Monday, March 19, 2012

Carlsberg don't do bad weeks, but if they did....

It's been a while since I posted and in those two weeks, a LOT has happened - hardly any of it good! I was due to go back to The Scariest Hospital in The World on 9th March for an ass-load of pre-tests and scans before my first chemo blast. Naturally, the day before this my beloved rabbit Binky decided she had had just about enough of listening to her Mom crying and rabbiting (sorry) on about cancer, and headed off to the Great Warren in the sky. I bawled and sobbed so much that I both made myself hoarse and gave myself the migraine to end all migraines, which wasn't the best frame of mind for me to be in the day before my tests.

I should also tell you that I have practically NO veins in my left arm and seeing as I had surgery for breast cancer on my right side, getting injections/drawing blood is always eh, challenging. Anyway, I had about a million scans, blood tests and x-rays and was poked with a needle possibly four million times, but everything was where it should be and doing what it should be doing, so they said I was good to go for chemo on Monday - go team!

On Monday, like the good student I am, I researched the best thing to eat before chemo, duly ate it, packed a healthy little lunch and headed off with my lovely Mam and hubby to The Scariest Hospital in The World for my first chemo (I'm due to have three sessions of AC, three of Taxotere and then a year of this new wonderdrug called Herceptin). Being a cocky little miss, I was fully expecting to sail through the AC cycle of the chemo as I had read that the Taxotere can be much worse - eh WRONG DAWN! My lovely nurse Suzi lashed the chemo into me in less than two hours, I got the bus home and ate a ymmysloppy dinner of beans, mash and fish fingers. Suffice it to say, it's going to be a loooooong time before I can even look a fishfinger in the eye again....

About an hour after I got home, I began to feel a bit weird. Not sick now, just weird. I ignored it for a while but in what felt like a split second, I knew I was going to puke. And I just made it to the loo in time, where I spent the next 14 hours vomiting, shaking, having diarrhea and pretty much raving like a lunatic. My poor mother stayed with me the entire night and rang the hospital at 7am the next morning. I was rushed back in, as I had become so dehydrated that I had no tears when I was crying (FYI that is sh*t-scaryingly terrifying). I then endured the worst 45 minutes of my life, as a legion of poor nurses tried and failed to find a suitable vein to give me some anti-sickness drugs. FINALLY they located a fairly co-operative vein and we were in business!

Except we weren't.

Turns out I'm allergic to the usual anti-sickness drugs they give us chemo peeps, so after NINETEEN drip bags of various crap they found one that worked and for the first time in 48 hours, I managed to close my eyes and drift off to sleep.

I was kept in for three days but my incessant pestering of the doctors worked - they got sick of this girl and let me go. Oh sing Hosannas, I cannot even begin to describe the relief of being back in my own bed! It was glorious. However, I am still queasy as hell and popping anti-sickness pills like there is no tomorrow. I feel a teeny bit better today and am praying to everyone I know in Heaven that I will be back to myself asap.

Due to the lack of veins going on, I'm due to have a porta-cath installed (installed? inserted?) on the 28th and my second dose of chemo will be administered that day. My oncologist has sworn blind that she is going to change the chemo so that I won't have to re-enact The Exorcist for days afterward, so I would ask you all to say a little prayer that I won't be a human projectile-vomiting machine for days on end. I've made up my mind that IF this chemo makes me sick, I'm going to sit ON TOP of the oncologist and vomit on top of her until she fixes me. So now.

Right, over and out from me tonight. My bed is a-calling (I lie. Its really the new season of True Blood and Ridey Eric aka Alexander Skarsgard thats a-calling, but sssh) so good night to all and to all a good night.

PS: You are welcome ;)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Things are getting hairy...

Or not, as the case may be.

I met with my oncologist for the first time on Wednesday and I was no sooner sitting down than I burst out 'My hair, my hair, what's gonna happen to my hurrrrrrrr?' My mum had been lucky enough to keep her hair so I was sort of optimistic that I would be as lucky as her, as losing my hair was my very worst fear. I might be sick, but I damn well didn't want to look like I was sick. Or like Matt Lucas.

But my worst fear became reality, as the oncologist broke the news that yes, I was definitely going to lose my hair about two weeks after my first chemo session. And just like that, the bottom fell right out of my world.

