, I never used to like Autumn.  I know I am a summer girl at heart and maybe it’s as simple as that.  I used to get really annoyed when the clocks went back and it would be dark by tea time. In fact I still can’t say I love that very much.  I would count down the days to the winter solstice when I felt like we were on the up again. This time of year always felt like a descent towards winter, the weather deteriorates, whether it’s looking back or forward I would yearn for the long, blue, light skies of summer. All of those romantic notions are great but I realise now are actually a reflection of a really negative frame of mind.  If these last few years have taught me anything at all, I have learned how important it is to live and love the now.  There doesn’t really seem a great deal of point in wishing I am six months behind or six months ahead.  Because, guess what? The future is not guaranteed.  As much as I like to reminisce and think how great things used to be, the problem with the past is you can’t live in it.  Now, I am a big fan of Autumn.  And really what’s not to love? Halloween, bonfire night, beautiful golden yellows and oranges.  Muddy puddles, wellingtons and warm scarves. I am sure the sunsets are better in November.

The other thing about this time of year of course, is that it is the run in to Christmas, and next to June, Christmas is my very favourite time of year.  I’ve written here before about how much the festive season brings me joy and that for me, it’s not a day, it’s a period of time.  For me, it’s probably a month, and should you be a scorner of such frivolity then I make no apology what so ever.  Frankly, I am excited already.

The last day I wrote a blog, was the day I went for my 9 weekly full body MRI at Mount Vernon Hospital.  That was a Friday and I went to meet The Prof late the following Monday evening.  I had hinted that I was feeling optimistic, as much as anything probably because this chemo is my last chance saloon and the fear of it not working was something I didn’t even want to think about.  The Prof had good news, and for the first time since early this year, he was able to give me some news with a smile on his face.  The liver is responding to the EC/IV chemo.  Which means that the multiple tumours are stabilising and there are no new tumours.  I actually haven’t heard those words for a year.  I shuddered slightly as he told me and I distinctly remember a very long exhale. For the avoidance of doubt and I know I have caused confusion in the past; this does not mean I am cured.  With stage 4 cancer it is a question of delaying the inevitable by stabilising the tumours and stopping them from progressing.  In the past, it has only been a question of time before my (annoyingly swift and clever) cancer figures a way around the drugs.  But for now, we don’t think about that, and I focus very much on the fact that the risk was worth taking.  I decided to do the chemo and suffer the consequences, in the hope that it would work and by doing so, buy me time.  The Prof promised me at the beginning of the year that he would get me to Christmas, there were some days this year that I thought that might not happen.  As always, he was right, and here we are.

That’s the good news, and here’s the rest.  Whilst the liver is stabilising, the bone tumours are deteriorating.  As a reminder, I have a lot of bone tumours, also known as metastases (mets) and lesions.  They are widespread from my legs, pelvis, sacrum, through spine (L, T & C), sternum, shoulders and neck.   Up until now, the bone mets had been pretty stable.  I had radiotherapy last year to neck, sternum and hip and I have monthly bone strengthening injections, I also take daily calcium supplements in an attempt to keep the bones strong which would otherwise be weakened by the disease. The bone mets have always been less of a concern for The Prof as his job is to keep the liver going which keeps me alive.  Cancer in the bone can be lived with.  There is pain of course, but it hasn’t stopped me putting one foot in front of the other.

It is strange to me that the liver has responded to this chemo but the bones haven’t.  All tumours have different physiology and it’s up to them to decide which drugs will impact and which won’t.  For now, the pain in my spine is increasing and becoming more problematic.  We discussed what the next steps are and I will begin more radiotherapy next week.

The other concern at the moment is breathlessness.  In recent weeks I keep getting really short of breath.  He sent me off for another chest CT, ECG and cardio echo.  Everything is fine.

 

 

 

Let this not take away from the good news. The fact that my liver is OK for the time being is just brilliant.  At the end of the meeting The Prof instructed me to get some trips planned in my diary and go directly to the nearest pub.  And so I did.  I sent him this picture as evidence that I follow doctor’s orders…

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The upshot of the stability, is that I continue with the current chemotherapy.  I will do another 3 sessions and then it will be back to the MRI for another looksee.  The first of the second 3 and therefore the 4th, fell in the first week in November. My white blood cells are (just) holding up so treatment went ahead as planned.  It has been noticed that my haemoglobin levels are now also on the slide.  In June it was 130, now it’s 80 and if it gets very much lower, I may have to have a blood transfusion.  I shall worry about that if and when it happens.  This is just another side effect of chemo, and not unusual.  It probably also goes some way to explain the breathlessness, as my body is struggling to deliver oxygen where it’s needed.  I am working on some dietary changes to try to help, but asking me to eat red meat when all I can stomach is vegetable soup, has not gone terribly well so far.

Otherwise, chemo 4 has been as expected.  Complete wipe out fatigue for the first few days accompanied by permanent nagging nausea.  The chemo fog starts to lift towards the end of the first week and by the second week I really start to feel better.  My third week of feeling almost normal will now be interrupted by 10 sessions of radiotherapy over 5 days.  This sounds terrible, but it has to be done when I’m not gagging from the chemo and I want to get it completed before Christmas.  Whilst there will be some short term side effects, over all there should be significant pain relief in the spine.  Fingers crossed. That will finish just in time for chemo 5.  I have planned this all very precisely to make sure I get a clear run in to Christmas without having the chemo hangover or the risk of being neutropenic during festivus maximus.  There may be some concern that I am prioritising Christmas over treatment.  This is entirely the point.  It is very simple. My goal is to live life well, to have quality over quantity and with that there is absolutely no point in letting the treatment schedule determine my Christmas plans. I have the blessing of His Holiness The Prof.

Otherwise, the last 3 weeks have gone really quickly and seem to have been full of medical appointments, more so than usual.  It may be time to stop talking about hair and I am starting to adjust to the occasional glimpses of my pointy bald head. I saw an old friend this week. I had asked him to drop in to give me a clippers lesson.  He insisted on me removing my turban and I realised that it was really difficult for me to look people in the eye without covering my head.  I don’t have time to psychoanalyse that.  As my head was patted, and we discussed the stubbly patches on my head, I realised that I need not to be ashamed of my head.  Actually shame isn’t the right word, but it has taken quite some adjustment to get comfortable with.   It became a crash course in acceptance of “the new me” as I tried to not be embarrassed.  Later on he reminded me that whether I have hair or not, I am still me.  I think I needed to hear that.

