Brave the Shave

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Ooooooh, ooooh, oh. I’m so very tempted to get involved in a FB debate but I absolutely will end up being trolled and I never get involved in these situations but I am itching. My fingers have typed the message out five times and I have deleted it five times.

Let me explain. Macmillan are running two fundraising campaigns at the moment – Brave the Shave and Stay up all night. Now you can imagine which one I have my knickers in a twist about!

The comments on Brave the Shave have lit up. So I have spent the last ten minutes reading all the comments (and rights to reply) and considered everyone fairly and objectively (bearing in mind that is taking all of my lovely CP’s work with me to do this). Then BAM. I happen on a comment that has really tipped me over the edge – it went something like this:

‘I think its amazing, if I had cancer and lost my hair through chemo and people did this to support me I’d feel so much better’.

Can you imagine my fury at this point. If. If. If. IF. The operative word there is if Miss Poster. Wow, just wow. If you had cancer, you’d actually know how it felt to lose your hair and maybe you might have the same feeling, but possibly, quite possibly, maybe you won’t. You can’t hypothesis about this situation. Until you live it. Nothing in life prepares you for losing your hair. Nothing. Even if you make the decision. And bear in mind, I did make the choice in the end. But it didn’t change the pain.

I am six months post chop and the hair is growing back Sinead O’Connor esque – its at the very least all the same length (a bit grey!) but it covers my head and I don’t look so ill as along with my head hair, my eyebrows and eyelashes are back (well – getting there!). So I’m feeling OK about looking in the mirror again. OK, not good, but OK. I can actually laugh now when people talk about their bad hair days (my little wicked demon is also back so taking great pleasure in this!). Not having hair has made me realise that we talk about hair a lot. Whether that be because it looks a bit shit, the weather is that misty wetness that makes it frizz like a poodle (my old look pretty much every day!), its having a wild day, it needs a cut, I need to get to the hairdressers – its desperate. Then as I am nodding along, I also see a level of realisation creep in. You can see the ‘aw shit, I’m talking to the bald lass’! The conversation usually gets changed or ended quite quickly and my little devil has a wee chuckle!

So while I am in a much better place, lets consider the argument that Brave the Shave raises a lot of money. Which can do an awful lot of good – paying for nurses, counsellors, research, etc, etc, etc. Regardless of the ignorant comment the there is a cure and the government are hiding it (I will absolutely write about this – a whole other story), the split of people who like this kind of fundraising and those who don’t is about 50/50. 50% are loving it, arranging fundraisers, shaving heads. 50% are getting mad, think its disrespectful, don’t understand how anyone doing it voluntarily can feel the pain. Oh it is so divisive. I’ll also go one step further and challenge the word ‘brave’. How is it ‘brave’ to shave when you walk into the pub, social club, location of event; knowing what you are going to do and be prepared. How ‘brave’ is it to shave when your hair is already falling out in clumps and causing distress beyond your wildest imagination?  Is any of that ‘brave’? I really don’t believe it is.

But then there are comments about solitude. A support from those who do the shave in support and solidarity for family, friends, besties. I’m pleased for these people (honestly, this isn’t patronising), if their mates or family help them with solidarity in baldness then I am pleased that they find some comfort in this. But that also doesn’t reduce the validity of feeling from others like me who don’t get it. I do not need anyone else to do this with me. I can’t imagine having the man cub, my dad, or anyone else for that matter – shaving their head in solidarity, no matter whether it came from the best of places. And I did have the offer. But I could never in sober life have dealt with it. I didn’t want to do it myself – why would I ever put anyone else through it?

This is such a personal journey. For those going through it and those supporting it. It will always cause controversy but as a fundraiser I get that it probably is an absolute winner. A further comment has struck me though:

‘They lose their hair but don’t lose their eyelashes, eyebrows, body hair; and Macmillan are exploiting the worst time of peoples lives’

This – just this, rings so true. I looked tragically ill for months when I had my hair shaved. Regardless of how many people said it was fine, I avoided mirrors like the plague. I couldn’t deal with what I looked like. I have no photos at all of that period of my life (which upsets me as the cub and I always have a cheeky selfie on a weekend morning). So much as I am happy to fundraise (I’m walking 26 bloody miles soon to raise money for Macmillan), I just can’t get on board with this campaign. Going back to those who have commented on the post positively, they appear to be from people who haven’t gone through a personal cancer journey (willing to be corrected – just my view), and those who are upset by it seem to be those, similar to myself, who have dealt with the raw emotion of having to do this and it being out of our control.

