Day 5 – 7 radios, plus second wait to get (post C) lump checked out…

29/04/19

Day 5 radio, and Monday morning blues have got me down. I’ve been put through the windscreen twice this morning at a roundabout and traffic lights (seriously give me strength Dad!) and traffic was an absolute shocker. It had been fine on the way to the hospital and the usual routine is now being played out with a military precision. It is so impersonal, check in, sit for three mins max, strip off, don hospital gown (opening front), lie on gurney, get pulled, pushed and prodded into position, count down three lots of radiation spurts in a cold room by myself with random music playing, all done, get dressed, leave – rinse and repeat!!

The journey back to work was a shocker and I was way later in that I usually am. But my full time workload is back on. There is no expectation that I can’t achieve this now. I feel like everyone just thinks I’m rocking in late and should be coping lovely. As if I’m back to normal – just with less hair. It’s that bit. The less hair. For all intents I am ‘back’. But I still hate it when people do a double take when they see me. But what can I do? I just don’t know anymore. I’ve got all these balls up in the air at the moment and I feel like I’m going to drop a few at any given moment. My  cub, my man cub, my family, my friends, my work, my radio appointments, my lump, useless doctors, household duties; all of these are pulling me in directions and some not the same direction. Aaaaagh!

Yet, because I am now nearing the end of this damn journey, I’m OK. Or I should be, it feels. I don’t necessarily help myself as I am notoriously bad for telling anyone I am struggling. I always see it like an admission of failure. And I hate the feeling of failure. So I am always reluctant to admit that I might be struggling. My own worst enemy! I also feel like a bit of a fraud. I managed to make it through chemo, working full time. That was way more brutal on my body, but I also worked from home a lot more, and took a few more days sick during that time. With radio, I don’t feel like I can justify taking ‘me’ time.

Then tonight I have finally pulled together a letter to the Doctors about the treatment I have received. Hilariously, in this day and age, their complaints system requires you to post in a letter. I assume, because they assume you will lose interest by having to put pen to paper / print out a letter and then actually post it. Antiquated doesn’t even describe it.

So I have written and rewritten a strongly worded letter to see if I can get some sort of solution to the limbo I am now in. Bear in mind, their complaints process isn’t detailed on their website (you have to pick that up from the Doctors too!!), so I don’t even know how long they have to respond to me. Could be another ten days. Bloody joy!

01/05/19

Day 7 of radio and I am now closer to half way. I am prepping the cub for the over half way countdown, but we aren’t quite there yet.

Today is also the day when I need to pull on and own those big girl pants again and get back in the general population in the Breast Screening waiting room to deal with this second pesky lump. I have done so much better this time (post cancer) by not procrastinating. The last two days at work I have buried it deep and carried on (my clinical psychologist would have been proud!). But don’t get me wrong, it has also followed me round like a rain cloud. It’s always been there. It just hasn’t burst yet.

I travelled up to radio for the seventh time today (one lot of whiplash but no road rage so quite a success). Hilariously the background music choice of the day was ‘White Christmas’?! Who actually vets these songs? Although it did give me a good giggle while lying there half naked being blasted with rads! I returned home to work. Trying to go into my physical work place, when I would have had to leave early and not explain where I was going, would have been a step to far today. I don’t have the capability to lie today with everything else, so decided not to break myself and take the pressure off.

I arrived home with good intentions of opening the laptop and working hard. What actually happened was tiredness. Bone tiredness that has been hovering round the edges since I found this second lump, and today I lay back down in bed and crashed out. For two hours. Ridiculous that I then feel guilty about this as I never falsely declare my time worked,  but I’m sure people think I declare my working from home as a skive. I really don’t. I am very blessed to have an understanding employer and I prioritise work where I can (don’t get me wrong – the non priority stuff is still at the bottom of a pile somewhere and will continue to be there until I get back on top).

I wake up with a couple of hours to compose myself before the man cub picks me up for the inevitable hospital appointment (it’s just a cyst, just a cyst, just a cyst). I bang in a productive few hours for work (amazing what you can do with no distractions!), and then set off for the drive to the second hospital of the day.

