Thursday, 29 December 2011

Number Forty Six: ‘The Fear’

It’s a shame that your cancer diagnosis is not handed over with a wedge of bravery. I’m thinking along the lines of humble pie but with a more courageous filling. The thing is that even when the cancer is removed, treated, zapped and all precautions have been taken to avert its return ‘The Fear’ doesn’t go away. ‘The Fear’ lurks away in the back of your mind and rears its ugly head with every sniffle, yawn, cough, lump or bump you discover.

I speak from experience. Yesterday I had a mammogram and ultra-sound on a lump in my one remaining breast. Thankfully all tests were clear and I now have nothing to worry about. But ‘The Fear’ did cast a rather dark shadow over my Christmas. It’s amazing how easy it is to convince yourself of the worst… a little light Googling and you have a very scary self diagnosis indeed. I’d even go so far as to say that after reading that ‘lack of appetite’ was a symptom of cancer spreading I managed to convince myself I wasn’t hungry every single meal time.
I am so grateful that the breast clinic took my lump seriously and tested me thoroughly; I can honestly say that today I feel lighter and happier than I have in a long time. It’s amazing what a clear mammogram can do for the soul! My new worry is now though, I know ‘The Fear’ exists and I know that it will build up steam in between tests. Am I going to feel more and more anxious the further into the past my most recent mammogram becomes? After the first one, I never thought anyone would be telling me I’d look forward to a mammogram but the reassurance gained from a clear test sure is powerful! I guess I’ll have to find a way to control the ‘The Fear’- I can’t be knocking on the door of the breast clinic every time I feel tired. Although I will be knocking every time I feel a lump- no ignoring that symptom- cross my heart! 

As well as being reassured by a clear test result I’m also a little pleased with myself. You see, I’m a right blabber mouth, never could keep a secret but with the crappy timing of this recent lump slap bang in the middle of the festive period I set myself a challenge- would it be possible to keep this worry to myself? I thought I should spare my friends and family the worry if I could and now I’m really pleased I did because there was nothing to worry about anyway! They were all furious with me when I did confess- they thought I should have told them- a problem shared and all that, they’ve made me promise to confide in them in future and I will but this time I’m just glad that I didn’t worry too many people unnecessarily and proud that I proved to myself I can keep a secret after all!

Yesterday I was reassured not only by a clear result but also by my consultant telling me I have every right to freak out over potential symptoms- it’s perfectly normal to be overly worried after what I’ve been though and the vigilance that ‘The Fear’ provides may mean I find any future lumps sooner rather than later- who knows- maybe ‘The Fear’ has its uses?

Monday, 12 December 2011

Number Forty Five: The Younger Women's Forum

I recently went on a weekend away- very nice it was too! A night in a hotel and two days of slap up meals! But this was a weekend with a difference- it was organised by Breast Cancer Care and was a forum for younger women affected by breast cancer.
Once I was booked on I was really nervous- what if everyone was really serious and depressing? What if no one wanted to speak to me? What if they were all really young and was in fact an older woman?
I had this whole scenario worked out in my head that there would be high school style cliques. The straight forward lumpectomy girls hanging out together, the bald ones sticking together, the wiggy ones in a tight circle and a group of hard core stage fourers that no one would mess with! Where would I fit in? Would I be accepted into any of these groups?
As it turned out of course all the 29 other women were perfectly normal (much like me) and it was soon clear that breast cancer was not all we shared in common. There seemed  to be a high number of teachers for a start- are we susceptible to breast cancer or are we just more inclined to attend courses held in hotels? You decide.
It was really interesting to hear different experiences, many of which made me feel lucky. The others talked of friendship and relationship issues, problems with work, continuing side affects from the treatment and a lack of control over how their diagnosis was handled. I have to say that this was a real eye opener- I haven't had any friends drop me because they couldn't face dealing with me and cancer (well if they did drop me then `i haven't noticed so I'm certainly not missing them!) If anything my relationship is stronger now. I have no arm pain and have full use of my arm and shoulder. (A patch remains numb but who needs armpit sensitivity?) It seems I have put hot flushes past me quicker than I could have hoped to as well! I've talked a lot about how grateful I am that I had my two boys before this thing hit but the younger women's forum bought this home again. I am definitely one of the lucky ones.
Twitter played its part as it seems to do these days- I met a couple of lovely ladies who I'd been following for a few months- it was great to put a face to the tweets and was oddly reassuring to know that there was going to be someone that I knew there (well sort of).
It was funny to look around the room and see all the different stages of hair regrowth- I had a thin covering of hair at the time and most women seemed to want that stage back again; they hated their new thick, curly hair and wanted a short crop back- this makes me think that I have a difficult stage ahead of me! But looking around that room I saw many people I hoped to look just like really soon!
The major issue these younger women seemed to have was with their medical team not communicating openly with them- something I initially thought I hadn't experienced myself- it wasn't until I started to recall where I got all my information from and realised it was of course not from the medical team at all but from a friend who'd already experienced all this herself. This has really made me think about how important it is to team up with someone who has unfortunately been there and done that- their experience can certainly ease your fear of the unknown. I'm really grateful that I had someone to talk me through step by step what I was likely to expect.
It was great to get tips from the other women at the forum too- from deodorant choices and shampoo to serums, pillows and Tamoxifen brands. One lady even told me about a charity that would happily send me on a holiday!
I learnt loads about reconstructive surgery and am now looking forward to getting my new boob- even though I expect it to be a bit Frankensteinish! The part I took most away from was the psychologist who came to talk to us about moving on- he had so much to say that was fascinating and I think it was really well timed for me- I was at a point where I was ready and willing to move on and he made me feel better about many of the emotions I'd been experiencing- to be honest it's not the actual emotions that are the problem- it's the flitting between them all that can make life difficult!
One of the things I was always in danger of doing was over sharing- I knew my splurge-like mouth could get me into trouble! There was a sex and relationships seminar that I attended and even I could feel myself willing my mouth to shut and stay closed- honestly what is my problem? Why do I feel the need to share everything? This was of course true of the evening's socialising; once I had a drink in me I couldn't help telling my table at dinner how wonderfully normal I thought everyone was and telling them about my high school clique fears. We then preceded to play Top Trumps with our cancer symptoms, treatments and procedures... 'Just a lumpectomy? Pah, I've had a full mastectomy!' 'Just the one? I've had both off!' 'You did't even have chemo? Ugh, Call yourself a cancer patient? You don't even know you're born!' 'Radiotherapy... well that's just a walk in the park!' It was funny in a dark way but you might have had to have been there!
So I took a lot away from the weekend... information, shared experiences, new friendships, a better understanding of my own recovery, a sense of being lucky in many many ways and a respectable score at Top Trumps!
I am hugely grateful to Breast Cancer Care for their organisation of this event. I found it unexpectedly useful and entertaining- and I wasn't the only one- I think everyone enjoyed themselves and plan to keep in touch- there's even a reunion planned already!
So I guess what I'm trying to say is... if you're going to donate to a breast cancer charity then make sure it is Breast Cancer Care- they're fab!

