Things are getting easier

I am very pleased to report. After our marathon day at the hospital last week, where we didn’t get home until 7.30pm I think today will be quicker.

Last week was pretty rough and I got very fatigued. This week is much better. I am still very tired and have to limit my visitors but it is lovely to see people as long as they are infection free. My immune system is pretty low so I must be extra cautions at the moment.

So back to the hospital next week but no blood transfusion needed today.

People have been so generous. This week I have received 2 bunches of amazing flowers and a bottle of wine. I also had a surprise gift of a jigsaw puzzle which should keep me busy.

Allison also popped in with some delicious cake and biscuits and Shirley made us a Christmas cake.

It was also lovely to see my niece who I haven’t seen for about 12 years. She divides her time between Cambridge and her home of birth Hong Kong.

Also we received a load of logs yesterday that will keep our Rayburn going.

Toby also brought me some sparkly Christmas lights and some local friends from the village kindly put them up. They bring me so much joy.

Kate and her partner visited last week so it was great to see her.

Mum has been a great help doing all my ironing and shopping. Yesterday she cleaned out the fridge and freezer. We also sorted out all my winter and some clothes and the ones that are far to big for me now as I have lost quite a bit of weight.

We are loving our new Mercedes mobilty car but now must sell our A class Mercedes which is in good condition with a full service history so if any one is interested please let us know.

I have done most of my Christmas shopping on line as I haven’t ventured out yet but I am very pleased with myself.

Well I must thank you once again for all your help and ongoing support. It really does make a difference.

Love to you all
Deborah xxxxx

Advertisements

This is not an easy post to write….

especially as I want to be sensitive to my readers, all those family and friends I love.

..On July 10th, as many of you know, and helped to see me through the process, I had my first auto stem cell transplant, and on October 27th I got the all clear. No Cancer showing in my blood or bones. I was in remission. Hip Hip Hooray. I have heard that remission can last from about a year to 17 years! Being the dreamer I was counting on the 17, plenty of time for that elusive cure to be found.

On that same date of Oct 27, 2014, I was spiking a temperature and developing a cough, I started on some antibiotics and was told to go to my local A&E if things didn’t improve. I was admitted straight away Β to the Lister Hospital. which you have probably already read about on my previous blog, but to recap the medical and nursing care was human, caring and professional, I couldn’t ask for more empathy and involvement in my care. Thank You.

@enherts

The Lister ran every test possible into my respiritoy problems and more, but many more questions were produced than answers. So it was agreed by all to transfer me to UCLH on Nov 7th.
I am back on T16, bed 20, where I had my original transplant.
It was good to see old friendly faces, and Colin is able to stay with me here.

They immediately started running more myeloma related tests and our biggest fears were revealed. After only just hearing we were in for a nice long remission (or so we hoped), my blood and another bone biopsy showed the Cancer was back with an a vengeance. The doctors were as shocked as we were. The bad news is no more stem cell transpnts for me. There are however a couple of drugs and maybe some trials available but it’s all a bit hit and miss

Without sounding too melodramatic we are emotional drained and devastated, but we will pick our selves up. It was good to have mum and Kate here to hear the news and support us but we are sure it’s equally as difficulty for them to hear, Β Even the doctors and nurses hugged me tightly and said how sorry they were. Many of them have been on the journey with us and nurse Kate even delivered my new Stem Cells, wishing me happy birthday 😒

So what’s next? A new regime of continuous chemo will be worked out with all its delightful side effects and no doubt a ban on various Chistmas tipples! My temperature seems to be settling, so once a few more tests are carried out and my meds are sorted I may be homeΒ by Thursday and get a drive in my new car. Although now being put onto a load of strong drugs, I doubt I will be actually be able to drive it my self.

I know with all your help I will find a way through this. I need you more than ever now.