So, my final thoughts. After re-reading a lot of comments, my own spiel above and a lot of thinking.

If you are thinking of doing it, please consider those friends, family or relations that cancer has touched. Check in with them and see whether they would view it as solidarity or whether it would upset them. Make your choice from there. If there is a positive response, please go for it and raise as much money as you can as every little helps (whichever charity you choose). If someone even makes a murmur about it in the negative, please consider another option – say a 26 mile walk (!!), running a marathon, giving up a favourite treat, anything; please find another way.

For me, please never shave your head. The distress for me is still so palpable and although it may improve with time and distance (and hair growth), I do know that someone trying to show me solidarity will tip me into a void that won’t be a good place! And much as CP worked his magic on my mindset, I’m not sure I’m that mentally well to deal with it. In time I may decide that I will keep the shaved head – to be honest it is a doddle to manage, or I may decide that I will spend a small bloody fortune each week getting my hair styled (don’t tell the man cub). Whatever I do, I don’t want to confront the idea that someone is voluntarily making a choice to be bald . Don’t judge me! I will also make efforts not to judge those who show their support in this way, much as I may disagree.

If this journey has taught me anything, its that we all weave a different path. This is mine. I am being honest. I am trying to be fair. I hope I have managed to convey both.

My 6th chemo card marks the real end!

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18/03/19

After a long Sunday yesterday where I slept a lot (or attempted too with a five year old in the house!) and got frustrated with life, I decided that at 5am today, it wasn’t going to be a day that I could go to work. I hate that I’m being flaky with work but I am so tired. Tired. TIRED. I can’t even explain the level to anybody as it is nothing I have felt like before. I absolutely need to go to work tomorrow as have a meeting that I do not want to rearrange. I need to drag them big girl pants on, my best outfit and heels and smash it like the old me would have done. No matter how bloody tired I am. I might have no hair but I can still be fierce in a meeting when needed. So today I am went back to bed and tried to sleep so I could be a functioning human tomorrow. Then tonight I wrote my first post about the clinical psychologist and it took me back to that place again. I think it was particularly hard as I know I have the ‘Heart of Darkness’ session coming, and writing about what I should be doing to help my mental health I know that I don’t care enough about it, I need to care more.

19/03/19

So Tuesday kicks in and I feel like I haven’t slept at all. I had my eyes shut, but I literally felt awake all night. I made the cub cry as she ate Sports Mixture for breakfast – apparently she heard me say yes to the question of whether she could! I fell out with the man cub as I left the cubs jacket at home and had to do a U turn on the way to school, traffic was abysmal to work, and I needed to nail a meeting. God – today was the day I wasn’t catching a break.

It got better – I was talked too like a child in the meeting. Now, for those who know me personally you have just sucked in air through your teeth. For those who don’t know me, please suck air between your teeth. I do not tolerate being treat like an inferior. In fact it makes me madder than a box of frogs, so I get sassy and sarcastic. I then got what I needed and left on my heels with my bald head held up.

Back at work, I had meeting, after meeting, after meeting and picked the man cub up in a state of tiredness like I could sleep on a clothes line. I then managed to whack my knee so badly that I could barely walk. It has been the longest day in recent history (!!) and I am done in. Bed is beckoning.

The saving grace of the day was that I got my last card in the series of six for my chemo. ‘Bald, brave and bloody beautiful’. Halfway through today I opened it and could have blubbed right there. I was not feeling the brave and beautiful but I was certainly bald!!!! It made me laugh and feel fabulous all in one go and that is some feat these days. I am forever grateful for my six ‘chemo’ cards that have helped me through (and the accompanying food that came in amongst it!). I also honestly don’t think my support network realise how much I appreciate and love all the little messages, cards, flowers, presents and general encouragement. And much as I am a ‘brush off’ girl and accept them with a nod of thanks, I honestly deep down couldn’t appreciate them more. Its just I know I would break properly if I showed any more gratitude face to face. I’m on a precipice most days and I daresn’t cry in front of anyone as I probably wouldn’t stop and that isn’t cool!