Monday, 14 November 2011

Number Forty Four: The Rollercoaster

Life's little ups and downs!
Hello? Are you still there?
I know I’ve been quiet for a while but it’s honestly because I’ve been so busy getting on with my life- shouldn’t really apologise for that! I guess in actual fact, in the real world I’ve been anything but quiet! My other excuse is that I really haven’t had anything cancery to say! Once radiotherapy was done most appointments have stopped and nothing at all interesting has happened during any of the herceptin visits so nothing to say there either! Even the hot flushes have just about stopped! I promised myself that I wouldn’t continue to waffle aimlessly- if I have nothing cancer-ish to say then I would not write a blog post- simple.

Getting back to real life has been a lot of fun but is very up and down and is definitely best described as a rollercoaster! I went on a hen night and spent the whole time either feeling bald, fat and ugly and noticing strangers quickly look away embarrassed that they’d accidently caught my eye or feeling wonderfully proud of myself that despite everything I was still out partying and dancing the night away! It’s exhausting having these mixed emotions- I honestly can’t even keep up with them myself! (Possibly the vodka laced sangria had something to do with the emotion! I’ve always been an emotional drunk!)

The other tricky thing is keeping sight of that new found perspective I’ve harped on so much about! The best thing I had taken from this whole beast breast experience was not to take anything for granted, to enjoy life and not to sweat the small stuff. But my God that perspective can be a slippery bugger! I so easily stress over little things and have to have a proper word with myself! It’s full time job this relaxed approach you know!

In the last week I have started back at the gym and have even been eating more sensibly- the being fat gets me down way more than the bald does so I’m being proactive. All evidence points to both Herceptin and Tamoxifen interfering with losing weight but I’m determined to try anyway.

The other thing I’ve done is plan my party- my getting better party party party! My happiest times are dancing- cheesy discos, wedding receptions, hen nights- you name it- I do love a boogie! SO in order to have more dancing in my life I’ve decided I must have a party. (I’m well aware that if I’m choosing the music people might not even come but then hey- dance floor to myself- it wouldn’t be the first time!)

I’m sure things will continue to be up and down for a while but hopefully everything will even out and just maybe become a little more high than low? After all crappy 2011 is nearly behind us! I am so looking forward to this weekend- more partying AND we’re going to see Tim Minchin- ridiculously excited about this- see you Friday Tim! Definite rollercoaster high!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Number Forty Three: The Radiotherapy

I think this machine has actually been featured in an episode of Ben10!

Radiotherapy was done and dusted a week ago now and although it was definitely a walk in the park compared to chemotherapy I do feel it deserves at least a little mention.

Before it began I tried to explain to my eldest what would be happening (tricky as it really was nothing like I’d imagined it)
‘Well a machine will sort of shoot and zap me to kill off any nasty bits in me and I might get tired and my skin will be a bit burnt.’
Turns out I made it sound more like an episode of Ben10 than I had intended.
‘Yeah mum, when are you having your shooting and burning?’ he asked a few days later. Note to self-shooting, zapping and burning are all way cooler to a three year old boy than they are to you as a patient!

My skin is burnt now- in a ridiculous rectangle shape and it’s too sore to wear a bra. Without a bra I obviously look a little unbalanced so I now fashion most outfits with a strategically placed scarf (some days I do look like I’m wearing a bib). I am beginning to think that cancer was just maybe created by some sort of evil scarf seller with a view to increasing his sales. Cancer=heavy reliance on scarves! As well as trying not to look like a pirate there is obviously a fashion rule against wearing more than one scarf at a time so if you’re disguising a lack of boob with a scarf then you’re just going to have to find something else to wear on your head! Exactly the same as the ‘double denim’ rule- just say no!

When you have radiotherapy you get your own gown- no expense spared! This means you have to remember to take it with you everyday- I forgot (twice) which meant I had to wear the inferior gown that didn’t have fancy zips and Velcro. It was just like at school when you forget your kit and you’re made to wear the lost property shorts and t-shirt-ugh!!! The other thing you have to remember is to display your parking permit- I forgot and was given an £80 fine on day one! (I wormed my way out of it naturally!)

When you’re actually being zapped it’s very difficult to believe anything is really happening (you kind of know something pretty dangerous IS happening because everyone legs it out of the room and leaves you all alone!) but the actual zap is all very uneventful really. What is a bit of a nightmare is getting you lined up in the right place on the bed- one arm in the air, head to the side, up a bit, down a bit, side to side. Once you’re in place you must not move- I think we’ve established my memory isn’t what it used to be but during the positioning of about the twelfth of fifteen zaps I forgot about being still and lifted my hand to scratch my face. No no no this is NOT allowed. I got a bit told off… I hate getting told off! And so then the most ridiculous thing of this entire beast breast journey happened… I cried… because I didn’t want to be told off! By this point everyone had scarpered for fear of the radiation so I was all alone crying, whilst being zapped and of course lying incredibly still! I thought not licking sugar from your lips whilst eating a jam doughnut was tricky- try not wiping your tears whilst having radiation shot at you! Luckily I was wearing a woolly hat so my tears had something to soak into!  