Tired still. Really tired. But I have this. It’s just a cyst. It’s got to be.

Had a haircut!!!

27/04/19

It’s Saturday and I am heading for a haircut!!! A haircut. An actual haircut.

I’m finding it a little funny that I am legit going for a hair appointment alongside my cub and getting hair chopped. But seriously – the fuzz is unreal. I can’t work out where I fit between a teddy bear fuzz and a new born fuzz. It’s a close call!!!

The lovely Anna gives me a ‘no guard’ shave while the cub gets her locks chopped by her best mate Nicola! The cub was on the opposite side of the mirror to me and I could hear her giggling and chatting away while I was sat still barely able to look in the mirror at myself. I am getting a little better at dealing with a mirror but being forced to look at it while my very short stumpy hair is shaved again (to tidy it up) I still find really confronting and really hard. It was a long five minutes.

Then we had a cubs party to attend too. Those big girl pants I had on yesterday are still firmly in place. This party was mine to attend as I felt relatively well (sciatica was killing me but as I had bailed the last few parties due to being ill I felt I needed to step up for this one!). I chatted with the mams like their was nothing going on, I watched my cub dance on a stage like an absolute show off (doesn’t get that from me I promise!), and maintained a pretence that all was good with life. It’s amazing really how much you can deceive people. That sounds really bad doesn’t it? But why would I possibly dump my baggage on people who only know me as the cubs mama. They don’t need that. They have their own baggage I’m sure. My baggage is my load to carry and I will do that. The cubs will also continue to play and that’s always a beautiful sight to see. As a mama it’s my job to make sure she is happy. Today she was very happy!!

Tonight though the dry cough and sciatica are jointly trying to take me down. My big girls pants are slipping off and I am digging into depths I had no idea I possessed until now. I am hopeful that I can be a third time lucky with the lump on this boob. I am sure I can be. I hope my pragmatism is well justified.

28/04/19

Sciatica has broken me today. I had to roll out of bed then make a tentative stand up this morning. I haven’t had it this bad since before I was pregnant. It was probably a quarterly occurrence (caused by the height of heels I wore at the time!) and I always walked like I had an accident to contain! This time I barely hid it round the supermarket as I complained at top volume yet the man cub still scrutinised all products down every aisle to see if he ‘needed’ something. This is why my online shopping has saved my sanity and my purse!!

The dry cough I have due to the radio is also not great today and I am trying to work out how I can deal with this when I am laid back on the gurney and have to stay still. I’m going with sucking mints religiously throughout the three minute journey. I’ll manage that!!

29/04/19

Day 5 coming at you! For Monday traffic it is an absolute breeze towards the hospital and I only get whiplash once on the way in. The radio journey of impersonality (absolute no judgement on the nurses here – they must deal with at least 80 people a day – they don’t need to be personal) continues. Get into position, wiggle about, lie very still (sucking mints so I don’t cough), hold my breath, move around, freezing cold boobs, done.

Today was hilarious though as there is music in the background (presumably to distract you) and today it was a proper club anthem from Cascada! I was literally laid on the bed but raving dancing in my head! It was the most surreal moment of radio so far. I don’t think that anyone actually thinks about or controls the songs that get piped through and I’m sure that should be thought about but for today I enjoyed it!!!

Once I’m finished I get the usual ‘have a lovely day’ parting and it makes me laugh and smile in one go. I can’t imagine what other people do when they are finished their radio appointments, but I am now off to do a 7.5 hour day at work and continue my life as if I am just being inconvenienced by a late start. Cancer is now being relegated to a back seat in my life as far as everyone I work with and live with is concerned. So it should.

Problem is, I have a very real lump to contend with and very visible results of cancer treatment that I cannot ignore. Frustrating as it is, I cannot quite shake the bloody cancer card.

Two lots of whiplash later on the return journey to work and I face a ridiculous day of meetings. Six meetings in six hours is crazy and while I know it is because my schedule isn’t helping my availability to deal with this, I also crumble a little bit today. This is not a good day. My pragmatic head is still holding onto all that is dear (and that this damn lump is a cyst) but I am being tested somewhat!

