A slog more than fight

Until my mid-teens ‘fight’ meant one of three things:

  1. Squabbles between siblings – verbal, physical, but more often than not both.
  2. Altercations between kids at school, rival gangs, or the heavily inebriated having the kind of night they’d completely forget by morning.
  3. Boxing – where men knocked the stuffing out of each other for money in the name of sport. Female boxers were strongly discouraged at the time.

Since then ‘fight’ has taken on some extra meanings:

4. The role the armed forces conduct and lay down their lives for when politicians, fanatics, dictators or megalomaniacs fail to address their differences peacefully and revert to Neanderthal tactics. Clubbing one’s rivals is a proven solution tried and tested over many millennia.

5. The thing people with life-threatening or terminal illnesses are supposed to do, especially people diagnosed with cancer.

As a simple soul I’m ill equipped to explain why a proportion of humanity continue to pursue theological, political and ideological power-games that lead to more serious and deadly forms of the altercations witnessed in my childhood and teens. It must be something only despots truly understand.

I know a little more about the expectation to fight cancer than I’d ideally like and unfortunately its the kind of knowledge that once incorporated is impossible to forget. The language of cancer is frequently the language of war. People fight cancer, battle with cancer or wage a war on cancer because they are fighters, warriors, or even assassins. On some occasions  people win their cancer fight, but rarely is that completely guaranteed. On other occasions we’re told they battled bravely and courageously but sadly passed away. In real terms cancer is a win:lose scenario but whatever the situation, the language of cancer is full to the brim with fighting talk.

Perhaps societally we find it easier to deal with cancer if we say it’s something people fight. Fights can be won so when someone fights cancer there’s a chance they might win. This in turn can help make it a less frightening prospect for everyone else. School sports events conditioned us from an early age to know the winning team is always where it’s at so we rarely hear talk of people giving up, refusing the fight or waving the white flag of surrender. Giving up just isn’t the done thing, we must stay strong and keep fighting. There’s no glory in coming second, we have to win!  When people die (and lots of us will die from cancer) we hear talk of remaining courageous to the end. Perhaps this too is a means to make the truth easier to bear because someone else just lost their life to a disease we barely understand and still cannot prevent or cure.

I don’t like violence and never fully understood how anyone could fight with themselves so the language of cancer has never proven particularly helpful for me. Like it or not cancer is a bunch of our own cells that proliferate forever – cells that somehow manage to step outside the normal circle of life. Cancer is me, albeit an aberrant version. We are all different and for some people fighting analogies might be hugely helpful. For me the whole cancer thing is more of a slog.

Slog:

  1. to work hard over a long period especially doing work that is difficult or boring.
  2. to travel or move with difficulty, for example through wet, sticky soil or snow, or when you are very tired.

Dealing with cancer has taken considerable effort from me and my medical team. From diagnosis to current day I’ve been fortunate to receive nine separate surgical procedures designed to eradicate cancer, deal with the unwanted after effects of previous surgeries and do as much as possible to prevent any return of a disease with a high propensity to spring up elsewhere. In parallel chemo and monoclonal antibody therapies took place over a period of 10 months, again with the aim of preventing reoccurrence so that I might go on living my life in the quiet, peaceful way I’ve come to enjoy.

My cancer journey to date has taken four years, almost 15% of my adult life. In real terms this is very little – for some people including my own mother, aunt and grandmother it took much more.  I will always be grateful for every extra second gained through the expertise and determination of my medical team because without them my chances were slim to non-existent. Together we have now done everything possible to help me remain cancer free. Only time will tell if it’s been enough.

I haven’t been fighting for four years, I haven’t been brave or courageous and I don’t feel like a warrior. I faced a situation with few options, underwent gruelling treatment with unintended consequences and continue to rebuild my life, including everyday things like walking and working memory. I’ve been unrelenting for four years, enduring and tenacious, and I often feel tired and decrepit. I keep pushing myself hard because I want to do the things I could pre-cancer. Sitting here waiting or wishing for their return isn’t going to work.

In the time it’s taken to walk this cancer journey so far I could have walked around the Earth twice. Don’t get me wrong, I am glad to be here and largely in one piece but that’s not enough because I’m not old enough to be decrepit. When I can once again walk more than a few hundred yards without days of painful repercussions, when I can go up stairs without grasping the handrail for fear my knees will give way and when I can read a book when tired and not have to re-read it next day I’ll be completely overjoyed.

For me this cancer journey continues even though the cancer itself appears to be gone. It’s much more a slog than a fight.

