The Gift of Giving

On Tuesday night we had a quick bowl of yummy Fried Rice made with some left over sausages and whatever veggies were in the fridge before heading off to drop Allan at Darts and I carried on to visit a good friend back in our old hood Kelmscott.

IMG_2570

Since being diagnosed with Breast Cancer, I have been thoroughly spoilt.  Friends keep bringing me flowers and giving me gifts.  I feel like a fraud, since I feel so well, and not at all like I deserve this special treatment.  One of my dearest friends is the worst.  When I say worst I mean best.  This friend has taught me so much about the art of giving over our twenty odd year friendship.  Her and her families generosity has always blown me away.  I called in for coffee and a chat and left with two pairs of new Lightfoot thongs which she had ordered for me before Christmas and which had only arrived recently.  They have arch supports and mould to your foot, very comfortable.   She also gave me some beautiful Christmas pieces from the Pottery Barn which she bought for herself as well as me.  I often leave her house loaded with goodies,  I am almost embarrassed to say I am calling in.  There is no way, I can ever give back to her all she has given and done for us over the years, and we are not meant to.  It is a pay it forward type of thing.  Having someone treat you with such a generous spirit, sparks generosity in us, and we can in turn pass the giving along to someone else.

Some of the twelve days of Christmas, I love the partridge in a pear tree Salt and Pepper shakers

Some of the twelve days of Christmas, I love the partridge in a pear tree Salt and Pepper shakers

Continuing with my reorganising week, the pretty boxes with their floral pattern that the shoes came in were the perfect fit in my draw to coral all my lingerie that previously were strewn everywhere.  After sorting I ended up with two neat boxes of culled unmentionables and found some I had completely forgotten about.  Really if you can’t see it, you never wear it.  Consequently, everything possible is hanging up now, so that I know exactly what I have got.

IMG_2583

Turns out there is scientific reasons, why giving is good for you.  Most of us would have experienced the Bible truth that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’  It feels much better to give someone $200 than to be the recipient of $200 if your life has taken a downward turn financially.  There is actually scientific fact to back this up.  When we give, whether it be our money, possessions or volunteer our time for a good cause, it actually releases endorphins which trigger the pleasure centre of our brain.  We actually get a feeling of well being, they call it the ‘helpers high’.  Our blood pressure can go down, and it turns out is good for our heart, literally.

Our bodies are built to enjoy giving.  Try it this week.  Give something to someone, bake them a cake, make them a meal or clean their car, for no reason other than you want to do something nice.  You will be surprised how good you feel afterwards.

Check us out on Facebook:  Breast Cancer Ready or Not

So Far So Good

I was feeling very really good one week and one day after my first Chemo round, so I ventured off to our Church Women’s morning.  Between day 10 -14 your blood count drops, so you are advised to stay away from public places where germs may be lurking.  Since it was only day nine I thought I would take the chance.  I did however, make a public announcement that I appreciated all their prayers and support, but, not to be offended if I didn’t hug people.  Those of you who are Church folk will know these places are rife with huggers.  I stopped short of bringing a can of glen twenty.  Joking aside, during this time a Chemo Patient’s Immune System is very low and it can be quite dangerous if they catch anything. We are contemplating putting a sign at the front door, as I feel weird asking everyone that says they are coming for a cuppa, if they are sick or have any symptoms.   I have several cards saying I am at high risk of Febrile Neutrophenia which starts out I think with a fever, hence from day one, you are required to take your temperature and if it hits 38 degrees, which is not unusually high for the general population, a Chemo patient must not pass go, and, head straight for the hospital.

I seem to be very healthy so far, and very grateful for that fact.  We just spoke to an old friend today who has been on Chemo long-term due to kidney cancer, and is doing it tough.  I only have four more rounds to go, which is nothing in the Chemo world.

FullSizeRender-3FullSizeRender-4-4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanwhile, my head is starting to itch a lot,so I am anticipating some hair fall out soon.  It doesn’t come out all at once, but in chunks.  One of my dear friends was undergoing radiation after a Basal cell carcinoma being removed from her ear lobe.  She was brushing her hair when a furry dark brown lump fell to the floor.  She screamed and ran from the room thinking it was a mouse.  On closer investigation it turned out to be a clump of her hair from behind her ear, collateral damage from the radiation therapy. My new wig arrived today, so I am posting some preview pictures.  We are taking votes on who looks the best.  Allan seems to be very interested in my wigs, maybe because his hair is a little thinner than when I first fancied him, with his long Beatles hair-do.  Here he is looking like an ageing Rolling Stones, band member, and if anyone says he looks better than me, you will be immediately crossed off my Christmas List.

