Me: Do you know what today is?
Me: It’s exactly one year since you took me to me to get pissed in a gin bar in Birmingham.
One year ago today I received my breast cancer diagnosis. I thought my world had ended. One year on it is a very different place but it is still a world filled with joy and love. Cancer may have replaced my magnificent bosom with a strangely twitching half boobsicle (for now) but it has not dimmed the brilliance with which my world shines. So I enter my second post cancer year, one and half boobs to the fore, and stride on confidently, knowing that exciting things await me in 2017.
Scene: Famous Northern tea shoppe; me sitting at a table; The Captain ordering at the counter.
Waitress: All I need now, Sir, is your table number?
Cap’n: Ah. It’s one of those in the window.
Waitress: The long window? With several tables? Could you help me out at all?
Cap’n: My wife is sitting at it. She’s the one with the severe haircut.
He is very rude.
Scene: Kitchen, early evening amidst post birthday party debris.
Me: That was nice, wasn’t it?
Cap’n: It was. Very.
Contented sighs emanate from both parties
Me: The food went down well.
Cap’n: It did.
Me: Especially the chocolate coated strawberries.
More contented sighs
Me: D’you know what?
Cap’n: No, what?
Me: I really fancy some chocolate. Shall we eat the leftover dipping chocolate? It’s in the fridge.
Cap’n: Ah. I didn’t think you still wanted it …
Didn’t. Think. I. Still. Wanted. It. That would be CHOCOLATE we’re talking about, yes? The CHOCOLATE I was prepared to share. And yet he still lives …
Scene: The bedroom. The Captain is getting dressed. He pulls his trousers up to beyond his waist, cocks his head and grins inanely.
Me: I wouldn’t do that.
Cap’n: No? Why not?
Me: It makes you look like your Dad. Not a good look.
The Captain rubs my head.
Cap’n: You are not in a position to talk. Have you forgotten your Dad was bald?
From somewhere a comedy drum snare booms out.
At the risk of becoming a hair bore, I still have things to say. I continue to find myself shocked by the outworking of the delights of chemo and hair. For example, I am still, STILL having to shave my legs. This seems grossly unfair especially coming hard on the heels of the gradual thinning of my eyelashes. But what is even more bizarre is that this morning I found an inch long hair growing out of the centre of my neck. In the region of my adam’s apple. I mean, what is that about? This is something new. Trust me, I am obsessively familiar with all the facial hair I sport and this one is a very unwelcome addition. All my others have gone the way of my other hair. Even the moustache so lovingly referred to by the Captain.
Perhaps it is something do with altitude? The further up my body, the less prolific the hair. Glancing at another area, the Captain said: ‘It’s not exactly a Brazilian is it? More like a near neighbour, an Ecuadorian perhaps?’ Not sure it will catch on.
While on the subject of hair, the lovely Adam completed his Brave the Shave challenge yesterday and we were there to cheer him on. It is still possible to sponsor him so please consider doing so: https://bravetheshave.org.uk/shavers/adam-gompertz/. My treatment has been greatly assisted by Macmillan as every Breast Care Nurse I have seen, and continue to see, is funded by them. This is much the same countrywide. Without Macmillan’s sponsorship, Breast Care Units would be very different places. So thank you, Adam, people like you are making cancer treatment a much better experience than it would otherwise be.
Scene: Boat, late morning, still in bed.
Me: My legs are aching.
Cap’n: Oh? Poor you.
Me: I need to stretch them, you know, do more exercise.
Cap’n: Really? Sounds a bit drastic.
Me: I know. Needs must. Can you take me for a walk?
Cap’n: OK. Do I get to put you on a lead and shout ‘Walkies!’?
Me: Let’s just say you’d only try that once …
Who would have thought it? There is a magical group of women who provide the most amazing and generous service to any and all who have had one or both breasts removed. They are Knitted Knockers UK and really are a fabulous group who should be trumpeted from the rooftops.
Having read one of my holiday posts bemoaning the weight of my fake boob, a friend got in touch asking if I had heard of Knitted Knockers. I knew it was possible to knit such things but as the cardigan I began in the 1970s for my Knitters Badge in Brownies remains unfinished to this day, I rather felt knitting a wooly bosom was beyond me. Fortunately, however, these knockers do not come in kit form. Rather, you supply your measurements, make a few choices – colour, knit/crochet, nipple – and a lovely person begins to knit. For you. Especially for you. And the whole thing is absolutely free. I am going to repeat that. The whole thing is absolutely FREE. It is ‘a gift from one woman to another’ and is ‘made will love and filled with hope’.
