Today I had a Facebook notification informing me that I had ‘memories to look back on.’ When it pops up I now always feel a little apprehensive about what it’s going to contain. I never used to, I used to look forward to the meander down memory lane looking at how small the kids were, remembering days out with friends, or boozy nights with even better friends. But now as I have passed my first year cancer diagnosis anniversary, at times my memories are cancer related. This is what makes me a little apprehensive. If I remind myself how bad I felt, will those feelings sneak back? If someone said to me “you were really scared of dying” would I start to feel anxious again as I revisit the dark times?
I was with a good friend recently who has also been going through sh*t times. She said “I hate those bloody memories as it reminds me how good we had it.” But todays memory didn’t make me think that, it made me think how far I’ve come. I scanned and read my post, what I’d written a year ago and felt a slight warmth that that isn’t me now. It was like reading a strangers post. I wanted to respond ‘oh you poor thing’ as it felt alien to me. And that was a good feeling. My friend isn’t there yet, who knows whether she will ever get there, I didn’t know a year ago or even six months ago that I would be here and I am fully aware that at my next scan things could change dramatically, but for today I’m pleased. I’m pleased my post reminding me of my fear didn’t make me feel bad. I desperately want my friend to get here too so we can again look back on memories not with loss and sadness but with the knowledge and battle scars of what we have survived.
This is my post written 22/07/2015
I’m obviously pleased to see my reference to bubbles, even after everything I had been through. Which reminds me, it’s Friday, the summer holidays and the sun is shining so I’m off to pop a bottle in the fridge. Have a wonderful weekend all. xx
My husband asked me if I was going to do any more blogs over the summer. “No” I replied, I may have a lot of verbal diarrhoea and lots to say but I am keeping this an eye cancer blog, so unless something to do with my eye pops up my blog will remain quiet. “I probably won’t write anything until my next appointment in August.” I told him. And then of course something happens, something that wants me to race to the keyboard and fire out a blog and this one is a plea for help.
While sitting in the garden with Mr J. the other day enjoying our ten minutes of British summertime, I was talking to him about the things I needed to do before the holiday. Usual holiday lists, getting the kids hair cut, picking up the dogs vaccination card, checking we have enough sun cream etc. and I need to get my roots done, I’d suddenly noticed about 4 cms of grey re-growth. “You look fine” he muttered. Fine? The pause that followed obviously indicated to him that that wasn’t the correct response. Granted if he’d said “damm right you do your hair looks awful” that also wouldn’t have gone down well. A happy medium of “O.K try and fit it in and if you need a hand with the kids let me know” would have been perfect. Sensing his mistake he did what I guess most blokes do, try and make it better with a compliment, “Have you had highlights done? They look nice.” and he smiled. Job done. “Yes I have” I smiled back. ” About 3 months ago.” And this is what made me shudder and race to the keyboard as I thought, how bad does it need to get before he notices? I think if I was made of carbon fibre and had two wheels he’d notice every tiny detail but other than that I don’t stand a chance. And with the prospect of ever decreasing eye sight this is a little scary as I may start to rely on him more and more to notice such things. When we go out for an evening he’ll often look at me and say “you look lovely Rufus.” I think he thinks I’ve been wafting around upstairs doing nothing, he doesn’t realise the hours of scrubbing, waxing, plucking, drying, teasing that go into looking so ‘natural.’
When my sight had got bad a couple of months agoI had noticed something that is difficult to do with one eye. Eye make-up. Closing my good eye to apply eye liner or eye shadow but only been able to see a blur is quite difficult. Eye liner got abandoned, eye shadow became a very subtle shade that wasn’t very noticeable and Mr J. laughed as he said “imagine if you have to rely on me to do your make-up” No lets not as that will never happen. But the hair incident started me thinking of all the hairs that need plucking and removing that luckily enough I can see at present. And this is where my plea for help comes in. However often I look in the mirror, one day suddenly there is a long dark hair sprouting from my chin. Where it came for I don’t know as I was sure it wasn’t there when I looked last night. But it suddenly is there and is plucked very quickly. Mr J has proved that he will never notice these hairs. So as my eyesight deteriorates and before my husband realises that he is actually married to a silver haired baby mammoth, could all my friends start carrying around a small tube of immac and tweezers? And if we are out for dinner and you notice I’m competing with the hipster on the next table, please do me the honour of letting me know and pointing me in the right direction. I can cope with being deaf in one ear and I’m coming to terms with going blind in one eye but hairy as well? No thank you. Your help in this matter will be much appreciated and we can then enjoy many a glass of bubbles and hopefully a very long friendship. Cheers.
P.S if I notice you sprouting any in the meantime, while I can still see, I’ll return the favour. Love Ruth xx
Okay so the holiday is on hold. Not how I envisaged things to be with my previous I’m invincible blog. Clearly I’m not. When we realised that she would have a large cast on so wouldn’t be allowed on some of the rides and would have wires inserted into her bone that stick out and need removal in 3 weeks, so no swimming, the idea of a holiday in Florida lost its appeal. But only for 3 weeks. Insurance will cover it so we have re-booked it. The app countdown has restarted, the excitement is building again and it really isn’t that bad.
Yesterday I had to call a company to order a waterproof cover for middle child’s hand, so that she can shower without getting it wet. The lady on the phone started a conversation about why we needed it and I explained to her about this little finger that had caused big trouble. When I told her that once we have heard from the insurance company we will re-book, she said “oh you must celebrate then. We celebrate every little thing in our house.” I thought straight away she must have had experience of illness or loss because people don’t tend to celebrate the little things in life. They are usually taken for granted. I don’t think there is anything wrong with taking these things for granted. I think its a great place to be, untouched by any tragedy. So few of us are. Most of us can think back to someone we would like to spend just a few more minutes with, to tell them we love them, miss them. Or to be with people we are scared of losing. Spending time together because we now know how precious it all is. No-one knows how long we have left. I listened to her for a while longer talking about how to use the cover and didn’t ask her why she celebrates or tell her that I also celebrate and ‘any excuse for bubbles’ will be on my headstone. I didn’t want to know. I just wanted to hear that she looks for the smallest thing to applaud and that made me feel happy. She was a kindred spirit.
So now the holiday is booked and it’s a Wednesday and my blog is on Macmillan there is only one thing left to do. Pop a bottle in the fridge and celebrate. I just need to make sure all these little excuses I’m finding to embrace life doesn’t turn me into a raving alcoholic!
This week my blog is going onto the Macmillan site. I’m quite excited about new people visiting my blog, last check was well over 2000! But also a little worried as I am also going off on holiday so there will be no new blogs for a while. I promise to blog the minute I return and I am ignoring a hint from a friend that I might want to blog on the beach. I can guarantee unless my eye decides to play up I won’t be blogging from the beach. Those that are new to my site, I have told my eye cancer tale like a story so its best to start at the beginning. The calendar on the right can take you to the start, its only back to May so don’t worry you aren’t about to read War and Peace.
My next eye appointment is in the middle of August. it was meant to be July but I sort of put my foot down and am not letting it dictate my life anymore. I’m going on holiday, the appointment can wait. Obviously if I had any signs that things weren’t stable I would have a re-think, but I don’t. All is good. Last years holiday wasn’t relaxing so months ago we booked a holiday that the kids have had on a count down app since day 186! We are off to Florida. Disney, Harry Potter and all the rollercoasters they want followed by a chill out on the gulf side. As a family we are enormously excited. I’m most excited to just be together. With my husband and beautiful girls having a laugh, making memories. The girls are obviously most excited about all the rides. They have spoken of nothing else for the past 186 days!
But we had a tiny mishap days before we are due to leave. Middle daughter, she of the rounders and drama auditions and over dramatic books has broken her little finger -playing rounders! I reassured her on the way to x-ray yesterday that it would be a tiny hair line fracture with no needles or pins needed. It would be strapped up and we would be out of there packing our sun creams and T-shirts by lunch. But like all best laid plans, she needs plastic surgery, a pin inserted, a general anaesthetic. We go on holiday in 7 days I wanted to scream. The nurse looked at me a little like ‘What more important? Your daughters finger or your holiday? Now this is where I exhale. Because lady, this isn’t just a holiday. We have had a pretty sh*tty year and we need a break. But I smiled. I’ve coped with far worse over the year. Tomorrow I will call the hospital to confirm her appointment and when I am seen I will let them know about our annus horribilis and plead and cry that she has to be seen and dealt with before Friday. I would never normally tell anyone about my cancer treatment but now I think, cancer is so crap that I need to get something good from it and if it happens to be getting my daughter shoved up the operating list a little quicker so that we don’t have to rearrange or cancel our holiday than so be it. I feel somewhat invincible, I know how important this holiday is for us all and am going to make damn sure it happens. I have reassured my gorgeous girl that broken fingers in no way ruin the fun of the rides. I would also just like to make a little point that it is her little finger that needs surgery, so it’s being shoved along the hand surgeons list and not in any way taking an emergency surgery place or a cardiac place, I don’t want people thinking this cancer treatment has made me a heartless b*tch, it hasn’t.
So if all goes to plan, she will be wearing a waterproof cover on her hand in Florida while enjoying all that is on offer.I will be thinking about cocktails on the beach and not blogging on the beach. And life will truly be good. Happy holidays everyone!
I’m conscious of the fact I haven’t completed my blog for a while.There is no reason other than life. Life has got in the way of me thinking about cancer, which is a great place to be. I realised this had happened when I was having a moan about the results of the EU referendum and the England football team and thought Wow! Isn’t that wonderful to care? After diagnosis and during treatment nothing could rouse me from my fearful state. Really, you could have said this whole life thing is just one big conspiracy theory and we are actually all aliens and I would have barely registered your mouth moving. But now here I am caring again.
The only recent event that happened that did make me pause, was the death of the great comedian, writer Caroline Aherne. She has joined a list of genius people that have passed away this year including Alan Rickman and David Bowie. Before my cancer diagnosis I would have been with everyone else thinking how tragic and sad, but having cancer as well adds another dimension to those feelings and that reaction was what made me blog today. Well that and being bullied by various people on why I haven’t been writing. Don’t worry you shall remain anonymous. I’m sure I’m not alone in my feelings and reactions, I would imagine other people with cancer feel the same. Now when I hear someone has tragically died, I’m shocked and sad like everyone else but I want to know immediately what they have died from and in the back of my mind I’m thinking ‘please don’t let it be cancer.’ Why? Because that confirms to me that people die from it. I’m not stupid and I know off course people die from cancer but hearing of a death makes it so real. When I am living in hope that all the advances are curing people I look at the celebrities who could perhaps afford to pay for the best care, and if they can’t survive it what hope is there for us mere mortals? After confirmation that all of the above passed away from cancer my next reaction is ‘of what? cancer of what?’ Please don’t let it be eye. My odds on it not being eye are luckily quite high, but only due to the rarity of the cancer and not the high survival rate. Caroline Aherne did have a form of childhood eye cancer. It’s different to mine, but hearing it stops you in your tracks. For a moment again the world stops spinning on its axis. I then feel very lucky. Lucky that I am still here caring about this thing called life. Caroline Aherne said that her mother told her only special people get cancer, so as she had eye, bladder and lung she must be really special and of course we know she was. An utter comic genius. But I would like to stay not very special at all please, so that I can continue to moan about things that make me cross, phone radio stations (?!) as I did yesterday calling James O’Brien and forget to blog because, well because life has got in the way.