Once I got myself together, the doctor advised me to get my long hair chopped up short, as seeing long clumps of hair falling out is apparently much more traumatic. She also gave me a wig brochure and, for the icing on the cake, told me I would need to get sleep caps as apparently being bald from chemo means you can get very cold at night. I think at that moment, the realisation that I was a cancer patient hit home and my God it hit home hard.

Yesterday I cut my hair and I won't lie, I sobbed like a baby as each strand hit the floor. I never thought I would be so vain, but this disease is forcing me to learn new things about myself and not all of them are nice.

This is my new hair (please excuse the sad face and wonky eye, I'm no America's Next Top Model!It's like my eye is trying to slide out of shot haha) and below is my wig, which is slightly longer but more or less the same style.

I'm really not sure that I'm going to be brave enough to 'go bald' in public, I have an awful fear that I'm going to look like Uncle Fester as opposed to Demi Moore in GI Jane or the beautiful Nathalie Portman in V for Vendetta, but maybe when the time comes I'll change my mind. In fact, I have already christened my wig 'Cousin It', sure there's nothing like a bit of Adams Family humour!

Now that I know the worst will happen, I am trying to come to terms with it. But, if anyone has a spare bottle of Dimoxinil hanging around then I will happily take it off your hands!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dropping the C-Bomb

Two weeks ago, I got some news. Bad news. The kind of bad that leaves you winded, dry-mouthed and with a little bit of vomit in your mouth. I had been informed that at the relatively young age of 29, I had breast cancer.

Oh, that word - people refer to dropping the c-bomb when they say the word c*nt, but I think that the word cancer is infinitely more shocking and provokes much more of a knee-jerk reaction. When I hear that word, all I think of is sickly-pale, bald, fragile children smiling bravely on those dreadful television ads for cancer charities, or Susan Sarandon in Stepmom or even worse, Debra Winger eking out every last tear from the audience in Terms of Endearment (that film KILLS me). I really never thought that I would hear that dirty word in the same sentence as 'My dear, I am terribly sorry to have to inform you that you have cancer'.

There are no words to explain the range of emotions that one experiences when this bomb is dropped - I went from being completely dazed, to bawling my eyes out, to becoming very calm all in the space of a minute. To be given this news at any age is the worst possible thing ever, but all I could think of was 'I'm 29 - does this mean I'm going to die? Will I get better only to get sick again? Will the chemo send me into early menopause? Will I lose my breasts?' I sat there in the doctors office while my poor husband sobbed beside me, and the forefront thought in my mind was simple. Why bloody me?

Two weeks ago, I had a lumpectomy on my right breast and had several lymph nodes removed from my arm. The surgeon told me that I had a rapidly-spreading cancer and that it had metastasized into my lymph nodes. He had removed the tumor, a sizable amount of healthy flesh that the tumor was sitting on and the affected lymph nodes. I was left with a right breast that was considerably smaller than the left, and an evil-looking scar that stretched from nipple to armpit, but I thought that was a small price to pay. And hey, look at the TOWIE girls! There was definitely a boob job in my future.

Then he dropped the next bomb - he wanted to remove both breasts.

I still haven't fully processed this - I mean, my breasts are what make me a girl! If I get rid of them, does that mean it won't come back somewhere else? No, it doesn't. If I keep them, does that mean the cancer could come back in the other breast? Yes, there is a distinct possibility this could happen. When will reconstruction happen? Will reconstruction happen?

I haven't come to a decision about this yet. My first meeting with the oncologist is tomorrow and I'll be starting chemotherapy next week, so I have plenty of things to focus on in the near future. In the meantime I'll be using this blog as a space where I can vent, cry and even hopefully have a giggle. I intend to be as honest about everything I am going through as I can be, but I will give a heads-up for the squeamish among you before I go into this fine detail!

At the moment, the only thing I am 100% sure of is that this will NOT beat me. Everything else can wait...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be.... for a half-marathon. Yes folks, as of this week I am officially in training for my first ever half-marathon (cue much sweating and gnashing of teeth. And that's before I even get anywhere near a road and/or gym.)