21/03/19

I have cried in the shower this morning, proper blubbed – it wasn’t because I was tired (that probably didn’t help!), it wasn’t because I look terrible (I do!), it also wasn’t because my heating had just broke down (give me strength), but it was because I am sick. Sick of everything. Sick of being tired, sick of feeling like shit, sick of not being able to deal with life itself as successfully as I used too, sick of the endless wallowing in self pity (and here I am doing it again), sick of not feeling like I am being enough for my cubs, sick of putting my life on hold. The list could go on, but I don’t shower that long (the man cub takes longer than I do!) and I had to pull my big girl pants on and give myself a good talking too to be the fierce mama and work face ready (I mean I didn’t do great on those accounts but I made it through!).

I’ve remembered that I am doing the ‘Heart of Darkness’ on Monday and I have to get through the weekend before facing that treat! I’ve fibbed to the parentals that I don’t have an appointment so my dad doesn’t take me as I don’t think I could do the session and then come out and blasé a conversation with my daddy. Because I fully expect that I am going to be broken. And I know I have to do it. But I have done over seven months of this damn journey and much as I have blubbed (this morning!) I actually haven’t broken. Really, really, really dealt with the emotion. I’ve cried – then shut it down. I well up and shut it down, I actually cry and shut it down, I blub and I time it so I have to shut it down. I have a sneaky feeling that my CP is going to make me deal with it and not shut it down. God dammit!!

But I will deal with it. I will have it. I had this week and I will have next week. Because I have got this.

Not my 40th Birthday day

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‘I’ve got fuzzy little chin bones’ – words I uttered tonight, but never thought I would utter at the grand old age of 40!!! Never mind anytime of my life!

It has been a long day. The man cub struggled from the get go. No happy wishes, no cards, no gestures – which is what I wanted; but the pain was etched on his face. He wanted to mark the day at the very least but I was staunch in my approach to it. I felt absolutly dreadful after no sleep, chemo drugs still swilling inside me, looked terrible, and wanted to sleep for weeks. I had no celebrating in me.

I had a couple of messages from people who didn’t know I was postponing, and a few cards. I also got flowers from my bestie – not for my birthday, she knew, but they were just flowers she said!! Then my parentals turned up to take me for lunch with an orchid – again just flowers and just lunch. A normal day!!

I can’t compute though, that ten years ago I was having a meal with family and friends at a lovely local pub, watched the rugby in the afternoon after the parentals were dispatched home, got drunk and refused access to a Wetherspoons (I wasn’t even trying to get in there!!)!! I then tumbled into bed and had a very long lie in the next day.

Ten years and some life changing moments since – a five year old now rules my life and Cancer is ruling my head. Who can anticipate those changes?

I’m pretty sure the five year old took five years in persuasion! Thirty changed my mind on the cub front and the ovaries started twitching. The twenty year old me would have had my tubes tied. The thirty year old me decided that they needed to work. I never knew that I could love someone so much and who would melt my stubborn heart.

The Cancer wasn’t something I twitched for. At twenty eight I had pragmatically dealt with a little pseudo lump which was removed and no issues. Why this couldn’t have been the same I don’t know. Life deals you melons sometimes. This last year I have dealt with two surgeries, MRI’s, mammograms, ultrasounds, chemotherapy, loss of all body hair, sickness, nausea, looking like pure death warmed up. And through it all that little five year old human has being the centre of my universe (don’t worry the man cub knows!) and has kept me going throughout. She is the reason I get out of bed each day and has been my motivation, my desire to keep going, my  light at the end of every day, and the reason behind my tears every time. She was the first person I thought of when I was told I had Cancer and the last person I think about each night. She makes me so happy but also fills me full of my worst sadness.

