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...


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?


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.