Check us out on Facebook: Breast Cancer Ready or Not

Too Hot to Drink

Like many of my generation, it came as a shock when we began to have to wash our rubbish.  I have always had a jar fetish anyway, and couldn’t bear to throw out any jar that was an interesting shape.  Eventually, at clear out time, a whole draw full of various unused glass containers would be ditched.  Now, with the recycling surge, I put a lot more of them to use in the pantry and fridge.  My sister gave me two varieties of jam from Margaret River.  We enjoyed the contents and since I liked the shape of the jars, decided to remove the labels.  After a week of soaking, those babies were not budging.  I ended up having to laboriously peel bits off then attack them with detergent and a curly girl, and finally they ended up sparkling like new.  But, give a girl a break, I am just feeling back to almost normal since my first Chemo round a week ago, so not wanting to waste too much energy on my first housework day my Sanguine side which thinks life is too short nearly threw them in the recycling, but, my Choleric side which says ‘never give up, never surrender’, wouldn’t quit, with the end result being clean shiny jars, ready for reuse.  In hindsight, we could have had a weekend away, with the monetary value of the woman hours I put into cleaning them, and I can’t help thinking manufacturers, could use better stickers.  I can’t be the only one who is fed up with trying to get labels off new plastic containers, and seeing the sticky goop their three years later, or buying someone a book as a gift and having to give it to them with a grubby residue mark where the price was. That’s my rant for the day, so back to Chemo Side Effects.

IMG_2418FullSizeRender-2FullSizeRenderOver the weekend, I purchased some over the counter medication for the indigestion I was experiencing.  These helped a little, except, yesterday, I set out and made some mild chicken soup, thinking that would be a very indigestion free food.  Turns out that even though I have always had a cast iron gullet in the past, and have always drunk boiling hot cups of tea and sipped on piping hot soups.  This is not how it will be during Chemo.  Previously, I explained the chemicals attack fast growing cells which skin and hence the digestive tract are made of.  Obviously, your food passage can get quite tender and sensitive and didn’t appreciate my home-made scalding onslaught.  It objected, quite strenuously in a very painful manner, to the point that I rang my Doctor who had a script for a stronger medicine faxed through to our Chemist, and Allan good man that he is rushed off to get them for me.  They seem to have done the trick, although I am planning to be a bit more careful about the temperature of my food, and make sure I chew everything well, and don’t eat large amounts. It has been a couple of days and has  now settled down.  Compared to what I have heard, my side effects are nothing, so I really can’t complain, so far I am having a good run. Thanks everyone, keep up the good wishes and prayers, they are very appreciated.

IMG_2414Chicken Soup Recipe at my other blog ‘Evie Down Under’

Check us out at Facebook ‘Breast Cancer Ready or Not’

Goodbye Coffee

I hate to be a drama Queen but, life as I know it is over, I’ve gone off coffee.  I love my coffee, its one of the joys of my life.  I am a good barista and can brew you up a beautiful latte while you relax in my family room.  Alas, I think while I am on Chemo though, I won’t be one of the recipients. Oh, well-being originally English, I do like a nice cup of tea and that seems to go down better at the moment.  Going through the vast array of leaf teas and bags we have collected I can see that some are probably ten years old, so a bit of culling is overdue.  On the good side, this is an excuse to go to some lovely tea houses and buy some new and exotic teas.  Some of the old ones have amazing names, ‘Sticky Date Pudding’, ‘Caramel Toffee’, ‘Japanese Evening Mint’ to name a few.  Coffees are the same, ‘I’ll have a large double skinny vanilla bean mochachino thanks’.  No longer do you ask for a cup of tea while at the Cafe, and expect a tea bag dangling from a cup with some water in it.

IMG_2426

We have gotten very posh in our modern society.  Our Grannies would turn over in their graves. We often don’t really have time to enjoy our cuppa either, now we grab our take away cup, and sip it down as we hurry back to the office, or drive in our car to pick the kids up from school.  What happened to gathering in the Parlour (whats a Parlour you say, I think it’s a lounge room, that’s before my time as well) at 4 o’clock, for tea and cucumber sandwiches accompanied by tiny cakes, to be savoured and eaten at a leisurely pace, while we discuss the day.   Mind you, in our culture, there are often not a lot of people home at 4 o’clock, and even if Mum where there, her little cakes and sandwiches wouldn’t go far, when Freddy brings in four of his teenage mates and attacks the fridge with gusto.  I’ve shared this before, that, Troy our family cook would make up amazing Pizzas, from anything he could find in the pantry.  Once when we were planning a family holiday to Exmouth, Troy and Scott baked all the cakes for us to take (as we were leaving Civilization for two weeks) also I was dieting and didn’t want to be cooking fattening stuff.  I remember a lovely Cherry Cake in their repertoire. If you have fed teenage boys you will know first hand that a cup of tea and a biscuit will not do, I bought trays of eggs from the Egg Farm near our house and that way, after school they could whip themselves up four eggs on toast, and survive till Dinner time.

