Last Rotten Week

My New Red Wig

My New Red Wig

My new Red Wig arrived, not a great picture, it is a bit flat.  But a change is as good as a holiday.  This will hopefully be my last bad Chemo week ever.  By tomorrow I should start to pick up, mouth ulcers will disappear and I should gradually get back to my old self over the next two weeks, just in time for Radiation to start.

Well, I went to visit my friend Lyn to give her a present for her birthday which was last week, and as usual I left with a present as well.  I can see why babies get attached to their special blanket.  Lyn had bought me a gorgeous pink fluffy throw to take to Chemo, as it can get very cold during treatments, only now I am finished.  Still I came home late last night and it was cold so I slipped into my bed which I had made up with fresh sheets yesterday, and wrapped my new soft pink cloud around me and snuggled into a wonderful nights sleep.  These new fabrics are so luxurious it is hard to believe they are made out of recycled plastic products.

Hayley and I headed off to see the Matinee performance of ‘Evita’ yesterday at Kwinana, which was starring our Granddaughter Hannah’s Mum Alison.  Her and brother Paul did an amazing job, so good in fact that Alison’s little niece who had come with her Grandma and us was so upset that her Aunty Alison died on stage that she started crying and didn’t stop all the way home.  I shouldn’t really have been out in a public place like that, as my blood count is at its lowest, and felt really tired by the time I got home.  I can’t seem to say no to things, and it was the last day of the show, so it was then or never.

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I also have a very small wedding at a park just down the road this afternoon, so will pull myself together in a minute, pop on some makeup and my smile and go and perform the ceremony.

FullSizeRender-33Meanwhile, the bread baking is coming along nicely, which is terrible because we usually only eat one loaf of bread in about two weeks and now bread has become number one on our food pyramid.

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Chemo Round 6

 

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Whooo Hoo!! Last round of Chemo yesterday, and my nurse was the lovely Danielle, who was also the nurse I had on my first round at Royal Perth Hospital back in February.  So it was kind of nice to have her again for my final round.  I know the next week I will feel a bit off, but then as my white blood count starts to pick up next week,it will be a great feeling to know that I will just get better, and I will continue to get better and not have to go back for anymore Chemo rounds.  I do have Radiation Oncology next which starts in three weeks, but, I know I will be fine with that, maybe just need a nanna nap some days.

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While we were in the waiting room, I showed Allan this picture and said I may go for this look next Summer, he said I would need some work.  I thought why is it that the bulges at the top are attractive, but a big bump sticking out of the triangle at the bottom isn’t.  I guess it is the same reason that bobbly chubby little thighs on a baby are adorable, but, bobbly chubby thighs on grown women make people queasy.  I don’t think it is fair, the world has fat phobia.

maybe I should have tried a long one

maybe I should have tried a long one

I thought I would use my wig voucher from the Cancer Council, so on Thursday, the lady from Wigs on Wheels arrived pulling her suitcase behind her.  Beau asked her if she was going on a plane, which made us laugh.  Hayley and I had fun trying on her wigs, and I picked a red one for a change, although maybe I should have gone with a long one, and some makeup wouldn’t have gone a miss. Also turns out I have a petite head, which is weird, but at least I have something about me that is petite.

Meanwhile, I will be having a restful weekend, sleeping and watching You Tube.  I’m off to give myself the Philgrastim injection now.

Have a great weekend everyone.  Thank you so much for all your love and support.

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Grandma got a Tat

I went and got marked up today ready for Radiation which will start in June, so it is official, Grandma who always went off at my family who have tattoos, has now joined the ranks and has three tiny dot tats, for markers.  I must say, they hurt, and they are wee little dots, so my hat is off to the aforementioned tattooed, who must be very brave to have huge body art which would have taken hours of pain.  My eyes water just thinking about it.

I am feeling great this week, so have made an appearance at Uniquely Her, our Wednesday morning women’s group at Sound City Church Rockingham they were so shocked they started clapping, and I also went to Church on Sunday.  I haven’t been for weeks, while I was in hospital and then unable to go due to not mixing with crowds who may have germs while my body is at its lowest white blood count.

While I am isolated I have been baking:  First, no knead bread and then no knead cinnamon rolls which we had for afternoon tea, along with Hayley’s Scones with jam and cream.  I am on a see food diet.  See food and eat it.  No judgement please, next week I won’t be able to taste anything again, so I am making Hay while the Sun shines, or probably more truthfully, eating Hay or at least Wheat while the Sun shines.

