Rosie, Still Standing

A further update from friend Rosie who records the final part of her treatment for breast cancer with her usual keen observational eye, wit and self deprecating humour.

"Shattered and Battered...but still standing

I wanted to start this, the final update, with some amusingly clever quotation ("Friends, Romans, countrymen... lend me your breasts...") or embed a mechanism into the text that includes the soundtrack "I'm Still Standing" by Elton John playing relentlessly in the background to celebrate the completion of what has to be the world's most challenging medical triathlon. Unfortunately I couldn't come up with the necessary witty rejoinder and neither can I code.... but finally... (drum roll) after 10 months, I am DONE.  'Death by Microwave' finished just over 2 weeks ago.

Big cancer machine thingy

Radiotherapy - whilst being the easiest leg to endure - is probably the most relentlessly boring as it required my presence every day, Monday to Friday, for 4-and-a-half weeks.  It is also the most 'scientifically scary' in terms of equipment and noise, so basically like being on the set of "Alien" (in radiology no-one can hear you scream...) The Linear Accelerator is the most impressive piece of kit I have ever seen : it is huge - consisting of a massive, rotating laser gantry, sizeable retractable panels and a very uncomfortable narrow base unit to lie on complete with complicated arm rest to lock your arms over your head. To compliment the whole 'Sci-Fi' theme, the entire suite is bathed in an ethereal blue glow. 

Positioning is key and before I even got close to being zapped, I spent a happy morning being digitally scanned, drawn all over with felt tip again... and the most painful of all.... being tattooed. Yes - I have "tats" (as opposed to "tits") - a tiny blue freckle under each arm pit and bang slap in the middle of my sternum. All this to ensure I was lying in exactly the same position each time (accurate to within a millimetre apparently).  By comparison, the actual treatment takes but a moment... 45 seconds max.... Once 'aligned', a loud siren sounds and everybody sprints out of the room because, guess what, these rays cause cancer.....  Usually, at this point, feeling very small and vulnerable and staring down the barrel of what is essentially a huge cartoon laser gun firing photons and electrons, my imagination runs completely riot and I envisage ALF bursting forth from my boob à la Alien and sprinting out of the room after them......

Compared to chemo, side effects are minimal : fatigue and what can only be described as sun burn.  Perhaps this is why 'pink' features so prominently as a marketing theme for breast cancer? Pink ribbons, pink cuddly toys, pink T-shirts, pink literature, you name it.  Please don't get me wrong, I am eternally and supremely grateful for each and every organisation working tirelessly to eradicate this vile disease, but quite how breast cancer has come to have such cutesy, almost sexual connotations is completely beyond me?  It is actually a long, brutal, down-and-dirty mud wrestle of nightmarish proportions.  You don't see prostate cancer messing about with a tiny pair of pale blue fluffy pom-poms.... their advertising features a bloody great sledgehammer... Just sayin'.....

So what now? After exhaustive meetings with Supreme Being (aka surgeon) and Oncologist and acknowledging that there are scant options available medically for post Triple Negative Breast Cancer, I have agreed to go on a course of Bisphosphonates - 1 dose every 6 months for the next 3 years administered via IV. Recent extensive trials have been seriously encouraging in helping prevent relapse - specifically in 'dem bones - and has the added benefit of protection against osteoporosis.  I have also considered oral chemotherapy, but I have to confess, the idea of moving the goal posts quite so comprehensively is not appealing. Although not as ghastly as IV chemo, it would mean another 8 cycles / 6 months of feeling shit just when I am feeling bloody brilliant for the first time in living memory. The treatment is very new for this specific application, the trials thus far very small and no guarantees despite the numbers looking encouraging.  Mark and I have been in an agony of indecision, but I think on balance, probably leave it. My lovely Oncologist is of a similar opinion and even went as far as saying he is "cautiously optimistic" about my future. Fingers crossed he's right.....