The man cub and I have reminisced all night, reliving memories over these last ten years. How we didn’t appreciate a lie in as much as we ever should have. The fact that I had a clean house for weeks at a time before I had a whirlwind cub. That we have always been positive and will always ‘try’ to be now. But we keep coming back to the current situation. We try and make sense of it. And we can’t. We are both irretrievably changed and there’s no going back from this now. The day ends a little bit drunken, like it did ten years ago.

16/03/19

After getting through a crazy day yesterday and it being Saturday, I’d asked the cub to play in her room until at least 8.30am if she woke early. She had my digital alarm. She arrived at 6.30am and asked me if that was before or after 8.30. FML. Clock reading is now priority of the near future.

I’ve tackled school shoe shopping today in the biggest shopping centre and I honestly thought I would fall over my own feet at one point. The poor cub ended up getting a mediocre pair of shoes as I had nothing else to give at this point. I am fully planning a day in bed tomorrow to try and prepare for a Monday back at work after chemo, but by, I am so tired. Its so hard to explain to anyone, but even when I had a newborn – those weeks between 0 and 6 when everyone says it gets better (and it does, but they are the longest six weeks in the world) –  I wasn’t this tired. My bones didn’t ache. My head wasn’t in constant conflict. My body wasn’t failing me.

Tonight I have dragged the man cub to bed at 10pm. Unheard of on a Saturday but I have bizarre pains in my legs and just want him to be ready if I need to go to hospital. It is the first time I have ever felt like this, like I might need to do a hospital dash. And it has me in a little panic about whether something is going on in my body. Its like electric shocks riding up and down my legs. I am unsettled. I feel light headed and haven’t had enough drink to make that happen.

I’ve laid in bed for hours, dramatising the worst case scenarios and I need to sleep before I get consumed by this latest twitch. Because I’m damned if I am not going to get through this.

 

I am going to have this night. I am going to have this bloody fight. I really am.

40th postponement in play!!

14/03/19

I have had a hell of a first day following my final chemo! I’ve had a night of hot flushes (those kind where the duvet is off, then back on, then off again, legs out of under the duvet – still holding onto a bit of the duvet in case I get dragged out of bed by the bogey man!). It was the longest night. These nights don’t get any easier though, I tell you what – when it’s dark, and all you can do is live in the depths of your conscious where the little demons bite away at the edges of your positivity. Ugh. It’s brutal. I’ve finished chemo, but I’m not actually done with it. The full on side effects still need to kick in and they are going to floor me properly. Sixth round, and every time it has got harder. It has gnawed away at every bit of me and I become irrational in the moment and forget that I do come out of it. I do see light, and the end of the tunnel. The main problem is everyone (my mother mostly trying to be helpful) telling me that there is an end in sight. Baaaaaaaaaaa. Lack of sleep is the work of demons!!

After dispatching both cubs out to school and work I had an epic sleep through to midday! Lazy, lazy, lazy. So to make up for it I hoovered, washed dishes, cleaned the bathroom, dusted, leather creamed the sofas, cleaned the carpets and then blitzed a work meeting (which involved a lot of finance chat – yay!) in Costa at 4pm. Plus nailed bath time with the cub. Who says chemo drugs can stop you doing stuff!! I’m bloody exhausted but I did it.

However it is now 10pm and after all distractions are done I am now absolutely shattered. And then I have just read a girls post who was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer back in 2014 and its just come back.

BAM.

My little positive mood bubble has just burst and I know again that I am going to be changed forever by this damn diagnosis and disease. Am I going to be spending every month, every year, every five years on tenterhooks, waiting for the other shoe to drop? Am I going to have a living dread on every anniversary, every lump and bump, every weird random pain that I have C? Quite possibly. Or in fact quite probably. Which is why I think that’s where I need to do some psychology work on myself. I need to not be consumed by this at every point in time. My wee cub doesn’t need her mama thrown every other week by the C word. But one day after my last chemo, tired and emotional, I don’t quite know how I am going to be pragmatic again. My little pragmatic head, fighting in it’s corner, tells me that when I am in a better headspace and as time goes on it will get easier. I know it will. But when I tear up just talking about it properly I know I’m nowhere near there yet.