I have this though. I really do. All over it.

A beautiful day comes crashing down…

25/04/19 contd…..

Having escaped Manchester in rush hour traffic, we made it half way back up the motorway and decided to bail into a service station for an unhealthy tea (and met parentals of her little mate who had also been at the awards – we had the same idea!). We had a tired cub and very tired parents. So once we made it home the cub was bailed rapidly into her bed.

We have had the very best of days and now, randomly, watching TV to unwind, I have found another boob lump in the ‘good’ boob.

Same place as last time and the time before – which have all been cysts. But seriously, is my body and my boobs having a laugh with me. Three radio sessions in and I am on countdown mode to ending this damn journey and then this. Bollacks.

F**k my actual life.

It is a Thursday night and I know that I won’t get seen tomorrow (Friday). I’ll be lucky to get through to the department at the hospital to be honest. So I know that I’m in for a long weekend. My pragmatic head has to kick in here, and I manage to shoot it in strongly tonight. It’s a cyst. It has to be. It’s too much of a coincidence not to be. I’ve just finished chemo for gods sake. It can’t possibly be cancerous. It just can’t. I’ve 17 days left of active treatment and then I am done. I cannot do more surgery, chemo, radio. Not now. So this is just a cyst. Just a cyst. A cyst.

The man cub bails to bed, and I have stayed up as I’m wired and trying to condition my brain to deal with this latest lump as a cyst. I happen upon ‘Sex in the City’ on a random Sky channel, and it is the episode where Sam is preparing for a black tie dinner speech in front of an entire room of cancer patients. I know I laughed the first time I saw this episode aired – I mean what’s not to laugh at. But by god, it was like a tonic that I hadn’t ordered tonight. I was absolutely rolling about laughing. Living it now, with the hot sweats, the bald head, the randomness of sweating – it was so real to me and so well encapsulated in that episode. The dark humour was just what I needed.

I know that many go through this crazy menopause, whether early or as nature intended. But I don’t think it is ever talked about enough. I equated it to a scenario in my head tonight – you know when you’ve been on an air conditioned flight and step out of the plane doors onto tarmac that is 40 degrees hotter than the country you left and the sweat appears from nowhere? Yep – that’s the feeling. But it is unknown when that sweat appears. That is the frustrating bit. There is no control over when those plane doors open. Aaaaaagh.

I also realise tonight that I might actually need to do a revisit of Sam’s portrayal of the cancer journey now in ‘Sex in the City’. I don’t think I ever give it a second thought when I watched it released as was a lot younger and much more naive, but the tonic laughter I have had tonight was good. I needed that distraction.

26/04/19

Day 4 radio commences and my dad picks me up again. My headspace wasn’t great this morning so he dealt with an absolute grumpy mare. He also tested my limits with the following driving experiences:

  • Stalled as left my house – randomly.
  • ‘Is it right here’ – no Dad, it isn’t, it’s the next right, the same as it was two days ago and for the two days prior to that;
  • (on the way back out of the hospital and at the same point as the previous comment) ‘Is it left here’  – again, no Dad, it’s the next left as above!
  • (As someone attempts to cut us up) ‘I don’t know how people pass there test these days’ – no me neither Dad, me neither.
  • Three lots of whiplash at traffic lights that are changing as we approach / changed half a mile back. Through the windscreen each time regardless!

I finally got to work in one piece (just) and put the call into Pauline. I had my big girl pants on. It’s Friday, there is no way I will get seen today. I’ll deal with the weekend. It is just a cyst.

Pauline rang me back later in the afternoon and I instigated the appointment being during general clinic the next Wednesday. At 4pm. It’s going to be a long bugger of a weekend. But the plan is to bury my head in the sand, pretend everything is ok (I’m a practiced pro now) and just get on with it.

Day 4 side effects of radio are starting to kick in now though – a dry cough that feels like I’m coughing in the Sahara (radio affects your lungs which is a lovely side effect), and it’s set my sciatica off so that every time I cough I double up like an 90 year old granny. FML. I am living my best life today.

