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.
No not me, sillies! Been there, done that, have no need for razors. Except for my legs which continue to sprout undergrowth. Rude. No. This is about a fab all round bloke who just happens to be a friend of mine. He has very gallantly signed up to Macmillan’s Brave the Shave initiative. I am delighted my new look is inspiring imitation, which is of course, the sincerest form of flattery.
Let me introduce the amazing Adam Gompertz:
Adam is a petrol head, a blogger, a vicar, a whisky drinker, a talented artist and a bloke who is kind and makes me laugh. He also has a top quality wife who is more #wonderwomaninacassock than human.
So his locks are going. I am assuming the facial growth is also going but this has yet to be confirmed. Please consider sponsoring him to do this. Macmillan is an organisation very dear to my heart. Their support during my Dad’s last days was immeasurable and I have found myself the recipient of their knowledge and care during my own cancer experience. I am so grateful to people like Adam who are doing this sort of thing. Incidentally, while beating the fundraising drum, my best mate is hosting one of Breast Cancer Care’s Strawberry Tea Parties in a few weeks time so huge thanks to her too. Without Breast Cancer Care, who I rely on daily, this whole thing would have been much harder. If anyone local also fancies doing this I would be happy to donate some jam.
Anyway, to the important bit. To sponsor Adam, go to his Macmillan page here: https://bravetheshave.org.uk/shavers/adam-gompertz/ And all should be self explanatory. Thank you.
I am liking this whole Good Week malarkey. This weekend has been an absolute blast! The Captain had abandoned me – something about earning a crust – so my trusty and longstanding friend with a penchant for dragonflies came to stay. We used to share a flat as students so she is accustomed to living with me. Though it has been a while. Like, that was last century. So last century, we could not even see the millennium approaching.
This weekend was all about capitalising on my wellness. She arrived on Friday bearing gifts. While she unpacked, I opened the prosecco saying, ‘I’m not that good at alcohol currently’. The silence was palpable. If she wore glasses she would have peered over them and the look she gave me explicitly said ‘well, you must practise. Push on through!’ So I did. It would have been rude not to. She is my chemo guru. She knows what she is about.
On Saturday we drove to Chatsworth House and did Lovely Eating and Looking At Things while Walking About Quite a Lot. The chairs they put out for us were the same shade of purple as both my nail varnish and cardigan. Considerate, we thought. The evening was spent in Vegetable-like Contemplation of the Tellybox. To link the two experiences we watched The Duchess, a film about the Duchess of Devonshire and excitedly (don’t judge, I don’t get out much!) set out trying to spot glimpses of the house we had just visited. We failed. Clearly we should have paid more attention. Or maybe we were distracted by the gin. For it is a poorly kept secret that my gin habit has been somewhat diminished of late. In fact, I had inexplicably gone off it. I say inexplicably, because what better time to be drinking gin than when one is having chemo for breast cancer? However, my friend once again demonstrated her true worth by downing a gin with me. And you know what? It was bloody good!
Today, I have had a morning of pampering. First a massage and then a facial. I so love having friends who a) understand the value of alcohol and b) have skills! She has left me now. The house no longer rocks to the sound of raucous laughter. Instead, a satiated quiet has descended. I shall have to take my exhausted body to bed shortly but even if I suffer for the next couple of days, it will be worth it.
Today the Serious Delinquent came home from galavanting across the country. For which I was truly grateful. She was as good as her promise and came round with the clippers and scissors as soon as I asked. You see, this morning I woke at 4am with my scalp on fire and my head dully throbbing. I dozed until a more civilised time and then lifted my head off the pillow with some trepidation. There were definitely more hairs there than usual. By the time I had my morning bath, the water was beginning to resemble hair soup. So the locks had to go.
So far, I feel ok about this. As soon as the bulk of my hair was gone, my headache lifted. And now, there will be no more looking to see if I have less hair. It is gone. It is no more. It is an ex hair do. Tomorrow I shall begin messing about with head coverings. For now, I shall just be relieved that my head does not appear to be too lumpy.
