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.

Bitch and tired, tired and a bitch.

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07/03/19

Today I took a days leave from work to go to a ‘Living with and after Cancer’ event. What even is this doing in my life? I awkwardly sat at a table at the back (of course I did!) and then random people joined me and I had to pretend I wanted to talk to strangers. Why am I so bloody socially awkward. The day was set up with some talk from ‘inspirational’ people and in their own way they were. A girl was up first who hadn’t lost her hair, but as a hairdresser she had seen some bad wigs, so now her main hairdressing business is working with girls who need nice wigs. It felt though that I was watching some free promotion in play.

Next up, there was a talk on exercise and how good it is for the body. No shock there – as a mid grown adult I’ve pretty much known that exercise was good for me since I was six. The presentation continued with somebody who used to carry a lot of weight and now is a fitness queen and promoting her business. Yep – I’m in full on bitch mode.

Then my Clinical Psychologist stood up and did his mindfulness session and had the whole room close their eyes and do the breathing exercise that I last did in my 121 session him. I couldn’t close my eyes, but watched as a whole conference room of people sat with their eyes shut and bought into the experience. It was surreal.

Lunch saved me, then the afternoon was in some smaller break out sessions where I sat and listened to the CEO of a company that was set up to support those with cancer. I reverted to bitch and couldn’t help but think that she wasn’t not paying herself. By this point I felt like I was in a promotional machine and cynical business head wondered how much these companies would have paid to get the advertising that they had had today. God, bitch mode was in full play here.

The day was saved by Bobby Moncur doing a talk in the final slot. He talked about his diagnosis with cancer of the colon and then seven years later oesophageal cancer. He was so humble, so real and so honest with his attitude. When the floor was opened for Q&A’s a few people got some cheeky football questions! It amused me. But then, someone asked how his family had coped. And by god, a room full of people watched him break. He struggled to compose himself before answering and then said the most honest thing anyone can say – he didn’t know. Do you know what – I get it. At no point will I ever understand how my family and those closest to me feel, watching me do this journey. I know it hurts them, upsets them and shakes them up; I also know that they won’t ever fully let on to that as they think I am going through enough and don’t need their emotional baggage as well. I get all of this. But I want to help them too. I want them to know that I am there with them. We are all sad, we all didn’t want to do this journey. But I wouldn’t do it with a more loyal group of folk in my corner.

Tonight, on the phone to my mother, I was trying to explain how shit I feel. I have a spot on the end of my nose (couldn’t make this shit up) and the last thing I need when this purely medicinal part of the journey is over is my boobs sorted out. I’m bald, I have no eyebrows, no eyelashes, scars in my nose as I have no hairs (so nosebleeds aplenty!), spots on my chin. My boobs are way down on my list of things I would like to sort once this crap is done.  It still weighs on my mind that it is an option I will need to consider, but by, it’s not something I can deal with now.

08/03/19

Back in work today and one of my lovely colleagues actually told me I looked like shit! I mean, she grimaced when she said it, but she said it!!!! I’d started the day at 8:30 and I was in pretty much solid meetings through to 17:00 and I accepted I probably did look like worse than shit today. I am tired, fifth chemo is catching up with me and I am exhausted beyond anything even being a mama to a newborn does to you. I still remember that first year (I don’t do well without sleep!) and I remember being obsessed with the number of minutes sleep I had (note I said minutes and not hours because some nights it could be added up to just minutes!).

This current exhaustion is so different. Its not sleep deprivation – I could sleep for lots of hours and still feel tired – this tiredness is in my bones, in my core, in my brain. I’ve known nothing like it. My entire body is tired and I’ve known nothing like it.

But I’ll still keep trying to have this. I’m tired, but I have this.

Radiotherapy is coming for me!

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01/03/19

So after the relief of the result on Wednesday (lump was a cyst, drained and disappeared!), and a half day at work on Day 9 (remember Day 9 I should be hibernating and this was the agreement with the man cub – I am stretching it now as I haven’t had any issues, but I can’t push it too far) I booted the man cub and cub out the door for school and went back to bed until 1pm. Eeeek, how bloody lazy!! I mean, I have then done the dishes, hoovered and wiped the bathroom (can’t help myself) but done nothing else and still feel really flat. There is no emotion – just middle ground, no high, no low.