Credit: CRUK

 

 

The daily prompt – Fight.

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Half a World Away

Goldfinches against a Cyan Sky

Goldfinches against a Cyan Sky

 

It’s a beautiful morning. Since the beginning of December I can only recall one other day without rain and that seems like a very distant memory. At work on Thursday we joked that the Mayans may have correctly predicted the end of the world – it’s simply coming along a bit later than expected. They were ancient people without atomic clocks so what’s an extra year or two on top of a few centuries?

Looking at the clear blue sky today is not the day it all ends and I’m happy that’s the case.

This time last year it was snowing. Clumps of pristine white snowflakes were swirling around me like the stuffing from expensive duck down pillows. January and February both saw fairly significant snowfall, at least by UK standards. Out here in the countryside the drifts were over six feet high and I walked the lane crunching my way through the freezing blanket to take photographs in a completely silent landscape. When snow muffles everything the silence takes over – no road noise, no rustling trees – and with silence comes stillness. The fields and hedgerows slip into a moment of frozen tranquillity.

Silent stillness always draws me out into the chilling air. Wrapped in a thick winter coat, huge scarf, fingerless gloves (so I could operate the camera) and my woollen cable-knit baker-boy cap I trudged down then up the lane, a walk that normally takes 10 minutes but needs at least 20 in heavy snow. The horses at Holly Farm had taken their leave and retreated into the stable but every tree and shrub along the way was alive with small birds foraging for food. When the snow comes the need to eat overcomes the need to fear humans, the birds will take seed at your feet if you’re still enough. After walking the lane I was cold and tired but a cup of hot chocolate soon addressed both.

How do I recall this scene so readily when it was a year ago? I’d just received my final round of Taxotere. I was hairless, as pale and translucent as an undernourished vampire and completely strung out on steroids. There are few things I detest and dexamethosone is one of them so if I never have it again that’ll be just fine with me. Looking back the whole scene – the snow, the chemo unit, the regular blood draws, the side-effects – it feels half a world away. It almost seems unreal and if it weren’t for the tale-tell signs all over my body (and embedded in my psyche) I could almost convince myself it was a very bad dream.

Almost.

Today there’s no snow. The tall trees opposite the window are gently rippling so there’s a breeze. The sky is the most beautiful cyan blue and bright yellow winter sunlight, the kind that is brilliant but holds no blazing heat, is streaming into the room. Small birds are chattering outside the window and the cats who were exiled to the conservatory last year, are happily curled up by the fire for an after-breakfast siesta. Today is a very beautiful day and it seems that all is well in my wonderfully bizarre, confusing and ever-changing world.

Half a World Away

Disability or discrimination -which is most distressing?

I am on the train on my way to London. It’s a 3 hour journey including my car ride to the station and its my commute to work. It’s very cold outside, on the way to the station the snow drifts were over 2 metres high in places and although the snow ploughs have been out the roads are still treacherous.

 

As I sit here on the train I’m wondering what it is that makes some people treacherous while others are the nicest you might ever hope to meet. Do treacherous people set out to be treacherous or are they just misguided, self-centred or emotionally unintelligent? I expect I’ll never know.  Fortunately I have more of the nicest kind of people in my life than I do the treacherous kind. I tend to avoid the latter as much as I can.

 

As a breast cancer patient (I’m still receiving treatment and not officially in remission yet) I’ve come to appreciate what living with disability means. I’ve also come to realise how much discrimination goes on.  Sadly there appears to be a link between those of a treacherous disposition and flagrant discrimination involving those who are different in some way, whether that’s a disability, ethnicity or gender. My earliest experiences of discrimination came as a child because I had ginger hair (I have very little hair now and will come on to that later). I was teased relentlessly by certain girls at school and, to be honest, they  simply weren’t nice girls. They didn’t grow up into nice adults either.

 

Now as a breast cancer patient I realise that discrimination against people with disabilities is a huge issue in spite of laws to the contrary and public awareness campaigns by any number of charities.  The UK held the Olympics and Paralympics last summer but at the grass-roots level I see little evidence that attitudes towards those with disabilities have really changed. There remains a significant amount of discrimination.

 

Before breast cancer I never considered myself as disabled. During the surgery and chemotherapy I wanted to believe that although my body had changed beyond all recognition I was still the same person capable of the same things. I am the same person. I am not capable of the same things.  I know I will regain some of what has been lost – stamina, muscle tone, hair, strength. I know that some things might be lost forever – being pain-free, sleeping soundly, perfect hearing, the level of stamina I had before embarking on the breast cancer train.

 

Sitting here on a packed train I am the only person with the tale tell marks of a cancer patient.  The majority of my fellow travellers are white middle-aged men who, I’m guessing, are also on their way to work.  Today I’ve had looks and glances – they range from ‘poor thing’ to ‘OMG she looks rough’ to ‘glad its not me.’ It’s amazing how attuned to other people’s reactions I’ve become and how their expressions and demeanour give away their thoughts.  I don’t mind the looks and glances. In some ways they are to be expected because as humans we seem to stick with what we know and that includes our preconceptions of what ‘normal’ looks like. Aside from my incredibly  pale skin, the absence of hair marks me out as abnormal in a society where women are still expected to look glamorous, feminine and girly.

 

The looks and glances are really just the tip of the iceberg. So much of it is hidden beneath the water when it comes to discrimination. From insurance to education to work in spite of anti-discrimination laws the discrimination continues. Some insurers either refuse to cover me or the premiums are so extortionate that I would rather take my chances and go without. Assessing risk and reward is not confined to actuaries and underwriters, cancer patients do it too.  In researching potential university courses I might choose to study in future, with a view to a new career direction for the next phase of my life, I’ve discovered many include the entry criterion ‘must be in good health.’ Hmm… I’m a cancer patient still undergoing treatment. I’ve had major surgery and six rounds of very toxic chemotherapy. I’m still having Herceptin. Although the cancer is being driven into remission, my body has been through so much its doubtful my health will ever be considered ‘good’ again. Being rewarded with ‘no evidence of disease’ includes taking the risk of heart problems, osteoporosis and PTSD. If insurance and education aren’t big enough contenders for discriminatory action, there’s also work. This has been a revelation to me particularly as I worked in HR many years ago and was proud to be employed by a company with very high moral and ethical standards.

 

In spite of laws to the contrary, discrimination appears to occur at every stage of the employment relationship.  My recent research has unearthed employers, including Government departments, who ask about health and sickness absence as part of the application process. Others who fail in their duty to make reasonable adjustments and yet others who refuse to accept that cancer is a disability. Like white stilettos and ra-ra skirts, I thought these kinds of behaviour were left behind in the 1980’s. I was wrong.

 

I sit here trying to weigh up whether the disability, including the psychological challenge of the life long threat of cancer returning (thus thwarting a long life) or the discrimination arising as a result of the disability is most distressing.  There is no doubt they both cause significant distress. My thoughts have come to the following conclusions:

 

Cancer, like other disabilities is distressing. It wreaks havoc and destruction not just for the patient but for those around them too. Cancer, like other disabilities, is not a choice. It happens and you learn to deal with it. An unhappy co-habitation arrangement if you will.

 

Discrimination is distressing. It adds to the burden cancer and other disabilities create. It adds to the burden emotionally and psychologically, it strips away dignity and leaves the victim feeling devalued and abused. I don’t like the word victim but those who are discriminated against are victimised, singled out for different, less favourable treatment. Unlike cancer or other disabilities, the act of discrimination IS a choice. People chose to discriminate (or not). It could be argued that some areas of society discriminate out of ignorance – young children for example may not realise what they are doing. It seems more doubtful that adults in positions of responsibility are acting out of ignorance and fail to realise the impact of their actions.

 

In answer to the question ‘Disability or discrimination – which is most distressing?’ I conclude that discrimination is by far the most distressing simply because it is within our power to prevent it yet we fail to do so time and time again.

What are your thoughts?

 

 

Handicapped

 (Photo credit: a77eBnY)

 

This body may be mutilated and knackered but boy is it resilient!

My friend Maurice at Duck? Starfish? but…23  inspired me to write about resilience following his comment on my ‘side effects’ page.  Please visit Maurice’s blog because not only will you find excellent writing, you’ll also learn a lot about Newfoundland and see that Maurice, the folks he works with and the communities in places like d’Espoir, Francois and Burgeo must be pretty resilient too.

Dictionary definitions of resilience say it’s the ability to spring back or rebound.  In the case of illness or adversity, it is the ability to recover quickly.  I am not sure how long my recovery will take, I am told anything up to 18 months to be on top form again so I think perhaps there is another angle on resilience.  For me being resilient also means enduring difficult circumstances, keeping going in spite of everything and having a steely resolve to overcome chaos and crap on a regular basis.

Finding out you have cancer or any life threatening illness is, of course, a shock but with cancer you often don’t realise you’re sick because early on there may be no adverse symptoms of the monster within.  In my case I felt well, I had energy and I was physically quite strong.  I had been more tired than usual but decided that was just my long-term relationship with pernicious anaemia.  The only sign of cancer was a rather innocuous looking dimple that in turn lead me to discover a lump the size of a broad bean.  At that point I didn’t really feel unwell.

Broad beans, shelled and steamed

Broad beans, shelled and steamed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I found out I needed surgery followed by chemo my world turned upside down.  The one thing I didn’t want to face under any circumstances was chemo… chemo-induced complications killed my Mum (and 16 years on I have not been able to forgive it for taking her away from us when she was only in her 40’s).   What if it killed me too?

On the other hand, I know what untreated cancer does to people and animals and there’s no road to happy ever after if it’s allowed to take control.  My first call for resilience came when facing the prospect of chemo, before my surgery had taken place, before I knew what havoc cancer cells were attempting to play inside a body I knew I could no longer trust and before my FEC-TH regime had even been prescribed.

My next call for resilience came with surgery.  Breast surgery for medical reasons is not the same as breast surgery for cosmetic reasons.  Operable cancer means surgery is mandatory.  You can’t change your mind and tell the surgeon “you know what, put the scalpel away because I’ve decided I’m happy with my breasts just the way the are.” To be completely accurate, it’s possible to refuse any form of medical intervention but in the case of cancer that means it’ll take hold… no happily ever after if that’s the case. For me, surgery was the only choice because death by cancer is something I’d very much like to avoid.

I’d never experienced any major surgery previously but the thought of it didn’t bother me unduly because I just wanted the ELB (evil little b*stard) out.  As it happened, the surgery itself and the post-operative recovery period were less challenging than I thought they might be.  My body recovered quite quickly.   It took a little longer to make peace with the psychological impact of this surgery and it called for more resilience because I had to learn to like myself again, scars and all.  I had to accept that this (mutilated) body is all I have to live in so I might as well appreciate it.  This appreciation had to extend to the blob of silicon and 6″x 4″ piece of pig intestine now residing in my chest too.

An article in Psychology Today says “Resilience is that ineffable quality that allows some people to be knocked down by life and come back stronger than ever. Rather than letting failure overcome them and drain their resolve, they find a way to rise from the ashes. Psychologists have identified some of the factors that make someone resilient, among them a positive attitude, optimism, the ability to regulate emotions, and the ability to see failure as a form of helpful feedback. Even after a misfortune, blessed with such an outlook, resilient people are able to change course and soldier on.”

Undergoing 5 months of chemotherapy called for resilience; the challenges it presented came in the form of side effects that made me go from looking and feeling relatively normal to looking and feeling abnormal and unwell.  Looking like a cancer patient can change the way you think about yourself if you let that happen… you simply have to get used to the way other people look at you.  Choosing not to be defined by the chemo-chic look takes quite a lot of steely resolve; dealing with side effects definitely requires some resilience. If you want to read about side effects take a look at that page, it describes what happened to me.  Fortunately not all of these things happened all of the time but several of them happened most of the time.  I tried hard not to let this get to me; sometimes I succeeded and sometimes I didn’t.  I worked on the basis that a positive attitude is half the battle.  I can be pig-headed at times as well as pig-chested – I wasn’t about to let cancer screw my life up and make me miserable every waking hour.

Until recently I’d anticipated going through chemo would be the biggest overall test of my resilience and ability to endure.   I think that assumption was incorrect because the post-chemo limbo land is now calling for a fair amount of resilience. When you go through chemo you expect to spend some time feeling unwell, to have some side effects and be less able than you were before the poisoning treatment began.  Once it’s over you expect to feel better. Coming through chemo and still feeling a shadow of my former self a month down the line is a real challenge.  I want/expect/feel compelled to do things. Simple things like going for a long walk, running up and down stairs or exercising on the cross-trainer and bike.  My mind is immensely willing but my body states in no uncertain terms “I don’t know what the hell just happened but if you think you’re going to make me run for 10 minutes you can think again sucker!”

Dealing with the frustration this causes and the feelings of being inadequate/weak/somewhat pathetic require more resilience.  It would be very easy to let this period of post-chemo alienation drain my resolve, to move from frustrated to angry and then from angry to despairing.   Fortunately as Psychology Today points out, being resilient means having the ability to regulate emotions and see failure (in this case my knackered body) as a source of helpful feedback.  My body is knackered because it’s had a tough time and I know I cannot expect the things I asked of it a year ago at this very moment. That would be both unfair and unwise given all this 5’9″ frame has endured.  Once again I find I am learning to like myself as I am, to accept there are things I cannot do right now and in time that will change. Normal service will be resumed when the body is good and ready.

A mutilated and knackered body is all I have to live in and I appreciate it very much.  It has an amazing ability to endure some very adverse situations.  I hadn’t realised how much resilience resided in me, physically and psychologically, until I needed to use it in earnest.  That said, I hope I never have to call on it again.

Two steps forward

After much deliberation I finally got around to writing my side effects page.  I held off from doing this for several reasons. I wanted to make sure nothing else was going to happen a few weeks out from the final chemo, I needed some time to get my head around what had just happened and I wanted to ensure I could give as accurate a reflection as possible of all the things I had encountered.

 

Writing about the side effects has been a cathartic experience; placing them on the screen means they no longer have to linger in my mind. They are out here, separate from me instead of rattling around in my head and part of me.  I can put some distance between me and them and bring some small element of closure to this part of the journey.   Of course it isn’t over and this is not the end. A cancer diagnosis is never over, it never really goes away but at least I feel I can start to move on from it and regain some semblance of ordinariness.   I still look far from ordinary, I stand out like a sore thumb because I have that cancer patient hairlessness, puffiness and pallor but I know this will disappear in time. Or I can just slap on loads of make-up, get an orange spray tan and pretend I’m an extra from ‘The Only Way is Essex.’

At this point last year I was embarking on a very exciting phase of my life, so many things were going well.  Just a few months later everything turned upside down and backwards; life became one long series of tests, investigations, surgeries and treatments.  Today it feels like I’ve taken two steps forward. The chemo really is over and its effects – physical and psychological – are starting to fade away.  I won’t be swinging from the chandeliers any time soon but dancing the cha cha cha might be a possibility 🙂

English: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mahalie/...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

F is for…

Food:   There’s a lot of information out there about  what constitutes a healthy diet and how to eat to help stave off various conditions and disease.  I’m told meat and non-organic dairy are to be kept to a minimum in future so in order to get sufficient protein whilst avoiding these products,  I should eat more fish. The trouble is I’m not a big fan of fish unless its tuna or swordfish and these big fish, being carnivorous and some way up the food chain, now contain significant amounts of mercury. (So much so that pregnant women are advised not to eat them).  My future diet is looking increasingly fresh fruit and vegetable based together with quorn … I hope there are no health warnings about this fungus-based protein substitute Because it’s now a staple part of my diet.  The other food item to avoid at all costs is sugar and I’m finding this easier said than done.  Cutting out sweets, cakes and other goo isn’t a problem but sugar seems to turn up in the strangest of places. It’s in savoury foods including many sauces, soups and curries and its even in some fruit juices (why add sugar to fruit juice when it’s already full of natural fructose?). Food shopping has become a label-reading extravaganza. I’m sure some people think I have an obsessive-compulsive disorder when I read and check labels on everything I pick up and mutter under my breath when I find sugar has infiltrated something else it really doesn’t need to be part of.

Fainting:  I had a little incident at the hospital on Friday. Unfortunately most of the veins in my left hand and forearm are damaged by chemo. This means it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the nurses to find veins long enough, soft enough or unscathed enough to administer the ongoing herceptin treatments.  On Friday we encountered the challenges of more blown veins.  Normally this doesn’t affect me but over time being a human pin cushion appears to have a psychological impact. Coupled with a very warm environment this led to me losing consciousness even though I was sat in a chair! I didn’t know much about it but it gave the nurses another thing to deal with when they were already very busy. I felt sad for them because they try so hard not to cause any distress and are genuinely upset when things don’t go smoothly. It seems this situation is quite common, especially for people who’ve experienced multiple failed cannulation attempts over a prolonged period of time.  On Friday it took 4 attempts to find a useable vein. We had to revert to my right side, back of the hand (not ideal and another fail) followed by the based of my right thumb, before finding something suitable.    The issue with veins is slightly concerning – fainting every time someone comes near me with a needle means I will spend a lot of my time unconscious!

Vein System Fractal

Vein System Fractal (Photo credit: J.Gabás Esteban

Fatigue:  Until recently I’d been quite lucky on the fatigue front, but just lately  it seems to come in waves. One minute I’m fine, the next I’m feeling weary. I’m wondering if I go to sleep with  my eyes open because there are gaps when I can’t remember what I was doing during the evenings. I’ve concluded that’s either the effects of fatigue, the fact that I haven’t been out much for about 5 months so days merge into one another or maybe I’m  just plain forgetful.  Perhaps it’s a combination of all three.   I need to rebuild my strength and I’m hoping some regular work on the cross-trainer will help reduce the effects of fatigue.

Fine lines:  At my age it’s natural to have some fine lines and wrinkles. They provide that ‘lived in’ look to my skin.  The past 5 months seem to have turned fine lines into the San Andreas fault in some areas, complete with plenty of deep fault lines and flaky edges!  I think the flakiness may dissipate over time, I’m not so sure about the lines and suspect they’re here to stay. No-one tells you about this when you embark on chemotherapy. Maybe they think  it’s unimportant compared to all the other side effects but the change in skin texture and quality from head to toe is a fairly significant event and it would be nice to understand what’s permanent and what isn’t.  There’s no point in the daily application of Oil of Olay if the only solution is to drink plenty of water and rehydrate from within. 

Remarkably, the past 5 months seems to have almost cured me of using the other F word, the one that also includes k, u and c. This is very odd because there have been plenty of reasons to use it on an hourly basis. Maybe dealing with life’s big deals makes us less prone to stressing over the small stuff. Maybe it puts everything into perspective and that makes the small stuff irrelevant. Perhaps this is a lesson we should teach our kids early on so that they only get stressed over things that really matter and have some means of shrugging off everything else. It might stop them becoming regular F word users and life is definitely too short to be tangled up in the weeds every day.

Idiocy, inadvisable science and the stairway to perdition

Every now and then I’m my own worst enemy.  I suffer moments of idiocy that I later live to regret. I forget about them quickly, assume all is well and find myself creating a new one… it’s a bit like following shampoo instructions ad infinitum. Rinse brain clear of any recollection of moments of idiocy, repeat moments of idiocy.

My mind somehow decided two weeks after the final chemo and a few days since the conclusion of GCSF shots and antibiotics, that my body really ought to be getting its act together. After all, how long does a body need to repair itself and start bouncing around like a Spring lamb?  A couple of weeks? A month? Six months?   Today I can safely say the answer is longer than a couple of weeks.

I have been itching to be “normal” again; able to do all the things I could do without thinking before chemo happened to me.  This weekend was a good opportunity to test out normality with some simple tasks like carrying numerous heavy boxes up eight flights of stairs without stopping, unpacking and putting things away, working for 8 hours without a break to hang curtains, make beds, clean cupboards, floors, walls, replace light bulbs… oh and after completing these tasks, taking my son on a shopping trip.  The pre-chemo me would have plenty of energy left over to go shopping and make dinner even if she’d climbed the equivalent of the Empire State building three times polishing every step on the way up then again on the way back down.

The present me has few of the physical capabilities of the original and she finds that frustrating from time to time.  She can manage multiple trips up eight flights of stairs carrying packages but she gets out of breath and has to go really slowly as she approaches the final flight.  She can work at multiple household tasks such as making beds and cleaning but she cannot do them non-stop for hours on end.  She can undertake a shopping trip but has to tell her son not so fast otherwise she’s unable to keep up. Mentally she’s alert and forty-something, physically she’s aged about a three centuries and has the wrinkles to prove it!

Unfortunately the present me didn’t realise just how much her physical capabilities have been degraded by cancer treatment (until sometime after the stair climbing, cleaning and shopping escapades were complete).  She now realises eight flights of stairs leading to a bright, airy and clean new home for her son – a much more heavenly environment for him – feels very much like the stairway to perdition if she has to walk it multiple times. Behaving like a whirling dervish when stair-climbing was off the agenda was another interesting choice, possibly known as a moment of idiocy and not to be repeated.

Dr C said it will take 3 months to feel something like normal again following chemo. That’s three months on top of 9 months of active treatment of various kinds. A whole year of feeling physically substandard coupled with the knowledge that prior to certain cancer shenanigans, none of these simple tasks would’ve proven in the least bit taxing.

I’m sure over time my physical capabilities will improve but cannot deny that at present trying to be “normal” feels like it could become a rather large moment of idiocy. Pushing boundaries in this post-chemo recovery period is possibly inadvisable science… however I don’t accept that means ‘normal’ tasks have become completely impossible. They may use up more energy and take longer than usual, they may require some extra recovery time…but they aren’t impossible. Where there’s a will there’s always a way.

Pulp-O-Mizer_Cover_Image-1 (2)