Love you all

Deborah xxxπŸ˜•πŸ‘ΌπŸ‘ΈπŸ˜»πŸ‘ͺπŸ’πŸ™‹β€οΈπŸ’—πŸ’ŽπŸ˜•πŸ˜·β˜ΊοΈπŸΎπŸŒ»πŸŒžβ˜€οΈπŸŒˆπŸŒ πŸŒπŸŒŽπŸ’πŸŒΈπŸŒ·

Day 100 and look who’s home.

I must admit there were times I didn’t think I would reach this day but here I am, a hundred days on from my stem cell transplant. My hair is growing, I have eyebrows and eyelashes and I even have had to shave my legs! Fatigue does still remain a bit of a problem making it difficult for my body to do what my heart and mind desires but everyday sees an improvement. Next week I will get the results from my bone marrow biopsy and my latest blood counts. Sadly I am a bit concerned about my heamaglobin levels at the moment, as I am struggling a little with my breathing causing me to cough more than is normal I just hope it’s nothing too serious. Having said this I can happily look back and see how far I have come since my rebirth on July 10th. Just look at the fun I can now have with my lovely grandson.

image

And look who’s home.

image

image

Frodo has enjoyed staying with Colin’s parents up in Weston but we have missed him. He is such a lovely relaxed boy to be around. The only time he is a bit naughty (only for us!) is at night. Wherever we try to settle him down he will bark several times in the middle of the night, and get us up the little minx. I think he is happy to be home, he loves it in the motorhome and going on long walks with Colin but is getting pretty old now. We are not sure of his exact age as he was a rescue dog but we think he’s about eleven now.

Yesterday was a real treat for me as my sister is back from Somerset for a few days and we had a lovely visit from mum, my Aunty Mary and Uncle Ian from Cornwall. It is so good to catch up with people again. I didn’t realise quite how I would miss the social interaction I used to have when I was at work. Thank you to those of you who have stayed in touch it really does make a difference. I am trying to fill my diary whilst I am feeling so much better with catching up with old colleagues and friends. If you fancy popping over for a cup of tea and a chat your company will be most appreciated.

Recently I caught up with an old friend and colleague who since retiring makes the most beautiful silver jewellery. Ruth also runs classes and workshops which I am hoping to join in with sometime soon. Take a moment to look at her website http://www.ruthlewisjewellery.com

More exciting news – next week we pick up a brand new car and not just any old car but a B class Mercedes no less!
image
We still can’t quite believe it. This week I received a letter from the disability allowance which awarded me the higher amount of mobilty money entitling me to take part in the mobilty lease scheme. There was a bit of a problem at first, as I received the letter four days later than the amount was awarded resulting in it being four days short of a full year and at first Mobilty wouldn’t accept the claim. Colin however called them back and they kindly changed their minds. We did however have to choose a car from the hundreds of models available pretty quickly. We tried out a few and this car seemed to be the most comfortable. It uses my whole allowance and we had to put a down payment of Β£3,000 due to all the extra bits we wanted but I think it’s worth it and we have got our car to sell so that should more than cover this. Β I am so excited as it has all sorts of fancy things like heated black leather seats, lumber support and a reversing camera. I shall be needing that especially as I haven’t driven since I was diagnosed almost two years ago now. We pick it up on Friday so only one more trip down to London in our old car. Having said all this, of course I would swap it in a trice to be Cancer free.

Today we are meeting up for lunch with my good friend Jane who has moved recently to work as a health visitor in Guernsey. It will be great to hear all about her new life on the island. I also have a coffee date with another old colleague on Tuesday, so that and the car will be a good distraction from the hospital appointment on Thursday.

As I regain more of my physical health the challenge is now to stay on top of my mental well being. I know all the tricks of the trade but applying them to ones self is never quite so easy. I want to do more than my body allows which can lead to frustration and disappointment. I need to give myself a kick up the back side sometimes and remind myself just how lucky I am compared to many people. I also have such a wonderful circle of family and friends many of which I have only ‘virtually’ known since writing this blog. People from as far off places such as America, Canada and Sweden. How lovely it would be to actually meet up and thank them in person Β for all their support. Maybe I should add that to my dream list.