I made a loaf of no knead bread from You Tube ‘Artisan bread with Steve’ which was so easy,

I mixed together in a bowl 3 1/2 cups bread making flour/or All purpose (bread making has 14% gluten and all-purpose 12% so that is fine as well), 2 teaspoons salt, 1/4 teaspoon dried yeast, and 12 oz cool tap water with the end of a wooden spoon scraping the sides to make sure it was all incorporated.  Leave to proof for 8 – 24 hours.  I did this before I went to bed and then in the morning it is ready to plop onto your floured bench smooth down and fold over onto itself and plop into prepared loaf pan. No need to knead ha!

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Allow to rise covered with a tea towel for 2 hours and bake in preheated 400 degree farenheit/205 celsius oven for 35 minutes.

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Cinnamon Rolls: Mix together with the end of a wooden spoon, scraping the sides from time to time till just incorporated, 3 cups floor, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/2 tsp dried instant yeast, 4 tablespoons melted butter, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 large egg yolk, 11 oz milk no need to heat. cover with plastic (I use a disposable shower cap) and leave in a warm place for 8-24 hours to proof.  No need to knead. Plop out onto a floured surface and roll out into a rectangle using a little oil on each side to help it roll. sprinkle surface with 1/3 cup sugar mixed with 1 rounded teaspoon cinnamon and spread out with your hand.  Roll up tightly from long side and cup into 8, and place in a round greased cake tin.  Cover and allow to rise for one and a half hours and bake for 35 mins at 350 farenheit, or 180 c.  when baked spread over glaze made by mixing 2 cups icing sugar with 4 tablespoons milk.

Yum!

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What They Don’t Tell You

In the interest of full disclosure, I thought I would talk about some of the side effects to Chemo. None of these are life threatening or anything you wouldn’t be able to cope with unless it went on and on, never the less they are enough to make your life a bit miserable while they invade your normally healthy life.  I have talked to other patients receiving treatment and they say the same thing.  No one tells you about this stuff, and no one talks about it because it is embarrassing.  You get a quick run down of side effects as a list when you begin this journey so I thought I would share some of my experience.  Right, first week after Docetaxel, feeling weird from all the Dexamethasone you take to stop side effects, then you can be plagued with Diarrhoea which because the Chemo attacks the skin in every area of your body, resulting in an upset Digestive tract, causing inflammation and as your blood count drops over the first seven days, you can end up with bad mouth ulcers and thrush in your mouth which goes right through you, even though you diligently brush your teeth and gargle with special mouth wash.  The side line of this is that you can’t taste your food, which could be seen as a bonus as it is good for your figure.  If you happen to be unfortunate and have haemorrhoids this unrelenting Diarrhoea can have grown men crying.  This week also can have some days of quite bad bone pain, although mine was hardly anything this last round as I had a Philgrastim injection to stimulate my white blood cell production, so things didn’t get as gruesome. The next week things improve a little as your blood count starts to pick back up, and you start to taste things again, although you are generally too tired to make any food, which could still be seen as a bonus and good for the figure. Third week arrives and you start to have a bit more energy, but I always get watery eyes, so even though I head out with my makeup on, all my eye liner and shadow is usually gone in half an hour. This isn’t as much of a problem for the guys. Docetaxel also causes tingling and numbness in the ends of your fingers and toes, as well as this the skin peels off your hands and feet, and a few of my nails are lifting up.  Some people have their nails come right off. During all this discomfort you can’t lose sight of the bigger picture, while this Chemo is attacking all these good fast multiplying cells, if there is even one or two undetected Cancer cells floating around my body, they will be getting thumped as well, and the good thing is nails, and hair etc all grow back, but Cancer cells can’t regenerate themselves, so they are gone for good and that is the whole objective of this unpleasant but necessary exercise.