dsc_00051

Life seems to be in too much of a rush and bustle and most of our lives are lived in a hurry.  Being able to make such grand decisions as to which coffee we will order at morning tea, must give us some sense of empowerment in a day that is otherwise largely out of our control.  We can at least chose what coffee to drink, right, and no one is going to tell us we can’t, unless of course they are out of our favourite flavour. Some things in life don’t change though, and even though we have a big urn and lovely tea bag selection at our after Church Cuppa, I am certain that somewhere around the state, there are still ladies with their big stainless steel tea pots, serving up very stewed cups of tea that we remember of old, to the odd club, or church gathering.

white_tea

Since being diagnoses with Breast cancer, my life has come to a grinding holt.  Priorities shift, as treatment and your health become the most important thing to consider.  Trivial things suddenly don’t matter.  Having let go of as much as possible that I was doing previously, I now have time, to take time with things and people.  Unfortunately, other people in my life are still just as busy, so at four o’clock, I will be sitting down with Allan for that nice relaxed cup of tea, although, now that I think about it, not today, as he has a meeting  and I need to go and see a couple about their wedding next month while we are up that way, and take our granddaughter her birthday present.  Ahh! life, does it ever really slow down…….   Thanks Jenny for the baking the beautiful Breast Cancer cup cakes for my visit.  Your a darling.

Check us out on Facebook ‘Breast Cancer Ready or Not’

Relaxing while I can

I don’t like to complain, and you health buffs that scoff down your gallons of water each day without a problem will laugh, but I am sick of drinking water.  I am supposed to have 2-3 litres a day, and I feel like I am sloshing around.  I know it is good for me, and when having Chemo it is crucial to drink plenty to flush the toxins through.  Of course, what goes in, must come out, hence the 10 to 15 trips to the loo the other night.  Lack of sleep can make a person grumpy, luckily I can operate on a small amount of sleep, without getting too feral, as long as it doesn’t go on and on.  For the last day or so I  have been getting terrible indigestion, which means sadly for my craving driven hearty meals of late, I will have to cut down to very small meals. Apparently, heartburn and indigestion are often a side effect of some Chemo Therapy drugs, and as I have been doing really well compared to many others I hear about, I can’t complain.  I may even lose some weight.  That would be awesome.

IMG_2410

I sat by the indoor pool on Friday, relaxing and reading my book, while Hayley gave Beau swimming lessons.  I did rally myself from time to time to take a photo of the little man.  A person could get used to this leisurely pace, making long phone calls, texting friends, writing which is my passion, I never seemed to make time for. If there is a good time to have this happen, at least we are semi-retired with just the two of us here in a big house.  I feel for cancer patients with young children having to go through treatment, with babies climbing over them and nappies to change.  Not everyone has such a wonderful support network around them.  I feel very blessed.  However, life doesn’t seem to let you off for long.  I have several weddings coming up, for those of you who don’t know, I am a Marriage Celebrant, so am trying to juggle weddings in with Chemo Therapy, so that I don’t do something Chemo crazy and spoil their day. Hopefully, my wig from America will arrive before my hair all falls out.  If not, I wonder how a turban or big hat on the celebrant will go down with my couples.  I could end up on funniest home videos, if my wig flies off during a ceremony down by the windy beach.

monkey_windy_wig

Some Days are Diamonds

 flashcard-feelings-sick-01

Sorry I haven’t posted anything for a couple of days, but, I had a cruddy weekend.  I was getting cranky cause I was so tired, and wondered if I would ever feel better.  Turned out I was brewing a Gastro Bug.  I dragged myself off to Church on Sunday as I was to do the Prayer and Praise report.  Turns out the timing was great, I became a prayer request before my surgery, a few weeks ago, then a praise report for the clear margins after surgery when I got up this week. I know that sounds a bit self-centred but people want to know this stuff, I can’t help it if they love me and giving them the information in one hit, saves me a lot of one on one question and answers after the service.  I did pray for other people as well, one of the prayer requests was for a friend of one of our families who is going through Breast Cancer surgery and chemo as well.  It is becoming epidemic.  I was shocked to find out this week that in Australia alone there are around 15,000 new breast cancer diagnosis every year.  There has to be a reason it is on the increase.  Years ago you didn’t even give mammograms a thought until you were at least 40, now girls younger and younger are being diagnosed.  Anyway, back to Sunday, thank goodness when I sent everyone off to meet and greet after Prayer and Praise, I decided not to go hug everyone as last week a few people had been a little over enthusiastic and to protect my still healing boob, I gave it a miss.  On the way home I called in to see how Hayley was doing selling her beautiful Sweetesscentials candles at Baldivis Markets.  She had our granddaughter Hannah helping her.  I did however, hug them, got them a coffee and as I was starting to feel really tired I went home to crash on the lounge.  By Sunday night the toilet bowl and I were having an intimate affair.  If I want to play the glad game, I can’t remember the last time I threw up, so in case I do get sick with Chemo, I have had a practice run.  Turns out I need to have more frozen meals, and paper plates so there is no dishes or cooking required in case I have days when I have zero energy and enthusiasm.  The man of the house has been going on about a Thermo mix thing, so maybe after 43 years he is going to get into cooking, one can only hope.  Still not feeling 100% since surgery, and coping with HRT withdrawal, getting Gastro was the straw that broke the camels back.  I have only had a couple of weeks of this, I can only imagine how much despair it causes people dealing with long term pain and illness, the sort that goes on and on and feels like there is no hope of it coming to an end.  I was suddenly more sympathetic to Allan who has been suffering with Chronic Fatigue Sydrome for many years, and who I am constantly making do more than he probably feels like doing.