Yesterday turned into a bit of a social whirl, comparatively speaking. I had a fabulous friend come and visit in the late afternoon to catch me up on all the news. It was so good to see her. I feel hideously cut off much of the time. Fundamentally I am a people person. There are times I crave solitude but by and large I need people. Only no one seems to have told my wretched body that. Chemo is playing havoc with my social life. I just have so little energy it is difficult to get out and about, or even to consider galvanising myself into anything resembling action.
However, a few intrepid types have discovered the joy of face timing with me. This has proved brilliant. We set a time; make sure we are sorted with tea, coffee, whatever; then sit and chat as if we were across the table instead of hundreds of miles away. Ok, so there are a few more delays in the conversation. A few more ‘You’ve frozen’ comments. A few more periods of actually taking it in turn to speak. But on the whole, it is fab. And I am loving it. The only downside is my memory, never good, has become shocking. Which means there is every chance I can arrange a call, and then totally forget all about it. If I have done this to you, I apologise. Just wallop me next time we meet. Or harangue me by text.
Anyway, back to my social whirl of yesterday. Having had my lovely in the flesh visitor, I then had a flurry of phone calls (the Captain was out) – all delightful. And then, the cherry on the proverbial, I had a visit from a dahn sarf friend who was passing by for work! He came bearing ginger cake. Delicious sticky ginger cake no less. So obviously I now love him even more than I did. His wife is fine with this. For his wife is Chummy. She of the Up Yours Cancer Lunch 😀 And it is not everyone I am prepared to greet in a Taken My Bra Off for the Night state. Which obviously has far more implications now than it did before I became Lady Lopsided of Tilting Town. You try covering half an ample bosom while juggling coffee cups. Definitely goes on the Things I Never Thought I’d Do list.
Today, I have been paying for all the excitement. I had a fitful night’s sleep. Indigestion seems to be featuring somewhat – not sure if that is a side effect (though I know it can be) or just my usual. The sweaty, tingling head did not help and nor did the bizarre hair related dreams that ensued: being chased by tentacles of hair; giant plaits trying to smother me, you know the sort of thing. So today I have been wading through a fog of sleep deprivation with a side helping of nausea and indigestion. And I am still making far too frequent trips to the toilet. TMI, I know, but I did warn this would not be pretty. A visit from my daughter and her darling family perked me up no end this afternoon. My baby granddaughter tried on some of my chemo caps and looked fabulous in them. Such cuteness should be available on prescription.
The keenly observant and nerdy among you will have a spotted a reference to the Archer’s there – one I have been dying to use but have had to wait until now!
This weekend the Captain and I had a long standing weekend planned with my bezzie mate and husband to celebrate both the men’s birthdays. It was not at all clear whether I would be up to it but having already paid in full, I was loathed to waste the opportunity. So Friday saw us set off with the car heavily laden with pillows, hot water bottles and other items that have now become essential equipment.
It is entirely possible that if I had realised just how arduous I was going to find the four hour journey, I may never have begun it. My shoubsicle has reduced in size considerably as the swelling has decreased. It is now far less rigidly stuck to my chest and has a great deal more mobility. Given that I am still in less than supportive bras, this makes bumpy roads something of an ordeal. They are an ordeal at the best of times but with the number of lacerations I have healing over my newly soft and bouncy mound, there was a great deal of wincing going on during this journey.
However, the treehouse that awaited us was delightful. Set in peaceful and idyllic countryside we had views of rolling hills, woodland and a meadow. A peacock and two peahens were very fond of our balcony and deer were spotted in the woodland. We did very little during our time away. Saturday was spent admiring the view, which could be seen from bed, while watching back to back episodes of Downton Abbey. We managed a brief meal out in the evening but that was all. On Sunday a trip to the seaside involved fish and chips on the sea front. On the whole, it was probably a bit too much too soon, but it was lovely to be somewhere different, with a different view and to spend it with one of my oldest friends and definitely worth it.