And so my friends, all that remains for me to say is a massive 'thank you'. I really couldn't have done this without all your support, love and encouragement.  Writing ALF has been most cathartic..... by allowing me to recount the horror and terror and take the piss out of it, somehow makes it so much smaller and manageable .... and there is a lot to manage.  I have been blown away by your emails, letters, flowers, telephone calls, texts and visits.... as I think I mentioned in the very first ALF, when things get really bad, to be able wrap myself in this 'duvet' of support by reading all your responses is brilliant - thank you so much. 

I leave you with the good - my hair is growing at a rate of knots....
The bad - it is so curly it resembles a sheep's fleece....
But I am relieved to inform you I am looking less ugly...! 

With much love xxx"

Go Rosie!

1 in 8 women in the UK will develop breast cancer in their lifetime

We welcome an update from friend Rosie who has come to the end of her chemo treatment for breast cancer; surgery next. Cancer, especially breast cancer, is as random as it is insidious. A nasty bloody thing that strikes without warning, and is completely agnostic it seems to me, as to lifestyle, background, age or fitness. Sooner we get this licked the better. Anyway, well done girl and good luck.

157572992

ALF : Cycle 7 & 8

Forgive the delay : With Cycle 7 occurring in the 'no-man's land' between Christmas and New Year and Cycle 8 being so much more exciting plus a flurry of meetings with the "team"... a major 'Ta-dah' moment worth waiting for : After 5 months and 2 weeks, I have finished 8 cycles of chemotherapy. What seemed an eternity back in August last year as I sat quivering in the padded Chemo Chair of Doom, has finally become a reality. Cannot quite believe it. Whilst half of me is obviously dancing up and down with glee, the other half feels strangely discombobulated… but I can’t quite put my finger on why?

Of course I am ecstatic that I can kiss goodbye to the multitude of drugs that have been flooding my system on a 3-weekly basis : over 10 different flavours at the last count. From the high-powered cancer-busting chemo itself to steroids; anti-sickness to self-administered injections to encourage white cell growth; numerous pain relief and not forgetting every laxative known to man…. I could write a thesis on laxatives… 

Even better, no more chemo equals infinitely less side effects, although to be honest I think I have been reasonably lucky in this department - it was like a bad hangover that lasted for a week or so after each session. Actually, I guess that’s exactly what it is - but replacing lovely wine with poisonous chemicals - or to put it another way, the hangover without the preceding fun. Thanks to the anti-emetics I was never sick, but did feel queasy, headachey, tired, fuzzy and emotional and have I mentioned laxatives...? Luckily escaped the ravages of mouth ulcers, weight gain and permanent insomnia, but did fall foul of losing my sense of taste, spectacular skin rashes on my hands and feet and a nasty brush with Shingles.

I certainly won't miss the steroids given to prevent allergic reactions and nausea that have such an interesting effect : each chemo session was accompanied by a constantly scarlet face and a manic ‘steroid-high’ followed by a dramatic crash into the depths of despair and weeping for 24 hours non-stop - only to awaken the next day feeling OK again. “Stroppy Saturday” has long been a regular fixture in the household after "Chemo Wednesday" and close family quickly learned to run for cover accordingly. 

The scariest side effect of all has to be the hair loss... everywhere. On a good day I can cope with being bald and looking like Bruce Willis "in da house". On a bad day I just feel plain revolting and deeply unwomanly, freaking out when I look in the mirror and see Gollum staring back at me (Good morning, my Precious…..) The no nasal hair is a bit of bummer as well. Come back, all is forgiven! Everyday it looks like I have a bigger coke problem than Daniella Westbrook - sniff, sniff! To me, nasal hair is now as precious as Saffron…