This weekend I am going to try on some wigs.  Initially I completely refused the notion and I’m still very much undecided, but if you don’t try, you don’t know.  Watch this space.

There is something else I am quite excited about.  From next week I will be writing short articles/bloglets for the Jennifer Young / Beauty Despite Cancer website.  This is a great organisation that both supplies a wide range of beauty products for cancer patients and also trains therapists in oncology safe beauty and holistic treatments.  I am already a big fan of their products.  You can find out more about them on their website Jennifer Young; Beauty Despite Cancer.

Fun stuff and trips out and away have been increasingly compromised by a fairly hectic treatment schedule.  However, I am keeping busy and have had lots of local adventures, cuppas and lunches out. A few weekends ago I went to meet my parents in Stratford Upon Avon.  I hadn’t been previously and what a beautiful town it is.  I would like to go back when it’s not a rainy Saturday. We stayed in a really striking hotel just outside, it even had it’s own church in the spectacular grounds.  There may have been prosecco.

Between breathlessness, back ache and terrible weather, I haven’t been out walking as much I would have liked to.  However, I have managed a few strolls in the puddles and beautiful Autumnal shades.

The next few weeks are going to continue to be busy with daily radiotherapy and more blood tests, chemo and treatment.  In between, I shall remember to count my blessings; for a brilliant oncologist, a treatment that is working, learning to live in the now, and friends that remind me that I am still me.  Also… 40 days of Christmas shopping. Yay.

Please remember to stay body vigilant and keep checking your boobs and bits.

Big Love, AG xx

 

This is a wonderful song, please read the lyrics and if you don’t know it, find it and have a listen.

Angel : Sarah McLachlan

Spend all your time waiting
for that second chance
for a break that would make it okay
there's always some reason
to feel not good enough
and it's hard at the end of the day
I need some distraction
oh beautiful release
memories seep from my veins
let me be empty
and weightless and maybe
I'll find some peace tonight

in the arms of the angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here

so tired of the straight line
and everywhere you turn
there's vultures and thieves at your back
and the storm keeps on twisting
you keep on building the lies
that you make up for all that you lack
it don't make no difference
escaping one last time
it's easier to believe in this sweet madness oh
this glorious sadness that brings me to my knees

in the arms of the angel
fly away from here
from this dark cold hotel room
and the endlessness that you fear
you are pulled from the wreckage
of your silent reverie
you're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here
you're in the arms of the angel
may you find some comfort here

 

 

Then put your little hand in mine, There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb

 

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Last time I wrote, I was in hospital because my white blood cells and therefore my ability to fight infection had fallen off a cliff. My neutrophils spent 3 days not registering at all and then finally my bone marrow kicked in (as The Prof always said it would), and suddenly one day they went to 0.4 then the next day 0.9 and once they were over 1 I was declared out of the woods. The infection control sign was taken off the door and people were allowed in without a mask. It was really good to know that my body was capable of fighting back against the impact of the chemo, although it took it’s time. I was told that day 9 post chemo is normally the time the white cells hit the lowest point. Mine had hit the floor by day 7, and given they hadn’t been checked before that, we won’t ever know when they actually dropped to zero. Once again, not following the trend does not prove to be helpful. Despite the improvement in the bloods, I stayed in hospital over the weekend on IV antibiotics and finally left on the Monday afternoon, which was my 7th day. It was quite a scary time, and it’s only now that people are telling me “you look so much better”, from which I presume I looked like a heap of shit. Part of the problem being the hospital’s apparent policy on sleep deprivation. I can’t get over how often they kept waking me up. Anyway, I left knowing I had been well looked after and really pleased that I could get some peace and quiet, and sleep, at home.

The following week was chemo week again. Time flies when you are having fun after all… As always, I went to the cancer centre the day before for blood tests. This is important as if there are any signs that something is wrong then chemo won’t go ahead. Having not had a blood test for a whole week, it was time to see whether the shite cells had recovered sufficiently to go again. It’s a good example of how relentless chemo is. It makes you really sick but the cycle is long enough to hope you recover just in time to get the next dose and really sick again. The good news was there was enough white blood cells to go again. You can imagine my joy at that news. The Prof and I had already discussed during one of his many visits to me in hospital that we would have to drop the dose. There has to be a balance between impact of chemo and my ability to tolerate it. Cycle 1 I ended up on antibiotics with a chest infection and cycle 2 I spent a week in hospital. These are not good stats and suggests, as we always predicted given response to previous drugs, that I am not capable of tolerating the toxicity of chemo to any great degree. Obviously the reduced dose is a double edged sword – I should feel better and be less likely to become neutropenic but less dose makes me worry that there is less impact on the disease. On this, only time will tell.

My sister arrived on the Monday to be my chief carer, chef and chauffeur and generally get me through the awful week that is the first week after chemo. She knows now that I can’t stand the smell of cooking or the thought of big meals, and that my chemo obliterated taste buds make me hate most things (except cake), which makes her job especially difficult. I have taken to eating a lot of soup as dry things are basically inedible when your mouth has stopped making saliva. So my sister is now an expert soup maker, and it’s a great way to make sure I eat lots of the good stuff that I am meant to consume to help the body recover.

Otherwise, and I hardly dare say it, this chemo cycle is going OK. The fatigue is real, the nausea and headaches expected, but so far I have stayed away from antibiotics and hospitals. Let’s leave it at that and not tempt fate.

At the crack of dawn this morning, I was back at Mount Vernon and in the hell hole tunnel that is otherwise know as the MRI. As per The Profs plan, after the third cycle we review the impact of the chemo. The options are pretty limited, either it is working and there is some stability in the tumours or, it hasn’t worked and the disease marches on. I will meet The Prof early next week to discuss the results. For now, in order not to drive myself crazy with fear, I am assuming everything is good, until somebody tells me otherwise.

In the meantime, I am getting used to learning to live without hair. An interesting point here, it is only the hair on my head that has fallen. Whilst I am very grateful to still have eyebrows, it’s a bit weird isn’t it?! I would have been quite pleased for some respite from essential grooming but no, lady luck once again fell the wrong side and epilating life goes on.

