This weekend marked something of a landmark. It was the first weekend that the Captain and I had booked in to trade at a canal event this year. When we sent off the forms it was unclear just how much I would be able to do, given that it was still fairly close to my surgery. However, I am pleased to report, as returns to work go, it was a triumph.
I did need to have a few nap-lets during each of the three trading days. And it is true, I did have a minor meltdown as we came to set up for our first day. But it felt really good to be back and doing something so normal.
We launched our Not Second Rate Raspberry & Rhubarb Jam in support of Breast Cancer Care’s Secondary Not Second Rate campaign and it went down a storm. Even the lovely Richard Parry, CEO of the Canal & Rivers Trust, bought a jar and went away clutching his Taking Care of Your Breasts leaflet. Two pounds from every jar we sell goes straight to Breast Cancer Care and at the end of the year, I will tot it up and announce the amount raised on our website & Facebook pages.
Finally, the Captain managed to make it into the local paper. If you want to read more, see here. I think I may need to remind him who’s business this is … 😉
Friday’s appointment with the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) turned out to be marvellous. I was extremely sceptical beforehand. I knew that Macmillan offered grants for people in certain circumstances, and I also knew I did not qualify. I was not aware that anything else was available but figured it would not hurt to go and see.
Since cancer came along to bugger up our plans, we have taken something of a financial hit. My business is not lucrative, but we were anticipating being able to rely on my income while the Captain was on his unpaid sabbatical. We do have savings but had hoped they would last longer than they currently look like doing. Especially given that cancer is proving to be hideously expensive. It is shocking the number of extras that are needed.
The CAB woman was incredibly helpful. Both the Captain and I had wrongly assumed that because I am self-employed I do not get sick pay. After all, I am not earning, so how can I pay myself? However, because I pay Class 2 National Insurance contributions, it looks like I will qualify for Contribution based Employment Support Allowance for the duration of the period I am unable to work for. Applications are being filled out and will be sent in forthwith. If my claim is successful, then my payments will be backdated to the 1st March. What a difference that will make, hurrah!
You would be forgiven for thinking I did not have a job. After all, since I started this blog work has not exactly been a big part of it. However, I am not normally given to doing nothing. Since an accident in 2010 forced me to take a change in direction, I have been making jam. Since 2012 I have run my own business. It is small but, I like to think, perfectly formed.
Running a food business from a house without a kitchen is a challenge I could not rise above so my plan had been to decamp to our boat and jam there until my new kitchen was complete. However first my recall, then my slipped disc and finally my diagnosis has distracted me from this somewhat. It is not so much that cancer precludes me from making jam, it is just that I need to focus on the boiling cauldron of sugary fruit in front of me when I do it. Strangely cancer has robbed me of the ability to concentrate on anything.
I made an announcement on my business website & Facebook page explaining I would be taking a break and thought that was that for the time being. And then last Tuesday at 5 o’clock in the morning I woke in a cold sweat. I had an order of wedding favours, booked and paid for eighteen months in advance, due to be dispatched before Easter.
So today I have been working. The Captain had previously expressed an interest in learning to make jam. Today he had his first lesson. What can I say? The boy done good. Just as well, frankly, as I was pretty useless. Monday’s operation may only have been minor in comparison with the forthcoming one but it has left my arm much weaker. I dread to think how much harder it is going to be after the next one.
There was something satisfying in getting the order packed up and ready for dispatch. But I am glad there is nothing else outstanding. My apron is well and truly hung up for the time being.