Monday, 31 January 2011

The cat came too

What a lovely day - very cold but deliciously warm golden sunshine. We went for a walk around this afternoon, along the lane through Back Wood, back up the track beside the new plantation, along the top, through the gate and down someone's drive (it's a public footpath). When we got to the hill a drain cleaning lorry was doing its thing and making a horrible noise so we cut back through the Wicks and ended back in the lane.

All the time Simba our cat walked with us. Well, that's not strictly true - he kept a good 20 yard gap as if he was a child and pretending he wasn't with us. When we stopped he stopped and with a nonchalant tilt of the head sniffed a twig or examined a leaf, as much to say, "you might think I'm following you but actually I'm doing my own thing". It's the second time he's done that - he followed us one day on the same route when it had been snowing. I remember that when he was amongst the bracken he was almost impossible to see being white and ginger.

I looked at my watch when we got home - 45 minutes of good walking and lots of deep breathing, so the rowing machine can take a break today.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

Row, row, row

Lazy Sunday eh? I found I was still in bed at 9.30 am which was somewhat of a surprise since I've often 'run out of sleep' by 7 am recently. It must all be part of the healing process. From feeling a little bit fatigued a week ago, I'm now quite confident that I've managed to get the old haemoglobin levels up to more or less where they should be. Liver, spinach and various other iron-bearing foods have been playing a large part in my diet again and today I am rewarded by nice roses in my cheeks after the 10 minutes spent on my rowing machine. My feeling of well-being was confirmed by the fact that just 10 minutes seemed quite an easy target (it hadn't been the last time I tried it when I wasn't aware that there was anything 'up' with me). If felt good to be doing something really quite physically arduous and to be breathing deeply as recommended by that friend (thanks, you know who you are).

Friday, 28 January 2011

A bit of skirt and resolution

Found I was too busy to post earlier today and have already had a telling off! I spent a couple of hours this morning operating on a lovely floor-length linen-mix multi-panelled charity-shop-sourced skirt. I've had it for a couple of years and though it was purporting to be a size 18, it drowned me. There just hasn't been much time for sewing until now so today I bit the bullet and took off the shaped yoke and the side zip, cut a good four inches out of the side seams and reassembled the skirt into what I suspect is now a true size 18. (Note to self: must remember to get on the scales and see what I weigh these days.)

Had a message from a distant friend through a third party today. I've got to do some lung exercise - yes, I knew I really ought to. Walking halfway up the hill each day doesn't really pass for proper aerobic exercise* so I'm now resolved to do 10 minutes on the rowing machine that's tipped up forgotten in the corner of a bedroom. I'm writing about it here because by the time you have all read about it, I'm going to feel really guilty if I don't do the exercise.

*I've always thought that aerobic exercise is a daft name, because if you respire without oxygen you get cramp!!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Positive vibes rule OK

It's official - as far as breast cancer is concerned at least - and I can't believe it's any different for other types.

"Good friends and family are vital aids in helping women recover from breast cancer, a new study has found. Women with high levels of “social well-being” in the first year after diagnosis cut their risk of the disease returning by 48%, and were 38% less likely to die.

Dr Meira Epplein, who carried out the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survivor Study, said: “Social well-being in the first year after diagnosis is an important prognostic factor for breast cancer recurrence or death.” Dr Epplein said the findings could improve future treatment. However, by the third year a support network lost its power to heal."

I guess by the third year everyone's got used to the status quo and those strong vibes aren't flowing quite as strongly. But what an encouraging piece of research. Thanks everyone - keep the vibes coming please.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

CT Scan

Up early this morning and arrived at MK hospital in good time which meant that I was already scanned by the actual appointment time. First I had to strip down to knickers and put on a gown, then lie on a bench which moves in and out through a lozenged-shaped piece of equipment. My chest, liver and thyroid gland were to be scanned.