I have this. Do I? Maybe? Possibly? Oh, dammit – of course I do. I’ve had everything else so I might as well have this while I’m at it.

Day 3 Radio – A beautiful day

25/04/19

Day 3 and I am driving myself to radio! Whoop!

I need to put yesterdays Nurse debacle out of my head as I just can’t deal with it at the moment and my energies need to be focussed elsewhere. And I am still tired, so today my energy is focussed on my family and them alone.

Today is going to be an absolute trashing day. I have 8am radiotherapy, need to fly back home as quickly as traffic allows to pick up man cub and cub to then drive to an awards ceremony in Manchester.

So it turned out last week, that the cub was part of a group of eight (possibly?) little uns who had designed and made a beautiful piece (that’s all I know!) that represented showing racism the red card in football and they had been selected as winners of an award. It has taken myself and one of the other mamas a long time to get this much information, so we were still a wee bit in the dark about what is going on, but regardless we were going on a road trip!

I have had the calmest of journeys this morning. I have turned the music up loud, I cheated the traffic where I used to about seven years ago (!!), I didn’t get tooted at once, and I arrived at the hospital and managed to park the car in one swift reverse go. It was a breeze.

I’d made a fatal error again though. For ease and speed of collecting the cubs on my way back south and heading straight off to an awards event, I decided to get ‘full’ ready. Which comprised of a dress and stockings. Yep, you know the drill!!! This was not a well thought out plan and once again I was stood in a tiny cubicle staring into a full length mirror as I stripped off the dress and muttered FFS under my breath for the second time in such a scenario. I don’t seem to learn. All I can say is I had big knickers on. My only saving grace!!! Because while my bottom region is covered by the gown I still have to raise my knees and there’s a draught up there. These poor bloody radiographers. I mean, they obviously see every part off the human anatomy as cancer isn’t picky in it’s choice of location, but goodness me, you’d think I might have learned a lesson by now!

After a brisk five mins staring at the ceiling and being pulled and shoved into position, I am redressing and heading back out to get the cubs and head down the motorway an hour behind everyone else travelling and try to make it in time for an awards ceremony that we still don’t know much about. They were ready and waiting and we set off with coffee on tap!

Some three hours later and after walking a long way round a football stadium to get to the right entrance (I had helpfully managed to park in the carpark furthest away!), we made it. Security protocol piqued our thoughts that this might be an important event. Then arrival in the executive suite of the football stadium made us panic a little bit more. Turns out – this event is a yearly calendar event for ‘Show Racism the Red Card’ and is well attended by current and retired footballers who come to present awards to the kids who have submitted amazing works of art to get messages across with regard to racism. Yep – we were not suitably suited or booted for the occasion and mild panic had set in. Thankfully we had allies in another set of parents (who were suitably suited) to hide us from the shame!

Also, anxiety had kicked in big style. I have managed to cope with most new environments as they are always somewhat familiar – whether that be through the people I am meeting, or the location being local. This was neither. And I still look like utter crap. Bald (of the patchy variety, not the fashionable variety), no eyebrows, no eyelashes, puffy face, pale as dishwater, a bit bloated everywhere and pure chemo brain where the brain doesn’t quickly connect words anymore so I look like a bumbling idiot. And here I am, in a room full of strangers, looking my worst on a random Wednesday (!) and trying to supress that; as today is not about me, it is about my cub. This feeling is so alien to me. I really struggle with how to deal with it, but after a good half hour chat about general life with one of the other mamas I feel a wee bit ‘normal’ again, and less like other people might be looking at me. I mean, they may well be, they may well not be. But I’d stopped thinking about it so much which is something.

A stadium tour later for the man cubs and cubs (read that it was blatantly the man cubs who enjoyed it more), some fan swooning and photo opportunities with minor celebs and famous footballers the award part of the day kicked off. It was beautiful. Now our little cubs were in the first category and the hosts went to great efforts not to mention ‘first’ or ‘third’ prize which was so lovely. Off our little treasures marched to receive their bags of goodies (the cub is now the proud owner of a full blown – socks included – Celtic strip and her dada couldn’t be bloody happier!). What proceeded thereafter was a two hour award ceremony, no breaks, no let up, of awards for every age group in schools across the country, while footballers and those in the football industry added in flavours and thoughts on racism in the game. As adults my bottom started getting twitchy an hour in. For the five year olds, they were amazing. They managed (in the main) to stay fairly quiet and found distraction techniques between them (face pulling and blowing spit bubbles at one point!) to get through. But what an amazing day.