My mood is not helped by the fact I am technically 4-0 tomorrow. And I have ‘cancelled’ it. Postponed it indefinitely. I just don’t much feel like celebrating. I have warned everyone close to me that I am not doing this. I do not want presents. I do not want cards. It is another day later after chemo, another day that I need to get through the side effects of the crazy drugs. I’ve also removed the sticker from the calendar so the cub doesn’t notice so much (she will soon start twigging – shes not that daft, but hopefully I can negate the upset for her when it’s watered down).

But a 40th is a big thing isn’t it? A refresh?

Wow, I don’t know how to feel or act or how to keep going sometimes. But I have too. I have that wonderful cub and man cub of mine who need me and (I hope) who I will get to see grow more. I am keen as mustard to see what I cooked grow up and be an amazing human being. I want the pre teen battles (someone remind me of this when we want to murder each other!), I want the teen years (def remind me of this bit!!), I want to see the amazing adventures and journeys that she goes on. I made this beautiful human and with some amazing people alongside me, we are watching an amazing human being grow.

I’m in a funny headspace tonight. A weird little mood, and god knows what tomorrow will bring. But Ill be sure to reschedule the celebrations at some point. Maybe I can shave a year off and head forward into the forties a year late!! I will do it when I have the headspace to not be wallowing though. When I can devote the celebration to being with my family and friends.

Because I can do this. I just need to regroup and attack.

Final chemo!

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13/03/19

Its final chemo day!! Yay!

I anticipated a lie in, but forgot I had left my phone downstairs and left it set for an early work alarm. That was helpful! Then the cub was awake before she ever is (as if she knows!). It mean that I opened a beautiful card from a work colleague who had a way with words today and I was nearly blubbing before the day had started. I’ll get her back for that!!

We did the usual morning madness and then braved the school run before heading to the hospital. We were there at 9am, caffeine in hand when we hit the ward. The girls were lovely and welcoming as always and made a big fuss that it was my last time in there. I couldn’t quite believe it myself. This was number six. Number one feels like an age ago and my hair loss feel like an age ago. We’d bought nice chocs (they put the selection boxes out so I wanted the girls to actually have them) and wrote a card which the cub also put a little message in – that brought them all a little tear as she had said ‘thank you for looking after my mama’.

By 9.30 I had the needle in my hand (first time lucky!) for the last time. After a saline swill the docetaxal was hooked up to me at 10.15 for the last time. As the nurse sorted me out ready to let the drugs drip in for the next hour she mentioned the bell. That bell. The inscription ‘Ring this bell three times well, its toll to clearly say; my treatment’s done, this course is run and I am on my way’. While in my chemo session I have only ever heard the bell ring once and I was midst getting a cold cap applied to my head so didn’t really think about the celebration of the actual event. I remember thinking ‘yay for them’ then being pulled back into my craziness of making a skull cap of freezing cold water fit on my head. I’d also told the man cub that I didn’t want to ring the bell after chemo as I wasn’t technically finished active treatment.

But…. I spent the next hour thinking about it. It was all I could think about. Maybe I did need to say goodbye to this treatment and make a deal of it. The end of another part of this horrible timeline – maybe it would help me put it too bed. I muted it with the man cub who was doing a smashing job of sleeping vertically and he was, as always, supportive of what I wanted and needed. I just wasn’t fully committed yet. As the docetaxal dripped its last drip and I was re-hooked up with saline for what would be the last half hour I spent on that ward, another nurse said she’d start rounding up the nurses.

At that point I felt good pressure to make a sign that I was finished with this part of the journey. My needle removed (nasty bruising and bleeding but worth the pain for a first time effort in getting the needle in!), all the nurses started gathering (well those that could) and I was there – front and centre with proper sobbing tears (unexpected), the man cub recording the event for prosperity and I rang that damn bell. I actually rang it. I announced that I was done. Yes I had more to go through, but I was done with this treatment and I marked the bloody end of it. The man cub had a little tear in his eye too and I know he is run down with the emotion of this too.

