Friday, 3 November 2017
The new blog is work-related. My work can be a bit of a conversation killer, as it involves thinking about death, dying and bereavement - so it won't be to everyone's taste. But some of you may want to follow my trials and tribulations at work.
My first New Blog post is about Brexit. I've just become a British Citizen, but it has taken a lot of time (and money) to get there... Read all about it here!
Saturday, 3 June 2017
Could you tell me about your cancer? a family friend asked recently.
I never really dared to talk to you about it at the time. I backed away. What happened?
|Cycling and singing in France last weekend|
Thursday, 6 October 2016
We have emerged from the surgeon's knife. It was fine.
The hardest, perhaps, was the nausea (courtesy of a bright blue drip needed to light up the glands for the surgeon's benefit). It's so mild, it's hardly worth writing about - but it reminded me unpleasantly of the vile coloured chemo liquids poured into my vein, not helped by having the needle stuck into that very same hand.
Come to think of it, even the drip with normal fluids made me feel queasy with flashbacks. That was unexpected. I begged the doctor to take it down, promising to drink and drink.
But overall, we're doing ok. And following in Owl's footsteps, Ostrich has made himself very popular with the nurses.
Wednesday, 5 October 2016
Wednesday, 24 August 2016
Rooms marked Women. Put a bunch of naked females together and that's what they are, WOMEN, simple and straightforward. Ladies is for places where females can be discreet, like toilets and one-person shower cubicles.
|Women can shower with abandon, but should ladies leave their dress on...?|
Such acceptance of women's bodies, whatever their shape or size, has always appealed to me.
But my local swimming pool doesn't have communal changing rooms, and I had got used to being a lady.
Female patients are ladies.
I've got a stack of correspondence to prove it, as nowadays you get copied in when doctors send each other letters about you. I'm quite a nice lady, apparently.
"Dear GP, I reviewed this very pleasant 50 year old lady today in clinic..."
"Thank you for referring this nice lady..."
"Dear GP, I saw this lovely lady..."
Etc etc. (Would they ever write, "I wish you hadn't referred this grumpy gentleman"?)
I have sometimes wondered to what extent my theoretical embracing of the we-all-accept-our-bodies-and-let-it-all-hang-out philosophy would hold up. It's all good and well in the privacy of my own home, but baring my non-breast in public is yet another hurdle. You'd have thought that two years post-mastectomy, most hurdles have been taken, but this was one I had yet to jump.
I jumped yesterday, when I went to Brockwell Lido in Brixton.
There they were, the showering women, merrily displaying the effects of childbearing and decades worth of gravity. I've seen most things in such changing rooms. Old, not-so-old, wobbly, large, skinny, missing limb. But come to think of it, never a missing breast, or even a fake breast. Do women not swim in lidos after breast cancer? Is it against the etiquette?
It took a bit of deep breathing and talking to myself, but in the end, I just stripped off like everyone else. For many reasons.
Practicality. (I mean, who keeps on their pants when showering at home? Exactly.)
Not drawing attention to myself. (Trying to wriggle beneath a towel would do precisely that.)
Principle. (Repeat after me: I. ACCEPT. MYSELF. THE. WAY. I. AM.)
Setting an example to other women, who might one day face these issues themselves. (Don't worry! There is life after a mastectomy!)
And, fundamentally, freedom. Who cares, and all that.
The thing is, after all that emotional effort, I don't think anybody noticed.
I dressed my bottom half first and left my bra till last, just to make the point. Come on sisters, I'm making a statement here! But it seemed that I was making the point to myself and myself alone.
It was almost disappointing.
Monday, 22 August 2016
Sunday, 31 July 2016
I suppose I've got used to being a cancer patient, or, as I should probably say now, a cancer survivor (although that makes it sound a bit like I've been in a nuclear war). It is two years since we sat in the doctor's office, listening with trepidation as she displayed her chemical weapons of cell destruction. Since then, almost imperceptibly, cancer has been normalised.
I nod my head knowingly when I read articles or books about the debilitating impact of chemotherapy. Yep. Been there.
I put novel items on my holiday packing list. Pills. Swimming softie.
Ah, yes, the swimming softie. Trying to cool down from the heat of southern France earlier this month, dashing in and out of the Mediterranean Sea, it did strike me that perhaps my lack of concern about a missing breast is worth noting. In answer to the questions I asked myself in July 2014 (should I wear a softie in the pool? should I wear a swimming cap when I'm bald?): Yes, I do wear the softie, in the same way as I wear a fake breast in my bra, to balance my outfit. It's just part of what my bras and swimming costumes are like these days, top-heavy on one side. Who cares. Perhaps my tops are not as low cut as they used to be, but I don't feel limited by this, and feel no less comfortable in the heat.
I thought I'd tell you this, just in case there is someone out there, reading this blog, facing a mastectomy and worrying about future scar-filled summers. Of course we are all different in the way we cope and live with what life throws at us, but I am truly unbothered by my single-breast status.
So, thankfully, is my family. I don't hide anything when dashing in and out of the shower. (Not much left to hide! Ha!)
One day, when playing Ticket To Ride and placing my train carriages in Eastern France, one daughter exclaimed: "I know which route mum has! Brest to Petrograd! She only has one brest, that's why she wants to go there!" We all howled with laughter. I thought it was genuinely funny, but I was also rather moved, because when your children can joke about your mastectomy, then you know that life is back to normal.
There was one other moment, during those few weeks in France, that I felt the aftermath of cancer treatment. There we were, in one of those huge supermarché's that seem to be designed for a family day out. I had been hot and bothered by my hair. It was too long, too outgrown, and inconvenient if you're swimming three times a day. It had (alas) started to grow straight again, and my attempts to hang on to my lovely curls were increasingly futile. I mean, look at it. Too much like a regretted perm.
|July 2014: Comme ça|
It was the first time I was aware that I actually missed something about my cancer treatments. The convenience, ease and summer comfort of very short hair. And if that dreadful year of treatment has taught me anything, it's that none of it really matters. Not the number of breasts you have, nor the length of your hair.
So, here we are. Happy holidays.
|July 2016: Voilà|