I think this was the first time the man cub and I have dealt with public recognition for what our cub has done (I mean I’m always super proud of her but I am biased as hell!). I’ve never felt pride like it and I know that there will be many times in her life that I am going to cry a lot more than I did today. But god, her stood there in her school uniform that is still way too big for her but they don’t do a smaller size, her hair wild as she takes after her mamas crazy curly locks (when I had hair!), her innocence about the magnitude of the message in what they had produced (see for yourself in the image above), and just general nonchalance of her surroundings. I could burst with utter pride.

As we left the stadium in torrential rain and headed to the car that I had parked ‘miles’ away (I took the blame, I had no choice, the man cub reminded me of it frequently), the cub was so excited and chattering so much about the day, that the trashing journey, the organisation of dealing with the trip, the break from the norm, the severe anxiety, the guilt that I wasn’t firing on all cylinders, was all forgotten in that instance.

We had an amazing day and we were going to remember this for a long time.

Radio – Day 2 (and healthcare lets me down….)

24/04/19

Day 2 of radio, and the early morning start was standard. As was the driving. Just today, we had a bit of passive aggressive road rage! In a spot that I used to drive every day for three years, and had already pre-warned my dad that in all likelihood, during the 20 days we spent travelling this journey he would have to suck it up when someone cheated the traffic, or he could join the cheaters. He chose to not join the cheaters but then lost his temper when one did try to cheat (and succeeded may I add!). Cue horn tooting which led to window wipers going off – both front and back, full beam on and indicators left and right which likely confused/annoyed all of those around us more than the cheating car that was now a good mile in front and oblivious of this chaos! We then proceeded to spend another ten minutes of the journey with the back window wiper going on intermittently as he didn’t know how to turn it off. Give me strength. A lot of it.

Radio done today and I now feel like a pro two days in. My dad and I both need a coffee when we arrive (he even told me today to pick up a loyalty card!), he sits and reads his paper/book while I go through to the inner waiting room, whip into a changing room, top half clothing off, gown on, horizontal pose, get pulled about into place and then get abandoned for approx four mins – in this time I get two big blasts (starting to time them now) on my boob, then I get re-positioned slightly and then get one short blast on my neckline. And that’s me done. Off I go with my day.

Today, I have an emergency appointment sorted at the Doctors to get another batch of the contraceptive pill. Now I have anticipated no issues. I continued to take the pill right up until I started chemotherapy, as advised by my Consultant and Oncologist as my cancer wasn’t hormone related. As soon as chemo was finished and I saw my Oncologist and checked if I could start back up again – no problem. While it is very likely that I am going through the menopause  and that chemo would have made me infertile due to not taking any fertility drugs to suppress my ovaries (this area of chemo is a minefield), I still don’t want any accidents to happen.

I resumed the tablets where I left off, but what I had forgotten was that I get a yearly prescription and this runs from December to December – because I stopped taking it in November and restarted at the back end of March, I only had a months worth left. So blind panic this week when I realised on Monday I was about to run out. Hence the emergency appointment today with a nurse.

I arrived at the surgery this afternoon and proceeded to watch the nurse who was due to see me pass across the waiting room twice, while I just sat there like an obedient child waiting to be called in. Now at this point I should also point out that this nurse hadn’t scored highly in my niceness chart from a previous interaction. I had taken the cub down when she was little as she had a rash and was advised on the phone to pop down. It was the middle of winter, we had walked down (fifteen minute walk) so we were dressed for the middle of winter. As soon as we arrived it must have been a quiet day as we were called straight in to the appointment, so the cub was still wrapped up like a fractured skull. As I explained to said nurse what was wrong while removing clothes, she stated ‘well she’s going to be too hot in all of that which would surely aggravate any rash’. Woooooo. Kept my calm, but only just.