We escaped the ward, headed to the car, then realised in our haste that I had ran out without my home drugs (strong strong anti sickness drugs and immune injections). Bollacks. Back we bloody went. We joked as I re-entered the door, but then the joking stopped when we realised that they only had my injections and I’d have to go back at 4pm for my anti sickness tablets. Bloody fantastic.

We went home and both crawled into bed. Physically (me) and emotionally (both of us) exhausted, we needed to have a cheeky sleep. But no – the phone rang. I laid money it was my mother and ignored it. Was just about asleep when the phone rang again. Aaaagh – I’ll kill her. Lay wide awake now, feeling guilty that she might be flapping so headed down the stairs to ring her back. Then I realised the second call had actually been the Doctors. After the mam call, I rang the Doctors and the nurse there advised me that me result had come back saying that I was anaemic. WTAF? I had chemo today. They check that stuff? Should I not have had chemo? Was my immune system too low? They wouldn’t have done it if it was. Surely? I’m now wide awake with every crazy thought buzzing through my head. Nothing is ever straight forward is it?!

Heading back to the hospital for 4pm we hit the most horrific traffic, so I jumped out of the car, trotted into the chemo ward and had a chat with them while picking up my drugs. They reassured me that I had met the grade for chemo today, but of I felt ‘more tired’ (how would I even know if I was more tired? I have never been so tired, even with a newborn!) then get in touch and I might need a blood transfusion. Aaagh, please do not let that be another thing to add to my list. I left clutching the drugs and ready to make sure that I didn’t end up back in there  (I’m about to google anaemia and food that might help it – that surely won’t lead me down a rabbit hole re: C).

So to end my crazy day, I have just done a Parents Evening. This day has been the longest ever. I am sat with the strongest of drugs swimming about inside me and I am tired, and I am trying to look like a parent that has it together for my cub. The last conversation I had with her teacher was back in September and since then I have heard nothing to say that my baby cub is acting any different than usual. After a solid performance (she is absolutely no bother) we collected the cub from after school club and I want my bed. I can already feel the metallic taste creeping into my taste buds (uugh), I have a whopping bruise from the needle.

But I’ve done it. I’ve made it to the end of this chemo journey and its been a hell of a journey (not quite over yet as the side effects will still keep me going for a few weeks longer).  This time last November I was starting out on the unknown journey. Now I know and I definitely don’t want to ever repeat it. Chemo has been harder than I ever anticipated and it has drained me in ways that I didn’t think possible. I am more tired than I ever was with a new baby and I thought that was my lowest point I tiredness. But I’ve managed to still work (quite a bit) which has kept me sane and I might be a bit behind but I’m still going.

Today I have climbed another mountain, and I have done it. I have got this, and I will deal with radiotherapy in the same way. It’s the only way I can keep going.

Clinical psychologist close to breaking me – and last chemo eve!!!!

11/03/19

Fourth  clinical psychologist appointment is due today. I am dreading it. They get harder and I really can’t keep up with the self care and I know that is shocking. I know I need to have some self care at this worst time, but it is so alien to me and I feel like I am playing a game and trying to work out if he is clever enough to work out that I am trying to play him. However I have done my homework this time and spent some time working out (from a list of 40) what my values are. It did take three goes to whittle it down to the three core ones (as recommended). I also felt like a callous bitch at some points.

So into the appointment (my daddy waits in the car again!) and we picked up on the values. However CP wanted me to add back in self-care (breaking his own rules here! What’s that about?!). He talked about the fact that I was even sat there meant I had some level of self care to acknowledge I needed this help and direction. But then he casually strolled right in to talking about ‘avoidance’ tactics. Bollacks – he is clever enough to work me out! We talk about ‘avoidance’ versus ‘approach’. That I avoid the headline topic and  don’t approach it (remember the business planning cancer dream – yes I do avoidance better than approaching it head on). I do live in ‘avoidance’ and I realise very clearly today that I spend a lot of time being very clinical about how I talk about cancer. My cancer. Dropping the c bomb to family, friends and colleagues I spoke clinically about what was going on, what I needed to do next. The Plan. I don’t usually tie any emotion into how I am doing – ‘fine’ is my outward stance. I do outwardly strong as I can’t deal with showing my emotions. It is not me, I do not like people seeing my weaknesses. I appreciate that they aren’t weaknesses per se, but I don’t want to show the chinks in the armour. I project a strong persona, am a fierce bitch (mother of a dragon – I love Game of Thrones!!), and only my closest family (read that as the man cub and my wee cub) know that I am the biggest softy in the world.