So that’s one more thing behind me. Just the Herceptin and Tamoxifen to tick off my list now! It is worth mentioning that I seem to have the slowest growing hair ever- think I’m destined to be bald for an awful long time yet! And whilst I am bald I really must remember not to try and comfort any crying foundation children in the corridor as I tend to scare them and just make the crying louder! The rest of work is going well- The highlight so far has been a little girl telling me she thought that ‘Benny and the Jets’ was a song her cousin made up whilst they were on holiday in a caravan! Don’t tell Elton!

Anyway, as far as the half a burnt chest goes- the only way to even it up is to go to Gran Canaria- oh go on then. If I must!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Number Forty Two: The Mes (old and new)

Old Me Vs New Me
So, one thing that happens when you get the life changing cancer news is exactly that… your life changes. There’s a new perspective that focuses you on the fact that life can be short. Yesterday I uttered ‘I’ll live…’ before carefully adding ‘I hope…’ This thought would never have entered my head before. It really doesn’t matter how positively you face this or how determined you are to beat it, there is still a huge dark question mark hanging over your head that wasn’t there in your carefree pre-cancer days. (Beware- this question mark can cause unexpected and unwanted wobbles at any time!) All this results in a split personality- the new me verses the old me. There are some good things about having a new me, equally some negative aspects but I will definitely say that keeping two personalities (well two separate trains of thought anyway!) going can be exhausting! Sometimes I wish the new me would get a grip and shake the old me, other times I wish I could find and secure the old me in place! Confused? You will be!

The return to real life: The old me was pretty confident, sometimes open to self criticism but sturdy most of the time. The new me feels a bit vulnerable- timeout means I have missed things, everything’s moved on and this is a bit unsettling. New faces are welcoming yes, but so much change makes me nervous- new routines, equipment, procedures. How will I ever catch up? (I know this feeling- it’s happened once before… during my first maternity leave APP was introduced- ugh! I’ll always feel like I’m catching up where that’s concerned!) I have to make it clear here that I have the most supportive work place in the world but unfortunately that doesn’t change the fact that I was, at one time one of the most experienced members of staff and now I’m a bit floundering and wondering where resources are kept!
I’m thinking that the old, more confident, energetic me will, in time surface and guide me!
Old me 1 : New me 0

The image: This is an odd one- it does depend on my mood. I don’t want to sound too full of myself but the old me was pretty enough- ok face, nice hair, on the thinner side of fat. I really had no complaints! (Maybe a nose job but only on an insecure day!) The new me does not have this luxury! In my opinion the whispy regrowth looks even worse than the clean bald head and the moon pig face with the lopsided body to match is pretty gross. That all being said the really funny thing is that as long as I avoid mirrors I am totally oblivious to what I look like- The confidence about our image must somehow be hardwired from how we grew up. I am sure that if I’d always looked this way I would have serious issues about my image. I may just exist in a small dark room and never see the light of day! Knowing it’s all temporary must obviously help too. You could have knocked me down with a pair of GHDs, a year ago if someone told me I’d be wandering around looking like this… not caring about my appearance.
All this is well and good but I am really looking forward to the old me reflecting back at the me one of these days!
Old me 2 : New me 0

The important things in life: This is a no brainner- The old me spent hours worrying about what people thought of me, the new me spends hours planning good times! The old me stressed out and had melt downs- the new me still does but then remembers that life is short and moves on whilst the old me would still be obsessing!
Old me 2 : New me 1

To be honest it’s very draining keeping up with the new me because the old me is obviously the natural/true me. The new me’s attitude has to battle and squish down the old me in order to take its place!
I guess the bad parts of the new me will subside- I will find myself at work again…my hair will grow…I’ll have reconstructive surgery…I’ll slim down.
I guess the good part of the new me- the part that sees what’s important in life will remain. It’ll go AWOL at times but now I’ve found it I’ll not let it too far out of my sight. And if I can reach that all important ten year mark then I actually think that brooding question mark might fade slightly too- here’s hoping!

Friday, 16 September 2011

Number Forty One: The Nostalgia

It may well be down to nothing more than my age but I’m getting more and more consumed by the past at the moment. I have spent the summer either visiting places we went as a family during my childhood or daydreaming about days gone by!

An evening playing Singstar with my sisters brought back many memories as we decided on which songs to download- I may well have lost every song but I was the last lady standing at the end of the night- unheard of!
Songs have that knack of taking you back instantly and Radio2’s golden oldies are starting to chime with me- see it must be my age! I’ve got two vivid memories of pop music from when I was really little- the first is me dancing in the neighbour’s house to Uptown Girl and the second is me and Jeneen having a full blown row in the back of the car about who liked ‘Red Gold and Green’ the most!

Last weekend’s bike ride for Cancer Research (you know the one where I won a bike!) also brought memories flooding back- as a child most summer evenings were spent on family bike rides and the route of this charity bike ride went right behind my childhood home- cue me yelling Erin and Claire stories (the place where we met on the way to school, the place where we walked on the iced over canal-idiot girls!, the place where we had 'biker birthday') to Rob who was furiously peddling and dragging along the trailer with both boys in! I think my stories made it all the more enjoyable for him!

Even the more recent past has been on my mind- we drove past my old school the other day and I told Ben that that was where mummy and daddy met and fell in love.
‘Why did you love him Mummy?’
‘Because he was so funny and gorgeous.’
‘But mummy… now Daddy is a Doofus and you get angry with him!’
Ha! Out of the mouths of babes! And could anyone advise when this endless questions- why? Why? WHY? Stage ends? I’m sure as a teacher I should be embracing his inquisitive nature but my goodness it can be tiring!

Today in the chemo unit- I was only there to have my line flushed (line removal day has been named as this Tuesday! Woo-hoo!) I met a couple who turned out to be the parents of a boy I was in sixth form with- so I had a little impromptu wander down memory lane with them too!

This nostalgia business may have a lot to do with the fact I have a family of my own now- Ben is getting to the age where my first memories begin and I keep finding myself telling him things that I did when I was little. It also makes me think lots about my mum- I’m re-seeing my childhood from a mum’s perspective rather than just from my own- I guess that wouldn’t have been possible until now.