The postman had a lovely job today delivering my Radiotherapy invite to kickstart that process. Seventeen pages of information and five pages of side effects. I haven’t read that. It feels like Google and I have had a bit of flick but nothing too in depth. I mean, I am going to live this – I don’t need to read it do I?! I have lived this whole journey slightly blind, trusting in the NHS and the professionals who I put all my belief in to do their job well. I haven’t felt the need to start searching for information, solutions, changes to my life. Today is no different. The paperwork is filed away with the rest of my letters which are getting to a nice pile for the recycling one day.

03/03/19

Lazy like Sunday mornings – the cub has asked for a PJ day! Who am I to argue about that. I love it, and we chill out, laze around, watch some cubs TV and play a lot of games. Today was also a gift in the form of another mama. She offered to take the cub next weekend for a play date (without me!) – if I drop the cub off, she’ll drop her back here. Full afternoon of freedom (and its pre chemo and rugby weekend so will be feeling better than usual and cheering on the Scots! We may be a little bit squiffy next weekend!).  It is the nicest offer in the world though.

While a lot of people have said that they would take the cub for a play date I always feel insanely awkward approaching the subject directly. How do I even go about that – ‘will you please babysit my cub so I can have a few hours break’? All of that sentence jars with me – I’m turfing my cub out of her own house so I can selfishly have a break from her, bearing in mind I see so little of her anyway working full time/dealing with hospital appointments and then I want to see even less of her. The guilt of all of this eats me away sometimes.

Then tonight I have randomly broke. Huge sobbing tears as I walked past a picture from our holiday last August of the three of us. A holiday at the time I said was marred by cancer. Little did I know that it was the least of my worries at that point and at the time it wasn’t by any stretch the worst part of this journey. I wonder if I will ever get to the point where I can identify  which part is the worst. Thinking back to that holiday now in a different headspace, it seems silly that I was so hung up on the cancer that was in me, that it was small, that it was operable and could be removed.

I never anticipated in that smiling family photo the future – I was too busy dwelling on my own self pity – I didn’t realise how badly I would be scarred by this. In more ways than two surgeries, five chemos, two broken veins, baldness, sore skin, poorly eyes, tired muscles and random breakdowns!! Also the fact that my cub now thinks a Sunday PJ day is a norm rather than a treat. God love her. What has tipped me over the edge even more after looking at the family photo, I’ve got no memory photos lining up my phone history. Because we’ve done all the PJ days (and I have an adverse reaction to any camera as my baldness is so unattractive to me) we haven’t done as much in our off days, even whether that be doing a park run up the lane, a walk round the woods or something more exciting. Every time my timehop reminds me what we were doing a year ago or more, I get upset all over again. But I can’t change it so need to decide what to do about it. I know that we don’t have to ‘do’ things to make memories, but I still feel guilty that I have been more than useless with this and that my gorgeous baby girl is getting less of me than she deserves.

04/03/19

I have another bad night tonight, closely following last night feels like it all ties in and I haven’t dealt with last nights wallowing before I career into tonight. I HATE having no hair. I am so sad I have no hair. I can’t look in the mirror (I avoid mirrors at all cost). I don’t put on makeup anymore at all (I mean what is the point if I don’t have eyelashes?). I haven’t taken a single photo with the cub without my woolly hat on (and even then there still aren’t many).

There are positives, I don’t have to make an effort about straightening (used to add a good half hour to my morning routine), blow drying (twice a week – the advantages of crazy thick hair), tweezering stray eyebrow hairs, waxing and shaving (saved a fortune on these products). But I have also never felt so unattractive. I was no supermodel, but I could live with that. Now I feel less somehow, its strange because internally all I hear is my own voice and that hasn’t changed. But then the cub will stroke my head and I remember I’m bald. Christ, bald. I HATE it. I have no idea how the man cub is dealing with looking at me every day. Ugh. This day has also ended on an absolute low.

But I am going to get through this. I am sure I will. I’ve got this. It’s just getting harder to have all of this.