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Anyway, this week I feel quite well so went shopping at Booragoon with Hayley today and got a few birthday presents.  We live on quite a tight budget, which I manage to stay on track with generally in most areas.  I produce very frugal budget meals, and pay all our utilities fortnightly which means we are often in credit when things like the power bill arrive, but, when it comes to presents, my budget always blows out.  With Easter, Christmas and birthdays for four adult children and their partners, (I don’t buy easter eggs for adults) thirteen grandchildren and one great-grandchild I find it hard to pull this area in.  I love buying them presents and find it hard to stop.  Unless I start making them all cookies I don’t see it changing.  Unfortunately, we do live in a very materialistic society. I remember reading books like those written by Laura Ingalls, where she tells of a time where her older sister had a doll, but Laura had to be happy with a corn cob doll until the day that she final got a real doll of her own.  Children would be thrilled to have an orange to eat all to them self tucked into their Christmas stocking.  I can only imagine what a modern-day child would tell Father Christmas to do with his orange if they found one underneath the Christmas Tree instead of the X Box or Wii they were expecting.  There must be a compromise.  I am taking a while to change what I expect of myself now we are on a lower-income as a mostly retired couple, compared to what we used to do when we were high flyers years ago and bought our teenage boys $200 sneakers and designer T Shirts.  Mind you we got a bit fed up with that and started giving them a clothing allowance to manage as they saw fit.  This brought about instant changes to their label choices, suddenly Mambo T Shirts were off the list and they were buying five dollar specials.  Another thing I started doing around the same time was giving each child an allowance at things like the local Show Grounds so they had to pick carefully whether they would blow it on rides or show bags, instead of treating Mum like an ATM.  It is much easier to keep a reign on things with just two of us in the house, who are not fussy eaters or needing money for School excursions, I just need to buckle down on gifts.

Fun in Paris

Fun in Paris

A couple of years back we tightened our belts while we saved up to go on a World Trip.  Take away coffees were a thing of the past and take away food was not in the equation, if we headed off anywhere we would always bring something to eat with us.  Stopping spending doesn’t happen overnight, it requires a complete change of mindset, consequently, when we were on our overseas trip I found tipping a pain.  I kept thinking, I went without takeaway coffees to save up for this trip, and now I am giving at least $5 dollars away over and over to anyone who does anything vaguely helpful.  We Aussies are notoriously bad tippers, in spite of this I did find It was easy to do sometimes when the service was really good, but, it was hard to come to terms with when it wasn’t.

Off for my final Chemo round on Friday, Hooray!!

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Mother’s Day

I hope you Mums all had a lovely day on Sunday.  I only saw half the family.  Scott was on a film shoot all day, and we Skyped the family in Sydney, so it was still a lovely day.  Since I wasn’t up to full speed we just had afternoon tea.

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Mondays around here have evolved into my cooking day.  I seem to spend the day doing kitchen stuff and getting generally organised for the week.  Even when I had Chemo on the Friday, the bad side effects don’t hit till around Tuesday as my blood count drops, so Monday I still am able to potter round enjoying myself.  Hayley and Ben bought me a Pizza Stone as part of my Mother’s Day present so I was keen to get going with some dough.  I ended up doing Foccacia Bread which I didn’t use the stone for but cooked it in a baking tray.  I think my yeast which has been in the freezer for years, had died, so it wasn’t rising like it was supposed to.  I ended up shoving it in the oven and cooking it anyway, and it was delicious.  I really don’t think you can go wrong with breads, they usually end up edible even if they are not beautiful.

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Being a Mum is such a blessing and I know it is hard for the women who have tried to have babies and have not been able to as yet.  I always feel for them on Mother’s Day when Mum’s get honoured and given a gift at Churches and Schools.  But, some of the women who have done the most for children world wide have never biologically given birth. Mother Teresa one of the world’s best known names never had a child herself, yet was a mother to thousands.  We all have an opportunity to influence the circles we move in and input in a constructive way into the lives we touch.  There is so much negativity in the world and others ready to point out our failings I would encourage you to be the one who takes the time to be kind or encouraging to others when a moment presents itself, it has the potential to make such a difference to a persons day.

I have noticed guys usually love their Mothers, so don’t make the mistake as a daughter in law of running down his Mum, even if she is an old bat.  There is some weird bond between Sons and Mums.

I know Mother’s Day has become quite commercial, which I don’t really agree with, but, thinking back on my life as a Mother, the sleepless nights, the school lunches, the pick ups, the drop offs, the homework and years of work, I know they didn’t ask to be born, and we did it because we love our families, but, I do think we deserve a special day where the kids say thank you.

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Thank goodness for Dishwashers

All I can say is thank goodness for dishwashers.  I am sorry about the environment and all, but, while I am on chemo I use my dishwasher, my dryer for all the small things, anything to make my life easier. Previously, I would rinse dishes, even give them a rub over with the brush before loading them into the machine, now I just shove everything in with stuck on food from last night when I was too tired to bother and they all come out sparkling clean. So that is good news for the future.