Well radiotherapy seems be going smoothly enough (save the parking ticket!) I’ve had a parking space everyday no problems- 8 sessions down- 7 to go. It’s starting to hurt and, this afternoon I just slept but still feel exhausted so it’s taking its toll. I am actually beginning to laugh at myself- I always think I’ll be fine- no matter what symptoms others tell me about- Pah! Not me I think! I’m made of stronger stuff! (Not sure what exactly- cancer riddled rubbish stuff so far!) so I’m not so surprised that the traditional Radiotherapy symptoms have gripped me after all. Note to self- stop setting yourself up for a fall by thinking you’re the best one!
Being back at work has made me feel really happy- it’s great being back in the real world! Being part time means I have restful afternoon where one son naps and the other watches Cbeebies for a while- this mean I can rest or even knock up a quick maths plan- genius!

So very soon the line will be out and healed, meaning I can go to Whittlebury Spa for a little overnight stay in half term, the radiotherapy will be done meaning I can get properly to grips with my new routine and new role at school. Although I do think I’m going to miss the extended time I’ve had with Chris Evans in the mornings on my drive up and down the motorway- this could be nostalgia too- only now he’s on Radio2 instead of on Radio1 like when I was at school! Again this makes me feel old- my sisters hate me listening to Radio2- their time will come! Shame my day off is a Friday really- now I have to sing ‘Candyman’ on my own instead of with Mrs Bassett- it’s really not the same!

Maybe when your future becomes that little bit uncertain you pause to have a little look back- not sure but, erm…I’m really hoping that all this nostalgia is just me appreciating my life and not in actual fact my life flashing very slowly before my eyes- now that would be disappointing!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Number Forty: The Twittering

It’s impossible to explain to a non-tweeter the wonder of Twitter! I tried it last night at a party...
‘Isn’t it just like Facebook?’ They ask.
‘Nooooooooo, it’s really not.’ I reply.

Facebook is used for showcasing, gloating and letting people know what they’ve missed out on. It’s also used for sharing thinly veiled digs at people. Many a row has been caused by Facebook.
I really don’t think the same can be said of Twitter… I have found Twitter to be a source of comfort and reassurance and also a fountain of knowledge! Sometimes it can just be really good company! It’s a support network- mine is full of teachers who are happy to share their ideas and good practice. My twitter world is also full of tweeters currently undergoing various cancer treatments- this can be really useful when they are having similar treatment to me but are a week or so ahead- they let me know what to expect which helps prepare me for the next stage. A surprising amount of the people I ‘follow’ are both teachers AND cancer survivors! Worrying?!
Hopefully I am equally as supportive to the people who are bored enough to want to follow me- I do try!

I’d like to introduce you to a special few…

Chez @ScouseChez I first ‘met’ Chez on the breast cancer care forum- we were diagnosed within days of each other and had the same reactions- to share our stories with anyone who’ll listen. Chez checks in whenever I go quiet- she picked up pretty quickly that quiet is not a good sign! Thanks for being there Chez!

Caitriona @ol_cait I stumbled upon Cait’s blog through one of someone else’s tweets I think. She’s living in Ireland, is younger than me, has two young children and another on the way- sounds perfect until you factor in the stage 4 breast cancer. I could echo all the bravery and inspiration comments but I think she’s probably just dealing with what life throws at her as she has little choice and awful lot to live for! Hence the title of her blog… Cait recently tweeted that her wig was getting a little past it, so knowing that I was never going to wear mine I sent it over to Ireland where it is now hopefully far more useful- sitting on Cait’s head rather than on my wig stand! How fab Twitter is then that it put me (wig waster) in touch with Cait (wig needer) Gotta love The Twitter!

Ali @theotheralig I can’t remember how I found Ali but I’m so glad I did- we started chemo at the same time but she won the race to final chemo day due to my week delay (stupid botched line!) She calls herself my chemo sister and has been there every step of the way… we both start back at work in the morning after long breaks from our schools- good luck with your new class Ali.

Harriet @misshbond I think I discovered Harriet through Ali but I’m not too sure. Harriet was an NQT last year and is about to give birth to twin baby girls- I’ve loved following her twin tales. I realised how important twitter had become recently when I found myself worrying a ridiculous amount about Harriet’s lack of tweets- was she OK? Back in hospital? Were the babies OK? Turned out I’d missed the tweet that said… ‘I’m going on holiday- won’t be tweeting, see you in a few days!’ Nothing to worry about at all then! It’s really odd that I’m looking forward to hearing about the safe arrival of these’s babies when I’ve never even met their mum! I internet is truly weird!

I honestly wonder how I’d have filled my sick leave without the internet and more specifically twitter. Twitter has advised, supported and accompanied me through a rubbish time- thanks for joining me! Next I’m on a mission to get the staff at my school twittering!

Oh and by the way…hands up who thought I’d make it to Number Forty! Anyone?

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Number Thirty Nine: The Holiday Highlights.

I posted before the summer about what I hoped to achieve over the six week break… The Summer
Now it’s nearly over I’m looking back to see if I can tick everything off my list!

Brightest highlight- seeing The Wilsons- having been gone for a year it took less than five minutes to feel like they’d never been away but it seemed like a whirlwind visit and of course they’ve gone again now. I thought I wouldn’t cry but I did! And I blame Mr Wilson for this- catching me off guard with his uncharacteristic kind words… honestly I thought nothing could break that man’s shell of sarcasm but inside he’s a softie- right?
Biggest let down-Cars2- ugh! What an awful film! I just felt so cheated- We loved Cars SO much and was not prepared for this poor sequel.
Best day out- Bowood House and gardens- photos below say it all! I had been there on a school trip when I was nine- had amazing memories and now I have even more!

Most important improvement- My boys are more settled, happy boys and are changing every day!
Most time consuming change-The house- it’s been painted, organised and cleaned. But it would seem that once Rob starts painting it’s difficult to get him to stop. We even have clean sofas now! (They look so good that Sarah thought they were new ones this morning!)

So here are the select highlights of our summer- gotta love photos- it looks like our summer has been perfect (clearly we didn’t capture the rows, sickness, moods, rain and tantrums on camera- odd that!)