I have discovered there are a few positives to joining the bald head brigade. The first being that people can now identify me as an “ill person”. Of course that’s not a good thing per se, but if it means people give me a wide berth in the supermarket, then I’ll take it. I’ve even noticed people holding doors for me. Although the second glances and staring is going to take some getting used to. I have even noticed complete strangers giving me eye contact and smiling at me – be assured this is not a thing I experienced often before. Another upside is the time it takes me to get ready and out of the house. No hair washing/drying/styling is a real time win. There is also a cost saving; no more shampoo, product, hair cuts, highlights. I would give all that back in a heartbeat to have my hair back, but for now, I am looking for silver linings. I am also learning the challenges of accessorising an outfit with the right headwear. Who even knew that could be difficult?! I have unanswered questions about a bald head. Is it an extension of my face? Should I include it in my daily skincare routines? Should it be washed, like hair? Do I need to put scalp lotions and potions on it? [Thanks SO MUCH to the lovely friend who sent me some amazing products including scalp cream, so lush.] What do I do with the little tufts of stubble that are now growing in small patches? I don’t know where you are supposed to find answers to these questions, but I am learning as fast as I can.

 

What is quite strange is that I still find myself locked on to hair product adverts. My brain has clearly not quite adjusted to not having hair. In the supermarket the other day I wondered whether I needed more shampoo. There are still days where I catch sight of my head in the mirror and it takes my breath away.

At some point before I ended up in the hospital, my friend and I had booked a trip to the New Forest for the final weekend before the next chemo. We were working on the basis that that is the time when I should feel at my best and be fit enough to travel. We were due to leave on the Thursday, and as the week before I was stuck in the isolation room and it was confirmed I was going to have to stay over the weekend, an escape to the forest began to look unlikely. However, as time went on, and things started to improve, one afternoon The Prof popped in and it was finally a peaceful time with just him and me, not the usual circus. I quietly asked him whether he thought a trip to the forest was a ridiculous notion. Being the voice of reason that he always is, he reassured me that it was a really good idea, I should continue to be careful but that in the worst case scenario I could be back at the hospital within two hours. And so with his blessing, we set off. It’s hard for me to describe how it felt when we arrived. I love the forest, and the peace, and the trees, and the wildlife (and the cake) so much and I had really convinced myself that I wouldn’t be able to get there. I think I was relieved. And grateful. I have fought really hard to not let this disease stop me from doing the good stuff, and I was about to get really annoyed if that was going to happen. So it was with much joy and some surprise, that I was able to enjoy the space and time that short break gave me. We stayed in the most amazing lodge deep in the forest. From my bedroom, through floor to ceiling glass doors I could see straight out in to the trees. I was woken by heavy rain, noisy pheasants and strong winds. And my god was it was the best medicine for the soul imaginable.

 

 

By way of self contradiction, this week saw the first longstanding event in my diary that I couldn’t get to.  Last Christmas my sister gave me a ticket to join her in Manchester to see Cher.  I think Cher is a legend and some of her greatest hits have been part of the soundtrack to my life.  As I could see the date coming in the diary, once I started the chemo I knew it was going to be very dependant on where it fell in the chemo cycle.  Unfortunately it fell in week 2, which thanks to the educational hospital stay, I now know is when I am at my weakest in terms of my immunity.  Making the decision not to travel and be in a stadium surrounded by thousands of people and millions of germs was surprisingly difficult.  At this point the risk is just too high and my health has to come first.  And so, I didn’t get to see Cher, and this makes me really, really sad.  I try hard not to let my cancer get in the way of my life, not to affect me or those around me too much (I know this is ridiculous) but this time, it just wasn’t to be.

It doesn’t compensate for not seeing Cher, but these last few weeks I have really been enjoying some time outside.  Autumn is just getting going and when the weather is good I make sure I get out, stretch my legs and breath in the air.

 

 

Today, for the first time since I can’t even remember, I made it back to the Hospice for yoga.  So, so great to be back and trying to find some sense of normal in the chaos that has reigned since the start of chemo.

For this and all the gift packages, well wishes and support I remain hugely grateful.  I am also, and I whisper this very quietly, feeling optimistic that next week will bring good news. At the very least, I will know, one way or another, whether choosing to do the chemo and suffering the consequences, was the right decision. Here’s hoping.

Please, please, please check your boobs and bits.

Big Love, AG xx

Who else could it be…

I Got You Babe : Sonny and Cher

They say we’re young and we don’t know
We won’t find out until we grow
Well I don’t know if all that’s true
‘Cause you got me, and baby I got you
Babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
They say our love won’t pay the rent
Before it’s earned, our money’s all been spent
I guess that’s so, we don’t have a plot
But at least I’m sure of all the things we got
Babe
I got you babe
I got you babe
I got flowers in the spring
I got you to wear my ring
And when I’m sad, you’re a clown
And if I get scared, you’re always around
Don’t let them say your hair’s too long
‘Cause I don’t care, with you I can’t go wrong
Then put your little hand in mine
There ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb
Babe
I got you babe
I got you babe

 

 

 

everybody feels, everybody bleeds, everybody cries

For the very first time, I am having to write this week’s blog in a hospital bed. Really not my venue of preference, but as always, I don’t get a lot of choice in these matters. More on that later. The last few weeks have been somewhat eventful.