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My first three rounds of Chemo were fine.  I managed to ignore the whole thing as much as possible.  I had my treatment, rested up a bit, and tried to carry on like normal.  I went to everything rushed about and gave as little allowance to my body as I could.  The next half is proving to be different. Docetaxel will not be ignored, and over the last week when I have been so weak and tired I have had no option but to except the fact that I am a Chemo patient and will have to behave accordingly, resting a lot, not doing much and learning that I will just have to make the best of it.

Women tend to be the hub of the home. Even if there are only two of you.  I know a lot of men do an amazing job, but generally, Women are the nurturers, we look after our sick little ones, bring husbands chicken soup when they have the flu, and make a meal for sick friends.  We usually potter around even when we are not well ourselves and still throw a load of washing on, or a meal into the crock pot then stagger back to bed.  If Mum is laid up with a headache, the whole house is gloomy.  This is why it is so unnatural for me to lie down and give in.

I did pull myself together on Friday and made a very easy cake from Rhonda Hetzel’s blog Down to Earth

It is a Date and Walnut cake, I call it the Frizby Cake due to the events that followed. Because of my Chemo brain I had not clipped the spring form pan, so as I pulled my Golden beauty from the oven, the bottom disk complete with the cake flew across the kitchen, coming to land with two thirds of its contents in tact.  While I ran to salvage it, Poppy who couldn’t believe her good luck, ran to gobble up the other third that had scattered across the floor.  Having a dog, really saves on vacuuming.

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Place in a bowl 1 cup chopped walnuts, l cup chopped pitted dates, 1 cup brown sugar, 80 grams butter, 1 tspns bicarb soda, slirp of vanilla.  Cover with l cup boiling water.  Make sure the butter is dissolved, then mix in 1 1/2 cups S/R Flour, or all purpose flour with 1 1/2 tsp’s baking powder added.   Bake at 175c/350F till golden or when you insert a toothpick it comes out clean.  Lovely buttered with a cuppa.

embarrassing selfie

embarrassing selfie

Even though I appreciate my wig, I am missing my hair, and looking forward to seeing it grow back.  The Docetaxel doesn’t attack the hair like the first rounds, and although I have lost half an eyebrow lately, there is some regrowth of fluff on my head.  I am a little worried that it is going to be white like Allan’s.  I haven’t seen my real hair colour for years and have managed to ignore the fact that I have gotten older since I last looked. The truth may be a shock and I have to wait until I get the ok from the doctor before it gets dyed.

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Chemo Round Five

We waved goodbye to our Sydney darlings on Thursday afternoon, the time went so quickly.  Beau kept yelling out ‘goodbye my cousins’ it was so cute.

IMG_2672No time for being sad though as I had to get ready for chemo the next day.  For the first time in weeks I felt well and like doing housework, I am wondering though if that is a ‘Freudian thing’ you know oh darn it I feel like working but I can’t now I have to go to Chemo.

Me with my Chemo nurse Emma

Me with my Chemo nurse Emma

Because I had such a bad reaction last time they gave me a Filgrastim injection to bring home which I have to give myself tonight.  This is what I had in hospital to stimulate the bone marrow to make white blood cells.  So hopefully my blood count won’t drop so low and I won’t have quite such bad side effects. They started my Docetaxel IV and within a couple of minutes I came over all hot.  So everything was turned off, and they gave me Phenergan and some more Cortisone and called the Doctor. He said this often happened on round two of this stuff.  So they waited a while then started it up again more slowly.  Everything went well then and we actually got out of their by two thirty instead of five thirty last time. Even with two weeks of painful mouth ulcers and hardly eating my weight still goes up.  I am assured it is because of the cortisone etc.  Hopefully I will get a handle on in when this is all over after my last round of Chemo in three weeks.

This is how I am planning to look later

This is how I am planning to look later

I may not end up skinny if I keep eating ice-cream, but this one was free after the last one had a winning stick.  Does anyone else find silver ice-cream weird.  I ate it anyway, and now I have another winning stick.  Mr Streets isn’t helping my hopes for looking slim.  I guess I could give it to someone else.  But, I am not that unselfish.

Weird Silver Icecream

Weird Silver Icecream

One of the gross things that happened is the skin peeled off my feet and hands.  I felt like a leper and thought it might be wise to wear latex gloves when cooking.  I didn’t want the family wondering why  I was putting bamboo shoots into all their food. yukky!

Had a lovely day resting up, and pottering around cleaning up the kitchen and getting things back to normal.  Hope you all have a great weekend.

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