If you Don’t like looking at other people’s photos (Rob) then turn away now!

Day one of the summer was all about bike riding, week one was all about learning to ride a two wheeler- the rest is history!

First treat for us grown ups was going to see Harry Potter- I just loved it! I was so worried that the cinema would be full and we’d have to sit at the front that I told the waiter in LaTasca that we needed to order and eat really fast- we were out of there in 17 mins! Can anyone beat that for mealtime speed?

The beginning of the holidays saw the facial hair finally go and I have to say that I really wasn’t prepared to feel quite so sad about this. I’d dealt so well with the head hair loss that I didn’t give the lashes much thought- this was a mistake. Having no facial hair made me look ten million times more like an ill person! (Facial bloating hasn’t helped either.)

We made the super find that was ‘Start the Art’ at MK Gallery early on in the holidays. It was super messy fun for the under fives and my boys loved it! They organised fab indoor and outdoor activities- just sad today will be our last one until half term now!

The majority of the (non rainy bits of the) holidays were spent in various parks. The monkey boy Ben continues to love climbing- and Harry is following closely behind- the mountain goat boy!

When we weren’t at a park we could be found eating out (this could explain some of the weight gain!)

And just a few ice creams…


We had a couple of trips to see Nana and Grandpa chickens…always very relaxing and loads of fun for the boys- Rob’s parents have kept every single toy their four children have ever owned- brilliant for retro toys!

A bit of dressing up!

And a lot of playing in boxes…

…and what should have been a relaxing summer and actually been ridiculously busy and left us all feeling a bit like this…

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Number Thirty Eight: The Hurry

You may well have got the impression already that I’m quite often in a hurry to move on to the next thing. This is definitely so and the impulse to move on has never been more strong than when it comes to moving on from the Beast Breast!
I’ve decided to return to work at the beginning of September- I just can’t resist that ‘start of a new year’ feel, can’t wait to catch up with everybody after so long off and get stuck into my job! Going back to work is the biggest part of moving on- I am really looking forward to getting back to normal (ish).
There are however a few pesky things that seem to be trying to hinder my hurry to move on…

  1. The Line- it’s just been a nightmare from start to finish really. I can now have it removed- yay! “Good news” I hear you cry- no more weekly hospital visits for line flushing or dressing changes. I’ll be able to swim and bath again! As soon as the line is removed I can stop the evil stingy blood thinning injections! That all sounds lovely apart from one sticking point… there’s no one available to remove the line- not at MK or at Northampton! So for now I’m stuck with it! (Have considered self removal but thought better of it!)
  2. The Hair- it’s definitely growing back but I think we all know that it realistically won’t be growing back fast enough for my liking! And if it’s possible I think a slightly hairy fluffy head is more unattractive than a completely bald head! Twice now I’ve woken up from dreaming about having lovely long hair. Cruel subconscious!
  3. The FAT- yep, eight months of feeling up to doing very little will do that to you (that and the steroids) my most regular form of exercise has been to shuffle pathetically from the sofa to the bed and back again! I am now feeling really motivated to get fit and healthy and lose the weight but it seems my body has other plans- I thought a brisk walk would be a sensible starting point… Oh no! My body was not happy about this- a bit of a shock to the system after so long on the sofa! My feet have decided to strongly object in the form of the biggest blisters you’ve ever seen! The soles of my feet are more blister than foot! Yesterday I could not even walk! (Unless you count the ridiculous penguin-like shuffle I adopted!) Was this really my body so literally telling me not to hurry quite so much?
  4. The Tattoos- they’re not exactly hindering my moving on but they are disappointing- much more visible than I thought they’d be and just serve as a little reminder that I’ll be driving up and down the M1 an awful lot over the next month! I’m approaching radiotherapy in the same flippant way I originally approached chemotherapy- let’s hope it’s the walk in the park I’ve set myself up for because if it’s not then I’m going to get a shock! Radiotherapy starts on 7th September for three weeks. 
  5. The Herceptin- I’ve not really experienced any side affects. The problem with this is the interruption really. From now on it’ll be given every three weeks at my house- very convenient until you factor into that canular and drip tangled equation two small children! Also the fact that I could think of much better things to do with two hours every third Friday afternoon!
  6. The scars- they don’t really bother me. They are just a reminder that reconstruction is still something to consider in the future.
  7. The Tamoxifen- starts next week and continues, one tablet a day, for the next FIVE years! This really is the part I’m dreading the most… can my marriage really survive an early menopause? I’m already a moody beast and things are set to get worse! (Good thing I’ve booked that holiday- let’s just hope I won’t be going alone!)

It’s not just my body urging me not to hurry too quickly… my friends keep giving me long head tilted looks and saying ‘Are you sure you’re not over doing it?’ Probably but I imagine they’d be exactly the same in my position!
Anyway, I’ll continue to look forward and get excited about the future but I’ll also try to do this at a pace that suits my recovery. I’ll try my very best to control my urge to hurry… promise.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Number Thirty Seven: The Parenting