Today I disgraced myself. I suspect this whole recovery is going to be riddled with days like today. It has already been overlong. The wailing began around 1am. Or was it 2am? Or 3am? Actually it could have been any hour during the very very long night because I was awake for them all. True I did catch a few zeds in between but they were few, fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying. My wailing woke the Captain. He was lovely. Tender, kind and even uncomplaining. Despite knowing that my wailing would give him a crap day at work today.
My wailing was not confined to home either. I had a day trip organised. Having not been seen by any medical staff since Saturday, I had an appointment with Surgical Spice to review my wounds. Serious Delinquent had volunteered for taxi duties which gave my Mum both a break from me and the enormous relief of knowing she did not have to negotiate the city traffic. Visiting hospital outpatient clinics is something she did far too much of not very long ago during my Dad’s final illness. I am grateful she did not have to do it with me. No sooner had I seat belted myself into the car and waved a beaming farewell to my Mum, than the wailing recommenced.
The journey and some seriously delinquent loveliness allowed me to pull myself together by the time we arrived. Obviously we were over early as per, but that gave us just enough time for a rather nice Costa coffee. Been an age since I had one of those. At that point, I thought there was an outside chance the wailing was done. Ha.
At the appointed time we trotted through to see Surgical Spice. I was positioned on a couch behind a curtain, stripped to waist (this is becoming an almost Pavlovian response to this woman which could be REALLY embarrassing should we ever meet socially) and the inspection began.
‘How are you?’ she asked. Such a bad move on her part. More wailing on mine. Still, the extra moisture helped loosen the dressings so that was a plus. The upshot is everything is healing well. Needles were shoved into unspeakable places to draw off fluid and further dressings were applied. A referral has been made to an allergy expert – hurrah! And finally, she prescribed me some different analgesia which should help with the sleeping. The lack of which is the main cause of the wailing. I came away with extra dressings, a new bra and more appointments than you can shake a stick at.
The rest of day has seen me fit for nothing. Ironically, too tired to sleep I have just lain spaced out on the bed with Alan Bennett’s dulcet tones drifting into my ear as he reads The Uncommon Reader to me. Not a bad way to pass the time, all things considered.
There are no friends like old friends. And I really do have some of the best. Last night Chummy, one of my dearest came to stay. We have known each other since we were disreputable student nurses. Who were not really that disreputable. But there were moments. The Captain has longstanding agreement with Chummy. When we married, I matrimonially bequeathed her to him in my will. I rather suspect that this arrangement has added to the fervour not only of his prayers, but those of Chummy and her husband too. Let us hope they are all praying for my recovery and not my demise.
Chummy and I are both devotees of thrifting. Or charity shop browsing. So this morning, we visited some of my favourite haunts. I am still hunting button through clothing for those challenged in the chest department. Surprising how few designers consider this demographic. Where is Gok Wan where one needs him? Then again, Chummy and I did ok. The Salvation Army furnished me with a dress, Cancer Research (I so should have asked for a discount) with a scarf and New Life Foundation for Disabled Children a wrap cum cardi affair. All for less than twenty English pounds. Not bad.
Lunch was firmly on our agenda but we had to swing by my GP surgery first as I needed to have my dressings removed. Never let it be said that I do not know how to show my guests a good time. Leaving Chummy in the waiting room with a copy of Woman’s Realm and a stack of The People’s Friend within reach, I trotted off to have what is the closet thing to an arm pit waxing on the NHS that I am ever likely to be given. Fair to say the dressing was well adhered. Also fair to say that my skin gave its usual performance and as soon as the newly uncovered area was exposed to the air, it developed a beautiful rosy hue, became raised, angry and very itchy. Obviously the only answer was wine.
We hot footed it to a local independent pub, ordered large glasses of a decent Sauvignon and Chummy made an announcement:
‘This is an Up Yours Cancer lunch, so I propose we make a toast’
At this we both raised our glasses, brought them together for the obligatory chink, and simultaneously cried:
‘Fuck you, Cancer!’
then collapsed into a fit of giggles. It is moments like this that make me realise just how fortunate I am to have such friends.
