Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Four days after breast cancer surgery

I'm still reading Alan Clark's diaries while Phil is mastering Level Five of Grand Theft Auto. Was in a bit more pain this morning and have necked a couple of mega drugs which are now reserved for real pain following my codeine overdose on Sunday.

Anyway the trick with Alan Clark is - first his dialogue is very good. Also he assasinates his characters and shows his own hypocrisies; whilst Employment Minsister in the depths of the highest unemployement figures in the early eigthies he challenges the unemployed saying there isn't enough demand in the economy then says he's lucky they don't know how much him and Nicholas Soames spend on a night's meal out. He desperately wants to work at the MOD which he eventually does. I desperately want to see Ken Livingstone as Prime Minister which I probably won't.

It's interesting comparing his diaries say, compared to WF Deedes memoirs (the Editor of the Telegraph). I read these when we went to Spain last year to stay in Auntie Shirley's flat. (Uncle Derrick is a Tory, well probably New Labour now, God knows, but he had Deedes memoirs). This Deedes guy was apparently happily married with three kids, AND HE NEVER MENTIONED THEM. It put me off him, and journalism. Alan Clark very fondly talks about his wife, which although I'm sure he was racist sexist scum, somehow makes him more endearing. There are a couple of nice photos of her in the book.

The problem with following Alan Clark's example of putting some decent dialogue on this blog, is that in my case there is very little going on.
It's things like Phil saying 'The reason you're so stiff is because you haven't done your exercises... Can I just finish this stage darling? ... [And when I do my exercises] 'Well done, That's so much better than yesterday'.

Clark's hatred of his job certainly puts me off rushing back to work in a hurry. The thing that Alan Clark will be best remembered for are his funny, entertaining and quite frankly historical diaries. He takes the piss out of people like Tom King. Like him I'd rather be remembered for something like that than sorting out car parking for health centres in Hackney, or in his case putting a report through the committee stage. But can my blog live up to his diaries? In my case I'm deliberately trying to be polite about people in case they sue me, or worse stop speaking to me. Also I don't know the people I hate like he does so can't comment about them properly (eg Patricia Hewitt).

The upper class is a funny old phenomenon, mutating to firmly establish itself as still in control. They're probably more popular now than when Clark was in office. (Take Prince Charles or David Cameron).

Now I'm about to marry Phil, AND I've attended the Fulham Breast Cancer Haven place I'm practically one of them already so I'd better shut up. Only joking, there is no doubt that I am middle class. You do have to be born into upper class, but then look at Kate Middleton...

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Day 23 of Breast Cancer

I'm back at home and it is absolutely marvellous! The sun is shining on my resplendant golden showers roses plus the chamomile. Mum is cooking a massive brunch for me and Dad who is due any second. I can just about type and am in minimal pain - despite having had an operation on Thursday!

I was the first on the list which was great as it meant no waiting and the team were fresh. I was up and about in no time at all and the breast is hardly different. They have done a neat cut around the nipple which will hardly show, so fingers crossed (and everything else) that the damn thing hasn't spread. We find out the results a week on Friday.

I tried reading Miss Marple in hospital, but found it too saccarhin, instead turned to 'How to Enjoy your operation' a humour book from 1963 which I quite enjoyed. Now I'm reading Alan Clark's diaries which is very good indeed. Can't put it down. Except I hate his racist sexist self. He reminds me of me though - hates his job and would prefer to be out in the countryside, or in my case the garden.

Phil was wonderful, although we both had a little cry when I had to go to have an Xray and I was fussing about my photos when he got back. He had just been saying how terrible it would be if I had Lung cancer. Of course that hasn't been ruled out yet. He went on a little walk and then we were ok. Mum was there too and I was so delighted with how well I felt than I rang everyone in my address book.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Breast Cancer – Week Three

A matter of hours before I go in for the op and I’m at the computer (but brilliantly for the first time this week!). Am doing all the right things – just got back from the Alexander Technique – a double session for us both to get us nice and relaxed.

Have created a ‘rainy day box’ the size of a small house, and deciding on reading material. Also – and this is terrible, it’s taken me to get breast cancer for work to decide they need a car park attendant! But I did smile when I saw him as I was delivering my sick note on Monday.