The aftermath of the first chemo continued as expected. First week I felt pretty rough, second week I improved and third week I was pretty close to normal, except the fatigue. The pain and chest infection that arrived in week two eventually lifted. In week three I was still busy congratulating myself about how well I was tolerating the chemo, when the thing I really, really didn’t want to happen, happened. I was away for the weekend and following all the advice on post cold cap hair maintenance ie; only washed it twice a week, didn’t use product or heat for styling, kept gently brushing it with a wide tooth comb to avoid knots etc etc. I started noticing quite a lot falling out on Wednesday, I hoped it was a case of mild thinning, that I had been told to expect. Thursday and Friday, more fell out. On Saturday I showered and it was hair wash day. I realised at that point that my hair had become matted dreadlocks. My family spent over an hour trying to pull away hair from the matted chunks, but it was a hopeless task. An hour later I was seated in a hair dresser at an old people’s home with a lady asking me whether she should just shave it off. I told her I wasn’t quite ready for that, and if we could salvage anything, no matter how short, that would be my choice. So she set about cutting off the dreadlocks and restyling what little was left. No more than half an hour and £16 (?!) later she did a really great job of giving me a short style with unavoidable bald patches. At that point I thought if it stays like this, I can just about cope with it. Of course over the next few days, it continued to fall. I came home in time for blood tests and chemo the following week. I went to the cancer centre fully prepared for what was to come. I did the cold cap again as I was hoping to stabilise the fall. As my nurse prepared the cap and put the necessary conditioner through my hair she simply said “abi, it’s all coming out”. I ploughed on, got through the chemo and went home. The next few days were rough from the chemo and the hair fall got worse and worse. It’s hard for me to put into words how traumatising, and I don’t use that word lightly, it is to watch your hair fall out in clumps and bald patches grow across you scalp. I had to keep wondering about with a dust buster and a lint roller. I was getting anxious every morning before I got in the shower about how much hair was going to be left at the end of it. It’s a really, really difficult thing to go through. I would put that week up there amongst the very worst. There were a lot of tears. Eventually by the middle of the week, it became obvious that the cold cap just wasn’t going to work for me and that it was all going to go. I decided it was time to take matters in to my own hands. I had read many times that the process of the falling out is generally worse than the end result. So I decided it was time to fast track the process and asked my long time friend and hairdresser if she could bear to go at it with the clippers. Being the true hero she is, she told me that if anybody had to do it, it would be her. She came over, got to work, and there it was, done. There were more tears. So now I have no hair at all. It took all my courage to look in the mirror that day and let me tell you, it actually made my knees wobble a bit. I’m not sure there is anything to prepare you for going from long hair to bald in a fortnight. A week on and I still have to steel myself before catching a glimpse of my naked skull. But the good news, is that the anxiety is gone. You can’t fear what has already happened.

The photos below are all taken within the last fortnight…

My hair becomes the latest thing to add to the list of things that cancer has taken from me. I try not to dwell on these things most of the time. But when the chips are down, it’s hard not to feel somewhat aggrieved. There is probably a whole blogs worth of things that I have lost and miss. As I reflect today, these are the first things that come to mind. And in no particular order; my career. My fertility. My sleep. My confidence. My independence. The ability to have a conversation that doesn’t focus on how I am (snore). The me that was the me before.

While all those things get to the very core of me, I am astounded by the impact of losing my hair. Again, stage 4 breast cancer is not for the feint hearted. I hope this is not about vanity, although almost certainly it is partly. It’s about identity, it’s about control and lack thereof. It’s about feeling sorry for myself because the cold-cap didn’t work and I would have really liked to catch a break. No such luck. It’s because chemo is proving to be everything I didn’t want it to be. It’s also about the fact that if I wanted to have a day off cancer, I could get away with looking like everything was normal. I can’t now. I never wanted to look ill and got away with it for two and a half years. Mostly though, I had quite a difficult relationship with my hair for a long time, it was never quite right, too thin, too mousey, too lanky, too greasy but at some point, maybe in my thirties I finally learned to love it. And now it’s gone. I repeat the mantra, it’s only hair. But, well, it was my hair.

The future is turbans and headwear.

As I said at the beginning, I am currently in hospital. At the start of the week I was starting to come out of the haze from the first chemo and beginning to feel better. Then I started to develop some pain, then the pain became unbearable and I thought I should probably check my temperature. It hit 38.2 and I am meant to hit the panic button at 37.8. Temperature is so important whilst on chemo because it can be an early warning that infection is setting in. Chemo can destroy the blood cells to a point where fighting infection is impossible. I called the cancer centre and they sent me off to the hospital nearest them for blood tests and observation. Of course, by this time it was 9 o’clock on a dark, wet, stormy night.

I arrived at the hospital and spoke to the Doctor who told me they would take blood but it would take three hours to be processed. The temperature had started to drop and he didn’t seem particularly concerned. Then at 10.00 pm, and once again I thanked my lucky stars that my treatment path had led me to him, The Prof called. If you needed further reassurance that I am in the hands of an incredibly caring and brilliant professional, let that be it. Like Mary Poppins appearing on the wind, news of my sudden arrival at the hospital had reached him. I can’t tell you how important the effect of hearing his voice was that night whilst I was entering a flat spin of panic. We talked though what was going on and we agreed that erring on the side of caution was our preferred choice and so he instructed the hospital to admit immediately and begin IV antibiotics. It turned out eventually, that the white blood cell count was 0.3, where it should be between 4 and 10 and specifically the neutrophils were zero where they should have been between 2 and 7. To state the rather obvious, zero is as bad as it gets and the chemo, rather than compromise my immunity has instead obliterated it. Under these circumstances I can not be exposed to any potential bacteria and germs so I am in the hospital and in infection control lockdown. This essentially means anyone coming in to my room must wear an apron, a mask, anti bac and if they plan to touch me (and most nurses do) then gloves as well. I feel like I’m in an isolation unit. I have stayed 3 nights so far and as the results of the blood tests have shown the neutrophils have not shifted, I will be here for the foreseeable. I don’t feel particularly ill, although of course I have the side effects of the chemo in the first place, I am now having two IV antibiotics and a whole heap of other medication including a morphine based painkiller. So mostly I just feel over medicated. I am being really well cared for and looked after and the food is brilliant. The Prof has popped in every day, my chemo nurse has been over to visit 3 times, a couple of friends are keeping me entertained and popping in with the things I need. Mostly though it’s best for people to stay away. I have an endless stream of healthcare professionals coming through my door every day, so I have no time to get bored. You may recall I didn’t want to do the chemo in the first place, and this is why.

I am due back for more chemo in just over a weeks time. That will only happen if the neutrophils stop letting the side down. We need my bone marrow to get a move on. The plan is to be back in the MRI after that cycle and then we will see whether or not all this has been worth it. Let’s remember I was given a 50/50 chance of the chemo making an impact on the spread of the disease.

In other news, a couple of weeks ago this blog went over 10,000 views. I have run out of words to describe how happy that makes me, but to repeat, thanks to each and every person who reads, shares and comments. I am so thrilled that what started as a purely selfish exercise has taken on a life of it’s own. I get messages now hurrying me up to write the next one and that makes me smile a lot.

It seems almost surprising to me that in amongst these last few weeks I have still managed to fit in some “normal” life. A couple of weekends ago we went to Pub In The Park in St Albans. A food and drink festival held in the beautiful Verulanium Park with good bands and a lovely view over St Albans Abbey. It turned out to be a beautiful sunshiney end of the summer last hurrah, so we were very lucky. The ticket had been booked forever ago, so in the run up there was a lot of discussion about whether I would be able to make it. I have to say, the night prior I ended up at the hospital again in a CT scanner finding what proved to be a chest infection. At that point I thought it was probably unlikely that I would sit in a park drinking prosecco the following day, but guess what? I did and I ruddy loved it.