God, even my parentals don’t even know I’m writing this. I don’t put them through this darkness as I don’t need them to see the pain their cub is going through (I also don’t want them to know my sadness as they can’t fix it and if it were me with my cub I’d want to fix it – and they can’t). With friends and colleagues, when they check in after an update on here I do my very best to blasé it, ‘oh, that was months ago, I’m still here, I’m fine’. I’ll do everything in my power to divert the conversation, distract from the obvious. Because face to face I am useless with emotion. When I have tried to even talk about the cancer and the journey I can feel tears in my eyes (oh, and that pisses me right off).  So yep CP, I do a lot of ‘avoidance’ and don’t often deal with the ‘approach’. I also realised that last weeks lump threw me more than I care to admit. Pre C, I was pragmatic AF. I dealt in facts, dealt with the scenario as it arose rather than second guessing a result. But this time I was in a different headspace; I went quite quickly to worse case scenario and dwelled in that space for longer than I wanted too.

But talking it through I am reminded that avoidance is only short term gain and means that I have to constantly revisit the topic, whether that be in my own mind or to others. By taking the direct approach I am laying it out there and allowing the long term goals a chance to ferment themselves, make themselves known to me and have a clear direction. By constantly sitting in an area of avoidance, I am never going to be able to move forward. Why does he make so much damn sense! While I understand all of this I need to practice it. That’ll be when I find it the hardest.

Then CP told me that we were ready to move into ‘Heart of Darkness’ next session. Woah. ‘Heart of Darkness’? Yep, I teared up right there and then. I’m convinced he just wants me to cry! But he wants me to open up about what is really making my soul sad. Deep down why I am so thrown by this journey. Why my usual pragmatic approach has up and left me with a cancer diagnosis. I mean, I’m not daft and cancer is certainly a doozy of a diagnosis to calculate for anyone – but I honestly thought that I would never feel this bad. But you honestly can’t ever predict hearing those three words – ‘you have cancer’. I have watched a lot of videos, either through Stand Up to Cancer, Children in Need, Comic Relief etc etc (don’t make me tell the story of when I managed to give Children in Need all of our wages and we had to pay the bus journeys to work for the rest of the month from the penny jar!); where I have cried, empathised, felt heartbroken for families. And now this is my reality. Yeah – Heart of Darkness is going to break me good and proper. I am already working out how to get out of my daddy driving me as I really don’t think I will deal with it well and then have to get in the car with the daddit (cubs name for him). That isn’t going to be a thing at all. I have two weeks to think this through!!

12/03/19

Last chemo eve!!!!!!! Yay! But….. Also have the chemo dread. Third time of the dreaded T bit of the FEC-T and I am already anticipating the hallucinations, loss of taste, general shite feeling, bone tiredness. God, yesterdays session with CP has thrown me more than I thought, my pragmatism has truly up and left the building. I have done every chemo without negativity (just dreading the actual drug intake) and now I am spending a night dwelling on what ‘might’ come. Oh – I don’t even know myself right now.

But I have this – sixth and final chemo, I am COMING FOR YOU!! I have this.

Babysitting and bras – its all kicking off!!

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09/03/19

Today is the first day we have ever dropped the cub off for a play date and left. Followed by an afternoon of freedom! Wooohooo! What that meant in actual reality is that we have had an afternoon nap, watched Scotland lose their match in the Six Nations and then counted the minutes until she came home. The house is mighty quiet when she isn’t here and it is so strange now. The memories of what we used to do before a cub are so diminished now, when we have the opportunity of alone time we have no clue what to do with ourselves. Self care isn’t a bad thing though at the moment; as parents we are holding everything together to maintain a level of normality and this is taking our spare reserves as our normal reserves are also dealing with the multiple appointments, the emotional drain of maintaining a strong and united front. Phew. I do wonder how we are doing this at points.

