Monday, 23 February 2015

It rushes by, doesn't it...

... that time stuff. Fairly whizzes past when you're not watching it... I remember the times I  used to sit and watch it, could never see it move when I knew that it was four days, seven hours, sixteen minutes and forty-two seconds until my birthday, the end of term, christmas, when this blooming baby is due... all the things I couldn't wait for, when time was frozen.

I haven't looked at this blog for ages, but I have been thinking about it this week. In December it was time to go for the annual boob-squashing event. Look at that - Annual! Not monthly, or quarterly, annual! Doctors shake my hand and say "see you next year" these days... how things change. Seems a lifetime* since I staggered out of the chemo suite clutching the carrier bag full of the bits I'd need before the next round a few weeks hence. The days when the Macmillan nurses knew my name and used it without having to look it up or check my hospital number.

So I went for the squashing, and shook with terror for a few weeks. They do them in advance these days, so you're not cluttering up the waiting room between the mammography suite and the consulting rooms. It's a better system I'm sure, the clinics are less crowded, and three weeks after I had the mammo they sent me a letter saying that everything was fine. Which was nice.
On Tuesday it was time to go back and see the surgeon. A formality, after all the scan was fine... but still I worry. I waited my turn in the shiny new Breast Care Centre (why are the waiting rooms always pink?), smiled at the extraordinarily cheerful lady in the wheelchair who insisted on greeting everyone and finding out their names; next to me were Polly and Molly, so I was immediately renamed Dolly just to keep things tidy. Eventually I was ushered through to see the Great Man standing in the office doorway.
Just briefly, my heart missed a beat, as I was dragged back through time to the day when I saw him standing in a different doorway and knew that the test results couldn't be good, they don't wheel out the Great Man for that... Then the nice nurse gently shepherded me to the right, into another room where the Great Man's sidekick (who by now of course is a Great Man in his own right) was waiting with a smile.
Everything was fine. There wasn't any reason to believe otherwise, but, I worry. It's what I do. I probably need to keep taking Anastrazole for another five years, or maybe they will change it to something else with different side-effects, to try and improve one or two aspects of life, but I need to see the oncologists to talk about that over the next couple of months. Aside from that, though, there wasn't a lot to say. He smiled and said that he wanted me back just once more, this time next year, then he'd let me go... I said that was rather scary, and he squeezed my hand and promised me he wouldn't let me go if he wasn't absolutely sure...

It was a strange walk through the hospital, past the chemo suite, past the blank wall where the old Breast Care Centre used to be... the shiny new one is actually two years old now, and they've demolished the room where I was told that it was cancer, so I can't ever see the Great Man standing in that doorway again. Somehow that's a comfort, even though I know that others have that shock every day, just in a different room. But, as I walked along the long corridor out of the hospital, the sun was shining, and I began to believe what I'd been told... just a little bit.

On New Year's Day, my ex died of cancer. I knew he was ill, we both knew he was dying. We'd kept in loose touch, sporadic phone calls and emails, and I knew when he stopped responding to my texts that things were getting bad. Social media brought me the news the day after, before his brother managed to find my contact details and it felt very strange indeed. We'd been apart many years, but it still hurt in a way I hadn't expected; I have lost friends before but never someone who had been my lover. I went to the funeral, and met up with people who were very dear to me when I knew them twenty years ago, heard the same old stories he used to tell, and we all laughed and remembered the good things. Everything was the same, and so much was different, life moves on, yet things stay the same.

I wondered if I should come back and update the blog, and wasn't sure if I should. It seems sad to just leave it alone, it's been a friend and a confidante for so long. I had a phase where I was almost defined by cancer, and for a while I felt this blog was part of that, which is why it's not been updated for almost two years. There's been a cocktail of things brought me here to write today... the hospital visit, my ex's death, the fact that Comic Relief is coming to remind me of my Mum... even the fact that @LisaLynch** retweeted something I'd said a few days ago***.
Then I remembered that I had promised to set up a new blog for the book reviews I write... and here I am.

There may be more updates, if I find something useful to say, but then again there may not. If I go quiet for a while, it's not because of something horrid, it's because life is keeping me busy. Because I am reading, or sailing, or looking at the bluebells. Laughing with my grandchildren, chilling with my friends.  If reading this helps someone on their journey through the scary dark forest, then I'm glad... I am sure everything has moved on so far that that my experiences are out of date and treatments will be different, but I would wager that the emotions will be the same.

There were snowdrops today - soon there will be bluebells. There will always be bluebells****.

* It was, more than four years ago. Blimey...
**Well, not personally, you understand. At least I don't think so...
*** Woohoo!
**** Did I mention that I like bluebells? A lot.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Progress - of sorts

Been a strange weekend. Friday was difficult - it's a time of year that is always difficult for me, as it's the anniversary of my Mum's death. The memory of my Mum's last few hours is overlaid with a soundtrack, which is not unusual I guess... except in this case the soundtrack is Comic Relief, which was quietly happening on the unattended TV in Mum's flat six years ago. Surreal. Nope, Red Nose Day doesn't bring joy and laughter in my house - I don't need the pictures of disadvantaged kiddies to depress me, thanks. It was particularly painful this year because RND seems to have been Red Nose Couple-of-months... how did it go on for so long? I am sure it used to be just one day, but the exhortations to "Do something Funny for Money" seem to have been there since just after I took the Christmas cards down. Anyway, it's all over at last... for now. Saturday was the actual anniversary, which I survived, as I usually do, by being very busy, avoiding Facebook (which is full of painful reminders at the best of times), and by being very sure that I am very distracted at the relevant hour - this year I managed to be having an amusing conversation with a sweet lass who works in the local supermarket. She'll never know the difference that her cheerful smiling face made  - by the time I was in the car and saw the clock, the moment was over and I could move on.

Today was a bit of a milestone in its own way... I finally got rid of the sharps bin that's been on the shelf in the hall for the last two-and-a-bit years. All the way through the chemo I had to stick myself with various drugs - one to boost my immune system, and another to stop blood clots forming around the line in my arm; these came in tidy pre-filled syringes, so I had a nice yellow bucket in which to dump them. This was supposed to be collected by the local council's cleansing team. Except I forgot to put it out on the doorstep, it never made it past the shelf in the porch. So I rang them back and apologised, and then forgot to put it out again... at which point something got stacked on top of it, then something else... Eventually, a couple of years later I decided it was time to spring clean, and there it was in the corner, all bright and yellow. I called the council again, and made another appointment for it to be collected... I even managed to remember to put it outside the previous evening. The trouble was, of course, that it started snowing, and the cleansing team had a real struggle to get anything done all week. The bin sat on my doorstep like an embarrassing...I'm not sure what really. But embarrassing. Anyway, at about 11 this morning the doorbell rang, and a smiley man in a yellow waistcoat waved a new sharps bin at me and said "Did you want a new one then?" I smiled back and said "Er... Nah, thanks". He smiled, got in his van and drove off, taking with him another marker of the difficult days.
Little things, teeny markers - but important, somehow.