I long ago decided that such tunnels were potentially claustrophobic, so I always close my eyes. I had to take a deep breathe and hold it a couple of times. A second scan was done after some sort of contrast agent was injected into a vein in my arm. After that I dressed and had to wait 15 minutes with the cannula still in my arm, just in case of a bad reaction to the contrast agent. Once that was removed we were off home. Now before you ask, you never get scan results immediately. I'm seeing the oncologist next week and that's when he'll give me an interpretation of what the scan shows.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Slimline me

Many of you reading this won't have seen me recently and maybe have a vision of a shaven headed gaunt figure. Nothing could be further from the truth. No-one apart from me seems to notice the hair loss - it's got thinner but it's still long and it's certainly not time to cut it yet. As for the chunky frame, well it's still chunky but it's changed. I've lost what I can only describe as blubber from my upper arms, my bottom and my thighs - which has probably left me a size and a half smaller on the lower torso. At the moment loss from the bust is minimal so I think less size-loss from the top half.

This weight loss is not as a result of the illness nor the treatment but due to my virtually fat-free and refined sugar-free existence. With one or two odd exceptions I've eaten very little bread, cake, bisuits or sweet puddings for the past couple of months. I rarely drink coffee or tea - and when I do it's a real treat. Even the glass of medicinal red wine has been sacrified. The results are very pleasing but I now have the dilemma over whether to start taking in my clothes, whether to buy new ones or whether to just hold on a while and see if I continue to lose blubber. There's still a fair bit to be lost around the tummy area even though I'm now acquainted again with my waist - and it's been a long time!

I've never been very bothered about food until now and what is most surprising is that - apart from the three or four days each 21 when I feel 'icky and horrid - I spend a lot of time thinking about food and planning the next meal. We've eaten like kings recently and hubby's been hard put to get into the kitchen, let alone cook a meal. But as I don't want you to have the image of me as a paragon of virtue, let me spill the beans on last night's dreadful excess. We had visitors who brought their Chinese take-away with them. I really fancied the odd spoonful (even though we'd eaten only a couple of hours earlier) but I'm not allowed takeaway food - it says so in my chemo passport. So instead I gorged through nearly the whole bag of prawn crackers. Now that can't have done me any good at all.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Frog skin

There is one thing I have noticed about my skin since starting this treatment; it's rather unwelcome and reminds me of my maternal grandfather. He had tight, shiny skin on the backs of his hands; it was mottled by browny-orange-spots - age spots (or liver spots as they are often known, though they have nothing to do with the liver apparently). My grandfather when sitting in his armchair used to rub the middle fingers of each hand continuously on the wooden arms of his chair. Over the years he'd rubbed away the varnish and was now working on the wood. I can recall as a child being both revolted and transfixed by his taut sinewy mottled flesh which I thought looked just like a frog's skin.

Now as I gaze down at my hands there are unmistakeably enhanced brown age spots. They were there all along but now they are larger, brighter and determined to make their appearance more apparent. I blame the chemo but maybe it has nothing do with it, since apparently age spots are a result of sun damage. Horror of horror I can also see that I'm developing them on my face too.

Then I do a reality check; let's face it I'm no spring chicken. How old would my grandfather have been when I remember all this, soon after he retired? Sixty-four, that's only three years older than I am now. He seemed so old but actually he wasn't. Time's a funny thing eh?

Friday, 21 January 2011

Twittering and warm rays

Just been for a lovely walk, up and round the hill, calling in at a friends' house on the way past. Birds are starting to call flirtatiously, bulbs are springing and the sun was quite incredibly warm, given that it only just makes it above the hill at this time of year.

I've looked back at the same point last dose and see that my physical state was very similar and that it was about this time that I started to feel quite energetic again. Walking uphill does leave me a little bit more breathless than I expected. It's nothing to do with lungs I feel; more to do with red blood cells - there not being quite as many as usual to carry the oxgen around.