The following weekend was my Aunt Jill’s 80th birthday. We had planned to celebrate in GozFam style up in Wensleydale. So for the second time in a month, I travelled to North Yorkshire to party like an octogenarian. Wensleydale is a special place for our family and, once again, we were blessed with exceptionally beautiful weather. My personal hair dramas aside, for this was the weekend of the dreadlock incident, we had a fabulous time. We managed a couple of walks, luscious meals out and, by way of tradition, there may have been more prosecco.

The last few weeks have not been my favourite. Once again I am blown away by the kindness and generosity of all the people around me who continue to find a way to keep me putting one foot in front of the other when I know I am putting them through hell. I am truly protected by the wings of angels and I am grateful for every single visit, chocolate biscuit delivery, home made soup drop-off, favour called in, message, call, and flower sent to me.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Feel your goddam boobs.check

Big Love, AG xx

Ward Thomas / Carry Me Home

When it all comes caving in
And you can’t be brave again
Whenever you need a friend
Need a friend, call me
When the red lights stop your tracks
And you know you can’t turn back
So whenever you need a friend
Need a friend, call me
‘Cause I’ll be there to carry you home
When you’re on your own, so scared
And I’ll be there when it all goes wrong
Just to show you someone cares
If you need a light, I’ll help you find a reason to believe
Call me
Yeah, we all fight different fights
But everybody feels, everybody bleeds, everybody cries
So whenever you need a friend
Need a friend, call me
‘Cause I’ll be there to carry you home
When you’re on your own, so scared
And I’ll be there when it all goes wrong
Just to show you someone cares
If you need a light, I’ll help you find a reason to believe
Call me
When it all comes caving in
I’m beside you till the end
‘Cause I’ll be there to carry you home
When you’re on your own, so scared
And I’ll be there when it all goes wrong
Just to show you someone cares
If you need a light, I’ll help you find a reason to believe
Call me

Unicorns and cannonballs, palaces and piers Trumpets, towers and tenements Wide oceans full of tears

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I last wrote three weeks ago, when I had finally made the decision to get on with the chemo. I think there was a collective sigh of relief that I had made the choice that probably seemed so obvious to everybody else.  It might seem hard to understand why anybody would turn it down when it is the only available option, but in my mind, I needed to be completely certain.  I needed clarity that all other options had been ruled out and a clear understanding of how the disease was progressing.  Once I had those answers I actually made my mind up pretty quickly.

Time will tell whether turning down the chemo in May when it was originally offered will prove to be detrimental.  Whatever that answer proves to be, I don’t regret my original decision.  I had the most brilliant summer making special memories with special people.  Which was always my plan. Quality over quantity.

As we know, we can change our minds.  I recommend you do so frequently. If I have learnt anything these last few weeks it is that we should not cut off our noses to spite our face, be too proud, to say actually, I’m overruling myself. I went to meet The Prof a couple of weeks ago and gave him my decision.  I have to say he seemed a little surprised.  This is understandable given that I was so vehemently against his original plan. He talked me through what was to come and sent me off for yet more blood tests.  He has prescribed 3 chemo cycles for now, with an MRI and review after the third.  I told him I was only committing to one, and if I couldn’t tolerate it at all, I would not be back for more.  He told me what he told his students; if the treatment is not working or the patient can’t tolerate it, then stop.  Seems obvious right? I told him I could not do the steroids again, which is normally part of the regime, as they made me a borderline psychopath and he agreed to let me try with just anti-sickness. The cycle is one intravenous dose every 3 weeks. Before that I had to have a portacath (port) fitted.

Once we had the port fitting date we could schedule the first chemo. I had asked my sister to be with me for the first session so I collected her from Leeds train station on my way back from North Yorkshire, the day before. She stayed with me for nearly a week through all the grimness and me being very tired and grumpy and refusing to eat any hot food, despite her offers to chef. She did all my chores, shopping, cooking, changed my dressings and generally kept a watchful eye.  She has been an absolute hero and I love her.

A port is a small device implanted beneath the skin, mine is by my left clavicle. It is the size of a large button and has a catheter leading in to a blood vessel.  It allows the chemo nurses to easily deliver medication, saline etc, and take blood without having to find veins in my arm, which will probably become damaged by the chemo. I had mine fitted the day before chemo was due to start. It meant spending the whole day at hospital and was inserted with the help of local anaesthetic and sedatives.  Not enough mind you, and I spent the entire time wincing and saying ouch, but they didn’t seem to notice me complaining under the oxygen mask.  The wound will take a couple of weeks to recover but after that I’m told I will barely know it’s there. I can see it and feel it though. You can read more about it here.

 

The next day we set off to Elstree. As we know I had had a lot of negative emotion about chemotherapy. To say I didn’t want it would be to put it in the mildest possible of terms. I saw it as poison. I imagined it to be the darkest of the dark.  In truth, I thought it would be the thing that would finally break me.  I knew that I could tolerate pretty much anything physically but I had no idea how long I could maintain my positive outlook, because that gets harder as time goes on.  With this in mind, I knew I needed to have a serious word with my attitude.  And so I did.  With the help of a new, and frankly brilliant, cancer buddy, I ditched the dark and accepted the light.  She gave me a healing prayer and she lent me a book about EFT.  This is a tapping technique and requires a lot more explanation than I have time for here, I will maybe cover it more in a future blog.  In the mean time, google is your friend. She also gave me her chemo/meditation playlist.  With all these tools, and a lot of encouragement from lots of sources, I arrived at the cancer centre in a truly positive frame of mind.  I don’t care if I sound like a hippy.  At this point in stage four cancer my mind is the only thing left I have any control over.