My order went in at an especially busy time but I still received the finished article within a month. My package arrived with not only my very own knocker but a knitted butterfly key ring fob, spare filling, a packet of love heart sweets and a small note. The whole lot was then wrapped in tissue paper and tied with ribbon. It was a delight to receive.
I have been very tardy in writing this post because it has taken me a long time to test drive my knocker. I can now reveal that it is going to be very successful. Since my lamentations of prosthesis weight, I have been almost exclusively wearing a ‘softie’ given to me by the hospital. This is a exactly what it sounds like: a soft, fabric prosthesis filled with stuffing that weighs nothing and is much more comfortable than my proper one. However, it does not have the best shape and tends to dimple as the stuffing moves about. The knitted knocker has all the advantages of the softie and gives a much better appearance. I ordered one with a nipple which, if I had my time again, I would not do. As the Captain put it, ‘I see your left breast is excited at seeing me!’ Because my real nipple is not permanently standing to attention it does rather draw attention to the other one. But this is easily addressed. I have not yet decided how, but I will do. It is also going to take a little time to sort out the correct amount of stuffing. The really good news is that once settled upon, the stuffing is not going to move about like it does in the softie.
So, all in all, this was a fabulous discovery and I am thrilled to have had my attention drawn to them. If anyone reading this fancies knitting for them, I believe they are always on the look out for knitters.
Scene: Early morning, still in bed, drinking cups of tea.
Me: My nose keeps dripping.
Cap’n: Ew. But seeing as you mention it, I had noticed.
Me: I think my nose hairs have fallen out.
Cap’n: Let me see …
Some position shuffling. Some light shining.
Cap’n: Yep, you’re right. Your nose is bald.
Me: I told you.
Cap’n: It’s alright though, you’ve still got your moustache.
There are times, dear reader, there are times …
Yesterday’s yawn-a-thon did nothing to help my mood. By evening I felt a fog of despair descend over me. All I could think was ‘I feel well now, but in a week it will all start again.’ It is a truly depressing thought. And there are times when it is inevitable that it overcomes me. Last night I snuggled up to the Captain with tears coursing down my cheeks,
Me: I have to do it again.
Me: I don’t want to.
Him: I know. But I’ll hold your hand.
And with that, he dried my eyes and wiped my nose. Bodily fluids do not faze him.
Today the brain crap had lifted. I felt bright, breezy and happy once more. I had been warned that there will be times that I am struck down with miserableness. Realising it is a drug side effect is helpful.
Irritatingly this is not the only way chemo has been messing with my head. I had an email today from a company I ordered some anti-nausea stuff from during my very sicky days:
We received your order today returned in the post with a note from Royal Mail stating addressee gone away. The address which we had sent it to was: only the one I had moved away from 18 months ago!
Honestly, I thought chemo brain was something that did not happen until later so frankly, there is no hope for me.
I have so nicked this title from my mate. I probably could not have punned that on a good day. With all my neurones firing. And today I confused ‘ordinarily’ with ‘normally’ when talking to the Captain:
How many jars of jam would you get with this recipe, I seem to have more than I expected?
Well, normarily I get about one more jar than you have.
Fortunately, he speaks fluent me, so we were good. It even took a while for me to compute that I had conflated two words.
Today I have been grumpy. And nauseous. And tired. And nauseous. And cold. And did I mention nauseous? I have been tired too. Which is odd because given how much I have slept, I should have been gambolling about like a spring lamb. I slept all night till 7am, then another 2-3 hours this afternoon. And guess what? I am still tired! Where is this buzz I hear the steroids give you? Actually, I do get that. It is not pleasant. More of a jitteriness than energy I have found. I am managing the nausea better. And I think it is improving. Food is essential, little and often. I shall be the size of a barrage balloon by the end of this with all the nibbling. It feels very counterintuitive to eat but it definitely helps. And all things ginger are a must. Ginger beer, ginger nuts, ginger tea, ginger cordial, crystallised ginger, ginger water. If it has ginger in it, then I’ll knock it back.
Today I was hoping to investigate the possibility buying some Sea Bands but forgot at first, then felt too lousy and then was asleep. I should have just asked the Captain. But I forgot to do that too.