So I wasn’t looking forward to this encounter, but thought it surely couldn’t be that bad. A quick blood pressure check, the usual health questions and I would be off to the pharmacy with a prescription for a year.

Nope. That scenario was not to be.

Upon being called into the room, I was immediately met with ‘you can’t have the contraceptive pill’. Completely blindsided, I turned into a bumbling 12 year old girl and stuttered ‘why’? I could already feel my temperature rising and fury building. So apparently, some ‘Gold standard regulations’ stated that contraceptive pills could not be issued to those with breast cancer. Now bear in mind – there are numerous (and I don’t have Google to consult but I’m going to knock out 50 for a starter) types of breast cancer, but this Gold standard just states that ‘no’ breast cancer patient can have the contraceptive pill. Bear in mind I also have a letter, held on file with the doctor, that states clearly that I can resume the contraceptive pill (all of my hospital letters are copied to the doctors surgery).

After the nurse had patronised me more thoroughly by trying to show me the ‘Gold standard’ bollacks on her screen, and then telling me that the letter from my very well educated (compared to her) Oncologist wasn’t enough for her to release medication, I asked what I could do now. The response – ‘use condoms’ wasn’t well received. At this point I had tears in my eyes, mainly out of frustration and fury. I stated that I was well aware of contraceptive methods (I mean, I’m not 12) and that wasn’t what I meant by the question. She started saying that I could have a coil fitted but by this point I had zoned so far out due to red mist mist that I decided to leave. I stood up, walked towards the  door, with no words said, and it took everything, (I still don’t know how I did it), absolutely everything I had not to slam the door; however I did close it with some purpose.

I left the surgery in absolute fury. I have never felt so out of control of my own treatment in my life, and I have spent the last six months having other people tell me what would happen. At no point in all of my cancer treatment have I felt out of control, and I have pretty much been led down a garden path by someone else most of the time without feeling like I’ve been ambushed. It also endlessly baffles me that people who have not a caring bone in their body are in a position that is supposed to be caring. I mean, I do not have the capability to do it – which is exactly why I don’t do a role that requires it. But this bloody Nurse has chosen her occupation and then still acts like a sanctimonious **** (insert any word here as I used them all).

However, later on this evening, once I have shouted the ears off the man cub, I realised there is a bigger problem here. If this ‘Gold standard’ says that I shouldn’t be taking the pill, what could have been the damage by me taking it back when I was diagnosed and resuming it when chemo finished for the last month? I also realised that my consultant had also mentioned that I could resume the pill – so two people who are well qualified in the field of cancer have said I can take it. WTAF. I am also left in absolute limbo and don’t know what to do. Bad thing? Minor thing? Not to worry thing?

 

I don’t have this one, and I am channelling all of my psychologist coping mechanisms but still don’t have it. Aaaaagh……

Another Day 1 – Radiotherapy starts

22/04/19

Got to love a late Easter Bank Holiday Monday! The man cub has had to work so the cub and I get to spend the day as a twosome. It takes me back to maternity leave and our precious time being a two woman team. We ruled the world! She has way more chat and way more sass as a five year old now, but I bloody love spending one on one time with her. Work and house get forgotten as we spend an afternoon in the park (in a bizarre outfit of shorts and a fleece as the weather is that deceiving sunny but chilly level).

We had a wee chat earlier about the fact that I am back at hospital tomorrow and that Daddit (I absolutely love this naming from her) will be taking me out of the house before she even wakes most days. She got a wee bit upset. She still associates hospital with the scar on my boob and the fact that I lost hair (so no positives there!), so isn’t keen on the fact I am going back daily for a period of time. When I said it was only ‘four weeks’ she responded with ‘that’s absolutely agggggeeeeees mama’. Cheers pet. I know that. I was just ignoring the fact it was bloody ages!!

Bed beckons as I am about to deal with another Day 1. But this one marks the beginning of the end. I’m nearly there. I cannot describe the trepidation but relief at the same time. The countdown is real.

23/04/19

6.10am – Morning!!!! Day 1 of Radiotherapy!!!