Unfortunately, not all the side effects with chemo stop with the final treatment. Naively, before starting chemo I thought it was all about vomiting and hair loss, but alas this is not the case. As previously mentioned, I am really struggling with chemo brain. I used to be a reasonably intelligent, efficient, multitasking individual with an awesome memory (though I do say so myself). I am now so forgetful it’s not funny. I have zero concentration and multitasking is a thing of the past. It is confusing, inconvenient and bloody frustrating, but at least a well-known fact and not to be confused with early onset dementia or brain secondaries. All I can do is wait for my little grey cells to start behaving again. I am also struggling with eyesight, severe fatigue and fitness levels… so I guess this goes some way to explaining the “I’ve Finished Chemo, But I Still Feel Rubbish Scenario…”

As for the rest of the way..? Having been plotting my escape from the Oncology Unit ever since my arrival over 5 months ago, I was completely taken aback by the deep rush of emotion when I was officially allowed to leave. Instead of the imagined triumphal sprint down the corridor shouting "byeee ... and thanks for all the drugs", Mark had to practically prise my finger tips from the door frame trying to exit to the car park... I am probably suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, but there is no doubt the protective bubble of the Oncology Unit whilst enduring chemo focuses the mind to the exclusion of everything else. The nurses are amazing (I had to hug them all - twice), you are looked after so beautifully and supported by a group of women going through exactly the same horrific nightmare. It's only when you leave that you realise you're on your own again and actually have to face up to the question of "has it worked?" Annoyingly ALF is still very much a "presence" and although the powers-that-be have warned me not to get too fixated on this, I am hoping it is a ghostly one and as dead as the proverbial door nail. I won't know the definitive answer until after surgery, but I hope to have a clue on Monday after spending most of the day in the MRI... Watch this space. 

As ever, I leave you with the good : chemo is officially over.... Onwards and upwards.

The better : my head hair continues to grow... very slowly, 50 shades of grey and I won't be plaiting it any time soon... but still making a comeback!

The best : logistically, things are moving forward at warp factor 9.... Surgery booked for Monday 22nd February. ALF will finally be excised..... Next update from the OR and beyond.


xxx

ALF: Cycle 6

A pre Christmas update from friend Rosie who, now in Cycle 6, continues to fight breast cancer with impossibly cheerful tenacity, bless her. 

 

"Stop press... Breaking news... Hold the front page...

My head appears to be covered in what can only be described as fuzzy felt.  Or, to put it another way : the world's shortest haircut.   If I had a pair of Doc Martens to complete the look, I could easily get a bit part as a skinhead in "Forever England"...  Amazingly, despite still being on chemo, my hair is growing again.   It's as though my follicles, freed from the oppressive regime of Epirubucin, are romping joyfully through the Docetaxel...  Kind of the lesser of two evils.  I am terrified that the next two rounds of Docetaxel could wipe it all out again, but the lovely peeps in the Oncology Unit tell me that although incredibly fine and fragile, chances are, it is going to stick around.  I hasten to add the words "glossy" and "voluminous" do not apply here.... and I won't be ditching the Guinea Wig any time soon, but my goodness, it's a start. 

This cycle SO much better than the last : no funerals, falling ceilings or shingles. The biggest issues this time round are falling blood counts (again) and fatigue... unsurprisingly, the two are intrinsically linked.  I have been stuffing spinach, steak and dried apricots (who knew?) but haemoglobin once again in free fall and flights of stairs and steep hills a bit of a challenge.  Picked up some fabulous voiceover work this cycle, but of course, most sound studios are tucked away in the top of some garret in Soho ; so I cunningly arrive horribly early in order to negotiate the stairs (oxygen tank anyone?) and have plenty of time to get my breath back before recording.  Obviously a few sound engineers think I am the unfittest woman on the planet, but otherwise, I think I got away with it. 

Fatigue an ever present uninvited guest : I'm pretty good at entertaining it and slumping on the sofa at the appropriate moment, but just occasionally it catches me unawares...  not only am I liable to forget what I am saying mid sentence, I can now nod off in the interim... 

Blissfully, Buzzers filling up : Daughters 2 and 3 home for Christmas (Daughter 1 will be whooping it up on an Alp) and parents incoming Christmas Eve.  To organise the feast, I have decided I shall sit on the island in the middle of my kitchen and delegate like fury, champagne in one hand, spatula in the other - shouting orders left, right and centre - before nodding off in the sink. 