I would like to thank all those that took part and donated to Stand up to Cancer which was televised on Channel 4 last night.. So far they have raised Β£14,520,756 A 100% of which goes to Cancer Research. This may just be what’s needed to find a cure for Myeloma so fingers crossed.

Meanwhile I have some serious living to get on with.

Much love to you all

Deborah x

It will be no laughing matter…

…if the new process doesn’t work. Today I am off for my seventh bone biopsy. Three of these have been without sedation the rest I have been put to sleep. I can tell you it’s very painful without. Apparently now UCLH has a new process which no doubt saves time and money. I shall be having a local anaesthetic and laughing gas! I can promise you I definitely won’t be laughing if it hurts too much.

I did receive some good news yesterday, when I spoke on the phone to my myeloma nurse. Apparently my paraproteins are now so small in numbers they are undetectable. This is a victory for my stem cell transplant and hopefully the biopsy will further confirm this.
The news to me is reassuring but not entirely unexpected. I have become to know my myeloma and it does tend to respond well to treatment but unfortunately in the past it has shown to come back quite quickly and with an even stronger fighting spirit, but perhaps this time will be different, I do hope so. I will also need to have another MRI scan at sometime to find out how the two masses that were on my spine are behaving. The radiation did a good job on them so I hope they have remained just shrivelled up little spots that are staying put.
I won’t be seeing the consultant today as he wants to wait to have the results of my bone biopsy before discussing with his colleagues the next plan of action. I pray for a miracle to happen and a cure to be found very soon. Meanwhile I have an important job to do and that is to get on with living.

Those that know me well know that I have always been a very positive person dreaming up all sorts of ideas for the future. I am trying very hard to still be that person but I must admit the last three months or so have knocked me for six. I now try to live in the moment and to enjoy the time, whilst physically feeling so much better. I can’t pretend this is always easy and I have so much admiration for those that do this and grab every moment of life living it to the full. Maybe I am expecting too much of myself as it’s still early days yet, being only 3 months since my stem cell transplant, and I still get pretty exhausted fairly quickly. Thinking back I suppose It also didn’t help that I always lived in a bit of a bubble, death was not on my agenda and maybe like many other people, I imagined myself as being immortal. When I received my diagnosis all that suddenly changed and I was forced to face what is the inevitable for us all I am afraid. I watch with great admiration, the courage of fellow Cancer sufferers who face this with such dignity and courage. I pray for a faith that will provide the promise of another place and listen so hard for a reassuring voice that will make it all alright. I won’t dwell anymore on this as I don’t want to depress myself or you dear reader instead I shall concentrate on how lucky I am to be alive today even if I do have to travel up to London for the dreaded biopsy!

We had such a good time away and we will plan many more trips across Europe. This week I have met up with an old friend and colleague and was so excited to find out she was a fellow motorhome owner. We talked about our travels, chasing winter sunshine and the advantages of taking your home along with you. I can’t wait to meet up again.

I have also been pretty busy this week doing some work on another mental health project. This has been a great distraction although much harder work with my rather less able chemo brain. It did help however working on it with Allison and a piece of her delicious cake.

Pollyanna is staying with us at the moment and is great company when we see her. She has started a new job managing the trauma service in Cambridge. She works so hard leaving early, getting home late and then getting back on her laptop and working more. She is so passionate about her job but I reminded her of the importance of a good work life balance. Pot calling the kettle black, Colin quickly pointed out, surely I wasn’t that bad? It is hard when you enjoy your work so much and it still saddens me how mine had to come to such an abrupt end. Still I am still manageing to keep my hand in and as my energy increases who knows what will happen. Oh yes and I still have several books to write. Could that be a bit of my old self coming back?