Good god, I hate an unearthly hour. I have never (and let’s be clear WILL never) be an early bird. But here I am, perky as a button, making sandwiches for the man cub after being showered and dressed ready for the next stage. A new hospital is about to welcome me for 20 days. A new Reception desk, a new waiting area and certainly a new ‘room’ that I am going to become best friends with! I also have to get through my dad driving me like a child again. Hmmmmm.

So, dad turned up at 7am, 10mins after the cub had managed to wake herself up (I’m going with she had a sixth sense of anticipation!). She launched herself at him as he walked through the door, still smelling of sleep and sour breath and PJ dressed! The happiness of this helped me though. If she could deal with the happiness that she was going to see her daddit every morning, maybe it might take the edge off her dealing with the fact it was because I was going to hospital? I’m going to see if this might work!

Then we set off. Let me explain – I am an absolute pain in the arse of a passenger driver in any instance. The man cub spends a lot of time while he drives telling me to stop hitting the ‘imaginary’ brakes. So as I got in the car with my dad, to drive me twenty odd miles to a new hospital, in rush hour traffic, I should have known I was in bother. Real bother. (P.P.S. My dad is also now in his 70’s. Smarter and brighter than I am on a good day but (hmmm) always a chance there could be an off day).

We set off from home, and within ten minutes, I was ducking (IN THE CAR!) from a bus that could have taken the car out as we pulled in front of it, cringing at the blatant cut up on a merge lane of another car (seriously if I had been them a lot of expletives would have been issued) and mild whiplash as we stopped at an ‘Amber’ light very promptly. As explained this is local rush hour traffic and I need to get across all of it to get to the chosen hospital that will deliver me rays. So I smiled nicely. And internally exhaled loudly. I spent a lot of the inward journey wondering how for 20 days I could make this work while retaining my sanity – could I book a hotel room (maybe a YHA – cheap as chips?) and just ‘live out’ for a few weeks? Maybe I could ‘hire a car’ – surely that would be cheap?! Maybe I could get on my dads insurance and just drive myself?

Do you know what. All of it sounds ungrateful as F. And by the time we had got to the hospital I had a strong word and sucked up any negativity with my dada’s driving and went with appreciation. I was there. I was at the hospital. On time. And I was about to start my first radiotherapy session. Bring it on.

So, what radio (shortening this as it is a long word to type each time!) sessions look like – they are short. Swift. Impersonal. Pain in the arse. Give your body over to professionals. I have to strip half naked. Then the teeny weeny tattoos that I now have need to line up to a laser machine. To get this alignment I need to lie on a gurney (feels like it might as well be) with arm and leg stirrups. I need to be in a perfect position each and every time this position needs to be maintained for three to five minutes. A lot of numbers – length, breadth, height, width, up, down, left and right, are read out. These all have to be in pure alignment. All of this while I am half naked from the waist up. Good God, I thought having a child was the last time I would just hand my body over to medical professionals. How wrong I was.

But I still have this journey. I am absolutely determined too. I am so close now.

Motivational speakers and radiotherapy prep!!!

20/04/19

Sometime back in February I happened upon a notification that Ant Middleton (him of SAS Who Dares Wins fame) was touring. What struck me at the time was what could he be possibly ‘touring’? He was ex SAS personnel who now appeared on TV every year for a series where he made people test their physical limits. I admit I was confused and intrigued to know what he could possibly be ‘touring’ with? Don’t get me wrong, I was a fan of his no nonsense approach, his can do attitude, his nonacceptance of failure, an expectation that the job needed to be done and it always would be. His ability to be straight talking had also endeared him to me – in most walks of life it’s frowned upon to tell someone to ‘sort your s”t out or f”k off’. I often envied that honesty to just get to the point!!

After a quick search, I realised he was touring as a motivational speaker and my interest piqued. This man, who I observed as an absolute machine, fit for purpose in his own environment, was delivering a motivational speech? It intrigued me. So much so, I bought tickets immediately on a whim. When I informed the man cub I watched the same scepticism in his eyes. Would this be any good? Were we wasting time and money? What would we get out of this?