It just remains for me to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.... As ever, thank you all SO much for your continued support and good wishes.... I cannot tell you how much it means.  I can't say I shall be sorry to see the back of 2015.... definitely my 'Annus Horribilis'.  Please let 2016 be better...... 

I leave you with...

The Good : I can actually "brush my hair" as opposed to "arranging my hairs"

The Bad : Note to self..... when wearing the Guinea Wig (which is acrylic) be very careful when opening the oven door...intense heat tends to disappoint...

The Ugly : In the time it has taken me to write this, I have eaten an entire packet of mince pies...

xxx"

Rosie Update; "Tired. Teary. And feeling a little sorry for myself."

Another update from  Rosie who has been in the trenches with Cycle 5 of her breast cancer treatment. Tough couple of weeks; tough girl.

 

"Tired.  Teary.  And feeling a little sorry for myself.  

Cycle 4 certainly had a sting in the tail... All on the same day had to say 'goodbye' to my Uncle who died recently.  Goodbye to Daughter No. 1...... gone to a wonderful party in Val d'Isere for 6 months....  and... Goodbye to Husband.... to SE Asia for the week (to work I was assured... no parties).  Then the plan was to spend time with my Ma and return home refreshed and invigorated and ready to face everything Cycle 5 could throw at me.  

All went tits up when first the tank in the loft at Buzzers let go and water cascaded down the cavity wall and into to the kitchen ceiling space.... closely followed by collapse of kitchen ceiling.   Then the outrageously itchy rash that also ached, which I assumed was all part and parcel of the wonderful world of 'chemo side effects' turned out to be..... Shingles....  So I arrived in the chair for Cycle 5 feeling "A Bit Cross" as opposed to merely "Miffed". 

Compared to Epirubicin,  Docetaxel supposed to be a breeze (anaphylactic shock aside) but I have to confess, woke up on Saturday feeling as though I had been trampled on by a herd of elephants.  Everything hurt...  So full of steroids and medication I physically rattled... And a vile mood to boot.  Poor Mark spent the entire weekend being shouted at by a bald, angry dwarf.  

Which reminds me - I am obsessing with hair again.  This is because like rats leaving a sinking ship, my eyebrows and eyelashes have deserted me (traitorous b*****ds).       A little light research on the subject reveals the punishment of shaving a woman's head has biblical origins (why am I not surprised?)  In Europe the practice dates back to the Dark Ages with the Visigoths. During the Middle Ages, this "mark of shame" - denuding a woman of what was supposed to be her most seductive feature - was a common punishment for adultery.  Goes a long way to explaining why the practice enjoyed a remarkable comeback during the 20th century for women accused of "collaboration horizontale"...... No wonder I feel a prat... I'm up against oceans of history.

Had huge fun back in the recording studio - was heaven to be doing something "normal" as opposed to "abnormal" and you will be relieved to hear that the Guinea Wig remained firmly in place.  My secret is safe.   In other good news...  The necessity of blood transfusion receding... all blood levels on the up...

The bad... Mark reluctant to purchase Lynches-Bages to maintain this upward trend...

The Ugly... I look like a boiled egg...

xxx

Rosie: 'ALF is Smaller, Softer & Suffering'

Another update from friend Rosie who is now halfway through her chemo treatment for Breast Cancer, (you can find the others here and here). Before we get to that I thought I would share a conversation between another friend, who has been through and beaten Breast Cancer, and her son when she told him of the initial diagnosis.  She had the difficult talk with her boy who would have been 10 or 11 at the time. He paused for reflection and his mother nervously waited for the response. This is how it went,

Son:    'So Mum, you have to see a doctor?'

Mum:   'Yes, I've been to see him a few times. He's very nice and kind.'

Son:     'and Mum, he touches your breasts?'