Cub returns and within minutes normality has returned. We have noise again!! But I will be forever grateful for those few hours respite. They allowed us to reset a little and any time to do that is appreciated and needed.

10/03/19

Bras. F**king bras. Aaaaaaaaaaagh. So I finally dragged myself out of the house to look for a bra to accommodate the smaller (now cancer free) boob and the always bigger boob. I have finally accepted that the ones I currently have aren’t cutting the mustard and as a full grown adult I need to sort this out. However, I am dreading the trip. Really deep down dreading it. I know what the problem will be and I am already worked up before I leave the house. Unless I want to spend a small fortune on underwear (which only I and the man cub can see) I am restricted to the plainest of plain and limited beyond reason above that to a range of underwear that is dull. Now bearing in mind only I and the man cub see this, its still nice to feel pretty.

Let me set the scene – popping to the local cheaper stores (think supermarket end) for a bra turns out to be an impossible task and all that happens is I end up yelling internally (or externally to whomever I am with) that I’m never again going to be able to buy a ‘cheap’ bra (I want to be 18 again!). Going to a specialist store illicits further internal yelling that there isn’t that much material to justify a monthly mortgage payment (I exaggerate – but only slightly) to cover my boobs. A midway store provides a multitude of prettiness to drag you in there, get excited about the colour and lace, and then gut wrenchingly realise that all those ones only go up to a DD max.

Just because I am a F/FF cup size does not mean that I am a 36 plus back size. I fail to understand why retailers seem to believe that an ancient and mythical belief in the current time is still adhered to. Those who are slim have small boobs. Those who are larger have big boobs. No, no, no and more of the no. You see, RETAILERS, it is possible that a slim person has bigger boobs. Where this all annoys me even more is that the larger ladies are still accommodated by a small boob size (happily corrected on this – just what I’ve seen). I, however, am left scratching around midway expensive stores so I don’t blow the food budget on one bra, for just a couple of plain black and white bras.

Now today I was with my mother and the cub. So it all went splendidly well. NOT. My mother is constantly repeating ‘this ones pretty, oh they don’t do beyond a DD’ (helpful mam), and the cub is asking what size she is looking for and proceeds to shout loudly when she has found an F or a 32, neither together at the same time. I could have sat down and drank a bottle of vodka (yes, it was that bad) right there in the middle of all the bras. And as any other person who has tried bras on – they aren’t like pants – they don’t ‘just fit’. There are versions on a bra – balcony, underwired, padded, non-wired, t-shirt, convertible…… and so it continues. So you have to try them on. Depending on the specific style they either squeeze you, cause back fat, underarm fat, above boob lumps. Its too bloody much to cope with.

At one point, I was sat in the changing room this afternoon on the floor. With real tears in my eyes. And all I could hear was the cub outside the walls of the changing rooms shouting at Nannan that she’d found another one for me. I was at the actual end of my tether – broken by bra shopping. Out of five bras in the entire shop that I could find in my actual size to try on, and then that actually fit – I bought two. Dull as. Cream and blue. To accommodate my wardrobe so I could actually wear them under dark and light clothes. That is it. Two hours of my life. Two bras.

Now, this isn’t just a post cancer issue for me. I had previously had the same struggle, just not quite so pronounced. I feel like I can’t be the only person that has this problem though. Surely slimmer girls have the same issue, or maybe they’re more open to spending a small bloody fortune on underwear. Maybe I am blowing this out of proportion, but being unable to access clothing (that’s pretty vital in this society) readily and easily at a reasonable cost is important to me and I’d imagine a lot of people. And everything you read about bra fitting suggests that it is vitally important to be fitted well. But my experience would suggest that people aren’t fitting themselves well as they can’t afford to do so. Another one to add to the list of things I want to look into more when my head space allows.

Because for the moment I have two bras. That fit well. And I will take that as a win today.