The sun is shining on our journey down to London as I attempt to tap this out on my iPad whilst not getting car sick. I feel relaxed and happy, writing the blog is very cathartic and I have my soul mate by my side. I shall sign off now so we can chat about a possible trip to Holland and a drive up North to enjoy one Aunty Judy’s delicious Sunday lunches.

But not before leaving you a lovely picture of my grandson who is spending the week away in a caravan by the sea.

image

Have a great day and take a moment to appreciate the little things around you.

A friendly smile can make all the difference so here are a few just for you…

πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜€πŸ˜πŸ˜‰πŸ˜œπŸ˜„

Deborah xxx

Day 55 and the journey continues.

Today I was looking back at some old blog posts from this time last year, when we were enjoying some French sunshine. It did bring back some lovely memories and showed both Colin and I really enjoying and living life to the full. That seems to be something that has been rather lacking over the last six months as I have allowed myeloma to get the better of me. I am not going to beat myself up about it though as when one is physically so poorly it really does take a big toll on your mental wellbeing. Along with the physical ill health comes plenty of anxiety which in turn does no good for the healing process. As those of you who know me well will appreciate, I am probably one of the most optimistic dreamers around, always playing the glad game made so famous in the film Pollyanna. In fact only my lovely daughter Pollyanna is better at playing the game. I have however, had to learn a new skill recently and that is living in the moment, the here and now, instead of drifting off into some sort of fantasy land and dreaming up all sorts of crazy plans. I am not knocking that though as it has worked very well for me in the past so I am not about to give up on visualising altogether. I am just learning to appreciate the moment more. I have become some what nervous about planning too far ahead though for the fear of being let down again, but I think as my health continues to improve this may become less of a problem.

We have been out in the motorhome a few times over the last few days. Colin wanted to visit Houghton Mill in Cambridgeshire on Monday, so we made good use of our National Trust membership cards. I didn’t go in as I wouldn’t have managed any further than the ground floor but I was quite happy relaxing in the motorhome. Yesterday we popped over to Dunelm to buy a little lap table and we stopped off at the BMW garage to try out sitting in one of their new cars. Although our little car has not let us down over the last few years of ownership, it has never been very comfortable. I have just applied for the higher rate of disability allowance which if I am successful, will allow us to rent a car through the mobility scheme, so any tips on the most comfortable cars would be much appreciated.

Tomorrow I am off to the Cancer Hair Care charity to get some tips on tying my scarves and a bit of much appreciated pampering. I am still very hairless with no sign yet of any new growth, so not sure how long that will take to come back. Being bald is very liberating and I don’t mind it too much, especially if I feel strong enough to put on a bit of make up, but I don’t like to frighten other people too much and I do get some funny looks if I go out without a hat or scarf. Maybe I need to find out my old wig again. I also hope to see little Elliot sometime tomorrow. Then if the weather is good on Friday and over the weekend we may take another trip out in the motorhome with our good friends and fellow motorhomer’s.

My strength is coming back but it’s an extremely slow process. I have just realised the time and I am still lying here in bed! I have however managed a bath which does seem to take an enormous amount of energy nowadays.

Well today I am appreciating being at home. I am not in hospital, I have no temperature or infections and even after a full English breakfast I have no feelings of nausea, how good is that!

Onwards and upwards my friends. I feel our arms are metaphorically linked and you are holding me up and guiding me along. Your are my strength.

With much love and gratitude.

Deborah x

Day four of second round of DT-PACE

I am feeling pretty exhausted and constantly nauseous but despite this all is going as well as could be expected. We are staying in the Cotton Rooms again and Colin was given a bit of a break as Kate came and acted as my carer on Friday night accompanying me to Ambulatory care on Saturday. It must have been pretty boring for her as I spent much of my time sleeping as the nurses attached various different drugs to my Picc line. Colin managed to get the lawns mowed whilst the weather was good.

I have been spoilt once again by good wishes and thoughtful gifts so Thank You so much for all of these. Although I am mostly surviving on Ensure drinks at the moment I have lots of goodies to look forward to.