Before the chemo, came the cold cap.  The cold cap is a hat that is clamped on your head and chilled to minus 5.  The hope being that it will prevent the chemo getting to your hair follicles and stop the hair falling out.  Like all things, there is no guarantee and it doesn’t work for everybody.  I had been warned that it would be painful.  And yes, there is a reason why they give you sedatives and IV paracetamol before the chill starts.  It’s almost impossible to describe how it feels when they first plug you in, because it’s not like anything I have ever experienced. It’s an intense burning pain that gets worse and worse until it suddenly stops and because your head is frozen, you can’t feel it any more. That happens after about 15 or 20 minutes and then it is unfeasibly tight and uncomfortable, but bearable. You have to really, REALLY want to keep your hair. I repeated my healing prayer a few times, listened to the playlist and went in to a silent and deep meditation in order to survive. I thanked my lucky stars, once again, that I had learnt some basic medication skills a year or so ago. You can learn more about the cold cap and the science here, at my centre they use the Paxman.  The cap goes on for 30 minutes before chemo then an hour and a half after, but your head has to defrost before it can be removed, so it’s about 3 hours in total.  Time will tell whether this is worth it or not.

 

After that, the chemo was really easy.  They push it through the port and you wouldn’t even know anything had happened.  Except then I started to feel sick, but that’s hardly surprising. Eventually I was sent home with a bag full of drugs for possible side effects, anti nausea tablets, anti poop pills, mouthwash for sore mouth.  I was given instructions only to wash my hair twice a week, not use any product, heat or styling tools.  For me this is not awesome but I shall embrace my natural hair the best I can.  The hair can fall anytime between day 7 and day 20.  For the time being, it is hanging on in there, but I am open minded about the fact that it may not last.

The first week after chemo was a bit of blur.  Utterly exhausted, a bit queasy, weird appetite, horrible dry and furry mouth. But mostly, better than I was expecting. My sister did a handover to my parents so I had carers for that first week. Despite everything, I managed a few short walks and a few lunches out. So I guess you could say I was pleasantly surprised.  Energy is a problem and it disappears without warning.  Literally falls off a cliff.  Which is difficult to get used to. I was busy congratulating myself on how well I was tolerating it when I realised I was breathless and wheezing and developed an unpleasant pain in my liver.  I was sent off to a CT scan to investigate pulmonary embolism. Ticketyboo. Thankfully, it’s not that but I do have a chest infection so am on antibiotics.  The cause of the liver pain is not clear, but they have given me codeine so I can at least pretend it’s not there.

I will be back at the cancer centre for more caps and chemo on the 24th.  All positive vibes gratefully received.

Fun stuff since last time has included a quick trip to North Yorkshire to celebrate an 80th birthday, a last hoorah trip to the pub with my sis and a few strolls.  There has, as always been an incredible deluge of good wishes, cards, gifts and floral delights.  I can’t explain how this helps me and I am grateful beyond words for everybody’s support.

 

Please, please, please feel your boobs and bits.

Big Love, AG xx

Another of potentially my favourite all time songs, it’s a huge tune:

The Waterboys / Michael Scott/ Whole of the moon


I pictured a rainbow
You held it in your hands
I had flashes
But you saw the plan
I wandered out in the world for years
While you just stayed in your room
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

Hmm, you were there in the turnstiles, with the wind at your heels
You stretched for the stars and you know how it feels to reach too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon
I was grounded
While you filled the skies
I was dumbfounded by truth
You cut through lies
I saw the rain dirty valley
You saw Brigadoon
I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon

I spoke about wings
You just flew
I wondered, I guessed and I tried
You just knew
I sighed
But you swooned, I saw the crescent
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon

with a torch in your pocket and the wind at your heels
You climbed on the ladder and you know how it feels to get too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon
The whole of the moon, hey yeah!

Unicorns and cannonballs, palaces and piers
Trumpets, towers and tenements
Wide oceans full of tears
Flags, rags ferryboats
Scimitars and scarves
Every precious dream and vision
Underneath the stars, yes, you climbed on the ladder
With the wind in your sails
You came like a comet
Blazing your trail too high
Too far
Too soon
You saw the whole of the moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road

 

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Once again, it’s not meant to be a blog day. We all know what happens to the best laid plans. Nothing is going according to schedule at the moment, so I may just as well go with it. I am a structured, agenda adhering control freaking Cancerian and there is surely not much further beyond this particular comfort zone. It feels like, in amongst all the waiting these last few weeks, quite a lot has happened. Rather than try to respond to everybody individually I’m going to write just a quick update so we all know where we are. Thanks so much for all your messages and questions, here are the answers. This is a bloglet. A baby blah, if you will.

I last wrote the day after I was at the hospital for the liver biopsy. Quick reminder; the purpose of the biopsy was to establish the receptor status of the secondaries. The receptor status determines the possible treatment options. The receptor status should have been established at the point of diagnosis 18 months ago, but wasn’t because I had two failed biopsies. The first time they missed the tumour and the second was so painful that I felt like I was being stabbed in the ribs and nearly broke a nurses hand. The consultant refused to continue so that failed also. I pushed for the third one just to be one hundred percent certain that we were ruling in or out all available options.

I was told the day of the biopsy that the analysis would take four to five days, so I was expecting news the following week. I chased it up mid week to be told the lab was still working on it. Eventually I was called and told that as always, The Prof was right. The secondaries were a replica of the primary meaning they were oestrogen receptive and HER2 negative. Whilst I had forced myself to expect and prepare for this result, I can’t pretend that I wasn’t disappointed. I had busied myself in the waiting waiting waiting phase with more reading and research. I discovered that in fact, in a third of breast cancer cases, the secondaries vary from the primary. So I really managed to convince myself that my chances were higher than I originally thought.

I should know better than that by now.

The level of detail here is important and I’m not apologising for that. Had the secondaries been HER2+ then all sorts of other drug and treatment options would have been available. But it’s not to be. I remain confident that putting myself through the biopsy again was the right thing to do. But there is no more room for denial. All other doors are closed. I needed to do that for the sake of my own sanity and I need to be able to look my family in the eye and tell them that I pushed and pushed and pushed to find better outcomes. And we now know, completely and utterly that I am left with only one treatment option: IV chemotherapy.

I have written before about why I don’t want to do it. I don’t want to make myself more ill and impact my quality of life. I don’t see the point of being kept alive just to be able to get more chemo. I stand by that. However, a month ago The Prof told me that my decline is underway and the liver is starting to show signs of deterioration. When I pushed him, he told me that without treatment, it could be as little as a few months before the liver fails. I’m not sure there was ever a better definition of between a rock and a really, really hard place.