Ever the optimists that we are, we have turned up today for the matinee show. Radiotherapy is due to start on Tuesday, a brutal 20 day regime (excluding weekends!) so it feels good to be out out! Queueing up with the most bizarre range of audience members I have ever seen – they ranged from the father and son bonding, older men looking to relive military days (I surmised), couples like us who like the man on the TV so lets see what he has to offer in straight talking real life, and the Hen Do that happened to take up the entire row behind where we sat (of course they did – such is our luck) – we still had a small level of scepticism.

The tour was called Mind over Muscle. And boy, did it have us on the edge of our seats for the entirety. Once the fan girls behind us had got over their swooning and were three drinks in so weren’t listening but drooling, I was able to concentrate on the content. My take home points have been this:

  • Mind over muscle – makes absolute sense when it is explained well
  • Fear should equal excitement
  • Failure equals learning
  • Integrity is a moral compass
  • Make a positive out of any negative
  • You need to know yourself and recognise your weakness

These are just a few of the quotes that stood out from the two hour show and don’t even begin to touch the edges of how inspiring I found those two hours. I have just walked out of a venue and had my mindset questioned, my challenges seem more surmountable in some ways. I can feel an energy in both of us that we have felt wane through this damn cancer journey that we have been on so far. I feel like I can deal with the next stage of this journey – radiotherapy – with a renewed vigour.

I honestly have never paid to see an inspirational speaker before in my 40 years of life. Today has felt odd, inspiring, a little bit weird, and enlightening all in one go! I’m pretty sure I would have booked tickets anyway to see this show regardless of the current situation we are in. But would I have found it as amazing – probably. Would I have taken so much to heart and still be talking about it five hours later with the OH – probably. Will I keep looking back on this and trying to instil some of this belief system and learning into my life – probably. Would it have had such a profound impact on me – probably not. I guess that’s the point I’m trying to make. In the majority of things we have done and dealt with over the last nine months we would have probably lived the same way, done things with the same outcome and tackled things head as a team like we always do. But there is always a point where we have been tipped. Either a little bit off kilter or over the edge in some instances. That is when we have had to find strength that we haven’t had to find before.

I am quite proud of us though. We have found a strength that we didn’t know we had. I can resonate with some of the messages from today and can apply them to some of the crazy situations we have been in. I feel like we have done good. We also have a cub who is doing good. Surely that can only be a positive.

There is just a small matter of 20 (week) days to get through from Tuesday (goddamn you Easter Bank Holiday Monday!). 20 days of a mission of a journey each day, a 10 min blast of radiotherapy, a mission of a journey back to work and then an eight hour work day, collect the cub from school, normality of bed time routine, rinse and repeat. Twenty times. 20. It feels better to write the number than the whole word. Just 20.

21/04/19

So after an amazing and inspiring day yesterday I have got off my backside and plodded out with my boots on to continue preparation for my 26 mile hike. My second practice walk. My lovely work colleagues have already started their practice miles which I just didn’t feel up to and have nine mile route booked in next weekend so I want to try and make that. If they can practice then I need to feel like I am also doing something. Bear in mind I have done only one previous walk of 4.26 miles (in April, with the parentals and cub so it was slow and meandering!) and no other physical activity of any degree (my walk to work is up a steep hill which last two minutes!) since active treatment started.

Today though, I marched (I mean marched) out with the parentals. I mean, they dragged me out to be precise. If they hadn’t been persuasive then I would have probably (easily) left it another week before I built up to anything. But no. They plotted a route that started and ended at my house and I put the Strava on to measure my success.

I have achieved 6.45 miles. In two hours. Wow. On a very flat and sedentary route. We dealt with nothing harder than some barbed wire fencing that wasn’t supposed to be there and no hills in sight. The 26 mile route has hills. And when I say hills I mean mountains. And when I say mountains I mean vertical uphills and downhills. So this walk was pathetic. How am I going to do 26 miles? What am I even thinking I can achieve here.

I have no idea. But if the last two days have taught me anything I can use mind over muscle and fear should lead to excitement. So I am just going to channel that right now and say I have this. I really do!