Had lovely cards from people and still getting excited about the wedding. Hollinsclough School has agreed for us to use their field for a marquee. Doing meditation like it’s going out of business, including a session at the London Buddhist Centre ‘ Let me be well, Let me be happy, Let me be free from suffering, Let me learn, grow and develop’; my new mantra.

Saw my lovely friend Anni and her three kids yesterday – Nina and the two twins Jamie and Alexander. They are all absolutely gorgeous. Tried on my wedding shoes yesterday. Going to have a bird theme – on the shoes anyway, I’m thinking two swallows and then a dove as a decoration for the dress. The EPP gang have got me some beautiful flowers. Phil is building some garden furniture.

And the Druids (plus friends) are dancing for me – at Stone Henge!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Week Two of Breast Cancer

Since I got my diagnosis so far it hasn't rained. In fact it's beautiful and I've asked Connie (our cleaner) to water the plants in pots today. But yet again I'm indoors, at a computer updating my blog. But there is a lovely water feature in the Fulham Haven (where I am exploiting their facilities at the moment) and I've been here all day.

It's an old church with a beautiful stained glass window someone gave. The Haven itself was set up by a rich woman as she decided her nanny wasn't getting enough support on the NHS. It's only ten years old and it's great.

I've been keeping incredibly upbeat - probably the least depressed I've been in the last six years. Amazing how if your life suddenly may be in danger you actually start to appreciate it. The room we had our meditation and relaxation sessions in was the same temperature as a glass oven, but even so I went back there early from lunch as the other 'contestants' (I do feel like I'm on some bizarre game show where we all want each other to survive) starting comparing notes on chemotherapy which didn't sound like the summery picnic I'm enjoying at the moment. They're thrusting a healthy diet on us like there's no tomorrow, but at the moment I'm fattening myself up for surgery. For lunch we had rice salad followed by some stange stuff they claimed was cake with strawberries. Dairy and soya are no-nos.

I feel like a world expert on meditation after just one week, people were scribbling down the book I'm using (John Hudson - Meditation). Mum's best friend Elspeth said it the cancer couldn't have happened at a worse time, but I think it couldn't have happened at a better time. It's early summer for a start, I had learnt meditation already, I'm an Expert Patient volunteer tutor, just got engaged, my fiancee is a surgeon of all things and Work is actually Hell itself.

The methodists are praying for me, the Catholics are asking for my forgiveness, the Jews are gesticulating (or whatever they do) the Church of England are letting me go round their graveyards, The Baptists are also praying for me and the Seventh Day adventists. The Muslims are praying for peace on my behalf. The Atheists are getting angry and the agnostics are asking a load of questions. I'm trying everything. No stone will be unturned (literally - I was on my tummy getting stones out of Mum's stream in the garden for my new engagement/recouperation water feature present). Surgery a week on Thursday (22nd June).

Love to all

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Breast Cancer: Day Four – The Story so Far

Having suffered from serious depression/anxiety [God knows - in fact He probably thinks it was cannabis psychosis] when splitting up with my ex-boyfriend (Mick) about four years ago, this is a totally different kettle of fish. I remember when my first boyfriend (Steve) and his sister (Ang) were told they needed to have their wisdom teeth out. This is more like that; they went in perfectly fine and came out looking like the Hunch Back of Notre Dame. In my case it’ll be more like the Saggy Tit of Stoke Newington. To be honest, if you can’t laugh about it, then you may as well cry, which I don’t find at all useful. And that really is the hilarious thing. I seem to have spent virtually my entire life looking for some reason or another to wallow in self pity, and then the reason finally comes along and it’s the last bloody thing you want to do.

I’m really appreciating even my step brother’s kids. And my step brother/s. And Buxton Pavillion Gardens. The list is endless, but I will continue; B&Q, the Today Programme (now I’ve got Cancer when it annoys me Phil allows me to switch to Capital), the sunshine, the rain, Homerton Hospital.

Meditation is coming into its own: I’m going to dump my membership of the Folio Society (need self help books instead and now I’ve got a legitimate reason), Take the £50 worth of History books I bought from Waterstones on Wednesday back. I’m going to Hypnotherapy tomorrow. Phil is going to manage my pain. I’m going to use every trick in the book to manage fatigue. And I get six months off work. I’ve already done a list of my 100 guests to the evening do of the wedding and got all sorts of people investigating wedding things (Steve’s Dad for example – see above for genetic teeth information).