 rosietheriveter_youcandoit

Today was a good day, I was back to my positive self, pottering about, catching up on some jobs, then this evening I took a book to read on the beach while Allan fished. We stayed down there till the sun had set.  I never get tired of living by the beach, its like being on holiday all the time.

This is Madora Bay Beach at Sunset - Ah Beautiful

This is Madora Bay Beach at Sunset – Ah Beautiful

If hope is taken away, people want to give up.  One of my favourite bible versus is ‘Without a vision the people perish’ we all need something to look forward to and work towards, the holiday, the new home, the new lamp or motorbike, maybe having a broken relationship repaired or like me a return to good health.  Depression experts know this is true, they encourage patients to make a plan, for the year ahead, the month or week ahead and if you are really in a bad way and that is too long, just plan for the hour ahead.  John Denver had a song Some Days are Diamonds, Some Days are Stone.  Good words, and true, we all have Stone days sometimes, but just remember there are always, always Diamond days to come.

This is for you Bob and anyone else to sway to if your legs are tired from walking like an Egyptian. (you will need to read ‘hair to day gone tomorrow’ to get this)

Goodbye 007

Well, we left my Breast Surgeons office relieved.  I had a ten cm chunk of boob taken out to remove the 5.5 cm triple negative breast cancer. not HER2 as first thought The results reported clear margins all around and no spread to my lymph nodes or bones.  Apparently after they remove the tumour it is rolled in inky stuff like a rissole and dissected and examined at the Pathology lab.  If there are no cancerous cells in the inky part, or outside edge of the tumour then it is considered to have clear margins.  So the good news is I don’t need any further surgery, and my tumour or slides of my tumour and data are sent off to the The Breast Cancer quality Audit where it is stored with all the other little offenders for later research and information.  This is to ensure that breast cancer patients throughout Australia and New Zealand are getting and continue to get the best treatment available.  When this happens it is unidentified.  Its name is changed to protect the innocent and given a number instead,  because we don’t know what that number is we will henceforth refer to triple neg as 007.

We've said goodbye to most of these 007's as well

We’ve said goodbye to most of these 007’s as well

I am very glad to live in Western Australia, I am not sure what medical care is like in other parts of the world but this has been a big eye opener for me.  I have an appointment with the Oncologist on Wednesday, and find out when I start Chemo Therapy, a physiotherapy appointment on Friday and the Radiology Oncology on the 29th.  My Surgeon was telling me all the breast surgeons have a team meeting with the oncologists and discuss all the breast cancers being treated.  They all input and run treatment plans by each other, so everyone knows what is happening with each case. Nothing slips through the cracks.  It is reassuring to know you are being managed so professionally.

Poppy supporting with her pink collar

Poppy supporting with her pink collar

I first sent a group text to my kids and the back chat was hilarious as they bounced off one another, with questions about the results and verbal attacks on cancer in general, ‘cancer can go suck it, f#..cancer’ and ending with Troy promising to support me by getting a pink car sticker (he had a hot pink bow tie and cumber bun for his High School ball, so me getting breast cancer will just be a good excuse) and Hayley promising eyeliner tattooing to support Troy.  I think I’ll have a trip to Hawaii in support of my self, thanks guys.  Anyway, with Sarah in another State, it made me feel very close to them all.

sharonosbourne

Saying goodbye to 007 is only the first part of treatment, this aggressive type of cancer needs follow-up therapy, so the next few months will see many changes and more assault on my femininity.  I have already previously lost a womb, half a boob (I shouldn’t complain, for most people losing a 10 cm lump of a breast would leave them flat, thankfully I had an ample bosom so it hardly noticed) but losing my hair may cause some tears. (I always tease mine high to balance out my chunky body)  I will just have to get a Sharon Osborne wig and learn to tie beautiful scarves.  If that fails, I will risk looking deranged and just smile a lot in the hope that no one notices I’m bald.