I may not be posting every day because I'm quite busy, but also because there's not necessarily any more I can tell you; so don't get alarmed by my absence here. If there's any news, rest-assured I'll post it.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

A little trip out

I've only driven a couple of times in the past month, not because I can't but because of my self-imposed infection-avoiding purdah, so it was a strange feeling to get back into the car again. I popped up to Stony today to have lunch with one of our daughters which gave me an opportunity to collect various items of mail which had been delivered to the two addresses I recently occupied. My immune system is probably compromised at this time so I was anxious not to enter stuffy rooms nor encounter the hacking-coughing or virus-ridden. So it was a very brief run in and run out activity but I met loads of people who seemed extremely pleased to see me and I came away with yet more flowers. Our house has been blessed with the most lovely floral displays non-stop since November; thank you friends.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Just the juice

I'm terribly busy again today but managed to find time and energy to walk to the top of the hill and see the good 'ol boys preparing the new churchyard hedge for laying. It was wonderful to have the sun's rays on me too and I stopped both on the way up and on the way down just to feel the warmth and appreciate the vitamin D.

I've completely fogotten to tell you about my juicer. I've had it a few days now but because I felt icky and my taste was funny, I couldn't enthuse about carrot juice and didn't make any until today. It's quite a thick juice with a surprisingly sweet full flavour. Some of the carrot gets wasted which worries me and cleaning up the appliance takes about ten times longer than the juicing. But I'm led to believe that juiced vegetables are better absorbed, so I will persevere.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Too busy to blog

Today I've walked halfway up the hill to post box, done a little gardening, done a little vacuuming and some dusting, had a meeting and not even sat down once to dose in the chair. I've simply too busy to blog. You can tell I'm feeling so much better. It could well be down to yesterday's Reiki.

Monday, 17 January 2011


They warn you about having a strange taste, a metallic one. What you're not warned about is the change in sense of smell. My perception of smells has changed incredibly; my receptors seem to be more receptive and any odour - even some that normally I would find pleasant - is amplified and distorted. This means that what might be a pleasant fragrance is distasteful to me and bad smells - well they are horrendous!If last time is anything to go by it will only last a few days - thank goodness.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

A new dawn

It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do and today I'm feeling physically much much better. A small amount of porridge, some grapes and an apple have successfully boosted my energy levels. Even though I felt quite horrible at times yesterday, my spirits were nevertheless been fine; which can't really be said for the same time last dose. Though I must admit to shedding one or two real tears at Nigel Pargetter's funeral this morning. I'm not sure what that was about.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Counting chickens

I spoke a little too soon I fear. Nausea has been the order of the day, despite the anti-nausea drugs. It's difficult to get the timing right, to take the tablet at a time when I'm not feeling too bad. Vomiting the drugs rather defeats the object! Look away now reader if talk of vomit should distress you. When it happens it's not that bad and usually just involves recently sipped water.

Today I dozed through the morning and watched a very long historical drama resulting in the heroine ending in the hero's arms - aaawwwww.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Day three

I'm very suprised not to be feeling worse three days in. But it's as if my body has said: "ah - this again", and has promptly got on with dealing with whatever it has to do without as much objection as last time. Admittedly I slept through much of yesterday's daytime television - just as well given most of the content - and dozed throught the evening too. I then slept a good night's sleep. I'm just slightly aware that there's a battle going on in my stomach between the reflex that would have me vomit and the drugs that prevent it, but it's just an awareness, nothing more. Of course this time I'm more prepared and have taken the drugs before - as opposed to after the event!

Mental and emotional functions are fine which is another thing that surprises me. I did experience a real downer last time at about this point. But it didn't last long and I was soon thinking very positively again. I'm sure one must expect these sorts of wobbles but mercifully I've been free of them most of the time and if anything my resolve to beat this is increasing all the time. I have no pain, the odd twinge below the shoulder blade seems to be missing at the moment and I don't even have a cough to speak off.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Back home again *

It all went to plan in the end and we arrived back in the middle of the afternoon. Today I'm feeling slightly strange again, not suprisingly, but sufficiently motivated to do a bit of research into the abbreviations in my chemo passport and to find out how my blood test results relate to the norm. Unfortunately the magnesium results are not in the booklet so I can't see what happened there.