Mum:   'Yes, he touches my breasts.'

Son:     'and you don't mind?'

Mum:   'no, I don't mind. He's a doctor and he has to do that to make them better.'

Son:     'and Dad doesn't mind?'

Mum:    'no, Daddy doesn't mind because the doctor is doing his job and is going to make me better.'

Son:     'That's OK then. I think I want to be that kind of doctor when I grow up.'

Over to Rosie, let's see what she's been up to.......

Reasons to be cheerful part 3...... 

Apologies for update delay, but much excitement celebrating precisely half way through the horror and terror that is chemotherapy and the final instalment of hideous pink Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide.  For the next 4 Cycles, Docetaxel is the way forward. Naturally, Docetaxel comes complete with new and exciting side effects, but I am told on the whole, it is easier to assimilate than Epirubicin and doesn't leave one feeling quite so revolting..... Instead fatigue is the main issue I gather...but as I permanently feel as though I am the dormouse at The Mad Hatter's Tea Party these days, no change there then...

Secondly, also had an appointment with my Oncologist just before being chemically coshed by Cycle 4 and felt it was worth waiting for that meeting and recovering from the immediate side effects to bring maximum news : (Drum roll and Ta-Dahl! moment...)  At the half way point Ladies and Gentlemen ... it's definitely working and Alf is a little smaller, softer and suffering.  Longing to swap the word "little" for a "lot" and if I could get my foot up there to stamp on it myself to speed things up, I would.... but I'm told all is well and progressing as expected and I must be patient. The patient patient.....

The only teensy piece of bad news is that my haemoglobin levels are in free-fall and if they get much lower, a blood transfusion might be required. Whilst this sounds alarming, I have been told that the results are spectacular and rather like a vampire after a particularly good night out, I shall feel fantastic with hitherto unknown energy levels, so I am now thinking quite possibly the only way to deal with Christmas efficiently anyway. Until that time, I am chomping my way through as much kale, spinach, steak and red wine I can muster.... although sadly I don't think Lynches-Bages is available on the NHS yet.  

Meanwhile I am mourning the loss of what was left of my brain. During my meticulous research on Google at the start of this fiasco (because Google is always a measured and utterly believable resource in health situations) I was reconciled to chemo being responsible for losing my hair, my breakfast, my sense of taste and my boob, but I wasn't prepared for losing my mind. I think I might have mentioned this before, but because I can't really remember, I can't be sure... so I have to keep repeating myself incessantly just in case.... This is excruciatingly boring for all concerned and confirms my belief that I am actually turning into my mother.  If I don’t write absolutely everything down (tattooed on a daughter’s forehead or something) I forget it completely within seconds, however earth-shatteringly important… and what was a mildly annoying habit of leaving sentences hanging mid-flow BC (Before Chemo) has developed into a serious conversational issue AC (After Chemo) : half way through a sentence I will just stop speaking as I have totally forgotten the point I was attempting to make.  Can't even claim to "lose my train of thought" as I can't remember which station the train left from in the first place. I am like a goldfish with a particularly short attention span....except this is probably unfair to goldfish (though to be fair we both respond to shiny things and the promise of food).

So until next time, I leave you with the Good......  I endeavour to return to work in a real studio (despite handicap above)

The Bad.... Pray I can remember how to read...

The Ugly.... What happens if I remove my headphones and inadvertently remove my wig at the same time?

xxxx

Rosie Digs Deep

Time for another update from dear and brave friend Rosie who is currently knee deep in the trenches in her fight against breast cancer. Cue Rosie and action...................!