I've always wanted to be one of those sporty (skinny) types, who survive on a diet my rabbit grumbles about being on, who radiate smug healthiness and who wax lyrically about their love of outdoor pursuits. I mean, I've hated those girls but I have also secretly longed for admittance into their exclusive, radiantly healthy gang. Well this is the year I make it happen people!! (I may have demonstrated my enthusiasm a little too much yesterday and ended up straining a muscle in my chest, which meant that I wheezed and puffed my way around the office today like a ninety-year old chain smoker).

Anyway my friend had more or less the same idea, so we have both signed up for the Luxembourg City half-marathon, which takes place on May 19th, giving me around 21 weeks to become less heifer, more gazelle. Or something like that... Thanks to the brilliant and amazing Tina, I have my training plan (courtesy of Hal Higdon) so I am ready to rock the shizzle out of it people. I will keep you updated on how my training is progressing and how I'm feeling about the whole thing, with a view to posting a pic of myself avec medal on May 20th, most likely STILL with a purple face.

I have some posts coming up which will delve into the recipes I am loving on my new wheat-free buzz and another post which might just be the cutest thing you have ever seen (just you wait. I challenge you not to melt!). In the meantime, my happy friend thanks you for stopping by and hopes y'all come back soon. (I would post more but there is a nerdtastic programme on about the Higgs boson particle that I simply HAVE to watch)

Ciao xx

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Inspirational Dinosaurs, or how T-Rex helped shape my day

Evening all, how are we? I hope that all the poor, unfortunate souls out there who had to face work today after the Christmas break have recovered sufficiently from that shock to the system and are now rewarding themselves with a nice bit of couch-surfing for getting through the day without murdering colleagues, getting body parts jammed in the photocopier or breaking the coffee machine and sidling guiltily out of the canteen without anyone noticing. Ahem.

Moving swiftly on, has anyone ever noticed the way that the last song you hear before going into work can get stuck in your head and drive you completely M-A-D for the rest of the day? Well, the last song that I heard this morning was T-Rex 'Children of the Revolution', and while it did get stuck in my head, it also sort of shaped the way my day went. You see, today was Day 1 of my new healthy lifestyle regime, a diet and exercise revolution if you will (am I pushing it with that? Possibly) and the constant looping of that song in my head managed to keep me more or less on the straight and narrow - much to my delight.

I was recently diagnosed with IBS, so my doctor told me that my love affair with wheat had to end and that time was up on my steamy trysts with refined sugar. Naturally, this news was devastating and I was full sure I would fall off the wagon today. Repeatedly. However, Mr Marc Bolan crooning 'No you cant fool/ the children of the revolution/no you cant fool/ the children of the revolution' managed to halt me in my tracks every time the tray of Ferrero Rochers winked suggestively at me, or the bag of croissants got up and did a little dance right at my desk.

Marc - skateboarding like a god. Don't fool him. He KNOWS.

This positive frame of mind was further reinforced by one of my lovely friends, who told me that one of her New Year's resolutions was to try to do some form of activity every day in January - something as simple as a 20 minute walk, running up and down a few flights of stairs, or just bopping around like a raving lunatic to some choons, basically anything that gets the heart pumping and the muscles moving is your friend here.

Now THAT's an inspirational dinosaur

Right, enough preaching out of me tonight - I'm off to bring the hounds for a quick run in the fields before I retire for the evening. They have somehow sensed this plan and are trying to slink quietly behind the couch in the hopes that I will leave them in peace - maybe I should explain the concept of inspirational dinosaurs to them? 

Ciao for now dudes...

Monday, January 2, 2012

She-Ra, Near Death Experiences & the Evolution of the SuperSoup

Hello one and all - well, well, well boys and girls (as Uncle Gaybo would say) WHAT a day I've had. It started off quite well, with an episode or two of the eponymous Princess of Power, or She-Ra to give her her full title. She-Ra was a Saturday morning staple of my childhood and Himself very kindly got me a DVD of some of the best episodes for Christmas (JOY!) so I've been working my way through them gleefully while on my holidays. And don't worry, there will definitely be a post on this lady coming up soon!