Cowboy hats- a cancer perk courtesy of my hospital stay!
I’ve wondered on and on about how the Beast breast has affected my boys but Monday night’s Cherry Healey’s Parenting Dilemmas made me feel much better! The way I parent has always worried me… I’ve mentioned before that I did not take to motherhood like a duck to water and was surprised to find what a pressure I found being the perfect mother. Ha no such thing! My fear of ‘What will other mothers think of me?’  didn’t begin on day one… I was good at the early baby bit- feeding and sleeping, it was the ‘How do I deal with THIS behaviour?’ that had me stumped. This occurred on the very day that my first born turned two… that night he learned how to climb out of his cot! This meant moving on to a bed much earlier than we’d hoped due to my fear of broken limbs/skull. It also led to his nocturnal head banging not only disturbing us but also our neighbours as cot bars were replaced with their adjoining wall! This is just a teeny tiny example of the trials I certainly had not contemplated when planning to have a baby. My baby was no more- in his place was a terrible two! (The REAL low point was being asked to leave Baby Gym! I was so mortified that I could not hold back the tears in front of perfect strangers and my boy was utterly distressed- ‘I want to say sorry, I want to go back to Gymlastics’, he sobbed all the way home. Who knows if this was a terrible bit of instruction on the part of the gym teacher or did in actual fact teach him a valuable lesson- probably both! Either way the gym lost a potential future gym star that day- a child who has NO fear, the HIGHEST pain threshold known to man AND boundless energy- sounds like vital gymnastic attributes to me- the discipline could be learned later but we won’t be returning there!)  
My mum recently went on a course- the lady leading the course wasn’t from the UK and Terrible Twos was a new concept to her- she made the point that it is the expectations we place on our two year olds that lead us to believe they are terrible- in her country they treat two year olds as slightly older babies and so are not disappointed… are less anxious and less judgemental. This sounds like bliss compared to my experience. Find me several hundreds of miles away convincing myself that all the other mothers had nothing better to do than scrutinise my parenting skills. I look back now and realise that all the pressure was coming from within- hindsight is a fabulous thing! Also it’s easy to see looking back that all these short phases pass- at the time I had myself convinced that I was stuck with a tantruming beast forever. His will power determination and confidence have remained but he is much calmer. (On the whole) It is more easy to reason with him now anyway. For ‘Reason with,’ read. ‘Bribe!’
I watched Cherry Healy’s documentary on parenting this morning- I’m compelled as much by her honesty as I am by her hair! For those of you who missed it (catch it on iPlayer) she examined different parenting styles and reflected upon what she hoped for her own daughter. I guess what made for good telly though was to again visit extreme examples- strict meaning smacking three times a week and putting your child in the garden in the dark at night if they didn’t go to sleep! I think a more balanced approach would have strict equalling- I always carry out what I say- consistency is the key. Have high expectations and have fun- give your child a reason to want to spend time with you,enjoy your company, love you and respect you. The worst example though in my opinion was the home schooling mother- I know I’m a teacher and so obviously have an interest in schools but watching this reignited my passionate loathing for home schooling. I just can not see it as anything but a reflection of utter selfish parenting. It says so much more about the needs of the parent than those of the child- mothers and fathers who simply ignore their responsibility to bring their child up as sociable, independent young people. Young people who are well equipped with dealing with a variety of social situations and peers- many of which will have been awkward or even painful experiences but vital in the journey toward becoming independent and well rounded. The only needs catered for effectively was those of the parents- a need to keep them close and controlled. I saw nothing positive in the home schooling approach that I did not feel could be achieved out of school hours but I did see appalling examples of so called teaching! I believe that well balanced happy children should go skipping into school at quarter to nine and skipping home again at three O’clock.
It probably wouldn’t make good telly but I’d love to see ‘The Balanced Parenting’ approach- not extreme in any way, honest about the trials and tribulations that are part of parenting- Cherry herself was the closest we got to this example so I hope she continues to share her journey with us.
Anyway… I digress- rant over!
One thing that is extremely clear to me about parenting second time around is how much more simple and straight forward everything is. (Once you get over the ‘double trouble’ element of juggling two children of differing ages and stages and therefore needs.) You not only have all the baby paraphernalia you more importantly have been there and done that once before! I don’t believe it is possible to parent your second child in the same way you parented first time around- just can’t be done! You know too much! Looking back I feel silly for spending the nine months of my pregnancy reading up on pregnancy and birth- how had it not occurred to me that this was a tiny slither of what I was actually getting myself into? Silly girl!
I’ve said before that one of the positive affects of the Beast Breast is that I’m happier being myself- I’m here to enjoy the life I’ve been given and will no longer be wasting time and energy worrying quite so much about what others are thinking of me. I truly believe this will be the single most beneficial thing that could have happened for my parenting abilities and therefore for my wonderful boys. And if I needed any proof of this I just need to remember Saturday’s BBQ where my three year old played beautifully with his friends and sorted out minor squabbles without the need of adult intervention and my one year old played and giggled his way to nine pm making the adults beam! Proud, confident, well balanced parenting is the way forward and has been all the more achievable thanks to the wake up call that is cancer.

I feel the need for a P.S…
Please don’t think I’m bragging about my children- I still find being a mummy exhausting and challenging, I have just realised that I needed to worry less and enjoy more.
P.P.S… I also must acknowledge that there are probably some cases when home schooling IS most appropriate and there and probably examples of it being done very well- just not this time.

P.P.P.S… Don’t even get me start on Kumon maths lessons!

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Number Thirty Six: The Fug

This morning was the first time I woke up with ideas swimming around in my tiny brain… the first wake up in ages where I felt like writing.
Before this whole thing happened; if anyone asked me if I liked writing I’d have laughed (and spat out my drink) ‘No!’ Whilst a student, I spent four years of my life trying to avoid writing essays (not the way to earn a degree it turns out!) and when I had to write I always calculated the exact minimum amount of words needed to scrape by. (Can’t understand why I didn’t get a 1st really!) But now, it turns out that I can enjoy writing- in fact it’s the first sign after treatment that I’m creeping back towards being my normal self.
Some of the chemotherapy side affects are well known (nausea) and others are obvious (hair loss) but there’s a secret symptom that you really didn’t know about before… the fug. The fug stops you being able to think, remember, understand and even read! Yep, the other day my husband laughed at my attempts to read a picture book to my 3 year old- I did sound like the ‘Slow Readers Group’ poem from ‘Please Mrs Butler’. I am also rendered utterly useless when trying to follow a film plot. We have to keep pausing for Rob to explain- I don’t even have to ask anymore- he just periodically pauses when he thinks something slightly complicated might have just passed me by. Maybe it’s my glazed expression?
This fug just seems to interfere with your ability to concentrate meaning I can happily spend hours gazing into space. I’ll have a book or magazine in the vicinity but I won’t be looking right at it!
I’ve said before that many of the symptoms of this treatment are similar to pregnancy- extreme pregnancy and then some! Sickness, heartburn, aching, constipation and yep- baby brain!
I’m recovering from the fifth of six cycles of chemotherapy… the end is right there- within a fortnight it’ll be done and I’ll be recovering for the last time! I was incredibly blasé about this before I started. I remember my mum breezing through her treatment (we both agree now we remembered that time with incredibly rose tinted glasses) and I just thought ‘I’m young and healthy, I’ll be fine- chemo won’t touch me!’ Hilariously I still think to myself, ‘I’m not an ill person.’ I still associate being an ill person with being a lazy, work shy skiver! This does not help with the feelings of guilt, ‘I should be at work, I should tidy up, I should really do the boys’ bathtime myself tonight.’ And I’m realising that you actively need to rest and recuperate not plough on as normal. Difficult when you feel like you’re always missing out! So I should have respected chemo from the start- I should have known it’d knock me for six and I should have realised that taking time out to recover would have made the recovery all the more effective! In short it’s just been way harder than I’d hoped. A horrid experience I’d not wish on my worst enemy (you know who you are!) Each time it has got harder, my positivity is being chipped away at, my resilience is worn and my ability to fight has really been drained to the final dregs. I know this because at the ‘Race for Life’ I saw one of those pink squares on a girl’s back and it said… ‘In celebration of Myself- I’ve beaten it… twice.’ The thought of it coming back and doing this all over again makes me instantly burst into tears. It’s just too hard.
During the week following treatment you feel so awful and it really is difficult to imagine feeling well again. It can actually take you by surprise when the day arrives that you don’t feel like rolling over and covering your head with the duvet. For me, waking with the enthusiasm to ‘blog’ is a really good sign! The fug is lifting!