'Chemo is vile. I appreciate the fact it's supposed to suck the life out of cancer... but I wish it didn't have to suck the life out of me.  It’s like being drowned 1 week in every 3… or the medical equivalent of being wrapped in loft insulation material whilst simultaneously being hit over the head with a steel-plated breeze block.  This is the sad, mad week when I sleep a lot… cry a lot… and swear a lot.  The total antithesis of brave.  It has even spawned a new type of irritating telephone call; forget “Drink and Dial”, try the “Phone and Moan”…

A lot of moaning this cycle… I am now officially bald.  24 hours before our Silver Wedding Anniversary, my hair exited stage left (and right and centre).  Deeply distressing as plans for our Silver celebrations had already been seriously compromised and downgraded, so the prospect of having to commemorate 25 years of wedded bliss without any hair was the final insult.  I didn’t feel very pretty…. or as L’Oreal would have me believe: “Worth it”. 

Praise be for the ‘Guinea Wig’ as it is now affectionately known; together we sashayed into Godalming’s finest Italian and I think we just about got away with it… 

I have a few wispy strands left… my Mother (who does a fine sideline in hairdressing) came to my rescue and cut what is left very short. Amazingly, despite being shorn, what remains is still trying to curl - defiant to the last.  I look like a dandelion puff…  On the bright side - I can no longer have a “bad hair day” as the Guinea Wig is always perfect and I have definitely shaved my legs for the last time this side of Christmas.  Say what you like about side effects, there is no denying that chemotherapy offers the ultimate in chemical depilatory systems.  So much more efficient than Immac….

And what of the eponymous villain of the piece? Essentially "under surveillance" ...  I have had baseline MRI's, ultrasound and tiny titanium markers inserted to monitor every movement.  In my wild and vivid imagination, Alf is a rather hideous cartoon criminal lying on a deckchair sipping a cocktail thinking all is safe and sound on Costa del Breast.  Right now we have just got to the part where Alf realises the cocktail is spiked, has dropped the glass and is rolling around underneath said deckchair clutching its throat.... Keep choking Alf, keep choking...

Cycle 3 looms tomorrow ... but in the meantime with breast cancer all over the media this cycle, I leave you with : -

The Good : -  More people today are beating cancer than ever before.....

The Bad : - but RIP Jackie Collins - glamorous to the last....and

The Ugly : - ....However fabulous the performances, I don't think "Missing You Already" is a film the we need to see any time soon....'

As a complete aside, (this is me now not Rosie), on the memorable 2011 'Ken & Barbie' Haslemere Rugby Club under 16's tour to Gloucestershire we stopped off at a service station on the M4. When we were walking back to the coach an old dear stepped forward and said, 'It's so nice all your boys are wearing pink and supporting breast cancer.' Absolutely Madam, absolutely.

 

ALF (Aggressive Little Fxxker)

I don’t much like cancer; I don’t suppose you do either.

As time rolls on it zaps increasing numbers of family, friends and acquaintances with a cruel and unforgiving randomness that is tough to rationalise.  Growing older is an obvious part of the picture and lifestyle decisions put some of us higher up the batting order with some cancers than other people which is fair enough. Some cancers though just hit the unsuspecting out of the blue with no apparent lifestyle mistakes to blame it on. One such is breast cancer. For every woman who is stressed, breast fed, didn’t breast feed, put on weight, on HRT, not on HRT, lost weight, vegan, carnivore, not stressed, hereditary, non hereditary………… well, you get the idea, whatever the latest fashionable reason du jour is, I can show you another girl who wasn’t / isn’t. Frankly, I don’t think the doctors have a scoobie why it targets who it does. It’s just bad bloody luck. The only mitigation is to check frequently and the excellent care and treatment that is available if you’re in the right postcode and actually, survivability amongst friends has been excellent. Indeed, my mother-in-law has seen off two different types of cancer. Cancer v my mother-in-law? Easy call there; the 3rd Soviet Shock Army couldn’t dent my mother-in-law, never mind some dodgy cancer cells.

