Does it get any easier?

Tuesday 19th August, 2.30pm.

18 month check.

Bart’s hospital, West Wing

Seeing it written down doesn’t make it look scary. Seeing it written down in my scrawl on a post it note doesn’t make it look scary.
But scary it is and really thats a misnomer too. I’ve had an unscheduled MRI for a hiccup that I had and the results say its clear.

However, fear and anxiety hit me like a brick wall. Its the same every time. 7-10 days before the appointment, my brain kicks into overdrive and suddenly, its time to think about everything and then think about it all over again just for good measure. I think about there being something there on examination of my hoo-ha; I think about what would be the next course of treatment if there was something there; would I need a hysterectomy and then I think how that might be a good thing because then it would take away equipment that I no longer need, because thats how I think of my womb now. Redundant equipment. No longer necessary. No babies here. And then I think about what if wasn’t as simple as removing something, what if this was the appointment that told me that its back and its not going anywhere except to take me down with it.

And so on and so on ad nauseum.

Someone this week asked me if it gets any easier, I think my blurb up there says it all.
In some ways, yes, I think it has. But in many ways, nothing has changed at all.

The waves of panic in times when I need to be clear and concise, always catch my breath. I could be talking to someone about a meeting room booking system and BAM. The image of a concerned doctor drums into my head.

Does it get any easier? Like with many things, I think you just learn to live with it.

Send your prayers, if you pray.
Send your good thoughts and vibes, if you have them.
Send your love, luck and hugs.
And send your pictures of you in purple.
That gesture alone is worth so much to me.

I love you all and here is to the 18 month appointment, which will forever be known as the ‘Phoney’ one.


To be or not to be…now I have my answer

15 months…check. Boom.

Today I had the pleasure of meeting Dr L (damn I knew I should have name checked you!) who after introducing herself, promptly told me how much she liked my bag. The Mulberry had its first hospital outing today.

We chatted for a bit and the usual questions came up;
‘Bowel ok?’
‘Well, actually, the urgency to go for a wee is a bit more now but manageable’. She explained how this was a lasting effect of the radiotherapy I had and completely normal. Also doesn’t help that I have had a baby and any Mama knows your wee patterns are never quite the same after you have had your little darling…

It was then time for the main event…the physical examination.
Whilst chatting about how cheeky our ‘threenagers’ are especially when it comes to ratting you out about your alcohol consumption, Dr L, did a thorough internal (which still has me wincing despite all the treatment I have encountered – you never get used to a doctor with a plastic tool up your hoo-haa) and made a couple of comments (which I will spare you dear readers, but it was very reassuring) and gave me the delightful news that the fuckwit, cervical cancer, was still being kept at bay…for another 3 months at least.

Boo – fucking – ya! 15 Month check – nailed it.

And actually breathe again and nearly pass out from holding it in.

Throughout my appointments, throughout all the questions I am asked by doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, there is one question I have been been too scared to ask. I’ve not wanted to know why because knowing would take the last smidge of hope away.
But today, today I had the courage to ask because I need to move on to the next part of my life and stop tormenting myself.

I sat with a tissue in my hand, my head concentrating on my lap and with Dr L leaning forward to try and hear what I wanted say through the tears already falling from my eyes.

‘I know I can’t have anymore children, but I want to know why’

I know its a silly question, we know why, but I needed to know in black and white. I needed the facts, however hard it is to hear.

‘There are two parts; part one your ovaries would have been in the radiation field and therefore the eggs would be damaged; part two your womb would also have been in that area and not able to accommodate a baby’

As soon as she said that, it was as if a weight was was lifted.
A simple clarity to assist in dissipating a lifetime of heartache.
That horrible thing your body does, tricking you into thinking something could be happening because you recognise a niggle that ‘ooo might possibly’ be ovulation pain…can be just swept aside now.

We have a very amazing friend, so amazing that she offered to be a surrogate for Pete and I, but now, knowing what I do now about my eggs, its made it easier for that decision to be discounted, but be forever in her debt for thinking of doing something so selfless.
Even Dr L got a bit emotional about that. I love Dr L. She’s a Mama. She knows.

So the next step…maybe now we can actually talk about the next step. Whatever that maybe.

And maybe now I can take some comfort in the fact that I might not carry anymore children, but I am here and I am well.

Once the tears have dried of course.

To be or not to be…now I have my answer.

Wonder Women – Part 3

It seems like ages ago since I last did a Wonder Woma(e)n post and I am delighted to be back writing about some wonderful women.

Tomorrow sees the last of Race for life’s being done in my name and we’re going off on a high with 3 fabulous Mummy’s donning on there numbers and giving the 5k a go.

First up is Charlotte, or more likely known as @charlieSav83…

Nice glasses Charlie!

Nice glasses Charlie!

Mummy to the gorgeous Harry, owner of new Heston Blumenthal glasses (although apparently this hasn’t made her a better cook). As well as being an awesome Mummy and juggling two jobs, Charlotte is also in the throes of setting up her new party favour business…wonder woman indeed.

Laura and Roo - loves them very much.

Laura and Roo – loves them very much.

Laura is proud to tell me she can make the best stickiest pavlova ever and still knows all the words and moves Whigfield’s Saturday Night (I do too!), and more amazingly, she takes anything that Chrohns disease throws at her.
She’s amazing Mummy to ickle Ruby, and is a dab hand at the sewing machine making my legendary Fuckwit pillow which took me through my treatment.

Heather and Jefferson at the Wedding of the year.

Heather and Jefferson at the Wedding of the year.

Now, our Heather is a keen actress and spent one amazing Summer as a fairy in A Midsummer nights dream, playing to audiences of 600 people. To add to her talents she planned her whole wedding in just 12 weeks, whilst she was pregnant, making it the perfect day she dreamed about.
She is a fantastic Mummy to Jefferson (how cool is his name) and is the maker of what i’ve heard to be the best Snickers muffins in the world.

Now, they have already exceeded there target by 40%, but that doesn’t mean you can’t contribute! As with all the Wonder Women, they are raising money for Cancer Research, a charity which has does such amazing work and discovered the drug that helped me greatly, Cisplatin. A Platinum chemo which aids destruction of cancer cells and works amazingly well in Cervical and Testicular cancers.

So please, help them continue there quest to eradicate Cancer by making a donation to the below Just Giving page.

I’ll be back in a couple of weeks to give you an update on the final total raised by these fantastic Wonder Women.

Thank you for your continued support x

Wizard Sleeve

Wednesday was probably one of the most bizarre experiences in my life. Even more bizarre than my friend in primary school telling me how babies are made. Apparently babies are made cuddling tightly and then the man touching your bum. True story.

If you are a lady who has had radiotherapy to the pelvic region, and if you then have brachytherapy, it is likely that after the cumulative effects have subsided that you will get adhesions in the vaginal wall which, can be usually broken by fingers but if left, can harden and then only be removed by surgery. Grim.
In order to prevent this happening, you have to administer dilation to keep you, er, ahem, stretchy.

Below is the conversation I had with Gloria about post brachytherapy maintenance. Prepare to be weirded out.

Gloria: Right, now, this chat is the same with any woman who has had this treatment, any age and any amount of sexual activity-ness.
Fran: *bites tongue at sexual activity-ness*
G: *Gets green bag of tricks out*
F: Ooo do I get a little bag?
G: Ooo yes, well actually you get a case, but you can keep it with your other vibrators if you want, just wash it etc.
F: *eyes widen* oh, ok.
G: Right, I see you’ve had a baby so this is gonna be dead easy for you to do. *proceeds to get out 4 tubes of varying sizes, they all twist on to one another to make a dilator and handle* Ok so as you can see, we’ve got varying thickness most women, feel nothing with this one *holds up rounded tip which is about 1-2cm wide* so you can use this one first but you might as well use this one *holds up rounded tip which is about 5-6cm wide*
F: *gulp*
G: Dead easy, you need to do this 3 times a week. Put some nice music on, relax, maybe do it after a bath. Just slather on the lube and pop it in (she actually said pop it in, i’m wincing just remembering) then turn it anti-clockwise for 2.5 mins then turn it clockwise for another 2.5 mins then bobs your Uncle, you’re all done. Now, there are alternatives.
F: Oh yea, I think I might try that. Never been a big fan of shoving things *up*
G: Really, oh you don’t know what you’re missing. You could get your Husband involved.
F: Erm
G: Actually the alternative is to use your Husband. If you have sexual intercourse (yes, she said sexual intercourse) twice a week you won’t need to use the dilator.
G: Yep
F: *tumbleweed* Anything else?
G: Well, to avoid RSI, we get loads of complaints about wrist injuries from using the dilators too much, we can provide a vibrator which does the turning for you. *Produces THE RABBIT*
F: Oh, so when you said vibrator, you actually meant a proper one, not like a hospital grade one
G: Yes, of course, do you have this one at home?
F: Me? Oh erm, well…
G: These are fabulous, they really work well plus they do all the hard work for you, you can use your own one or we can provide it for you for £17.50. Don’t worry you don’t have to “hide the rabbit”, that’s just for clitoral stimulation.
F: *crimson* Right, I think i’ll stick to the dilators you give me.
G: Good choice. Right, now, lube. You can get it on prescription and seeing as you get your scripts for free, you might as well go to your GP and stock up now. Make sure you get the Sylk lube, its the best one.
F: Right.
G: Now, I suggest you wait 4 weeks after treatment before starting this which will probably be about the 21st Feb.
F: *Laughs* Oh that’s my birthday. Happy dilating birthday to me!
G: Oh that’s perfect, get a baby sitter, get your Husband to make you a lovely birthday meal then have lovely birthday sex, then you’ll only need to dilate one more time that week.
F: Was hoping for some Ikea vouchers, but I guess this could work too.
G: Vouchers won’t make your vagina stretchy. Here’s a leaflet and a DVD on how to use the dilators.
F: I think you have explained it more than enough, Gloria.
G: Oh good, I love these chats, vagina’s are fascinating.
F: Huh, My Husband says the same thing.

I got home later and read the leaflet which informs me that I have to do this for 5 years. FIVE YEARS. My poor foof. I’ll have the wrists of a pubescent boy.

I’ve not watched the DVD yet. I’m not allowed to get drunk enough to get through that…

At least my vagina won’t be like a Wizards sleeve *Punches air*

Where does the time go….

As I sit here in Starbucks abusing the free wi-fi on my Big Mac, nursing a peppermint tea and trying desperately not to get indigestion from the fruit toast I have just inhaled (yes, I am still eating like a sumo wrestler), I am drawn to the fact that it is the 2nd of January.


How on the actual earth we live in, is it already the 2nd of Jan???

It is exactly 2 months since I was diagnosed.

In those two months I have had:

A PET scan
My 1st general anesthetic
My hair chopped off
5 oncology appointments
1 kidney test
One toddler pour my wee away for aforementioned kidney test
3 tiny tattoos
22 fractions of radiotherapy
4 cycles of chemotherapy
10 blood tests
22 pounds lost
One Superhero cape made

I am 3 weeks off completion of my cancer treatment.

What will I do with my time then?

And a Happy New Year…

So here we are on the cusp of a New Year.

Safe to say that I am not sad to see 2012 go. It has been a shit year for many, many reasons. I am not going to list them, you know it all anyway.

I always get nostalgic when New Year comes round, and try to find the positive in tough times. I’ve struggled to see the light this time, but I made myself think of 5 things that were wonderful about this year.

1. Celebrating my Son’s 1st Birthday with his many friends
2. Welcoming 3 new babies to the family
3. Holding the Olympic torch
4. Having my love grow for the people around me
5. Getting perspective on life

That last one is pretty deep huh? Pretty standard I think once you’ve been diagnosed with Cancer. I’ve learnt not to sweat the small stuff; Let go of some deep seated issues which have been holding me back. Silly things like the clothes I wear, the way I am about what I love to do, like writing.

I am not happy I have Cancer, but I am happy that it’s made me realise that I am person who matters and being comfortable with myself, is just another step in my recovery.

In a way, I am sad to see this year go. I lost two wonderful people this year. Both at opposite ends of the age spectrum. A friends little girl who was snatched from life and a Father In Law who was released from his struggle. I weep that this year ends with them both in it forever, but I hope that wherever they are in the world, they are at peace.

I wish you all an amazing New Year, make of it what you will and most of all….be happy.

I love you all.

Right, now indulge me, give me your 5 wonderful things about 2012.

Counting down

So I have nearly completed week 3 in my Cancer treatment, and I have to say, that this week has been a vast improvement on last week by eleventy billion percent.

I have actually accomplished things this week. Little tasks like cooking dinner or doing the washing and tonight, I managed to get James to bed, which is such a major thing and he was very happy about that too….lets hope that transpires to a long sleep.

Never. Gonna. Happen.

To me this is amazing. I am very tired now, it’s really hitting me, but I have to say that I am counting myself very lucky as the other possible side effects have been bearable. I have spoken up and got my anti-sickness tablets changed (if you don’t tell your oncologist what your feeling, how can they make you better) and although I am eating 16 meals a day due to the steroids giving me an appetite a weight lifter would be proud of, at least I can do that now without the underlining nausea.

Me and the Duchess of Cambridge have loads in common init. Except she’ll birth a future Monarch and I’ll birth a 2lb tumour. Swings and roundabouts, huh.

Talking of tumours, my oncologist I saw today was very pleased with my progress, there are lots of positive signs but I just need to keep an eye on my tiredness. If it gets too extreme (cannot get out of bed, tired) then my treatment will be scaled back, which I really don’t want to happen as it is going so well. Little cat naps and loads of water and letting people take charge will help this…I of course still need to make tea, just to dip my toe in. Damn it.

You’ll have seen on Facebook and Twitter about my lovely surprises that I received this week, and I still am in a state of shock. To have relative strangers (I have been talking to most of these people for over 2 years and have met several of them) go out of there way to donate money, just to make me smile is something that I just cannot comprehend. As someone who loves to give gifts for the smile it gives to a person, I want you to know that I went to bed beaming that 21 people wanted that same buzz.
I am truly honoured to call you ALL friends.

*wipes dirt that seems to have been caught in my eye*

So now the countdown starts..tomorrow I am officially over half way through. Christmas is a few days away and I get to spend it with my lovely family.

Except, if the fucking Mayans have got it right, I am going to be so pissed that I had fucking chemo today. Stupid life saving emo-chemo (only kidding, I love you chemotherapy, mwah).

See, I am doing so much better.