Anyway, I finally staggered downstairs to be greeted enthusiastically by the two mutts and one husband. 'Husband'- says I - ' Did you take the bow out of the dogs hair?'. Husband replied rather emphatically that he had not. 'Hmmmm', says I. Cue frantic searching of the entire house for the missing bow, only to realize rather belatedly that Miss Phoebe the dog must have eaten it. The vet is practically on speed-dial, so a quick phone call assured us that the missing bow would inevitably make an appearance and there was nothing to worry about, as it was relatively small and would be sure to, ahem, pass with no problems...however, this did not prevent Little Miss Phoebe from assuming an expression of utter despair and acting as if she was about to be martyred all afternoon (or until someone rattled her bag of treats. That seemed to have an instant uplifting effect)

After the stresses of the morning, I decided that I needed something healthy, packed with nutrients and as comforting as a big squidgy hug for my dinner. Something that a superhero would quaff before an epic battle perhaps. A quick check of the vegetable drawer confirmed my suspicions that this area of the kitchen had been completely and utterly neglected during the 2011 FatFest (or the week between Christmas and New Year's as it's known to everyone else). The following ingredients caught my eye, so inspired by my cartoon-watching earlier in the day, I decided to make a SuperSoup.

I chopped up the above (2 sweet potatoes, 1 regular potato, 1 apple, 2 onions, 2 parsnips and around 8 carrots), drizzled them with sesame oil, seasoned them with black pepper and threw in three cloves of garlic for good measure. Aww pretty.

I literally flung them in the oven (as I was in the middle of watching The Empire Strikes Back - nerdgasm alert) at around 180 degrees for an hour, or until they got all charred and caramelised and generally yummy.

These guys got added to a litre and a half of vegetable stock (gluten free of course) and I simmered them for around 10 mins, before chucking them into a blender and serving with a drizzle of sesame oil and a sprinkle of black pepper - and it was pretty darn tasty, even if I do say so myself!

So there you have it! She-Ra, a near death experience and the evolution of the SuperSoup - and I bet you thought I had gone slightly barmy with the title of the blog post (I'll pretend I didn't hear that, you at the back!)

Ciao for now peeps...

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Meet The Muttley Crew and representatives from Mittinsky Corp

I know, I know, two posts in a night - you guys are going to be sick of me for sure. But I promised you cute animal pix and dammit, I am a woman who keeps her promises. Mostly.

The one with the bow in her hair and the very innocent face is Phoebe and she is Trouble. Yes folks, Trouble with a capital T. She may look like butter wouldn't melt in her mouth but BELIEVE ME, once you think that, she owns your ass. I am not kidding here people, this puppy is pure ghetto and the ringleader of The Muttley Crew. Himself thinks I have her spoiled, but really how could you not spoil her? (As you can see from this, my ass no longer belongs to me).

The little one attempting to hide on the cat tree is Izzy, gang member numero duo. She is a Havanese, a breed I had never heard of before I came to Luxembourg but which originates in South America, namely Cuba. This has resulted in me imagining that she speaks like Speedy Gonzales from the old Looney-Tunes cartoons, which entertains me greatly (but which Himself finds considerably less amusing, particularly when I proceed to have a conversation with Izzy in this dialect teehee).

These two guys are my beloved kittycats, Sophie (the one looking up with narrowed eyes and an orange nose) and Jersey (the cutie with the white face). I will say this right now so you all know where you stand: 'Hello, my name is Dawn and I am a crazy cat lady'. And crazy doesn't even come close to it, so flee now while you still can...

The Mittinsky Corp comes from the fact that these two women are THE cleverest cats I have ever had - even the vet agrees with me on this. Myself and Himself decided a long time ago that these guys most likely have alternate identities, several different passports and many, many offshore bank accounts - basically, these two could buy and sell us several times over with their smarts. Anyway, ages ago I was pottering around the kitchen when Jersey launched herself on me and made the strangest miaow I have ever heard - it was like a Russian toast (Na zdorovje!) so naturally, I decided that she was head of a Russian corporation and was housed with me as part of some covert black-ops style mission, hence the birth of the Mittinsky Corp.

Now, you may have decided by now that I am completely insane and most likely writing with a tinfoil hat from a room covered in bubble wrap so that They cant hear my thoughts, but honestly I'm not *that* mad....I hope.

Anyway, ciao for now lovely people...