The most tiring thing so far is telling people. Of course because I had such wonderful news (engagement) two weeks ago, people are still sending me congratulations cards. I’m having to go round them one by one and say ‘Ive got a bit of bad news. I’ve got breast cancer, diagnosed on Friday’.

Slight pause. Then they normally say ‘Oh My God’, Oh Goodness Me (Catholic response) ‘What?’ (Sound of car crashing/screeching to a halt) ‘No’ ‘I can’t believe it’ (very common and this is the sort of response I would give) ‘I don’t know what to say’.

Then I take on a sort of Doctor-ish authorative air, putting them at their ease. Saying ‘Well It’s a grade 2 lump, Two centimetres, I will have to have surgery and radiotherapy, and it’ll be taken out a week on Thursday, but we find out the test results from today on Friday which determines the extent of surgery and whether I have to have chemo or not so I’ll ring you back then’.

Then there’s another five minutes of them saying ‘I can’t believe it’ sound of sobbing, croaky voice, complaints of hangover/just coming of shower which explains their shakiness etc etc. 95% of the time they say ‘Well you’ve caught it early’ which they assume they have because I’m only 32. Then I say ‘Well actually it’s not that early because the earliest to catch the lumps are by mammogram which aren’t routinely done on anyone our age as it’s considered too risky. It would be Grade One if I got it on a mammogram and it’s grade Two’.

Then we have a little chat about the wedding. Definitely Hollinsclough Chapel. A few jokes about this and that. Then, because I’ve told them some horrific news, they start revealing theirs. But I actually quite like that. Mine is worse and at the moment I can talk about it as though I’m talking about what to do about the greenfly problem on my climbing rose.

Phil keeps on saying ‘It’s so unfair’. But I think it’s fine. I wouldn’t wish illness or suffering on my worst enemy (don’t think they exist anyway) but there couldn’t be a better prepared patient. In fact Phil said ‘You’ve just been waiting for a disease and now it’s happened’ which I thought was slightly unfair, but I’m (almost) an accredited tutor on the Expert Patient Programme, got heaps of experience of Health care and Phil is now my fiancee. He is suggesting that if there is a worse case scenario (get given 18 months to live next week) that we bring the wedding forward – ie to next month. I think having a wedding to look forward to might help me get better.

If I could just get more people involved in ‘Keep our NHS Public’ then my mind would be at rest…

Monday, June 05, 2006

Breast Cancer

Unfortunately I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer on Friday. Apologies to anyone who knows me that I haven't managed to ring to let them know, but you know now!

I don't really know where to start on this one, except to predict that I don't think this is the end of the blogging as I predicted in my last entry. Mum tried to be helpful by giving me a book called 'Writing your Way through Cancer' which I'm sure is a great book. My next entry will be 'Politicising your Way through Cancer'. I'm using the Cancer as an reason to try and get everyone else doing all the political stuff I was doing, instead of which I'm doing a tour of family and friends trying to look optimistic before I get really ill. Having the segmentegtomy or whatever it's called a week on Thursday.

Dad already thought the blog was self indulgent, but he ain't seen nothing yet.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

A time to search on the internet and a time to give up

Because both wedding planning and saving the NHS are such labour intensive activities, unfortunately the blogging is the first thing to go. Of course the best day of your life needs planning in the most minutest of details (eg date stamping your shoes, different perfumes in the toilets). Losing your job could be arguably one of the worst things to happen too, so that also takes a hell of a lot more work to be quite honest, to try to avoid, not just for me but the other hundred or so who I'm helping to represent.

Hollinsclough Chapel may necessitate a Sacred Text. My knowledge of the Bible (increasing on an hourly basis, thank the Lord) is limited to my recently purchased 3.99 'Wedding Readings' book. Fortunately my beloved already knew one off by heart (Catholic/Boarding School/Choir Boy/Scout/Army etc upbringing) which doesn't mention His Name, so united as committed atheist/agnostic, we may go with that: Paul's letter to the Corinthians, apparently common as Sacred Muck, but still the best.

Better than 'Wives submit to your husbands' or 'The greatest commandment'.