Tuesday, 4 December 2012

A wake-up call week

I don't normally struggle for words, but trying to find a way to describe the past week and a half of harrowing horribleness has just about defeated me. They say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but I feel washed-up, broken and battered, and with all the fight sucked out of my soul. So we're not going to focus on that today! Instead, I'm going to tell you about all those tiny little moments during the week when loveliness and kindness pierced through the misery and kept me going.

 Lovely Moments this week!

1. Herceptin day. It was a long, boring day, and I thought that I was at risk of a heart attack. Apparently I wasn't, I'd got that bit wrong. So that was a bonus. Also the nurses pulled out all the stops for me, and were just kindness personified. I also met some lovely people going through the same stuff as me, and what could have been a very scary, tedious and frightening day was made bearable by lovely people. 

2. During Herceptin day I had a real treat! WM bumped into Ann and Vaughn in the hospital reception who we had met at the Penny Brohn Centre. Ann was there for an appointment too. So they came to visit me on the unit, and it was so lovely to see them both. Ann is looking so well and fit and happy, and it was just like meeting long-lost friends. We chatted for about half an hour, and they were able to bring us up to speed on the latest news of Ann's inspirational project. 

Ann was diagnosed in January of this year with mesothelioma, which is an incurable lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Devastatingly shocking news, enough to flatten many people, but not Ann. Instead, has decided to use whatever remaining time she has left (and we are all hoping that that remaining time runs into decades) to fund a very exciting educational project, the Ann Nussey Forest School Project, which aims to inspire a generation of children with a love of nature, giving them very hand-on opportunities to explore. Ann is generously funding the entire first year's running costs from her own pocket, and has set up a "Just Giving" page to raise the rest, and I promised I'd share the link here, so you can find out a bit more.


3. On Tuesday, it was my lovely sister's birthday, and guess what she did to celebrate? She turned up in the morning and came with me to Chemo! It was really lovely having a couple of hours to ourselves as the chemo dripped slowly into my system, and although we're had many more exciting birthday outings between us over the years, there was something really special about this one, too. 

4. Another chemo bonus - because they had had to access the Portacath the previous day for Herceptin, they allowed me to keep the contraption in place overnight, so no more needles on chemo day !

5. On Wednesday, WM and I managed a flying visit to my favourite hot chocolate cafe at TK Maxx, where they do a hot chocolate to die for - mint chocolate with marshmallows, a mountain of fresh cream and then sprinkle it with chocolate dust - and caught up with his sister and brother-in-law, who gave me probably the most thoughtfully off-the-wall present ever - a whole sheet of stick-on eyebrows! Since mine have completely disappeared along with the eyelashes so I look like something out of a horror-movie on a good day, these new eyebrows will save a child or two the fright of their lives!

6. Then a mega day out on Thursday, up to St Albans for more Laughter Yoga Leader training. A really lovely day out, catching up with Lotte, and meeting new laughter colleagues Mel and Kat, I can now offer one-to-one laughter courses over an 8 week period, on a much more intensive, therapeutic basis. Laughter Yoga has so many benefits, and this course really focused much more on the health and well-being benefits of introducing laughter on a daily basis into all our lives. Once chemo is over, I'm hoping to be able to offer this course on Skype, but meanwhile, I'm going to trial it with a few friends, to gain a bit more confidence. Ann, who I mentioned earlier, has very kindly offered to be my first guinea pig! It is ideal for people like me who are coping with illness, as well as people who have busy lifestyles and can't commit to a regular class, and it also very helpful for people with depression or energy disorders. 

7. On Friday, I had an appointment with a specialist cancer psychologist. Ooh eer. I went in convinced it was a "tick-box" exercise, and that I had no issues and was coping really well, and then it all turned around and bit me on the bum and I realised that it wasn't quite like that at all. A real wake-up call moment, and it's been like a pebble in the still pond, the more time goes on since Friday, the more I'm understanding that I'm just not dealing with everything that's happened over the past few months nearly well enough. I'm doing what I'm best at - telling myself and everyone else that everything is fine, and on Friday I began to see just how not fine things really are. All very sobering, and I can see that once we're through the awful crisis we're dealing with at the moment, everything will have to be rebuilt just a little bit differently which will take the time, patience and energy I just don't seem to be able to muster at the moment. So why is this on my list of "lovely" moments? Because it had to happen, and my whole family will one day become stronger because of it. 

8.  On Saturday, we managed a little birthday party for my sister and Mary Poppins, with Toby, our resident Birthday King, blowing out the candles and opening their presents in the expert way only he can. Thornton's Toffee cake is honestly the very best there is. 

Then since Friday evening, I've been back hibernating through the awfulness of chemo hell, but today it's just beginning to lift. It better had quickly because I think I'm the only person in the country who hasn't given a thought to Christmas yet, so thank goodness for Amazon and Internet shopping - I'm intending to hit the virtual high streets in my pyjamas!


  1. Oh My Goodness...what a week - but as usual here you are dedicating your time to others to keep us informed - GO TO BED AND REST!!!!! Or I'm coming over there lol xxxx

  2. Benedicte, thank you!xxx Sian, Happy Birthday again, and come over anyway if you're around tomorrow - it would be lovely to see you! xxx

  3. You are simply amazing Yvonne. What with the extra 'stuff' you have had to deal with this last couple of weeks, I am in awe of you. Sorry I missed you today, i look foward to our little weekly catch-ups. You will have to take me for one of those hot choclates in Tk maxs...sound yummy. What a sister! ...and what a lovely way to spend a birthday, chatting to you. :0) see you soon xx

    am in awe of you.

  4. with all the extra 'stuff' you have had this last couple of weeks, I am in awe of you. You ARE amazing. What a great sister you have. And what a lovely way to spend a birthday...chatting to you. Missed you today!Love catching up weekly,make up for that soon tho. Must come with you for a hot choccy, sound yummy!
    As your friend said...REST!


  5. Thank you "Fluff", missed you too today. Everybody I know wants to try a hot chocolate! We'll make a date very soon and have girl's trip out - the mint hot chocolate only tastes so good if we all have one of their cherry danish pastries too - you can feel the calories settling, but it is sooooo worth it! I'm not amazing, just doing what you or anyone else would be doing in the same circumstances. And eating cake and drinking hot chocolates - OK, so we're all allowed a special talent, and that must be mine. Love Yvonne xxxx

  6. Hi Yvonne
    Loved the eyelash part- saving a few children frights! You're very funny and I think you will be a great laughter yoga counselor when the time comes!

    As your sweet friend said

    Am in awe of you

    My love
    Rann Patterson
    Cancer editor BellaOnline.com

  7. Rann, Thank you for your lovely comments and encouraging words. With your amazing achievements, I really think it's me in awe of you, though!

    Take care, love

    Yvonne x