We’re all though in awe of family and friends who wander into the operating theatre and the endless chemo cycles with a sense of purpose. Some exude grim determination and tenacity, some cheerful optimism while others adopt dark and amusing trenches humour to see them through. Many sufferers do a bit of each depending on where they are in the chemo cycle. I have a dear friend who is tackling the issue with such outrageous humour I thought, with her permission,  I would share some of her updates. Let’s call her Rosie. Rosie was recently diagnosed with breast cancer…………………………………

First and foremost - thank you all so much for the heavenly messages, texts, letters, cards and flowers that have poured in from near and far:  cannot tell you how much it means to me to know that there is this astonishing blanket of support out there that I can wrap myself in at any time.  Yes - makes me howl - but in a good way and I think this is definitely an occasion where everyone needs "permission for lower lip to wobble".

Forgive me for not replying to each and everyone of you individually yet;  I will get round to you all eventually I promise, but for now, en masse seems to be the way forward:

So - the beginning of the end of ALF (Aggressive Little F****r) commenced on Wednesday 26th August with Cycle 1 of 8 and drain cleaner administered through my newly-acquired bionic accessory embedded in my chest : the Portacath.....  Quite the scariest thing I have ever done and the temptation to tell everyone to f*** off and leg it across the car park was overwhelming. John, however, was magnificent and talked me down from the ceiling and I am now full of Epirubicin and Cyclophosphamide and an entire medicine cabinet to combat side effects. So far so good - holding up reasonably well and no nausea or sickness.

I have, sadly, discovered "Chemo Fog" which renders me insensible:  A stealthy, synthetic grey fug that muffles everything..... taste, touch, acuity, reflex and leaves one feeling at least 2 steps removed from everyone and everything.  It also makes me horribly forgetful and stupid. Sleep has become my new best friend and the chemical cosh kicks in with monotonous regularity... Whoever invented the siesta deserves a medal and my bedtime is currently 9pm. I have decided the way forward is to hibernate for the winter and sleep my way through chemo....

Thankfully, it does get better - much better.  The fug recedes and rather excitingly, I managed to remain conscious until 10.30pm the other evening. I have no doubt that by the time I reach the end of this cycle in a few days time I will feel bloody marvellous - just in time for the little men in white coats to administer Cycle 2.

Currently I am preoccupied with hair - or rather no hair... After much research I decided not to try the "Cold Cap" - a grim contraption resembling an old Soviet-style swimming hat that 'freezes' the scalp and hair follicles thus preventing hair loss.  For some it works brilliantly, others less so. After discovering Epirubicin is so toxic, it pretty much destroys everything in its path and I was at risk of developing the "Friar Tuck" or "Donald Trump Comb-Over" as a hair style AND the hat is painful to wear, it was a "no" from me (and my over-active imagination running wild with the thought that if I were a cancer molecule, a frozen hair follicle would be the perfect place to hang out....)  Thus far, the hair on my head is still with me – every morning I give it a gentle tug - but I think the end is nigh as elsewhere is in dire straights and falling out hand over fist.  I am not quite sure if I'm a porn star's dream or a feminist's nightmare....  All is not lost though as I have hair (an 'heir'?!) waiting in the wings: 2 very pretty wigs - 1 for the more casual, 'everyday me' and 1 for more glamorous occasions...

Otherwise, trying to continue as normally as possible : I have obviously taken a giant step back from work, but I am hoping to hang on to my regular clients and work exclusively from home. I promise I will endeavour to keep you all updated as and when -  In the meantime, much, much love and once again, many thanks for all your good wishes, love and luck.  I leave you with.....

The Good : White wine cunningly concealed in a coffee thermos is essential when purchasing a wig...

The Bad : Raising eyebrows at The Nuffield Hospital, Guildford by wearing an outrageous pair of bright red lacy nickers with the backless hospital gown that never does up...

The Ugly :

Face down in a MRI with one's trousers round one's knees is never a good look...

xxxxxxx

 

What a great girl; she should have been a soldier. There is obviously a television comedy in there waiting to break out but I can't see television luvvies being brave enough to do it................ perhaps that's just what cancer education and treatment in this country needs. It's a scary thing and as the motto of the old Parachute School said, 'Knowledge Dispels Fear.'