I decided to make a dolls’ house out of cardboard boxes.
Stick together using as much double-sided tape, sticky tape and glue as possible. Realise that it will still come apart.
Spend half a day papering the box, inside and out. Wish you had painted it instead.
Check the house for size.
Add another floor. Use as much tape as possible to attach. Realise that the walls will still fall down. Paper the extra floor.
Add decorative elements, such as windows.
I am making some furniture too.
Someone told me that I would find out who my real friends are when I was diagnosed with cancer. They were right.
As the first part of my treatment winds to a close, it feels like a good time to thank some of the people who have made this particular unexpected journey that bit less difficult. So, at the risk of sounding like an over-emotional Oscar winner, here goes:
To everyone who has sent a card or gift, made a meal, delivered groceries, prayed for us or made time to chat over the last few months, thank you. I would like to name everyone but actually there are so many people that I am worried I would leave someone out, and that wouldn’t be very nice. So, you know who you are. And I am very grateful.
Our parents: Austin, Heather, Chris and Paul.
You have all been there for us, well, always, but especially since diagnosis. Babysitting, lifts, meals, holidays, chats, cat-sitting, prayers, hugs, everything. Words cannot express how grateful Mike and I (and the kids) are for your love, support and time. We could never repay you but please know how much we love you. Thank God for you.
Laura and Vince: my sister and brother.
For being there even when you are far away. For your visits and messages. I know that you have got my back.
I hardly knew you at the start of this year, and if there is just one good thing that has come from having cancer, it’s your friendship. I will never forget your kindness and generosity. Such a blessing.
For organising meal rotas, making time for us, being silly at (in)appropriate times. A proper friend.
Milly and Wendy
For being such good, loyal friends. I can feel your love zooming to me across the sea.
Andrea and Gabriel
For being like the long-lost Brazilian siblings we never knew we had. Your lights shine so bright.
For having time for us and keeping it real.
Rob and Sabine. Colin and Emma. Richard and Jools. And all of your kids.
For opening your homes for Connor and thereby being a real blessing to us. For having lovely kids. For being church.
Jonny and Hayley
For going out of your way to see us. For your friendship.
For being inspirational.
For your kindness and thoughtfulness.
Si and Fi
For being yourselves.
For your time and delicious marmalade.
For your generosity even though we had never spoken before.
For always coming to chat to me when many people find it easier not to.
Thank you all! May God bless you with more than you could ever ask for or imagine. x
I am having my (hopefully) last chemo on Wednesday. A Picc line in my right arm was put in in early May. The chemo drugs are put into the Picc line to save my veins from being damaged from too many needles. For the past few months I have been to a local doctors’ surgery every week to have my Picc flushed, and to have bloods taken to check that my white blood cell count is high enough before chemo.
The IV nurses who clean my Picc are so friendly and I have enjoyed chatting to them every week. They have made the process so much more pleasant than what it could have been. I actually looked forward to having my Picc cleaned rather than seeing it as just another appointment. Yes they are doing their job, but some people are just made to be nurses because of their caring natures, and these ladies certainly fit the bill.
Today was probably the last time that I will see them as I should be having my Picc taken out on Weds. Yay! I will not miss having to be very careful around water; having to wear a plastic sleeve to shower or bath; and not being able to swim. But I will miss the lovely IV nurses. I got them a thank you card, chocolates and biscuits, but it doesn’t seem enough.
I also saw my oncologist today, possibly for the last time; although I might see him again after surgery, if I need to have radiotherapy. He is a fantastic doctor and I am grateful to have had a nice person who I feel able to ask questions of and be comfortable with.
At my last appt he said that there was a (new) small pea-sized lump, but that has now gone. There is just some thickening now, like you may have after an operation. I take it as a sign of ongoing healing. I had been disappointed about the new lump, but it’s just a reminder to trust God no matter what; with the bad news and the good. He’s got this. He hasn’t forgotten me.
The next medic I will be seeing is my surgeon. I have met him twice already, as he is the one who gave me my initial suspected and then confirmed diagnosis. I told by other breast cancer patients that he is the best doctor, which is reassuring.
It annoys me when people moan about the NHS without a very good reason: we are so fortunate in the UK to have world-class care for free at point of use. If you think it’s that bad, go private and research how much Americans pay for health care, on top of their regular health insurance premiums. And if you still feel like moaning, don’t do it in front of me.
I love House (MD), as played by Hugh Laurie. He’s a genius doctor but lacks people-skills.
Today I met a doctor who reminded me a bit of House, but not in a good way. There was no sarcasm, for instance. I was referred to see a dermatologist because a mole on my back had become inflamed. That would have been funny, wouldn’t it? Getting skin cancer when I am undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Ok, maybe not funny. More annoying.
Anyway, it’s not cancer so that’s good.
The dermatologist strode into the room, said “Dixon?” while shaking my hand (I have never been called ‘Dixon’ before. Mrs Dixon, yes, but not Dixon.) Then he asked in a cross tone,
“Why are you here?”
I took a second to respond as was a little taken aback. I explained why I was there, which he seemed to accept. The appointment was over in three minutes. This is very efficient, I must admit. He certainly is a good doctor, he just can’t cope with things like eye-contact or small talk or such. I guess that I am used to my friendly and chatty oncologist, so am a bit spoiled.
I was reading the leaflet about preparing for minor surgery – I am going to have my mole removed under local anaesthetic. I had a chuckle at the thought of someone being scared of local anaesthetic. After chemo, side-effects, having a PICC, and looking forward to a mastectomy, a little mole being removed is a nice day out.
But then Mike reminded me that when I had another mole removed a few years ago, I had been very worried about it beforehand. I guess that it all comes down to perspective. Before you have ever been really ill, a cold will knock you for six and you will be tempted to tell everyone you had flu. A stubbed toe is agony until you go through labour for the first time- then you know what real pain is and afterwards you laugh in the face of sore feet.
I am reading a book about Jewish women in concentration camps during WWII, who had to hide their pregnancies on threat of death. It’s called Born Survivors. They had so little food for so long, as well as hard manual labour, that it’s amazing that they and their babies survived. I can’t possibly imagine the hunger that they experienced. They saw a rotten raw potato as a feast. I have fasted before for one whole day. I thought that was hunger – how wrong I was. It’s all about perspective.