The bottom line is I am not ready to give up. It’s fair to say I have had enough of every single result not going my way. I am tired of the prodding, poking, appointments, schedules, blah. I am fed up with drugs and side effects and uncertainty. I have truly had enough of trying to find the strength to pick myself up after every bit of bad news again and again and again. I am done with fear.  And I really don’t know if I have it in me to receive and then deliver bad news ever again because as I’ve said before, without hope, I can’t breathe and I know the same is true for those nearest and dearest. I can not bear to see the look on people’s faces as the reality and inevitability of what’s coming dawns. I can not. But I am not ready to admit defeat.

I spoke to The Prof today on the phone. He has ruled out any trials and any other options. I told him I would do the chemo.

I have come to realise, that despite being on chemo since January. I am really, really scared of IV chemo. It symbolises everything that I have tried so, so hard to fight against. I have tried everything I can to stay well, and active, and sociable, and “normal” since I was first diagnosed two and a half years ago. Everything that this blog is about. It terrifies me that I am about to lose that control. I also feel like I don’t have a choice, and that’s not a great place to be. So for now, I am agreeing to one chemo. I will take it, each 3 week session, at a time.

Next week I will go and see The Prof and agree when we begin and he will try to tell me how this is going to go. Of course, there is no knowing how I will tolerate the drugs until they are in my blood stream. Maybe I will be one of the lucky ones and tolerate really well. It’s also worth noting here, that there are no guarantees with chemotherapy. He is only giving me a 50/50 chance of it working, so it could all be for nothing. I will definitely get all the toxic poison, with potentially no benefit.

I met my psychotherapist this week. As I blubbed at her about my sense of impending doom, she reminded me that I can’t pre judge how this is going to go. And of course, every day of the week, that’s great advice. There is no point in me turning up to chemo with a shitty attitude and bag full of fear. When that day comes, I will sit in my chair and ask the nurses to bring it on. Now that I have made up my mind, we may as well get the hell on with this. What comes will come.

A lot of people have contacted me or turned up these last few weeks to take me out for tea, wine, cake, ice cream to listen to my blahing and also to distract me by reminding me that life goes on.  I am grateful beyond words.

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In other news, because there always is, straight after the biopsy I made a quick weekend trip to The Cotswolds. The coaches full of Japanese and Americans should have been a clue, but WHY did nobody tell me how beautiful it is?! I’m going back.

 

 

I have completed my Pilates course, run by The Hospice of St Francis, I truly loved it. There have been a couple of walks and trips to the forest this week as part of the distraction process.  The sunshine and beautiful green has been giving me life.

 

 

The other thing that happened this week is that this blog reached over 9,000 views.  I’m still thrilled with these milestones and thank everybody, once again, for taking the time to join me here.  I appreciate it so much and it really, truly brings me joy.

I recently received a card from a friend of my Ma (thanks Jane).  She included a quote from TS Eliot which couldn’t have arrived at a better time and given me the perspective I need right now. This seems like the perfect way to close.

Only-those-who-will-risk-going-too-far-can-possibly-find-out-how-far-they-can-go-T.S.-Eliot

Big Love, AG xx

 

Good Riddance (Time of your Life) : Greenday

Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test and don’t ask why
It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life
So take the photographs and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos of memories and dead skin on trial
For what it’s worth it was worth all the while
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life
It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right
I hope you had the time of your life

Have you ever seen the rain, Comin’ down on a sunny day?

 

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I’m not due to write a blog for another week.  For some reason when I woke up this morning it felt like a blog day, and so it is.  It feels like a lot more than two weeks since I sat down to write about my last oral chemo sessions and the plan to get back to the MRI.

I was due at the MRI early on a Friday morning.  It was in fact the Friday after the inferno heat wave.  I was collected bright and early and off we set to Mount Vernon.  When I got to the check-in at the scanning centre I was met with “ah, we’ve been trying to get hold of you” this is never a good sign and so it proved.  The MRI had had some sort of melt down due to the heat.  There was water dripping from the ceiling on to the machine and the machine itself was covered in condensation.  The engineers were on site but they weren’t sure how long it might take to correct.  Also “the water in the machine might burn you”, so that’s reassuring.  I told them I would wait an hour and see if any progress had been made. We left the hospital and set off to find some breakfast in the next town.  By the time I had sat down with a cup of tea and ordered something to eat, the hospital had called to summon me back.  I never ate that breakfast.  MRI went smoothly enough in the end and so I got back to normal life knowing I had nearly a week to wait before getting the results from The Prof.

What then happened was I was called in early to see The Prof.  This had never happened before and with a sense of impending doom, I went to meet him early the following week.  My bad news radar is nearly always right, and it didn’t fail me this time.  The oral chemo that I had begged for, had not worked.  There was no stability and worse than that the disease was continuing to progress at pace.  New tumours had arrived in the liver as well as growth of existing ones.  I usually try to park emotions in these meetings because they are so short and I need to focus on asking the right questions and getting the right information from The Prof.  It’s not easy to do that and I remember this time just staring at him, blinking, as I tried so hard to stop myself from disintegrating in to an irredeemable mess. We went on to discuss the IV chemo again and I said I needed help making that decision.  I asked for his guidance in understanding what would happen if I stopped treatment all together versus trying the chemo he is recommending.  The answer is actually quite simple.  My liver is starting to suffer, and without chemo it may only last a few months.  To be clear here, you can’t live without a liver. The chemo he is offering, would be a 50/50 chance of working.

That information, is about as bad as it gets.

I have asked him to check if there are any trials available that I might qualify for.  I am desperate for options, and right now there really aren’t any. I also, finally, managed to convince him to let me get a liver biopsy again.  I will go in to more detail here because I seem to have successfully confused a few people this week.

The purpose of the liver biopsy is to determine the receptor status of the tumour. A quick recap; the status of my primary was ER+ and HER2-.  This is the hormone or protein molecules that feed the tumours. When secondaries are diagnosed, the receptor status is always checked again, because, it can vary and if the status is different then the treatment options are different.

 

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Back in February 2018 I had my first biopsy but they failed to hit the tumour so couldn’t test the tissue.  I was then sent for another biopsy some weeks later.  The procedure was so violently painful that the Doctor refused to continue.  The biopsy is done by sticking an enormous needle through the rib cage in to the liver.  It’s revolting, I felt like I was being stabbed. As that one also failed, The Prof has always treated me on the assumption that the secondaries are also hormone positive, HER2 negative.  In the back of my mind, and given that after 2 and a half years of hormonal therapy we are where we are, I am curious to know whether that is correct.  The Prof is always right.  But for the sake of my own sanity I just need to know that I have closed every available treatment option door. There is more information on the receptor status here.