Monday, 18 July 2011

Number Thirty Five: The Summer

Well let’s hope we can call it a summer! (I have my doubts) You never can tell with British weather but my hopes are high! The summer holidays are looming- a ridiculous amount of facebook statuses were about the 5 day countdown to 6 weeks freedom when I logged on this morning.
For me this summer means a few important things… firstly we are looking forward to regaining a little consistency for our boys- having been pushed from pillar to post for the last few months (loving pillars and warm, caring posts I must add!) they will finally get some family time… bike riding, swimming, kite flying and parks! This will do wonders for the boys and could not have come at a better time- once confident and carefree; my 3 year old is, at the moment, a little wary. A year ago he’d jump at the chance to stay with Nana or Nana and Grandpa Chickens but now he’s taken to sobbing and saying he wants to stay with us- it’s just not like him and is clearly a downside to the beast breast fiasco. The one yr old looks at me in terror if I hand him to be held by anyone else. I hear him thinking ‘Don’t take me away!’ it breaks my heart. So summer starts this weekend with a trip to the bike shop to buy a big boy’s bike with tyres and peddles and everything- HUGE excitement in the Morley household! The second most exciting event will be Cars 2; we love Disney’s Cars in our house even if the James Taylor song does make me cry! So the cinema will be our first rainy day choice!

The house- summer project number two. We hope to regain some control over the shabby, broken mess that is our pitiful dwelling! Walls will be painted, cupboards sorted and if we’re really lucky we’ll get round to phoning SKY and letting them know that our house phone is yet again NOT WORKING! The sofa war rages on- I want to buy a new one- Rob wants to wait until the boys stop spilling and dribbling over the current dribbly stained one! I’ll keep you posted about the sofa saga! (I don’t really think I stand a chance though.)

The ‘catch up’- summer project number three- A little trip down memory lane now… do indulge me! When I was four years old we moved back to Milton Keynes- my fourth house in four years! On my first day in my new school I was paired up with Claire to be shown around the school. She went home and told her mum, ‘I like Erin, She’s naughty.’ Twenty Seven years later she is still my best friend and this Friday she returns from Bangkok where she has been teaching for the past year- so this summer will also be about catching up with all her adventures! Can not wait! Sadly, she’ll then return to Bangkok for another year!

Of course this summer will also largely be about hospital appointments- I have 5 in the next 5 days! The introduction of Herceptin this week increases the amount of time I’ll spend to-ing and fro-ing between Milton Keynes and Northampton. Two more chemos and then radiotherapy to round off the summer- what fun! But by mid September the bulk of the nasty treatments will be behind me- Hurrah!

Then there’s the ‘usband- he’s moving to year two! We’ve both always taught upper key stage two- our lives revolving around SATs, residentials and transition to secondary school but this summer sees the leap to key stage one for Rob. He’s really excited- I’d be more nervous but nothing fazes him. So, we’ll spend a good bit of our summer thinking about Newt Class- I’m happy to design classroom displays while Rob sorts out his actual newts- he just loves a bit of wildlife in the classroom that boy!
So we’ll be a busy little family for the next six weeks. We’ll also be trying to avoid divorce proceedings as I’m sure you can imagine- 6 weeks together non-stop is enough to test any marriage- especially when your husband so infuriatingly says ‘Oh really? But you never get on my nerves.’ UGH!!!

So even though I’m not at work I’m still counting down to the summer- let’s hope it’s a sunny one!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Number Thirty Four: The Good

This morning I read this…
I immediately thought ‘Oh God that’s me!’ Always harping on about positivity! Ugh! Well, this has certainly been the week that has tested my positivity the absolute MOST! It’s been a three T rottter of a week! I’m just about back on track but My Skidderz has given me an extra boost with the following ‘guest post’ she gets V emotional and totally over exaggerates but I believe it’s from the heart- she’s makes a very good point- the beast breast has definitely changed our friendship group for good… Over to Skidderz…

For Good...
“I’ve heard it said, that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn, and we are led to those who help us most to grow if we let them and we help them in return.’