Strangely the wine did not seem to have the required effect on the itching arm pit. Possibly because I did not apply it topically. Maybe because I simply did not drink enough. Clearly more research is required. By the time we got home, antihistamines were necessary and I slapped on some steroid cream for good measure. I am now sitting with a cool pack tucked into my bra. The things I do. It looks like some of the soluble sutures that no one reacts to are working their way out of my body. Probably because I have reacted to them and rejected them. Aside from the impoliteness of this action, it is deeply irritating. But at least my surrounding skin is less angry. Now it is just mildly annoyed.
I think you may have gathered that yesterday I was a tad tired? I may have mentioned it. It is true. I was. Very. I rather suspect I will be for sometime as it happens. But yesterday I was particularly tired because I had overdone things somewhat. Am I sorry? Am I ‘eck as like! It was even worth my epic wallow. Apologies for worrying you all. Then again, I am not cheery all the time.
You see, yesterday I went with some splendid friends to the theatre. I finally got to see a production of Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus. I had tickets to see a different production at a different theatre in 2011 but had to cancel due to a different set of health problems and hospital stays so the prospect of not making this performance was not pleasing to me. It was probably a day sooner than it ideally should have been but what care I for that? It was marvellous. I clutched my arm protectively to my side, sank into the less than comfortable seats and lost myself in the play. Simply bliss. I did pay for it but I am so glad I went. On the upside, I actually slept well. I had a brief wakeful hour but otherwise did not regain consciousness until after 7am. So aside from the small melancholic fit, it was win win.
Today looks like passing in a similar blur. I am attempting to rest this morning, enthroned as I am in my purpose built chair. But then I am being whisked of, delinquent style, for an afternoon of roman delights. Many of you will know that I became 50 last year. And for my fiftieth birthday I compiled of list of things I would like to do before becoming 51 or there abouts. It is safe to say that I have been going off list what with the breast cancer and all, but today’s activity is a back on list one. I have lived near the site of some Roman ruins for more than quarter of a century but have never visited. According to all I know they are seriously unimpressive but having had a childhood dragged to every conceivable Roman ruin at every given opportunity I cannot account for having never visited. So today, the Serious Delinquent is taking me there. To combat my inevitable disappointment (I grew up near such epic ruins as Verulamium and Hadrian’s Wall) (my geography is not that bad, I moved a lot) we are then having lunch. And then dinner. I could get used to this.
I had a bad day yesterday. I slept late and long which boded well but woke again with a sleep hangover (does such a thing even exist?). I guess it is no surprise that I was exhausted and more than a little fragile after the previous day’s marathon at the hospital, but that does not mean I was prepared for it. I was woken by the sound of five men traipsing around
the building site I mean what will one day be a kitchen. This was more than I could stand. On the whole, this building project has been ok. Yesterday it tipped into not being ok. Yesterday it was far from ok. Thankfully I could decamp and holed up with J. She snuggled me in a chair, tucked me up with blankets, plied me with tea, soup and tissues, and left me to it. Perfect.
When I returned home hours later, the builders had gone, cleaned up and all that was left was a newly plastered shell. It is beginning to look like it may one day be a kitchen. Perhaps washing up in the bath will not become a way of life. It is only a matter of time before I muddle the washing up liquid with the bubble bath or the flannel with the green scourer so let us hope so.
Today is going to be a good day. I am taking my Left Breast on a series of last outings. Today’s involves my sister. She is well practised in the art of accompany my breasts and I on outings. We are meeting at a champagne bar. In the morning. Get us. Where we go from there remains to be seen. But it may involve lingerie. Then again, it may involve just lots of bad behaviour. Who knows?
Later the Captain and I are going out to dinner. I will do my utmost not to behave too badly there. Although no promises can be made. Badly behaved or not, I am very much looking forward to day of friends and celebration.