The plan is to be back home again on Monday once my 24 hr chemo has finished and been detached from me. I will then return to the Cotton Rooms a few days later as my blood levels start to drop and I become neutropenic. This is the time that I am at my most vulnerable and must avoid any risk of infection so will avoid visitors. Hopefully this time round I won’t get an infection and be admitted to the hospital but being here I will feel more confident. Last time around I thought that my consultant was being a little over cautious but I soon found out how ill I could quickly become so I won’t be taking any chances. If a I develop a temperature before I get back here I need to get to an A&E department within 40 mins so I will need to attend my more local hospital which unfortunately I have little faith in. So probably around the 7th June, I will be booked into the a Cotton Rooms once again, for quite a few days and will be monitored closely in Ambulatory Care. Once my blood results have started to return to normal I will then be able to go back home. It will then be 2-3 weeks before returning to hospital for my Stem Cell transplant. I am trying not to think about this too much at the moment as the thought is really too scary to contemplate but it has to be done.

Emotionally I am trying to remain as strong and positive as I can as I know the importance of this on my physical healing but I can’t pretend it is easy. However with your support I am managing and looking forward to a holiday sometime in the future.

Thank you all once again for your positive wishes and thoughtful gifts.

Deborah xxx

Thank you Mel

When life throws you a bit of a dud card if you are not too careful you can start to feel pretty sorry for yourself and find it hard to notice the good things happening every day. I think this is understandable and I have learnt that it’s OK to not feel up beat all of the time.

I must admit I have been starting to get pretty fed up with all the trips to London for chemo and the numerous pills and potions I seem to have to take, so I was very grateful for a visit from a friend that I have known for over 20 years (can it really be that long?) and it reminded me about all the things I do have to be appreciate of.

Take yesterday for example, although both Colin and I are full of colds we enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch out together in our motorhome. Returning home I then really appreciated a most relaxing bath in my Hollywood bathroom, made all the better for the rose scented candle and the Lush bath bar kindly given to me by Mel on Friday. I appreciated it all the more because up until a couple of weeks ago I had forgotten what is was really like to enjoy a long soak in a bath. Our previous downstairs bathroom is less than welcoming to say the least.

I am very grateful for old friends like Mel who take time out to visit and share time with me. New friends who send little messages and positive words and Best friends who are there through thick and thin. (You know who you are)

I really do appreciate (although I worry I may not always show it), my family, like my special mum who despite her own health issues helps out with most of our shopping and ironing. My sister who even when she isn’t just down the road I know is really just a phone call away and is someone I can really count on. And my brother who is there for me when I need him. My two most special daughters for who nothing is too much trouble and make me so proud. And for Colin’s parents who will help out by looking after Frodo whenever we need a break. Not forgetting all those other family members that show their kindness in many different ways. And most of all the joy that my grandson brings to us.

I appreciate living in the most beautiful surroundings looking out on to green fields. It is the home of our dreams and never a day goes by without both Colin and I commenting on how lucky we are to be living here.

I appreciate that I am still able to share my mental health knowledge and skills and feel so excited that we had an order for six more BrainBox resources this week. We have also now completed three booklets on Anxiety, Phobia’s and Anger with have another six almost finished. Then there is my book for parents on Children’s Mental Health a ‘Taking Control of Anger’ programme and ‘Bright Stars’, a self esteem programme to make available yet.

So do I really have that much to feel sorry about?

My cancer is responding well again to treatment with only a few side effects and I am halfway through the chemo cycles now. A bit of radiation on my back should alleviate the problem on my spine.

If all goes to plan I should be well enough for another trip down to Bordeaux in time to catch the marathon again on September 13th. It’s something to aim for but I do now know that Myeloma doesn’t make planning easy.

Thank you all for sticking by my side and helping me to get through the more difficult times Family, friends, colleagues and sometimes complete strangers, even the little things you do make a big difference.

Deborah. X