Hb signifying Haemoglobin shows that my level was slightly lower than the norm before I had my first course - that's something I'm surprised about given the diet I'd been following. It's down a tad again even after the spinach and liver. WBC indicates White Blood Cells and I was in the normal range both last time and this. Plts stands for Platelets and I'm doing well with those. Neutrophils are apparently the most common type of white blood cell making up about 50-70% of all white blood cells. They can ingest other cells though they do not survive the act and are the first immune cells to arrive at a site of infection. These were not measured before my first dose, but are well within the normal range now. So I guess it's more spinach and liver and perhaps a nice steak in a few days when the danger of sickness has passed.

For those of you who were wondering about the pink folders, I asked the question yesterday. They have a range of different colours, and yes, nice nurse Sue told me that she does save the vivid pink ones for the girls!

*Title of a wonderful song recorded by the Living Archive Band

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Glad tidings of great joy

I did ask. "what if the blood test result is erroneous?" I had found it hard to believe that I could feel so well with such a potentially dangerous magnesium level. It turns out that a second test showed the level to be normal after all. So the hourly observations for blood pressure, temperature and blood oxygen level along with the drip were stopped at 2am and thereafter I slept very well until 6am by which time activities on the ward were well underway.

I have checked out of my room and am now in the chemo day room starting on the first drip which is the hydration. With good luck and no hold-ups I should be back home late afternoon.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Here we are

The corridors and  the doors of my accommodation  - complete with ensuite loo and shower - are adorned with' no mobile phone' posters however a check with two members of staff (to be sure to be sure) reveal that the rule is generally disregarded. Hence I should be able to keep you up-to-date from here. The technology is a bit clunky and I'm in html edit mode in order to write this but it does seem to work.

... ah, but the blood test ...

... shows that my magnesium is rather low and they want me to have a magnesium infusion - it takes 24 hours. So I'm off to the hospital with my overnight bag packed. I may be there for a couple of nights when you add the time it takes for the chemo on top of that. I still haven't worked out if I can update this from my smartphone - will have a go tomorrow. But if not don't worry - I'm in good hands; this blip is merely a symptom of the chemotherapy and one of the reasons they do the blood test in the first place.

In preparation

Today I have to take steriods twice - I'll do that tomorrow when I have the chemotherapy and the day after too. I take folic acid every day at the moment. Tomorrow I will also take 'bum-stoppers' (my description) - powerful anti-nausea drugs which do work but result in minor constipation - so something's needed to counteract that as well. Drugs mitigate the effects of drugs given to mitigate the effects of the chemo!

It's a strange feeling that knowingly, willingly and even enthusiastically I shall consent to being made somewhat unwell tomorrow. But let's face it, last time wasn't that bad. It was only the fear of the unknown that made it daunting. Now I know what it will be like and the likely effects I feel positively expert. I'm not complacent though; I realise my body has been given a severe jolt and while I feel it's repaired totally I doubt it has entirely, so it could be a little less palatable this time. We'll see. A few days in the dozing in the armchair won't do me any harm.

And so dear reader, be not alarmed if I don't post here tomorrow. At the very least it's a five hour sit-around-drip-into but with odd breaks here and there when staff are busy it could be a lot longer. I'll take my smart phone and see if I can manage to blog while I'm at it.  If not I'll be back with you in the next couple of days.

Monday, 10 January 2011

How do I feel?

This question is posed to me by everyone I talk to or bump into.  The answer is: normal.  I feel incredibly well. The only side effect which is apparent are now is an excess of tears. No, I don't mean I'm crying all the time - I've cried very little and usually about ridiculously tiny things. There is an overproduction of tears which is wonderful for most of the day because it makes wearing my contacts lenses a real dream. I can only think that there is some residual effect of the first dose of chemo which my body thinks needs washing out in the this way. Apart from that I'm fine. I can walk up our steep hill as well, and probably better due to the weight loss, as I did last summer. I can do everything that I normally do. I don't feel ill at all, in fact I feel slightly better because the odd muscular twinge just below the right shoulder blade (apparently a common symptom of my condition) is lessening every day. I'm therefore optimistic that this is an indication of some success as far as the chemo goes.

Tomorrow I phone to find out if my blood tests show that I'm up for the next dose of chemotherapy planned for Wednesday. Two weeks after that dose I will have a CT scan to determine if the treatment regime is the best one possible bearing mind that we don't know yet which problem came first, the thyroid or lung.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The national diagnostic and illness service

Some of you will know that I started this journey back at the start of September when I first visited a GP who succeeded in "putting the wind up me" - with justification as is now apparent. It took nearly three months of investigation before I received a diagnosis. During that time what surprised me was that no-one was really interested in how I felt nor what my symptoms were. In fact the long-standing cough which I'd acquired through a series of bad colds during the year cleared up to such an extent that I was totally convinced I was recovering from whatever it was on my own account.

Each of the two bronchoscopies (where an endoscope is put down the windpipe enabling pictures and lung tissue to be obtained) set this recovery back. They managed to rough up my bronchial tubes a fair bit. But overall I recovered considerably - not that anyone was interested. The diagnostic stage was all about scans and biopsies; there was no consideration of my overall wellbeing. There is a similar disinterest during this current stage while I'm being treated.

Don't get me wrong, I have no complaints (oh, well just a couple maybe). I just feel it could be so much better if the elements of diagnosis and drug treatment were just parts of a holistic approach which considered the entire body's welfare including metal attitude, diet, activities, etc. I get the feeling that the charity-funded Macmillan posts exist to try and bridge that gap. In my experience so far, it's not working that well.

It's a culture thing. I'm sure the current nature of the NHS is born of the new technology and the advances in pharmaceutical therapies which put machines and chemistry first. But wouldn't it be wonderful if that culture could change, could become more touchy, feeling, caring and personalised. Would it result in happier patients and better outcomes?  I suspect it would.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Wisdom - what not now surely?

It is impressed upon you when undergoing chemotherapy that your immune system will be compromised and that you should take any indication of bacterial infection seriously. Hence when I woke in the early hours and realised that my impacted wisdom tooth - having lain three quarters revealed but dormant for some forty years - had sprung into action, I was in a state of mild panic. Daylight is a great healer and so was the Ibuprofen. I then negotiated the NHS Direct helpline (sent there by the dentist's out of hours message) and from there to a dental nurse who rang me back, and finally a dentist. She suggested that a wisdom tooth that had caused no trouble for so long probably wasn't infected but that I might have a tiny piece of food stuck somewhere. Another good clean, pain relief if necessay and warm salt mouthwashes were recommended (I guess hot Bovril fits the bill too) - and of course I already have the antiseptic rinse with which I was issued and that I use night and morn. Panic over.

P.S. Something hard, black and sharp manipulated itself out of the side of my gum this morning; the dentist was right. Inflammation now subsided.

Friday, 7 January 2011

A brief consultation

Running over half an hour late, but beaming brightly he greeted us warmly and asked how it had been for me. Not as bad as I'd anticipated, was my reply. And that, apart from the consultant booking a CT scan to monitor my progress, was it. He warned me that the NHS is very busy it being winter, so I might have to chase up the scan. Only after we'd left the room did I begin to wonder where I was going to obtain the steriods which I knew I had to take the day before, the day of and the day after the next treatment (next Wednesday). We consulted the health care assistant and she consulted a chemo nurse who said the ward should have issued me with the next tranche of drugs. But they hadn't. So she kindly provided the requisite bottle of pills.

I learned (after the week's delay due to lack of the Vitamin B12 injection) that it pays to know what should be happening and not to assume that the system will deal with it. The system appears to be so heavily bureacratic that these vital details easily fall through holes. I find the whole thing very stressful - and I'm sure it's not supposed to be. Of course, I didn't ask who I should phone if the scan appointment doesn't come through. That's stress for another day. 

For anyone who is thinking of visiting me this weekend would be a good time. I'm ducking out of a big family outing to a pantomine because I reckon that sitting in an auditorium with goodness knows what viruses and bacteria around wouldn't be wise. Instead I will be at home and,  providing you are hale and hearty, happy to receive visitors.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Thursday 6th January 2011

Tomorrow I go to see the nice oncologist who is supervising my treatment for a review of this first dose. I will take with me the chemotherapy record booklet that I was issued with at the start - it must be carried with me at all times. It bears lists of things I should look out for in terms of complications and what to do if they occur and a list of things I should avoid: people with obvious infections, unpasteurised milk, cheese, live yoghurt, raw or undercooked eggs or meat, take away food, changing nappies of children recently vaccinated, animal excreta and gardening injuries. It advises me to wash my hands before preparing or eating food, to wash or peel all fruit, vegetables and salads, to wash my hands after handling animals, fresh flowers or pot plants, to brush my teeth twice and day and to use the mouthwash they provide. (Before you ask, yes Andy and I both had a flu jab several weeks ago.) This little booklet is my passport in this strange land in which I now find myself and it is housed in a bright pink plastic wallet. The big question is: do the boys get a blue wallet?

Wednesday 5th January 2011

It's come as something of a shock to me to realise just how many of you are reading this; I've been humbled by the number of messages of support I've received and inspired by the good vibes, positive thoughts and prayers that are being sent on my behalf. Several of you in sending me your positive energy have said that prayer is not on your agenda and I'm assuming that God is not part of your life either. Well, I have the same problem being, as I am, a Christian atheist. But I've developed a way of dealing with it while still allowing me to appreciate the glorious dogma and ritual of the dear old Church of England  - or any other religion (apart from the black arts) for that matter.  I just put another 'o' in the word and remove the capital letter. Who could dispute the existence of good? I believe that whether you call it prayer, whether you call it positive vibes - whatever - it's the same thing and I do believe that the power for good has influence. So thanks very much everyone - whatever your creed. I'm soaking up the vibes and I'm extremely grateful.

Tuesday 4th January 2011

Many hands made very light work of the move and by tea time everything was organised and my new office all set up at home. The room itself is ideal with its own door onto the garden for when sunshine and warmth eventually return. I awoke at 6 am this morning and after a bit of tossing and turning decided to get up early. Sleep is something I've never had trouble with before but I'm finding it quite difficult to get to sleep and then to stay asleep some nights. Probably a bit more physical excersise would be a good idea; we're about to do a short round trip of the woods. Apart from the sleep and the eyes which are a lot better today, I don't think there are any side effects which are still troubling me now, just two weeks since they poured platinum into my body. Yes, Cisplatin contains plantinum; the other drug they gave me Pemetrexed which is similar in chemical nature to folic acid and does something clever to inhibit enzymes. To counter this I'm eating lots of raw food and things that are reputed to be anti-cancer foods - including blueberries (they are surprisingly nice), pineapple (surprisingly cheap - Andy says "at the moment"), apples, etc.

Monday 3rd January 2011

I am slightly aware that this is the low point of my immune system in the cycle - I don't feel ill, but don't feel entirely on top of my game. Yesterday I had the gritty eyes side effect and after a rather turbulent night with a buzzing brain and not a lot of sleep, my eyes are a little irritated - I think I must have rubbed them in the night. So it's glasses today; I'm giving the contact lenses a rest. We're off to collect the few remnants of my office in a few minutes and I'll be setting them up here at home so that I can manage the winding down of the company. It's a strange feeling that tomorrow, when everyone goes back to work, I won't be - wonderful!

Saturday 1st January 2011

I wish all my dear friends and relatives who are reading this a very happy new year. The day has dawned grey and murky here - oh how I wish I could see the sun. Time for a midwinter sacrifice maybe? I overdid the eating yesterday evening, departing from my rather austere fresh diet to consume a few morsels of seasonal cheer. The result is a sludgy and flatulent demeanour - but hey, I've waited ten days to overdo it; it was my turn. For those who worry about my hair, don't - well not yet anyway. I washed it this morning and the brush afterwards bore perhaps less hair that I would normally find upon it. It may thin, but the oncologist says categorically that I won't lose it.

Friday 31st December 2010

The last day of the year - my retirement starts tomorrow.  Whoopee!!  It seems a very good day therefore to be having quite a serious house clean. It's been two weeks since I got to grips with everything and it shows. In fact I was up at 6.30 am this morning, with a strong desire to eat fruit and to get started. This is supposed to be the lowest point in my immune response to the treatment so I had expected to be feeling weak and feeble, not energised and champing at the bit.

Wednesday 29th December

It is exactly a week since the chemo was dripped into my blood stream and my body is doing an excellent job of sorting itself out, so much so that today I've been quite busy. There were presents to appreciate - for the first time in many cases - and wrapping paper and ribbons to put away, glasses to go back into the loft, ironing to be done. Yesterday I cleaned the sink and the top of the Aga so Andy knew I was feeling better!

My taste is not so much metallic as peculiar. I can't sort out a drink that I actually want to drink - even cold water doesn't really please. But today I had inspiration - hot Bovril - and I was right. The taste thing extends to food as well. We're having liver and bacon this evening followed by fresh pineapple and tomorrow a freshly made Thai green curry. When I think about it, the low immune state that I am now in is similar to pregnancy (apparently one's immune system is lowered to protect the baby) when strange food cravings also occur. So there could be some sense in all this. I'm a great believer in the body knowing what it needs to repair.

I've lost quite a bit of weight since I became a paragon of injestive virtue and started my wholesome diet three weeks ago. (OK - I know the hot Bovril doesn't fit - but cut me a bit of slack please!)  This is no bad thing but soon I must fire up my overlocker and take some of my trousers in I think.  Everyone who has seen me says how well I look and I suppose I do, if you excuse those slightly shaded eyes. If you wanted to reproduce it (as they do on those consumptively-made-up stick models) you'd choose a very dark maroon eyeshadow and place it immediately below and above the lashes to get the effect.

Tuesday 28th December

Definitely beginning to feel a lot better now. I know I must be because I cleaned the kitchen sink and the Aga this morning! The thing is, it's not a normal time of year. There's always a sludgy vacuum between Christmas & new year and even if I wasn't undergoing chemo I suspect I'd still be a bit like this anyway, spending a great deal of time watching historical dramas and dozing in front of the TV.

Sunday 26 December - Boxing Day

I felt slightly less strange this morning. So far I've slept my way through most of the day and I suspect I'll do the same this evening and then still sleep all night. I guess that's the body's way of coping. I have received a whole heap of DVDs to sleep my way through, on top of the excess of Catherine Cookson dramatisations which I recorded the other day - so I won't be bored. The appetite is still apparent - not excessive - I'm eating like a sparrow. Everything tastes slightly different but cold turkey and salad certainly fitted the bill, as did Christmas pudding and cream.

Saturday 25 December - Christmas Day

Here's wishing all my readers a very happy Christmas. Another fairly good night, however the cessation of anti-nausea tablets was not wise. I have some to take now only when I need them and I found late last night and early this morning that they were required. So they will be part of my regime for a few days I think. The family has taken over the local church hall for the day - there were too many of us for our tiny hobbit house. But because I am feeling less than sociable I've stayed back here, glued to Christmas TV (I've slept through a large part of the programme schedule!) with a steady stream of visitors bearing gifts. Certainly a different sort of Christmas Day but one which has in its own way been most enjoyable.

Friday 24 December - Christmas Eve

I slept like a log last night - after dozing most of the evening in the armchair too. With all the noxious substances in my blood stream however, I'm not surprised. Today has got off to a good start with lots of trips up and down stairs (good for exercise) to fetch things we need for tomorrow. I'm off the steriods now and anti-nausea pills (unless I need them) - so it's just what's in the system that I have to cope with.

Thursday 23 December

Slept not at all badly and woke with nothing more than roses in my cheek and a very slight headache - but so slight I doubt you could really call it one.  I suppose I feel a little strange, but whether that is because I am aware of what's been pumped into me or whether I really do feel a little strange, I cannot be sure.

Wednesday 22 December

Anticipating heavy snow at the hospital I booked a hotel within walking distance of the hospital and we spent last night there. The owner was happy to let us leave the car in her car park for the duration of our stay - indeed invited us to park there on future occasions, even if we didn't stay, which was exceptionally generous of her. We eat at the hotel in the evening. This morning we looked out of the window and confirmed that our decision has been a wise one. Of course our 8.30 am appointment turned into a 9.45 am one because the staff had incredible difficulty reaching the hospital. As a consequence of that and various delays from the pharmacy it meant that we didn't get home until after 8 pm this evening. 
Nothing that happened to me today was in the least unpleasant. I relaxed in a very comfortable chair, making friends with other patients and reading an hysterical historical novel. I was given anti-sickness drugs. They put a line into my wrist and first administered saline to hydrate me, then a small amount of one of the chemotherapy drugs, then a large amount of another followed by more saline to ensure that I was hydrated enough. The final part was weighing to see whether I needed a diuretic - which I did, and have just taken. I also left with more drugs, in case I need them; one for counteracting nausea, another for constipation (which anti-nausea drugs can cause) and various mouth washes in case of a sore mouth.  At present I feel as normal as I did yesterday when we left home. 

Tuesday 14 December

Oh dear. Mistakes happen and whoever booked me in for the pre-chemo check and then the chemo didn't read the protocol for the cocktail I'll be given. They neglected to schedule in the vital vitamin B12 injection given one week beforehand. This will now happen tomorrow which means the start of treatment is delayed by 6 days - ie. the 22nd  But there's always a bright side. This gives me the weekend in which to dismantle and move the office and have everything set up at home before next week. It also means that I'll probably be feeling reasonably all right for Christmas. So you see there's always a bright side to everything!

Wednesday 8 December

At last I have appointments. I have been summoned for a pre-chemo check on the 14th December with chemotherapy planned to commenced a couple of days later.

Tuesday 30 November

Today Andy and I saw the oncologist and heard what he planned for me.  He will treat the lung cancer as the primary source of trouble and has prescribed initially three 21 day cycles of chemotherapy. The treatment will take place not at our hospital but in a neighbouring town - as an outpatient or maybe an overnight stay.  After two cycles I will have a CT scan to see how it's going.

Friday 26th November

I have lung cancer and possibly cancer of my thyroid too – both glowed showing suspect activity during a recent PET scan. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg situation with what came first. Bearing in mind the trouble I've had with my voice I'm inclined to think thyroid. My first appointment with the oncologist will be next week so I don’t know what my treatment regime will be yet, nor what are the odds of beating this. It’s likely that there will be about three months of treatment.
Andy and I are pretty stunned, particularly after receiving “inconclusive” results previously – but I’m sure we’ll come to terms with it all pretty soon.  The NHS to date has performed magnificently and I couldn’t have been treated better so I feel completely confident about the treatment that I will be receiving. I remain very positive – whatever the future holds I will embrace it wholeheartedly, as before.  I’m surrounded by wonderful friends and family and I couldn’t wish for more support