I had that 3rd biopsy yesterday, with guided ultrasound.  The chemo unit let me have some whappy meds beforehand so that I didn’t have a nervous breakdown before the procedure.  All went (largely) well and I am home, slightly battered, recovering.  We hope to have the results next week.  I will then make a final decision one way or another on the IV chemo.

 

 

When I got the biopsy appointment I had about a week to wait.  I realised this was just enough of a window to take a quick trip to the west to spend time with GozFam.  As usual, everything was dropped and we regrouped. A couple of freezing dips in the Irish Sea, a BBQ, lots of lunches out and plenty of time to spend collecting memories to get me through the next few weeks.

 

 

There is no doubt that the disease is winning at the moment. Once we have the biopsy results decisions will be made and I will do what I need to do.

Given the time of year many of you are on holidays.  Can I ask that you turn your face to the sun, count your blessings and send me the light.

Big Love, AG XX

 

Have you ever seen the rain / Creedence Clearwater Revival / John Cameron Fogerty

Someone told me long ago
There’s a calm before the storm
I know it’s been comin’ for some time
When it’s over so they say
It’ll rain a sunny day
I know shinin’ down like water
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain
Comin’ down on a sunny day?
Yesterday and days before
Sun is cold and rain is hard
I know been that way for all my time
‘Til forever, on it goes
Through the circle, fast and slow,
I know it can’t stop, I wonder
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain
Comin’ down on a sunny day?
Yeah
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain
Comin’ down on a sunny day?

They say time heals everything, but I’m still waiting

 

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I love talking about the weather almost as much as I like detail. I like monitoring the temperature in at least two rooms and I look at the thermometers multiple times a day.  Don’t ask me why this is so fascinating to me, it just is. I love the sunshine, the blue skies with a gentle breeze. The distant hum of a lawn mower. The buzzing of busy bees.  What I do not love is 39 degrees in the shade. Black leather seats in sweltering cars. Top floor flats with no air conditioning. A chemo roasted body with extra hot flushes for good measure. Today as I write it is already over 28 degrees in my flat and it’s not yet noon.  I have two fans wafting warm air at me. I have closed all the doors and windows and am sitting, on the hottest day of the year, in a dark room because I can not face the outside. It’s a funny old world.

A quick precis… In May I saw The Prof and he let me know that the previous treatment was not working and the disease was progressing. At that point he recommended IV chemo to hit the tumours head on but in the knowledge that the side effects would make me unwell. I begged and pleaded for an alternative and he, eventually, agreed to a second go at oral chemo on a different drug.  I started this at the end of May alongside a new (the 4th attempt) hormonal drug whose job it is to reduce the oestrogen levels in my body as that is feeding the tumours. The cycle was Monday dose, next Monday dose, next Monday off. Start again. I have documented previously the effects of the initial doses as well as the effects of the steroids, so I won’t cover that again here.  As the cycles went on, the dose was increased so it became a bit of a gastric nightmare for a few days, but after that the side effects were manageable.

This is one dose:

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Part of the reason for wanting to avoid being made really ill by IV chemo was that I wanted to be able to enjoy the summer, and in particular my birthday.  This drug certainly allowed me to achieve that. I have had just the most lovely time with friends and family. I turned down the big guns of chemo so that I could buy myself 10 weeks of denial and hope.  My two favourite things. I needed that time to think everything through and also just enjoy myself without the drugs making me feel awful. The problem with time of course, is that it waits for no one.  That 10 weeks is up and tomorrow I am back to hellhole of the MRI machine in Mount Vernon.  Next week I will see The Prof again and we will know whether the new chemo has had any effect and what decisions need to be made next.

In the meantime, it’s scanxiety and the waiting game. Again.

Once I got back from the New Forest it was straight in to chemo, two weeks in a row. This meant that my trips away came to an end.  Actually after 3 consecutive weekends away, I was ready for some rest.  The worst side effects of the current drugs are pain and fatigue.  So as much as I loved all my trips and celebrations, by the time I got on the chemo again, I was somewhat pooped.

The Hospice continues to provide me with amazing support. Despite the fact that they have closed over the summer for maintenance, our sessions continue in venues provided locally.  I have started psychotherapy.  I am not quite sure how I feel about this yet.  Yoga has finished but Pilates has started and I have now been to a local school twice that has lent their facilities to the hospice. They have air conditioning, so I shall definitely have a full attendance record.  I exhausted my quota of complementary therapy sessions by quite some margin.  However, they were kind enough to offer me a couple more so I have had some aromatherapy massage at Champneys, who are also hosting the Hospice so they can continue to support their patients.  I think that’s just incredible. The massage is so powerfully helpful for me. It helps my aches and pains but more than that, it gives me peace from the anxiety, stress and pressure of living with stage four cancer.

Otherwise, the best therapy for me is getting out in to the great out doors and breathing in fresh air. Walking through summery greens and blues and resting under a tree with a good book.

I am grateful for the simple things in life.

Please send me your most positive of vibes as I wait, wait and wait some more to get the MRI results. Whilst you are busy conjuring positivity, please remember to check your boobs and bits.

In other news, this blog has now gone over 8,000 views. This really is so incredible to me. Thank you so much for being here, it really means so much. Please keep feeding back, sharing, and commenting. I really value and appreciate your input.

Big Love, AG xx

Another of my absolute all time favourites:

Dixie Chicks / Not Ready To Make Nice

Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I'm not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I'm still waiting

I'm through with doubt
There's nothing left for me to figure out
I've paid a price, and I'll keep paying

I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell, and I don't have time
To go 'round and 'round and 'round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
'Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is
You think I should

I know you said
Why can't you just get over it?
It turned my whole world around
And I kinda like it
I made my bed, and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets, and I don’t mind saying
It’s a sad, sad story
When a mother will teach her daughter
That she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world
Can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Saying that I better
Shut up and sing
Or my life will be over?
I'm not ready to make nice
I'm not ready to back down
I'm still mad as hell, and I don't have time
To go 'round and 'round and 'round
It's too late to make it right
I probably wouldn't if I could
'Cause I'm mad as hell
Can't bring myself to do what it is
You think I should
I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell, and I don’t have time
To go ’round and ’round and ’round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is
You think I should, what it is you think I should
Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting