Friday, 28 December 2012

A strange thing happened

Our house has been jammed packed with people for the past few days; it's been lovely. Now they've gone and I have time to reflect upon the midwinter gathering. All is calm, all is bright here. But my thoughts have turned to you, dear reader, because I have something really interesting to impart.  I'm hoping too that by tagging this post, I might hear from other people on the subject.

The subject is electrosensitivity.  Maybe this topic had fleetingly been picked up by my curiosity radar in passing over the years, because it was the thing that I immediately thought of back in October when, on a couple of occasions, I found myself in sitting in our local pub and experiencing palpitations.  The particular gymnastics in which my heart was engaging on both occasions was of the missing beat variety.  Between five and eight beats on average and one missed. I became aware of the missing one and felt a tad strange. Both times it happened I said nothing to anyone, just carried on and after about an hour and a half all went back to normal and I was none the worse for it. I felt at the time as if some force outside myself might be responsible.  I know, you're now thinking I've gone particularly batty.  The thing is, I'm now more in tune with my body than I ever was before and I can read it so well, and I knew that nothing was out of kilter; so the palpitations had to be due to something else.

Those of you know know where we live will be aware of a large mast at the top of the hill upon whose lower slopes we reside.  I'm pretty sure that we are in the shadow of all the various waves that the mast emits where we live, but further on down the village where the pub's located would, I'm sure, receive the full brunt. It doesn't stretch the imagination too far to summise that the titanium in my chest (with which the surgeon stapled up the bronchial tubes) might be acting as an aerial and - lying slow close to my heart as it does - could be affecting the electrical charges which control my heartbeat. You can see the titanium staples here - they look black on the x-ray.

I've been back to the pub several times since October and nothing untoward has occurred so I'd pretty well forgotton about it. However yesterday something happened which convinced me that I was right all along.  I stepped within about a foot of my grandson's infrared remote control. It was as if someone had switched a switch in my chest. My heart immediately started to beat around double its normal speed.  I sat down and tried to make sense of what had happened. Probably no more than a minute passed, but during that minute I was assessing how I felt (perfectly normal), what the waiting time would be in A&E (about four hours), what attendance there might trigger (a life on beta blockers) and other vital matters. I never got round to actually counting the speed because my heart popped back to normal. It was like that for a few beats, then it had another little sprint, before returning to its usual solid regular beat. I felt no after-effects, nothing, just surprise.

What this incident did is to convince me is that I am sensitive and I probably should avoid anything which is emitting very strong signals. I've done a bit of Googling but can't find anything which relates to my situation and Wikipedia isn't much help either. But there's plenty of advice out there for those with pacemakers which I think I'd be well advised to follow.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

I do

I really cannot get excited by the controversy about same sex couples getting married. The objections I find quite baffling.  For a start marriage is a most unsound contract.  A contract between two people - and let's face it that's what marriage is in the legal sense - is based upon the understanding that both parties have the wherewithall to fulfill the contract.  However, no-one can promise that they will wake up every day of their life loving another person. They may of course and isn't that just wonderful. But the chances are that at some point they won't, because love is an emotion which tends to ebb and flow.

Love is all the wonderful things that St Paul said it was but one thing is isn't is guaranteed. It cannot be guaranteed. Ergo the marriage contract is flawed. 

But that's not to say that marriage isn't a lovely state into which two people might enter. As far as I can see, two people promising to stay together for the rest of their lives (and that part of the marriage contract is entirely valid - that is a promise which can be kept), sharing, bearing and caring for children if children should be part of their lives, is fabulous.  Why should two women or two men - or two bisexuals for that matter - not have the legal and social benefit of marriage?  No-one has provided me with any sensible reason why same sex marriage is not the most Christian of concepts.

So as the Facebook postings that I've seen recently so rightly say:  if you don't agree with same sex marriage, then don't marry someone of the same sex! 

Monday, 26 November 2012


Now I've got over the euphoria of that good news I can tell you a little of what went on in the consulting room.  I told my consultant I was glad to see him and that he was still there, bearing in mind that NHS morale - particularly at that hospital - was obviously low.  He agreed with my summing up of the situation. I told him of my enormous gratitude to him and the whole team for my survival and apologised for not having written to him personally, whereas I had to both the chemo and the surgical tems.  My consultant suggested that I write to the chief executive of the Trust as that always boosts morale. So I did.

It was a difficult letter because I couldn't honestly say that everything had been hunky dory. If you read back through this blog you'll find times when I was at my wit's end with the bureaucracy of the system and other issues. My blog starts at diagnosis but right at the start I had a pretty awful experience.  I'd been sent to the walk in centre for a bronchoscopy.  The health care assistant who initially took my details was wearing a dirty uniform, she had a hacking cough. It was later proven that she could not spell thyroxine - as she'd started her attempted with a ph.  I bet she says fink when she means think and fort when she means thought!  I complained at the time and I made an official written complaint later. 

Anyway, back to the letter to the Trust - it was quite short but to the point.  I received an effusive response from the chief executive which he'd copied far and wide (because three hospitals and three separate trusts had been involved in my care.) He urged me to go onto the NHS Choices web site and record my gratitude there.

I tried.  But again honesty curtailed my efforts. Within about five clicks I was being asked to comment on the cleanliness of the hospital. I know from recent first hand experience of our local hospital that it is possible for a toilet to be left uncleaned for four days even when a patient reports the fact.  It was only dealt with when the patient located the cleaning staff themselves and gave them the instruction to do the job.

So I haven't contributed to the NHS web site. I'm in a quandry. Do I do what they want - say how wonderful the result was - but on other matters 'dis' the trust or do I just forget the whole thing? Currently I'm just shelving the decision.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Phew! - thank goodness that is over

Today was my first six month check up since completing my lung cancer treatment (held at 9 months because of the appalling appointment system at the local hospital). I underwent a chest x-ray and the lung consultant says it looks fine.  It was interesting to see how much more the remaining lung lobe had expanded - quite extraordinary.

I hadn't realised quite how terrified I was of re-entering the whole NHS system again.  My pulse was raised and I'm sure my blood-pressure - though acceptable when taken - was up too. But the feeling of elation when it was over was enormous.  I can relax again until the spring.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Freddie Starr ate my hamster!

I was initially against any press regulation on the grounds that I really wouldn't want to be in a country where whistle-blowers could be silenced, where politicians could not be held to account and where a less benign regime could abuse the original intention of any legislation.

However, upon giving it a lot more thought, I now realise that the genie is so much out of the bottle with Wikileaks, Facebook, Twitter, etc. that the press can no longer claim their right to first disclosure of public interest matters as a defence against compulsory regulation.  That argument no longer holds water. 

Ah, but I hear you say, how will be know whether or not to believe what we read on social media?  Well, in response I ask you a question.  How do you know whether the established media tells the truth?  It's a wild world out there in swamps of gossip and the only solution is "reader beware".

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

That's it

That's it, I said, rushing to find a piece of paper to write the exact words down.  Dame Stephanie Shirley has just been on Radio 4. She was explaining that still, all these years after arriving here as a refugee, she feels she has to "make my life worth living to make my life worth saving"; to "justify my survival".  And that's exactly how I now feel.   Dear Dame Steve summed it up exactly.

The other piece of information I picked up was from a contributor whose name I didn't record but he said "there is no such thing as an unwounded soldier".  How true.  I remember my father who survived the second World War against all the odds after being parachuted into France, bombed by the Americans and taken prisoner. He volunteered to become a paramedic, to parachute, and to carry out bomb disposal.  And yes, he was damaged psychologically in so many ways that even I as a child and young woman could see. I guess the stress also damaged him physically - he was dead at 61. It certainly put paid to the pacifist that originally joined up. 

Every Remembrance Day I stand at the war memorial thinking how fruitless and stupid war is.  I do it for him really because he no longer can. I don't do it to glory in the men who didn't come back or to satisify some nationalistic trait. Standing round a war memorial for a few minutes each year and donning our poppies forces us to face the reality of legalised murder by others on our behalf. It's still going on and we have to accept some of the blame. 

And in that context, how relieved I was to hear that Obama is back in the White House.  The endless analysis of USA politics by British media has been very boring, but today I was glad to hear the news. I feel that the world is a much safer place today.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Getting old

I guess it's pretty much the same for anyone who has had cancer and recovered.  Every little twinge, every little muscle spasm, every little sensitivity anywhere is potentially an indication that things are going wrong again.

I'm no different from anyone else in this respect. We're getting near that appointment that I had to set up - you know the one that should have come six months after the last consultation but hadn't because of the appalling appointment system. It will now not occur until nine months after. I suppose because I know that professionals will be assessing me, I'm also doing it myself more than I otherwise might.

In terms of my physical shortcomings there's my knee. Actually I don't worry about that as it's been on and off problematic for so many years. Then there's my hip or is it my back; a slight muscular twinge every now and then. Some thickening on the hip was identified during one of my CT scans. They asked me if I had hip trouble and after the PET scan told me it was nothing to worry about. I suppose I should have realised that if it wasn't visibly normal then at some point it would begin to play up. 

There's been the odd flutter of a muscle deep inside my calf. It started when I strained the calf muscle while walking. It continued for about a week. You know, a bit like when you get an involuntary muscle flutter of your eyelid. Not painful but very annoying. It's completely gone now. Occasionally I feel a slight pull of a muscle in my back similar to the odd back sensations I had when I found out I was ill with lung cancer.

A couple of weeks ago I had an odd twinge around the front of my chest; rather as if a rib as playing up. Of course, anything on the right as this was, in the vicinity of the missing lung lobes, puts the wind up me. A few hours later as I went about housework I felt a click and suddenly all was well again.  Goodness knows what that was about.

But the nastiest of these completely inconsquential aches and straings was when the other week I over-ate terribly. Fish and chips were being served down at the pub before the harvest auction. Despite the fact that my portion was too big, I finished it.  About thirty minutes later I realised that for every five or six beats my heart was missing one.  Not nice. It lasted an hour or so then went back to normal. I realised later that the feeling I had was not totally unfamiliar. I think I've had it in the past when I've overdone it food-wise. The difference this time was that I realised my heart was playing up. Anyway a quick Google and hey presto, as I rather suspected, palpitations can be a symptom of over-eating.

So there you have it - all my aches and pains. None of them add up to anything I'm sure and I wouldn't be suprised that for a woman of nearly 63 with a near-sedentary life-style, I'm a damn sight fitter than most. But before I go there's one more physical thing that I must tell you and that's about the feet.  The damage to the nerves in the toes of both feet and extending under the sole of my right foot. Well, and I hardly dare type this for fear that I'm imagining it, but I think there is some improvement.  I can't be absolutely sure and I'd be amazed if it were so because it's so long after the event (eighteen months since my last chemo) - but  my peripheral neuropathy does seem to be reversing. Fingers (or should that be toes?) crossed!

Monday, 1 October 2012

The thing I've been dreading

It's happened - the thing I've been dreading, the cold on the chest.  I'm not sure why I've been dreading it but I suppose knowing I have a significant amount of titanium staples in my chest and that the way I cough is significantly different, it's unsurprising. You don't need to write notes of sympathy it's not that bad. I'm only writing about it for the benefit of anyone else who stumbles on this blog who has had lung tissue removed and is worried about chest colds.

I reckon it's a Berkshire virus, and a cold acquired through close contact with someone weekend before last who came from that county and had a hacking variety. It started around the back of the throat and was quite quick to pass through the sniffly dibbly stage and yesterday hit the chest.  Both ears are also substandard due to congestion.  However I'm not unwell as such. I had a good cough this morning (look away anyone of a delicate disposition) and albeit the mucus acquired was a tad yellowy, it gave me absolutely no cause for concern. 

The method of coughing I find necessary in order to clear my chest is quite different from before where you close your throat and puff air through the closure. The new coughing is done with an open throat and you just constrict the lungs and push unwelcome material up. Sometimes I have to do it more than once to achieve the object, but it works. It was a technique suggested by the physio after the op.

The good news is that this occurrence has been nothing like I worried it might be.  In fact, if it wasn't for needing to use the alternative coughing technique, it wouldn't be any different from any other cold I've had in my three-score years of existence.  The only thing that has bugged me is the reason for the cold in the first place. Maybe I let my guard slip just a tad too far that weekend, with wine and sugar and just maybe this is the result.

Friday, 21 September 2012

As time goes by ..

I've been waiting for that letter to arrive on the door step; the one that tells me that my close relationship with the NHS is not in my imagination, did not happen to someone else and is still potentially current.  It doesn't get me down but I know in the back of my mind I'm waiting for it everytime Bill calls.  Bill is our wonderful postman. The postman who should have an honour because he's been a rock for this community for around 40 years of service, delivering newspapers, checking on pensioners and numerous other kindness too many to catalogue here.

I've had a sudden and unexpected change of schedule today. This means that I can do jobs which have been stacking up. So I chased up the appointment, preferring to know the date than simply waiting like a victim for a letter to arrive. My first choice of contact was the Advanced Nurse Practitioners - two of them who now work a job-share. The answerphone told me one was off sick, the other works only two days, so I bit the bullet and phoned the chest physician's secretary. Was it up to me to trigger a meeting or theirs?

Theirs. Yes, the appointments system should have spewed out an appointment. It hadn't and there was a long backlog. I hadn't "dropped of the system" as I suggested may have been the case. I'd just disappeared into the backlog presumably. I'm not ill so I don't actually need to see the team but  it was their choice of a six month follow up, not mine.

Clearly the appointments system is pants even given that they have an enormous backlog. Backlog - that's worrying if you're a cancer patient. Now I feel guilty even having been given a date because I'll just be wasting their time albeit I might just lift their spirits by my wellbeing and presence.

Middle of November is the date so now I can relax when I see Bill.  It is silly isn't it. Having faced a death sentence and coped with that, I've let just a tiny thing like a pending appointment get to me, not in a big way but as a small niggle.

And while we're talking about niggles I've had to visit the hospital on another matter over the last couple of days on more than one occasion. On two of those I found myself locked in a car park in the early evening with the ticket machine not working and no-one on the end of the misnamed "help" button. I willingly pay the parking fee; I'm actually glad to be able to do so because I'm giving back to the system just a tiny proportion of the tens of thousands of pounds it's invested in me. I'd be prepared to pay double and the fees at our hospital are pretty stiff already.  What I'm not prepared to do is wait around in the encroaching darkness in a state of near panic two nights running, without vociferous complaint the next day to the appropriate department. So they have heard from me in no uncertain terms.

It's these tiny irritants - appointments not generated and car park tickets machines not working -  that wear down patients and if only the NHS could manage those elements better, we'd all be so much happier and therefore probably much healthier. They're not rocket science after all.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Hair news

It's well over a year now since I had my last dose of Cisplatin and Pemetrexed and for the benefit of those who stumble over this blog in search of more information on the effects of the cocktail, here's an update.

My hair did fall out. Not all of it, but a significant proportion leaving me with the same style - very long - but much thinner in density. It was as if those hairs that were scheduled to fall out over the six months or so in any case, did so early. It would appear that while they fell out gradually they have all grown at once. So I now have long hair over most of my head interspersed with a discernable other layer which is now about six inches long.

I was aware of this new crop from the time it started because it presented as a strange sort of whispy halo at the start.  Now it's reached some length it is oddly apparent, especially when I've just washed my hair. I've contemplated having it layered but I think that won't help and it's probably just best to sit it out and wait until the new layer integrates entirely - another year I reckon.

So, if you're reading this because you're facing the same chemo dose, I hope this helps. Oh, and mine didn't change colour. I was going gradually grey and I seem to be going gradually grey at pretty much the same rate as before.  Not every new hair is grey but some are.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

1am and still buzzing

It's just one of those nights. There's a barking deer making a dreadful din outside; that's a muntjac. They are quite small, the size of a large dog and they make a terrible noise at night sometimes with their hoarse bark.  I'm sitting at the computer polishing off a few tasks as my brain appears to be working exceptionally well at the moment. Not sure why - it just happens that way sometimes.  My most creative moments are usually in the early hours. I think it's because it's so incredibly quiet and nothing is likely to interrupt the flow.

I'm aware that the project to sing through Hymns Ancient & Modern (Revised) has floundered somewhat but I'm hoping to continue that when autumn's chilly fingers start to claw at the days and the pull of the garden or other outside pursuits are not so keen. I'm also aware that I really ought to be doing some exercise.

I met a couple of people in the last week who were really inspirational in their keep fit routines. One was running regularly, although they'd never ever run before. The other was walking and aims to have completes a thousand miles in the year. In both cases they just do it to do it. I really have a problem with that. I think I've touched on it here before. It doesn't achieve anything and I do feel that if I'm going to expend significant amounts of energy then there should be some point to it. I'd be happy to do something energetic if it achieved something other than kept me fit. So there you go, dear friends. There's your challenge. What exercise could I do which was not selfish in its ambition and actually achieved something other than my personal gratification?

Monday, 20 August 2012


Everyone always asks how I am. The answer is absolutely fine. I feel great; I have no residual problems or discomforts except for the strange feeling in my feet. That's now so much part of me, if I were to wake with normal feeling in my toes and soles I'd find it extremely odd.

I'm waiting for a summons to visit the chest physician again for my six month check up, but apart from that (which I know will rekindle some unpleasant thoughts), all in the garden is lovely. Actually all in the garden is lovely, metaphorically and literally. I've enormous Bizzie Lizzies and some spectactular nasturtiums coming on. I like eating nasturtium seeds so I'm hoping for a large crop.

Our granddaughter is fabulous - those of you who know me will probably have seen her photo. She is, as all babies are, absolutely gorgeous.  We've seen her quite a bit last weekend as we've had several days of celebration for my husband who has reached 70. He looks about 55. Must be because he's so happy being married to me!

My new company - the one developing a software platform - is going very well. It's all terribly exciting and once we're up and running with a beta I'll be able to tell you all about it. Retirement is fabulous - I've never been so busy!

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

A very very very sunny day

The sun's out, the birds are singing and I've just seen a leaf-cutting bee carrying a portion of leaf far bigger than himself; so I know that all things are possible.

My heart's singing because in the early hours of this morning our darling little granddaughter arrived safely at a whopping weight of 7lbs 6oz.  Goodness knows how bigger she might have grown if she'd been granted those extra three weeks womb-stay!

I've been told that she he's tried both varieties of sustenance and found them equally delicious and satisfying such that she's sleeping soundly.  All is well.

Monday, 13 August 2012

On tenter hooks*

I hadn't realised quite how emotionally fragile I am until this morning when I woke after an horrendous night's sleep, waking every two hours and battling with the most bizarre of mental tasks.  Such is the nature of dreams. I had niavely anticipated that upon waking I would receive the news that our new grandchild was safely delivered. But no, as yet the process is ongoing. I'm told that early induction is not a quick affair.

Our youngest daughter, having had the dreadful loss of her first child at 37 weeks, is about to deliver her next and is being induced just before the same stage in her pregnancy. I took to our bed last night in that sort of "will-I-be-woken-in-an-hour-or-so" state of mind which meant that I did indeed wake every two hours to look at the clock and ponder the state of things.

I have jobs to do but I'm finding it difficult to concentrate on them. One is to finish the washing of all the cat paraphernalia and to pack it away in the loft. It's not that we an anticipating having another cat at any time, but if the current one is to return after his three week sabbatical, then I feel that fate will decree it is only when all trace of him has been cleaned away and his belongings secreted somewhere fairly inaccessible. Hence rather than betray him, I do hope he feels I've done enough for him now to return. Wouldn't it be lovely if, upon news of the birth of our grandchild, our cat were nochalantly to amble back in.  And if you add to that perhaps a major lottery win - a picture of flying pigs inexplicably fell from the wall this morning - my joy would be complete.

* Tenterhooks are hooks which enable wet cloth to be stretched by its selvedges on a tenter - a frame - to stop it shrinking in the process of woollen cloth production.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


Two days - or is it three? - of unbridled sunshine means that soon we'll be complaining about the temperature being too hot. We're never satisfied are we. Well, actually  I am. I'm extremely satisfied at the moment.  I've run out of urgent things to do; all I have left to do is to compile a list of what I'm going to pack for our week away.

But there is one thing which is bugging me and that that's the fact that our cat has been missing now for two days.  I'm taking some comfort from the fact that a neighbour's cat has been behaving differently since the hot weather - making infrequent visits to his food. The trouble is that our cat has not been in for food. I guess he's either a stiff by the side of a road somewhere or has gone off to look for better lodgings. Yes, I know - sometimes cats come back after weeks away and I do hope ours will.

We moan about him. We moan about the mess he makes. I moaned about the fact he sprayed inside the van (to mark it as his territory) on Sunday. I moan about the fact he won't let me use the keyboard and I've had to put his blanket here so that he can lie down on my desk while I'm working. But after all that moaning, I really am missing him and there's a big hole in my life where our great big bruiser of a cat used to be.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

A flashback maybe

It wasn't a good night last night.  I don't know why. It seemed as if I was dreaming all the night but I suspect that's not the case at all.  However there was something that happened which was really quite scary.

I had a dream, or maybe a flashback, which was sudden, vivid, incredibly dramatic and terrifying. When I came to I realised I was lying on my back and that nothing was wrong with me. My heart was beating quite normally, my breathing was fine - yes, I did a very calm check of everything and was surprised to find nothing amiss.

Yet the sensation which woke me - and I cried out because I remember hearing my own voice - was of something having happened to my heart, maybe even that it had stopped - and that the very centre of my being, right in the middle of my torso was being pulled apart. It's nothing I've ever experienced before and I hope never to again.  I interpreted it (because it's one's nature to try interpretation and to make sense of the thoughts) as if I was being pulled forward, upwards - indeed away from life. That's why, when I came too I checked I was still alive.  I was awake in an instant but terrified and pulled the sheet over my head in order to sleep again - daft, I now.

Could that have been a flashback to surgery I wonder?  I'm off now to Google surgery flashbacks and see what is the likelihood that I retained memory of the experience.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The bank

Today I went with my new business partners to the bank, NatWest to be precise, to open a business account.  I cannot tell you how many pieces of paper the bank official generated but, put it this way, you'd need a heavy-duty stapler to fix them all together.  Such a last-century system I have not seen in a long time.

I nearly started giggling at Mr NatWest's opening introduction. Handing us a piece of paper he quickly ran through it starting with "we're regulated by the FSA" and culminating, if we had a complaint "you can complain to the FSA".  What a joke!

The second time I nearly let everyone down (remember I'm the senior citizen here and the other two are thirty-something young men) was when Mr NatWest asked us what relationship we had with one another.  I so much wanted to point to my colleagues and say "well this one is my lover and the other one is my father".  I didn't as I didn't think that Mr NatWest with his finely pressed white shirt, pristine tie and wonderfully buffed black patent shoes would have been able to cope adequately with such a response. 

What I deduced by the end of the experience was that the process has changed not one jot since 1996 when I last opened a business account with NatWest, so it's hardly surprising that banking is in the mess it is!

A new beginning

Last week I became the director of a new company and tomorrow I seal my fate as a venture capitalist.  There's a project that I'd been trying to get off the ground for about four years. Upon receiving my diagnosis I assumed that it would never come to fruition and I gave up trying. 

However a couple of months ago I met a couple of guys who agreed with me that the idea was a good one. They're prepared to make an investment of their time an expertise alongside my money. So today (as I see it's after midnight) we start on the project. Exciting times, eh!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

It's been a while

Hello there. Yes, it's been a while since I posted. I did try while we were away in Orkney but somehow the post didn't get through thanks to the unhelpful re-arrangement of the interface meaning that my mobile no longer works effectively with Blogger. I don't appear to be able to download any updating browser software to make the thing work either. Oh dear - I can see another expensive purchase coming up when I purchase a tablet. 

I can't knock the smartphone though. I've had it for about three years now. It took me a month to learn how to use it, I've never made a call on it but it hosts my address book and other information, is a camera when I've forgotten to bring one and up until now has enabled me to keep you all up-to-date on my progress when there's not a PC to hand. It continues to delight me; I was wondering how many knots we were travelling at on the ferry on Monday, I simply downloaded then and there a free app and was able to see precisely how fast we were going.  But with the tiny screen and my eyes not getting any better, I have to say a tablet does now begin to appeal. I'll wait and see what the reviews are for the Asus Google machine before making a decision.

So how have you all been I wonder?  I'm fine - much as I was the last time I gave you an update.  Interestingly enough I'm still conscious of a slight blotching on my skin - legs this time - not torso. It looks like the rash that took me to the doctor's a while back.  I've stopped taking all supplements now - apart from the cottage cheese and flaxoil, hoping that it will spontaneously go away as it did from my waistline.  I'm just wondering if this is something left over from the chemo which just needs to work its way through - but it's over a year since my last dose so that does seem unlikely. Perhaps I need to cut out the wheat again and the diary. It's not easy maintaining your body like a temple.

The cloud that is the six month check-up now begins to hover.  Not that I think such an appointment will be much more than a "how are you?" exercise.  I wonder if I get Xrayed again?  I've just checked on the blog. It was the start of February that I was given the all clear for the second time - so that means the letter will probably arrive at the start of August.

An interesting thing happened the other day. Well, two interesting things really.  An anonymous person commented on my comments on the Cancer Act - and then someone called Guy added his opinion. It obviously stirs opinion. In the light of the pharmaceutical exposées of recent days where drug giants have been uncovered doing things they shouldn't, it seems there's little morality in the industry. Why then should we expect it to play fair where cancer's concerned?

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

You have to read this

I do recommend you read this blog - even if cancer has never touched you or your family or friends - because the odds are that at some time or other you're going to have to put your confidence and maybe your life in the hands of the pharmaceutical industry. 

I won't say any more - just take ten minutes to read this - and yes, right down to the bottom of the blog because that's where there's a particularly interesting piece of information which is going to surprise you greatly.  Junk Science Number 17: The randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled Clinical Trial

Monday, 18 June 2012

The unrelating passage of time

Time is definitely speeding up. Blink at 9.30 am and it's time for lunch. Do the same early afternoon and before you know it, you're washing up supper. I'm beginning to think that I've been caught up in some sort of time vortex where I'm spinning at a much faster rate than anyone else. Am I really doing a great deal in all those hours that flash by? I'm not at all sure.

We've just returned from another weekend away in Franc the Van. I love canvas, I love lying in bed at night hearing the rain thundering down on a tent. I love the smell of canvas (always canvas, it lasts 30 years - whereas polyester and all the other new fabrics perish after around 100 days in the sun). I love the smell of crushed grass too.  Despite all that I think now that I love Franc just as much. Although there's definitely a knack to moving stuff around when you want to the put the bed up and even though all his controls are very complex and not well explained in the manual, he's quite wonderful. I'm really looking forward to taking him to the Orkneys early next month.

And now the answer to the big question which I'm sure you'll all asking. How am I getting on singing through the hymn book? Well I have to admit that I've haven't been doing it for the past month - but today I set off again and have nearly finished the evening hymns. Just another 600 to go!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Raised blood pressure

I attended an antenatal scan for the second time today. I accompanied our youngest daughter again on a visit to hospital for her checkup. Although I was there just to support her, I was acutely aware that as we sat in one of the waiting areas my heart was beating faster than normal. Just being in that same hospital environment, which became so familiar a year or so ago, had a noticeable effect on me. Luckily no-one on this occasion was interested in my blood pressure!

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Monday, 11 June 2012

What a lovely surprise

About four or maybe five years ago my Psion 3C died.  I actually had a second one and was able to download the backup onto that and carry on as before but the incident made me realise that I needed to move on. But of course nothing similar to a Psion now exists; the only solution was a smartphone. So I bought one, an android Motorola Dext on Pay As You Go.

I spent about three months trying to come to terms with the new technology. The thing was, I hadn't bought it to use as a phone but as a data repository. In fact, to this day I haven't made a call on it other than to top up. My early attempts to convert all my data files from the Psion set up were fruitless so in the end I had to key in all the info entry by entry. That alone took about three weeks. 

Now we have a wireless network in the house the Dext is always on, but set to "airplane" - in other words the G3, or G anything, is turned off. When we're away I turn on the 3G and usually consume a fair amount of money over a couple of days. The connection charge never goes over £2 in any 24 hours but the continual connection and disconnection with various networks deducts a sum - I think it's 35p - and it's surprising how quickly the pounds can drain away.

Last weekend I topped up with a customary £20 so that I could access traffic data on the journey and keep up to date with emails. Imagine my surprise when we returned and I checked the balance. £20.20! How did that happen?  To find out I actually read the latest of the texts from Orange. It turns out that they're giving me a free 500Mb of data every time I top up with £15.  And what's more it would appear that the charge for connections seems to have been waived.  This is one happy bunny!

P.S. This welcome news come hot on the heels of the trojan-ridden PC saga. The damage turned out to be so severe that a complete reformat was the only answer.  I didn't lose any data but I lost hours and hours having to redo all the settings and reinstalling software. That alone is a very good reason for being extremely careful not to contract anything nasty.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Cottage cheese and flax oil

No, I'm not going completely barmy even if you did wonder about me after I wrote the post about eating Christmas tree tips.  Incidentally, I'm still doing that. I find them delicious and of course the season of sprouting won't be long so I have to enjoy them while I can.  What's concerning me now is cottage cheese and flax oil.

As you know, if you've been an avid reader of this blog, I've been consulting a nutrionist and last week I went to see her again to look at my diet according to my blood group. There are certain foods that I won't digest very well and there are certain foods that are particularly good for me, and then there are the foods that are neutral. It's interesting, looking at the lists, that some foods of which I am not at all fond are on the negative list and several that I really love are on the positive list, which rather sells the whole idea to me.

My nutritionist provided a report after the consultation and in it she suggested that I try cream cheese and flax oil. I remember seeing this as I flashed through the myriad of references on the net about cancer treatments a while back. At the time I dismissed it without a second thought and filed it in my mind amongst the quack ideas. But when it appeared on the nutritionist's report I decided to take a longer look.  As you know, Chris Woollams is the person to whom I turn when I want an objective opinion about a therapy. Interestingly enough he's got quite a lot to say about cottage cheese and flax oil and it does make sense, once you realise that the mixture is one done for chemical reasons.

So now every day I whizz up my mixture. Strangely enough it doesn't taste as bad as you might imagine. I've had it on my porridge and also on my salad. What surprises me is that I haven't suffered any indigestion as a result which makes me realise that it's obviously a highly digestible mixture. It's a bit early to give you any feedback yet, but I'll let you know how it goes in due course.

Monday, 28 May 2012

There's none so blind

I've just been reading a recent blog from Chris Woollams  I won't tell you what it says; I'd rather you read it. It confirms everything that I've personally discovered about the current state of oncology: that oncologist's minds are completely closed to complementary (for want of a a better word) and natural therapies. 

I've been reading more and more about the science behind what I did. My change of diet, my journey of personal enlightement and healing have all actually been proven to be beneficial where cancer's concerned - there actually is research out there to prove it. But the UK is stubbornly refusing to acknowledge this and the Cancer Act is compounding that calumnly. It clearly is an outdated and generally disregarded piece of legislation and should go.  Do read Chris's blog, I can guarantee you'll find it enlightening; I did.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

A very nasty trojan - two actually

It's never happened before but it did on Sunday. We got back after a lovely weekend in the woods and I turned on my PC to search for something.  What I didn't do is update the antivirus before I started the search and that was probably my big error.

Before too long I had a gloriously technicoloured applicaton on my screen, "Smart Data Recovery", trying to suggest that I should input my credit card details in order to effect a solution to the problem of a myriad of separate screens superimposed on one another, each telling me I'd a system error.  I'm not that stupid. 

It wasn't too urgent - I have another PC, so I just switched off the virus-ridden one.  The Man Who Knows how to kill viruses called today and spent a good hour sorting it out. I then did another deep scan as suggested to rid the system of three versions of one trojan and one other. However this episode has left its mark. My favourites have disappeared and I'm unable to replace them with the backup file. But curiously all my folders except one have the appearance of hidden files - though I can reach them OK.  So it's not over yet and I anticipate some remote assistance from The Man Who Knows later this week.

I can't help contemplating how less stressful our lives were before the advent of PCs and the internet.

Monday, 21 May 2012

What next?

It may be because two of my solar gadgets have broken, or it may be because I have a very nasty trojan virus on my work PC that I cannot fix it and must call in The Man.  It seems as if everything's going wrong at the moment.

Or perhaps my blues - for that's what it's been feeling like - have been because I was caught driving at 44 miles per hour in a 40 mph zone yesterday and pulled off the road in order to undergo a stern talking to by a very nice young policeman. I realised immediately that I'd been over the limit. I'd had to slow myself down earlier in the same 40 mph section because I'd realised I was speeding. I apologised profusely and said what a wonderful job the speed awareness team was doing and how appreciative I was of their work. Well you've got to try to make them smile haven't you.

My paper licence dating back to 1970 was duly proferred  - with my warning that it was so fragile it might shatter. The PC said he'd only recently surrendered his paper licence.  Goodness, said I, you don't look old enough for one of those.  Actually he didn't really look old enough to be out on his own, but that's increasingly the case with policemen these days.  He could see that I'd never been prosecuted for any offence by virtue of the fact that I still had an old paper licence and by the end of our very pleasant exchange I think he felt rather sorry for me. 

I'm now wondering what on earth can go wrong next, for things always go in batches like this don't they.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Eating Christmas trees

Yes, you find that hard to believe I know - but we have indeed been eating them. Well, just the tiny tips of the Christmas trees, otherwise known as Norway Spruce. They have a strange slightly bitter flavour which jazzes up a salad. I'm now putting them in my blow-your-head-off salad dressing. 

Apparently you can dry them and make tea with them - and the Norweigans mix them with butter. Yummy - that sounds like something I need to try on baked potatoes.

A trawl of the internet shows that they are Vitamin C rich - which is excellent news.  I'm not sure how long the tip season lasts but for the moment the wood is just full of them, tons of them in fact. If I were an entrepreneur I guess I'd be harvesting them and selling on to high class restaurants. There are some in the fridge as I type, so if you come by, remember to ask to try one.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Asparagus - yummy, yummy

My nutritionist - God bless her - has just sent me a great link to an article on the benefits of asparagus. Brilliant! I can now buy loads of  it with a clear conscience, knowing that I'm only doing so because asparagus is a Jolly Good Thing and it's not because I'm a glutton and just love the stuff.  Here's the link 

I'm a great believer in Chris Woollams for information on cancer but having had a look at the web site with the asparagus information on it -  which I'd not come across before - I can see that it also seems to give a very balanced view. 

Thursday, 3 May 2012

You do wonder sometimes

It's been raining nearly all day, but in between the drops I've been packing the van ready for the first camp of the season. I'm quite excited to be off once again on a little expedition. We've several planned for this year including a weekend for our niece's wedding. Yesterday I investigated camp sites near the venue and emailed one to ask if they had space for a two night stopover, and what would be the cost.

I've received a reponse which I quote in full:
"I am sorry but as that is the August Bank Holiday weekend we have a minimum of 3 night stays."

You do wonder sometimes if some people are too stupid to run a business don't you. Just a little warm cuddly reply and it could all turn to their benefit, as in:

"Thank you so much for your enquiry. We're so glad you selected our camp site and we would love it if you were to stay with us. 

The dates you've quoted are the August Bank Holiday and we do have a minimum stay of three nights during that period. But nevertheless, we hope you'll still book with us and it will cost you only ..... I do so much hope you'll be able to visit our campsite. If there's anything else we can help, with please just ask. " etc.

I have actually emailed back to ask for a cost for the three nights, but I don't think they really deserve it.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Dear reader ....

I do apologise. I've been so busy of late that I haven't blogged for nearly a week. I've been quite busy on community events - the most recent a celebration of St George's day at the pub. A superb meal was followed by a mummers play. We had no time whatsoever for a rehearsal so we had to read out parts - but the amusement provided seemed to have greatly pleased our audience.

Franc the Van is sitting proudly outside the house and tomorrow the habitation check van man cometh to ensure that everything that should be, is safe.  And the weekend after this one we're off for our first camping of the season. I'm very excited to be able to get out and about again in Franc. I've missed him a lot.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My Annus Bonus

Behind the scenes here at Holly Cottage we've had a right old Latin lesson and I can now confirm my Annus Bonus as a quick description of the year in which I was saved.

It's amazing how quickly that disruption to my life has sunk into my past - only I'm not so sure my subconscious feels quite as at peace about the whole thing as I feel on the surface. My dreams are strange and I reckon that during the night the old grey cells are busy trying to rearrange the record to take into account the buffeting my psyche received last year.

Physically I forget entirely that I am anything but whole - I certainly feel hearty.  Interestingly enough a binge on Saturday night during which I ate everything on my plate and drank champagne, wine and finally a double of single malt, is something I will not repeat. I had a hangover, unsurprisingly - not a bad one, but unmistakeably a hangover.  I apologised to my liver and vowed to get back on the no alcohol and no sugar routine immediately.

When I say I forget entirely, well I do with the exception of one or two twinges which have been apparent in the past couple of weeks, around the site of the incision in my back. I am conscious of something - as if I've done a bit too much lifting - but only very slightly. If a medic asked me to describe what and where I wouldn't be able to. It's too subtle a feeling. I can only conclude that some of the nerves are re-establishing contact around the site of the incision.  Jolly good show eh!

Monday, 16 April 2012

(missing title)

Today we liberated Franc the Van from his sojourn in a wood where he'd been hibernating under a slightly padded waterproof cover. Amazingly the only mould to be seen was on a bit of melamine round the fridge and on the kitchen vent wire filter. Presumably there was enough bacterial matter (dead flies, smidgins of food, etc.) on the wire to make a mould feel it worth a mycelium.

Franc is now to have a habitation check and we're resolved to find out how and where we switch on the central heating when The Man comes. We've both forgotten where the controls are. (I have my suspicions about a small area of switching mechanisms with a nob or two and an LED which I don't recall belonging to any other control.) The Romahome explanatory book is sadly lacking on detail in this regard and the manufacturer's booklet - to which Romahome refers - gives 30-odd pages on installation but no picture whatsoever of the controls!

You're wondering, I know you are, don't deny it, why I've titled this post (missing title). Well, it was while I was cleaning the muck off the kitchen vent in Franc that I got to wondering what handy title I could give to last year.  I need a handy title because I keep finding I have to refer to it. That was the year in which I underwent chemo therapy and had two thirds of a lung out. So it could be called my Annus Cannulus* (because of the number of cannulas I had stuck into me). I'd prefer it wasn't my Annus Horribilus because I don't actually see is as negative. It was all positive. 2010 wasn't good because in that year I got the diagnosis, but in 2011 they appeared to have cured me. So we reckon (I've got hubby in on this now and we have two Latin dictionaries annd the internet to play with) that 2001 was an Annus Bonum.  Latin scholars will no doubt put me right on this if my declention* is wrong.

NB. I was not privileged to "do" Latin, being merely a Beta-grade pupil until my fourth year of grammar school, at which point They discovered I did have some semblance of a brain.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Project: hymns

I've decided to retrain my voice by doing a bit of singing every day - currently I'm having problems with the notes from A (above middle C) to D. I can get them but it's very strained and not comfortable and I long to be able to open my throat and really belt those notes out, as I used to. 

I've decided to use Hymns Ancient & Modern Revised and start at the front and sing right through. So that you can keep up-to-date on my progress I've put a link on the right hand side of this page - just in case you wonder how it's going.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Bad science

I must apologise for the appallingly bad science of my rash theory. As a dear friend who has been my signpost for so much of my cancer journey has pointed out, and as my nutritionist has also stated, Vitamin C tablets contain lots of other things. They're right - I checked the ones I've been taken are full of all sorts of very long-named chemicals.

It's quite possible that my rash (and the rashes attributed by others to Vitamin C) are caused by an over-sufficiency of some other ingredient. Nevertheless I am continuing without the food supplement now and (if I can resist hubby's wonderful homemade bread) going back on my austere diet in order to rid myself of the excesses of Easter (yes, I did eat some Easter eggs) and hopefully deplete some of the excess adipose tissue around my waist in time for summer.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

Alleluia - my voice is returning!

It's quite appropriate I guess to head this up with an alleluia - for today is Easter Sunday and I've been singing for hours. OK my tones are less that rounded and pure at times, some Bs and Cs have been questionable, but it's working better and better the more I sing.

Up to this point I was worried that I might strain it unduly by doing a lot of singing, but over the past week I've been working it hard. Two services on Good Friday and then a band rehearsal, a MCing job (albeit not singing) last night meant that I was projecting my voice, and then two services in one morning today.

Perhaps I was right after all in my theory that the thyroid nodules were affecting my voice. Maybe my wildest dream could come true and it might end up better than it was before it started to decline. Wouldn't that be wonderful!

I'm thinking that I need to sing every day and not just songs in a key of my choosing. Should I attempt to sing right through Hymns Ancient & Modern starting at the first one and doing the whole 600 or so - or at least the ones I know tunes for?  One a day - that sounds like a plan. I'll let you know how I get on.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

When's a login a username or a PIN or a password or an ID or a passcode?

I don't know about you but I'm considerably annoyed by the plethora of web sites that I need to use which have enhanced security to such an extent that I cannot possibly remember all the different pieces of information I need to access them. If we are to have different password for every single web service we use (and I really recommend that you do that) then it is simply not possible to remember them all. For a start, you don't always get a chance to choose and might easily be saddled with the occasional 786cv33bN or similar.

On top of that I've noticed a definite trend to complicate matters even further. I can cope with a login and a password. I can even cope with a user name, a login and a password. What really annoys me is when the provider uses the word login in the sign up screen and then askes for a user name, or demands a passcode when they've earlier referred to it as a PIN. For goodness sake, if the provider can't stick to a consistent language, how on earth are us mere mortals expected to cope?

Because I am the guardian of so many password and login details for people for whom I've set up web sites, as well as all the ones that I have myself, I have to keep a list. But it's a list of cryptic clues - not the actual words. Just occasionally they're so cryptic that even I can't understand them!

Anyone who does internet banking, online communication with their GP's surgery, their school intranet, their Hotmail account, logs into Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, MSN Messenger, Flickr or a hundred and one more online services must either use the same identification for many or keep a list. It's not humanly possible to do otherwise. Ergo the more online stuff we do, the more insecure it all becomes.

P.S. That last posting on the first of April wasn't an April fool in case you were wondering. I'm pleased to report that the rash abated as soon as I stopped the Vitamin C and it's continued to fade and is almost gone.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Can you have too much Vitamin C?

I've been taking food supplements since I was diagnosed with lung cancer including a daily dose of Vitamin C. However something someone said last night about Vitamin C suddenly made me wonder if my skin rash is due to too much.

A Google reveals people who are actually allergic to Vitamin C - although none of the medical web sites mention it. One of the side effects of too much is, yes, you've guessed it, a skin rash.

I've been puzzled as to how my skin could not be in the best possible order and why it might hospitable to a fungal rash. Maybe I have the answer. Time will tell. No more Vitamin C supplements for the time being. Meanwhile we continue with the cream three times a day and to give the medication its due, it does seem to have had an effect.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Fungus the bogeyman

It's been hot, so hot in fact that this morning I had to come in out of the sun. One or two midges have had little nibbles at my arms, but it was when I changed to try on a dress I'm making that I noticed these strange blotches round my abdomen. Worried, I Googled 'shingles' and having seen the gruesome pictures promptly made an appointment with the GP. I saw the one totally without people skills only this time I wasn't bothered about that.

Not shingles, he thought, but instead a fungal problem. He didn't specify which - I don't think he knew. The presription cream lists some conditions that it's effective against so I had yet more unpleasant images to Google when I got back. I'm not much more enlighted though.

Yuck - here's me with a body almost totally devoid of noxious sugars and yeasts - finding that despite that I'm host to an outbreak of fungus. I've got an antifungal cream to use and I'm sure it won't last long but, yuk, fungus. After all the care I've taken of myself in the last year and this happens!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Bicarb QED

I have great respect for Chris Woollams of Canceractive. He tells it like it really is and must spend enormous amounts of time reading research papers into cancer and related topics. I do recommend anyone who wants to gain more knowledge about the subject to subscribe to his email newsletters.

Yesterday I received the latest and in it he details some research into Sodium Bicarbonate. You'll recall a recent post of mine where I raise the subject. Here's what Chris has to say.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Of course my ears picked up when I heard the recent media coverage of the benefits of asprin. It's so easy to think in terms of pills. Pop a pill to cure the ill. The news prompted me to look up salicylic acid. I knew it was derived from willow and of course it's obvious that it won't just be in willow.

A quick Google found this list of foods containing salicylic acid. In that list of foods containing the acid is a load of those which I put in my diet when I devised it back in November 2010. It makes no sense to pop a pill. If you can eat food rich in the desired nutrient you'll also be consuming various other things too which will, in all likelihood, be necessary to facilitate absorption. Asprin does carry a health warning. But foodstuffs? Have you ever heard of anyone suffering stomach bleeding from eating too many mushrooms?

Monday, 19 March 2012


I've just been to a salt cave - a room where you sit and relax, fully clothed, and breathe in salt air. It was lovely and in the first five seconds I could feel my sinuses loosen up. The room was inches deep in salt and the walls appeared to be salt covered. My ears were fed a diet of soothing tones and the noise of waves breaking on a shore.

Salt therapy has, according to Wikipedia, been around since the Romans. There are many things claimed for it which I haven't investigated and there are some aspects that might well benefit my own family. So I think I'll probably go back for a proper session; today's was just a taster. In fact, if any of you are interested then take a look at Salt Cave. Your first visit is absolutely free and there's no obligation to go back and have another session.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Duct tape bondage

Ah, that got you interested didn't it? First of all, apologies for not writing for you during the past couple of weeks. I don't know where the time goes but I know I'm busy. There's the local business association, for which I do quite a bit. Then there's the church restoration project and the various events which it spawns.

I've taken to promoting our pub quite heavily since we have some amazing people who've taken it over. They're really interested in the community and the food is excellent. All fresh - nothing out of a plastic bag. I can't afford to eat there all the time - though prices are very reasonable - so I have to try and encourage others so that it becomes really successful.

We have a Titanic commemorative evening coming up at the pub, where people can attend and dine "first class" or "steerage". Appropriate meals will be served depending upon the class of passenger. Of course I need to be wearing a dress of authentic 1912 design. So at the moment I'm sitting with a lot of bits of fabric around me wondering if I can use the £5 dress which I bought in a charity shop as a basis for my Titanic creation.

I've always wanted a dress form - you know a tailor's dummy. And I've come close to ordering one over the past couple of months. But I got a little put off by reading on forums about the different models and that for some it's really difficult to get the dummy adjusted to exactly the right size. Well, I know I'm anything but ordinary. I've a very long back and my arms are a bit long. My legs are actually longer than my husband's although he's taller than me! So I Googled to see if there was any way of making your own dummy.

That is why a week or so ago, with me dressed in an old T-shirt, one of our daughters and my husband spent a couple of hours covering me in duct tape. Yes, you've read that correctly. Duct tape - the silver stuff you use for taping down leads when you're doing a gig. Yards and yards of it - about two and a half rolls of the big reels. I was covered up to my neck and down to my thighs and around the tops of my arms in the stuff and then I was carefully cut out with a jagged cut down the back. I'd read that if you cut a jagged line it makes it much easier to stick it back square.

I have stuffed my dummy with the contents of an old flattened duvet - and actually I really need to find another old one, because it's stll only half filled. It could do with a stand but for the time being it's got a coat hanger in the neck and can hang from a door frame.

The one thing that has shocked me about this exercise is, depsite my weight loss, that it's soooooo big!

Friday, 2 March 2012

Pennies dropped

The homeopath I met yesterday has sent me a link to a fascinating film. I'm not going to tell you about it; best watch it yourself. You might like to do this in small stages as it's about an hour and a half long. But it is divided into chapters.

Watching this I found that many pennies dropped. My money's on the yeast theory. It would explain why I felt so strangely 'on the way out' for years before my diagnosis. It might explain why I got cancer in the first place. It certainly explains why I began to feel so much better before they'd even started treating me. And sadly, it also explains why no-one is at all interested in why my outcome should be so different from that anticipated by the chest physician and oncologist.

Warning! - if you are currently undergoing conventional cancer treatment you might like to give this a miss, as it could add to your anxiety.

Here's the link

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Spring is sprung ...

.... or at least here it's trying exceptionally hard. I've just been sunbathing, not for the first time this year I have to add. I'm a believer in the theory that we evolved to be in the sun and that while it might lessen the wrinkles, staying out of the sun is unnatural. It's interesting that nowadays the "experts" are saying the same thing. So any chance of a little ray or two and the opportunity to produce some vitamin D, then I'm there lapping it up with Simba the cat. I'm also a sceptic when it comes to suncreams - if anything's unnatural then it's putting chemicals and nano particles into your body. But that's a rant for another day I think.

I've been to a networking meeting this morning, not really in the hope of finding any businesss but for fun. I had a lunch yesterday which was equally entertaining. I always come back with a large number of business cards with things scribbled on the back listing things I need to do.

Today a homeopath described herself as a health detective. I didn't realise that homeopaths entered quite so far into the holistic approach - but they do. It was when this lady gave a for-instance of grief affecting the lungs that I really sat up and took notice. Remember all the grief that came out when I did my first session of Journey therapy? All these alternatives to conventional wisdom and medicine seem to converge at various points which does, in my opinion, add up to quite a lot.

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Nurturing channels

Yesterday our dowser attended for the second time, to finish conversion of the channels of disruptive energy which run through our house to those of nuturing energy. I've been on a bit of a 'high' recently - it seems to drive me to achieve more and more. I'd decided that it was a release of pent up energy, due to the muted nature of my existence for the past 14 months or so; a sort of post traumatic stress but one which manifests itself in the completion of tasks rather than depression.

It had not occurred to me for one moment, until a friend pointed it out, that this energy could be due to the earlier conversion of the line of geopathic stress which ran in a line right through where I sleep. I must must say that would offer an explanation. I'm particularly baffled for instance, why I should be on a physical and mental high when three days aog I forgot completely to take my thyroxine. One might have expected a dip in energy, but no, I'm storming ahead, if anything more energised than ever before. My thyroxine dose hasn't been upped since the thyroid surgery and I would have expected, had a higher dose been needed, that just about now lethagy might manifest itself.

Back to the geopathic stress. Our dowser, having completed his task, then proceeded to check the level of strength of the lines. There's a scale apparently of one to sixteen, so we have the one going through the bed at 9, one cutting through the house in the middle which hits an armchair where the cat rather liked to sit, that's 7. The highest grade line is at 11 and that's the one that passes right through my desk and my keyboard.

What can we expect now? Well goodness knows; that 11 strength field of energy passing through my fingers now might produce anything. As they say, watch this space. What will be really interesting is finding out where the cat wants to sleep; they like the negative lines and what it will make of the conversion to nurturing energy is anyone's guess.

Want to read about geopathic stress? - then try this, it says much of what the dowser told us.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Just a handkerchief

The consequences of a good standard of living appear to me to be endless waste. I was contemplating this fact as I walked back up the village yesterday in a blustery shower. Shielding my face from the wind and rain my eyes were upon the pavement. It was there I saw a small, apparently lace-trimmed handkerchief, the sort a child might have. I didn't dwell on my dilemma long. In an instant I resolved not to pick up the muddied and wet piece of cloth on the basis that I didn't need it, I don't know anyone else who would need it, and in any case it might bear the bacterial or viral remains of some affliction that I would rather not acquire.

In nineteenth century England a child could be hanged for stealing a handkerchief. I ruminated upon that fact. What a terrible fate awaited those who were forced to steal in order to eat back then; for I'm quite sure no child - with the shadow of the hangman's noose above them - ever undertook such a risk without very very good reason.

So is society a better place today? We don't hang children. But is the fact that I felt no wish to pick up that handkerchief a Good Thing or has our society, wallowing in its piles of unwanted items, plummeted to the depths of depravity with the amount of acquisitions that every day we waste with barely a second thought? I'll leave you to ponder that.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Cancer Act 1939

I've been aware of this piece of legislation for years. I don't know how or why it came to my attention but I was aware that it was illegal to market a cure for cancer. My Journey therapist puts out various pieces of marketing content and I've been helping her with this recently. A couple of times I've had to suggest she removes the word cancer for fear of official retribution.

Today I thought I'd look it up - now that you can look up anything on Wikipedia (what a brilliant resource!) And I'm amazed to see that it's not just that claiming a cure is illegal, there's a clause prohibiting taking any part in publication, except under specified conditions, of advertisements that "offer to treat any person for cancer, or to prescribe any remedy therefor, or to give any advice in connection with the treatment thereof".

There have been one or two tweaks to this legislation the citation says but intrinsically this is it. Obviously the medical professions, pharmaceutical companies, etc., are granted a waiver.

No doubt this is why Chris Woollams at
has prominent paragraphs on his web site which indicate that it is not providing advice or recommendations. In fact looking at his site it certainly makes an ass of the law. It seems to me that it's about time there was a complete review of the Cancer Act 1939 because things have changed a great deal in the seventy years since it was drafted.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Whoopity do dah! Whoopity day!

Just heard from the Macmillan cancer nurse that the CT scan I had last week showed nothing untoward - the small shadow at the bottom of the remaining right lung lobe would appear to be, as expected, merely scar tissue from the surgery.

It's just so sad that even this little piece of communication didn't go to plan. The nurse had said she would ring yesterday, after the meeting. She didn't. So I called this morning; no-one there. I left a message.

The original ANP (advanced nurse practitioner) - there are two at the moment in this post doing a job share - that we'd seen upon my diagnosis rang back so it was very nice to be able to have a chat with her. They are run off their feet so I can't really complain about the lack of a phone call. It's a very small thing - the trouble is that, for me, it was a very big issue.

Monday, 6 February 2012

It could be me

I was very concerned about the anti-terror extradition treaty with the USA when it first came into operation. From what I have read about it, this is an extremely dangerous treaty because it is inequitable. It is arguable that those tests which the US applies to a case before extradition are not the same as those which the UK relies upon. But the most worrying aspect about is that you or I could, in theory, be extradited to the US for something which is not illegal in the UK. The current case of the student implicated in intellectual property - copyright - infringement is just such a situation. The student hosted a site which contained links to other sites which were infringing copyright. For goodness sake, any search engine or directory of any sort may do that - to date - with impunity.

Think about it. I have several website which I control. On those sites I have links. Admittedly I'm not promoting my sites because of the links they contain (which the student was doing and from which he derived income.) But let's look further at this. Any of those links may change at any time. For instance, someone may surrender their domain and another unscrupulous operater may take it over and point it to something else. I wouldn't necessarily notice. If we take this little example to its limits, in theory I could find myself in a US jail for having done nothing which is illegal in the UK.

I've been trying to get a new little business off the ground for about four years now. I've been searching for a particular software platform on which to run it. There is nothing yet suitable in the UK but there is something which resides in the US which does the job. However with the current extradition treaty operating as it does and being used for things other than the terrorism threat for which is was designed, there's no way I'm going to resort to using a US system just in case I fall foul of some American law.

I wonder how many other entrepreneurs are thinking the same way as me? Yes, I've written to my MP to state my concerns and asked him to pass the last point to the relevant minister.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Radiology education

Today I had my CT scan - the one that the team (oncologist, chest physician - and presumably surgeon) felt I should have just to be sure that the small shadow remaining on my lung is, as suspected, scar tissue. It's a bother having to visit the hospital again and paying to park for the privilege. However I get over my aversion to parking charges by considering what I'm getting for my money. In municipal car park that's car parking surfacing, oil interceptors in the drainage, white lining and parking charge stations. At the hospital I look at it slightly differently. I work out that £2.20 is a very small price to pay for such an expensive procedure as a CT scan. It's not really logical but it stops me building up the resentment which so damages the human body.

Not wanting the visit to be wasted I interrogated the staff in the CT unit. First I asked about the dye that they inject into me and what it shows up. I had a scan first without the dye and then one with it. It's iodine. I got a very warm feeling in my thyroid - well half my thyroid - which seems logical. But I also get the same warm feeling (being a woman) in my labia. I wonder whether men experience a warm flushing feeling in the same area. They warn you about this. It passes after just a few seconds.

Anyway, I digress; the iodine I was told enables emphasis in the imaging of vascular structures, so that they show up to be more dense than the surrounding tissue. So in my case, if the shadow contains active blood vessels it would give cause for concern I guess. If not, then it's as originally indicated, scar tissue from the mess that my right lung originally was.

The second thing I asked about was that big question: who is responsible for my personal radiation exposure? Who is counting the sieverts? The answer is, legally, the referring doctor. So in my case Xrays requested by my GP, Xrays requested by my chest physician and Xrays requested by the surgeon. All should take account of my previous Xray exposure.

The big problem with this, it seems to me, is that the Xray records in my local hospital do not take account of my Xrays at the hospital at which I had my surgery. They apparently aren't able to see those, whereas they can see the Xray records acquired at other hospitals in the same region. And on top of that you've got dental Xrays; whether those are recorded by my local hospital, I don't know. So, each time I am sent for an Xray, the specific person sending me has the personal legal responsibility to have weighed up that the benefits to me outweigh the risks. If they can't see my previous Xray history of course, that's a nonsense. I think this is one of those issues that I might discuss the next time I'm at the cancer patient partnership's meeting.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Beligerent again

Throughout my life I've been prone to taking up cases which need sorting. I've already made waves in the direction of our local council on two issues this week. But my enthusiasm for this sort of activism has for the past year been sadly lacking. I just didn't have the fight in me. For the past year I've walked by on the other side so many times. Now I've changed again and I just can't allow things to pass - things that "someone should do something" about.

I'm at it again; my beligerence is back. But being beligerent about a cause, however worthy, does upset me - my psyche is disturbed. You have to have a passion about something to try to put it right. In the past it's made me very unpopular and I'm sure it will again. I expect again it will keep me awake at nights.

I have this favourite quote: "There are two types of people in this world: those who seek to make a difference and those who just take up space." It's so true on the surface but below the surface there's more to it than that. Maybe the price of action is far too high for many people. Perhaps those who are just "taking up the space" do it because they cannot bear to upset themselves or upset other people. And taking action on things that aren't right almost inevitably upsets someone, if it's only the scruffy bank nurse with the appalling cough, dirty uniform and a reluctance to ask how to spell the name of a drug.

So maybe I shouldn't think too badly of those who just let it all happen round them, who see something that's not right and don't interfere. Perhaps they're having a bad year too.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Heavy metal info

I've been searching the net trying to find out how long traced of cisplatin can be expected to hang around in my system. The information varies greatly on the forums from a matter of hours to years. In the course of these investigations I've stumbled on a particularly nice description of the drug here. I've been quite curious as to how something that attacks dividing cells has failed to kill me. Mr Jon Steed has explained it in terms that even I can understand. It's all devilishly clever - both cisplatin and Mr Steed!

What I haven't yet found though is a definitive answer to my question.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

We've got them

We have three geopathic stress lines running through the house apparently - and one straight through where I sleep, another where I sit in the office. The very kind gentleman who offered to dowse for these lines came yesterday and discovered them. He has fixed the main one; acupuncture for the earth is how he described the remedy. I don't know exactly what he did but he said that it may take some months but the really harmful line, the one under the bed, will revert to nourishing force now that he's treated it. He's coming back again to sort out the rest when he's got more time.

Interestingly enough the cat does sleep right on one of these lines - apparently cats like them. Dogs on the other hand don't. I wonder where the cat will go when the other lines are fixed?

Don't ask me how the gentleman knew, but he also thinks that the geopathic stress was not the primary reason for my cancer. He explained it that normally these forces don't affect people unless you spend an enormous amount of time in them. But of course if you sleep on a line of stress then you're spending a great deal of time in it - which of course I've done. We've had our bed in that position since 1983.

Geopathic stress knocks the immune system apparently and hence illnesses are more likely to develop. Do I believe all this? - well I'm really not sure. But my geopathic stress practitioner certainly does and he's a very intelligent individual, with a very responsible job and he has a doctorate, so it's difficult to dismiss it all as the ravings of a deluded and unintelligent man. On balance I'll go with it I think.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Done and dusted .... ah but ....

Today I finished writing the narrative of my treatment. It's been an unpleasant task but one that I feel is important because it carries lots of messages about the system and from it I'm sure there is much that can be extracted in order to change/refine systems in order to help others.

I finished it literally a couple of hours ago. Just now the phone rang. It was the Macmillan nurse. They've just had a team meeting and have discussed my case. The recent Xray does show a small area which the surgeon pointed out to me some months back, which he thought was likely to be scar tissue. The team at my local hospital has been reviewing my case and they've also seen this area and while they also suspect it is scar tissue, they want to be absolutely sure - hence they want me to undergo another CT scan.

I thought I had escaped the NHS for at least six months; it is not to be. Thank goodness the nurse had the presence of mind to call me and warn me of the impending letter about the appointment.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Dreams are made of fringe trimmings apparently

I've been editing my diary, the one I kept from the time of my initial consultation with the GP back in September 2009 and moving on from that, the blog. It's a project for the cancer professionals that I met at the first meeting of the cancer care partnership. They have expressed an interest in reading about my experience. Of course, that means delving back into those dark days of the three months before I knew what was wrong with me. They were very dark and although I kept my chin up, I now recall how utterly miserable I really was underneath the cheery facade.

While I'm engaged in this task I'm finding that my mind is quite troubled at night if I wake. I seem to sleep in small doses, waking often and having the most bizarre of dreams. I don't expect this to last long - probably for as long as I'm editing my memoirs. Unfortunately - or maybe fortunately - I can't recall any of the dreams now, but they're very vivid when they occur.

However they are not as wierd and wonderful as this, which was not dreamed by me but dreamed about me last night. The dreamer has told me that I tried to enrole her in a strange women’s health club where the ladies were wrapped in cling film and covered in uncooked pork pie meat (very specific). This was a very hush-hush experiment with amazing outcomes in terms of health and beauty, so I told her. Then I gave her a lift home in my car in which the whole of the dashboard was covered in hair where I had stored my fringe trimmings over the years. I was very proud of the fact that the cat’s hair was also stored on the back window shelf - for car insulation apparently.

Make of that what you will - and for heaven's sake don't dream about it!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

How it feels

The last few days I've met many lovely people who, when hearing of my narrow escape from the grim reaper, say: you must feel this, or your must feel that. Such exchanges have made me ask myself: what do I feel?

Well, I feel rather as if I've been on a year-long training course. The autumn of 2009 was spent preparing for the course, coming gradually to the realisation that I was bound to experience it and there was no escape and accepting that. I didn't want to undertake the course but as I had no choice I felt I'd have to give it my best shot. 2011 was the year in which I embarked upon the rigours of the training, with all that entailed.

As 2012 dawned, despite all my worries and fears, I have graduated with top marks. I'm pleased, everyone else is very pleased; life couldn't be better. But what now? There was no guaranteed job at the end of this course, so the big question is indeed: what now?

That's exactly how it feels. I've been spared, I've been saved, but for what? Should I get a job? Not sure about that - it would be a tie. There's something wonderful about being footloose and fancy free. I have plenty to do. Don't get me wrong. I've got local events to publicise, I've got the pub down the road to promote. I have a whole pile of reading relating to the cancer patients' group. Upstairs my sewing machine sits all forlorn with a couple of yards of dark purple velvet beside it. That's not the issue, there's plenty to keep me busy.

It's the grander scheme of things that calls for my attention. I now have to decide what to do with the rest of my life.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Three cheers for Hashimoto Hakaru

It's brilliant news. I didn't have cancer of my thyroid lobe but rather a colloid goitre (nothing to worry about) and Hashimoto's disease which is (thanks Wikipedia) chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease in which the thyroid gland is gradually destroyed by a variety if immune processes - it's an autoimmune disorder and it's fairly common. Basically the thyroid packs up. I knew that was on the cards anyway since I've been taking extra thyroxine for the past few years, so the only difference now is that I have a name for it and I'll probably need to up my synthetic thyroxine replacement dose. In reading up on Hashimoto's I find it is seven times more common in women than men. It tends to develop slowly, over months and years - which pretty well ties in with my experience. Phew! I'm glad that's all sorted then.

After my appointment with the ENT registrar (I asked, he's an ENT consultant in training and a surgeon himself - he sewed me up and made a very good job of it), I went along to join the cancer patients' group that works with the professionals at our local hospital to improve cancer patient care. You know me - though I'd only just joined I still found something to say. Ears pricked up when I told one of the professionals that I'd been phoned about an appointment with the oncologist before I'd been for the diagnostic surgery. Similar interest was expressed when I explained how, having finished with the lung, I had to go back into the system via the GP to get the thyroid issue investigated. I'm going to write up my experiences in a short narrative, with notes where I think there were failures in the system, for the relevant professional. Then I suspect I'm going to find myself involved in lots of other committees and initiatives. It isn't what I would have chosen post-cancer; in fact I have stated repeatedly that I do not wish my life to be defined by my cancer. However her upstairs (Mountjoy to those of you who watched the first episode of Eternal Law) in whom incidentally I have no conventiional belief, obviously has other things planned for me. Is this what you would call a calling I wonder?

So, even though it is at this point I sign off from active cancer investigation and treatment, if you've enjoyed reading this blog do carry on. It's become a bit of a habit and I don't suppose I'm going to stop writing it now, though you might find the updates not quite so regular. Cheers!!!

Monday, 9 January 2012

Mandibular tori

I haven't told you, because I knew you'd just worry like me if I did, but I had an appointment at the dentist's today. The reason for this was that I'd detected on my inside lower jaw a lump, a very small lump, but a lump. I can't tell you how long it's been there nor when I first discovered it. I seem to remember being conscious of it some time ago. But I've been having problems getting to sleep and last Thursday the size of this lump as felt by my tongue at 2 o'clock in the morning was enorrrrrrrrmous. Hence the dental appointment.

Anxiety has been creeping up on me and I don't think it's just to do with the lump in the mouth. Generally I've been a bit 'down'. I suspect that as I'm three weeks into living with only half of my thyroid my thyroxine level is lower than it needs to be, but we've got the appointment tomorrow with the ENT consultant so no doubt that will be sorted then. Back to the lump.

Mandibular tori diagnosed the dentist, as he told me that I had a tiny similar occurence on the other side of my jaw. I couldn't feel that one even with my tongue but he said he detected it. I have benign growths. They're quite common according to Wikipedia. Depending upon your genetic heritage the prevalence of mandibular tori ranges from 5% to 40% of the population, being common in Asian and Inuit populations, and slightly more common in males. Now isn't that interesting. I've always thought of myself, because of my pale eyes, belonging to a very northern tribe; maybe there's a touch of Eskimo in me somewhere.

These tori are likely to continue to grow, but I don't need to bother with them unless they become a nuisance. Phew! Much relief and a lifting somewhat of the overhanging cloud that's been bothering me.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


This is going to be long - but stick with me, it'll be worth it - if somewhat gruesome at the end. Some years ago we went to visit a friend of my mother's who had had a stroke which left her pretty well imobile. We were invited in and we sat down on what looked like a sofa but had the most amazingly fluid structure. Upon enquiry, we were told it was a memory foam mattress which had been purchased for the stroke victim. Her daughter, being so impressed with the qualities of the mattress promptly ordered one for herself and her husband, who suffered with back problems.

As we were returning home we began to discuss our bed, the sticking-out springs and the fact that we met far too frequently in the centre. Time for a new mattress. The total memory foam mattresses are terribly expensive so we decided upon one which was high density foam with a memory foam topper layer.

The new mattress was duly delivered; I wasn't at home at the time so hubby officiated. That night we experienced the joy of a flat bed; no springs in evidence and a soft feeling instead. It was slightly harder than I'd envisaged but definitely a great improvement on the previous bed. We slept very well on the new mattress.

It had a lovely foam-backed fabric cover with a zip all round. One Saturday morning - about three months later - as I was changing the bedclothes I decide to take a peek at what was inside the zip. To my surprise I could see clearly that the memory foam was on the bottom, not the top. Silly us, we'd been sleeping on the wrong side. The mattress was duly righted; the label which said clearly it was not reversible, was now on top.

Hubby says he can't tell the difference, but I certainly can. The memory foam is much softer but it is incredibly warm. Even on the coldest nights you don't need a hotwater bottle. As soon as you hit those sheets your body warmth is reflected back to you. It's so warm in fact that in summer it's too much. So when we arrived at the first really hot summer's night of the season after the right-way-up saga, I decided to turn the mattress again. In summer we sleep on the high-density foam side, in the winter on the memory foam.

Those of you who have been reading this blog since my chemo may remember the problems I had with smell. During treatment I developed what I assume must be a sense of smell akin to a dog. Everything smelly seemed amplified; flowers were too strong sometimes and the worst bit was the horrendous smell when we got out of bed in the morning. (I warned you this was going to be - as the youngsters say - gross!) At first I thought it was down to me excreting the poisons I'd been filled with. It was only about four months down the line that I realised it was my enhanced sense of smell which was the problem.

I've always been a bed airer - in fact I leave beds open for the day until it's time to go to bed again. I use a mattress cover and I wash it frequently because all that sweat needs to evaporate somewhere. Yesterday when I stripped our bed I decided to change the top mattress cover and upon closer inspection I decided it was time to unzip that zip and battle with the enormous cover underneath as it had a slight, but unmistakable, chemo-time odour. I'm not sure if it's supposed to be washed but off it came and into the bath with detergent. Dark grey water ensued and there was even residue in the bottom of the bath when the water drained out. Ugggh! It was difficult to handle especially when wet because it was so terribly heavy. I keep one of those large plastic trugs for such operations but I ended up soaking wet after battling with it getting it into the garden to drip. It was several hours before I could bring it back inside.

Your think that's gross? Just wait. We next took the Dyson upstairs and started to vacuum the mattress. I've vacuumed it before, often, but never inside the zipped cover which I'd presumed - incorrectly - was not penetrable by dust. I even removed the stockinette cover inside that and we did both sides thoroughly. The thing about a Dyson is that you can see what you're sucking up. In this case a very fine grey/white dust began to accumulate. There was so much of it - I couldn't quite believe how much. Horrendous! It can only have been our skin. OMG!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

New doors open

Isn't it strange how things happen? It seems some doors have suddenly opened to me this new year when I wasn't even knocking on them.

Those of you who know what I do work-wise will probably know that I run a whole load of business-orientated networking groups for our town. I was invited by one of the members of one of the groups to promote a blog via a women's web site. I wrote to explain that while I did blog, I wasn't trying to work that hard now that I'm semi retired. I explained briefly why. It turns out that the lady I was writing to has just recovered from cancer and major surgery and is the vice chairman of the local hospital's cancer patient partnership; a group which works to improve the treatment system for patients. Yes, it's just the forum with which I was hoping to engage about the ridiculous disconnect my lung and thyroid issues. I've been invited to their AGM which falls at the hospital (you couldn't make this up) an hour or so after my appointment with the surgeon at the same hospital next week.

That's the first thing. The second is that, up until the end of 2010 I was trying to find a platform onto which to move several of my networking groups. I won't go into details here, but I use a free platform at the moment and with that goes all the frustrations and difficulties associated with something you aren't paying for. For about four years I've been seeking an alternative that I would pay for and which I could monetise to cover the cost and make a little bit too. With closure of the business and acknowledgement of the severity of my diagnosis had come abandonment of that dream. Then at a business Christmas lunch this year I met someone who said he had a platform already developed, which he thought would do the job. He seemed keen to discuss it but I've heard this so often before that I'd put the matter to the back of my mind. But hey presto, he's been keen to fix a meeting and it's to be the day after the one at the hospital. It's funny how things happen isn't it?

Sunday, 1 January 2012

A new chapter

We had a staggeringly good new year's eve. I looked out all the finery and pomp that could be associated with dining. We sat down to dinner prepared by my culinary champion, my hubby, with nine round the table and another three we couldn't fit in busking it in the lounge. Everyone was adorned in some sort of silliness and so the night progressed. Daft games, all with prizes saw some familiar objects being reallocated after having done the rounds of countless parties. (I stuck a whole load of stuff we didn't want/need in one of our eldest daughter's bags when she left. She won't find it until she unpacks!

All in all it was an astonishingly fun night and I eventually went to bed at 3.15am, having cleared away the final dregs when everyone else had left.

For the actual moment of the new year we turned to the televised coverage of the London fireworks and while it was spectacular we all agreed that in this era of austerity, perhaps something less ostentatious would have been more appropriate. Goodness knows how many daily carers and hospital admissions went up in smoke. While it was magnificent, we all felt that someone somewhere wasn't quite in tune with our mood and probably the mood of the whole country.