Those who know me, know I’m certainly not the kind of person to ever be lost for words; quite the opposite actually! So then, I have to ask myself, why have I found writing this for My Rogers so difficult?  Being asked by one of your very best friends to write a post for the blog they have used to document their ‘breast cancer journey’ is somewhat overwhelming and something being a perfectionist I don’t want to get wrong.  So, after putting it off for weeks and being ready with my copious amounts of notes, I have decided to speak utterly from my heart and sod the sarky comments I will have to inevitably endure for being too emotional-something Honest Rogers has told me I am once or twice!
One text can change your life.  It did mine.  I will always remember the precise moment I read that Rogers had cancer.  I’d been worried all day, unable to concentrate on anything and crying sporadically, and had texted and spoken to other members of ‘The Core’ to see if they’d heard anything.   So you know, ‘The Core, are the closest group of friends you could ever hope to have in your life who would do anything for each other. When it arrived, I just kept reading and re-reading the text, through tear brimmed eyes.  The shock was immense as the girls had all been together the night before, convincing Rogers that of course she didn’t have cancer, of course she couldn’t have cancer, of course she was going to be ok.  Maybe we were trying to convince ourselves.  I remember how calm she was that evening; she says she knew then.  Seeing it in writing made it more definite somehow.  Lots of questions immediately raced through my mind; mainly how the hell was Rogers going to cope?  I can remember blubbing like a baby onto a friend’s shoulder but promising myself I would never cry in front of Rogers, something to this day I have stuck to.  My wonderful friend Leanne called and was equally in a state of shock and we agreed that I’d go round to hers that evening to be together.  I’d expected an evening of blubbering.  Another lovely friend, Kirsty, came round and both of them said they’d spoken to Rogers and had felt much better after they had (meaning they too had been crying on and off and this was the only thing that had made it stop).  I was so nervous ringing her, ridiculous I know, as I was so worried I’d say the wrong thing or I’d get upset on the phone.  Instead Inspirational Rogers was aboard her Train of Positivity....there was never going to be any other way and ‘Team Rogers’ were certainly not going to let her down.....even if she was cross with us that we’d had a Cancer Conference without inviting her!
I first heard of Teacher Rogers from my mum, who taught at the same school when she started as a Newly Qualified Teacher many years ago. “There’s such a lovely girl who’s started at Olney, Em,” I got told whilst I was at university.  “You’d get on great, you are so similar – smiley, silly and talk a lot!” Little did I know then that Teacher Rogers was going to become one of my best friends and she would consider me to be a Honourary Sister.  We immediately got on well; we share the same sense of humour even though admittedly mine is far more rank (she is the creator of my nickname ‘Skidderz’).  Laughing and being silly come naturally. Our singing talents are questionable but we definitely share the same gusto when singing songs from musicals!  I then started teaching at Olney myself and we became good friends.  I often think how lucky I was to work at that school as it has given me such important people in my life; Erin, Leanne and Rob. 
Erin is a wonderful teacher and was a real inspiration to me whilst I was training. One of My Rogers’  faults (she doesn’t have many) is that she doesn’t see how good she actually is at things; teacher, mummy, wife, friend, sister, daughter, singing partner (no one else gets ‘Wicked’ like you we do HUN).  In those early days of my career I observed her natural relationship with the children; people gravitate towards Erin as she is so friendly, cheerful and chatty.  Another inspiration was her classroom – it was amazing!  She is so artistic and creative and apparently I was her only threat to Best Classroom Award - hers was always still much better than mine though (and she knows it)! 
Over the years she has been there for me in every way possible. She’s shopped with me (one word – tutu), she’s listened to me, she’s been brutally honest with me, she’s been a shoulder to cry on, she’s given me very honest advice, she’s laughed with me, she’s been proud of me. I’ve gone round to her then flat and now house at times of real upset and real happiness and I always find an open door, where I usually start making everyone tea and help bathing her gorgeous boys.  I always feel welcome and love spending time with her and her family.  So many memories she’s given me but my faves are...the lasting memory of me waking up to the sound of her breast pump whilst sharing a bed with her on a friend’s hen weekend, the image of her dressed as plumber coming into my lesson during my NQT year for no reason whatsoever other than to TRY to be funny and the ‘Aaron look’ only achieved by the pink hair gunk found at our favourite Whittlebury Hall Spa whilst wearing a robe and towel round your neck!  Seeing as she is SO much older than me, I look up to her in many ways.  I often say to her that one day I hope to be the same kind of mum that she is and feel honoured to be a part of Ben and, my godson, Harry’s lives.  She has found ‘her Rob’ and if anyone needs a definition for true love they need look no further than those two. 
I like to consider myself a dependable friend, someone that people know they can turn whenever they may need me.  I’m not going to lie that Rogers has definitely tested that in 2011!  At times myself and the rest of ‘The Core’ have felt completely helpless, wishing there was something we could do for her, to help her, to support her and Rob more, to take it all away.  The night before her first operation Erin text me to say that her husband was being very ill. With hindsight, this operation was nothing compared to her mastectomy but at the time it was an incredibly big deal.  Then another text arrived saying he was getting worse and then another to say she was worried about staying at home that evening.  Then a phone call to ask could she stay and if Rob was still poorly, would I go with her the following morning. I always try to make people feel welcome in my house, something Erin has taken full advantage of, even turning up with her PJs in her bag at times and suddenly announcing she was staying! All of this texting and calling happened in the space of about twenty minutes and before I knew it, I was in my car going to pick her up (after a little cry as I was scared I wouldn’t be the right person to go with her).  We stayed up talking until midnight when she then made me feel her lump saying it was my last chance before it went.  I obliged (she is very persuasive at times) and it hit me again what we were doing tomorrow.  I think she got more sleep than I did that night.
That morning little did I know what that day was going to bring.  We sang Wicked on the way to hospital and convinced ourselves that Andrew Lloyd Webber would be impressed!  We sat in the waiting room and commented how Erin was the most attractive patient in there by far (we were whispering, obviously!) and we were having a such a good time even though that sounds absolutely ridiculous given the severity of the situation.  But laughter is a must to get you through such situations.  As Betty Rollins, a breast cancer survivor and author of ‘First You Cry’ wrote: “Cancer won’t bestow a sense of humour on someone who doesn’t have it, but a sense of humour can sure get you through the experience.” We stuck to that strategy throughout the day, and have tried to throughout her treatment. It also allowed me to cover up my real feelings; I’ve learnt I can be a REALLY good actress when I need to for the sake of others.  Hearing patients’ names being called out like a school register and the stern nurses refusing to allow any loved ones or visitors to go with them make my heart sink. There was no way I could let Erin go through this on her own, especially as her Rob couldn’t be there.  The feeling of absolute joy when we were allowed to stay together is something I’ll always remember. I, however try to forget the whooping and air punches we did whilst we celebrated before realising that we were the only ones to be allowed to stay together.  The next few hours were real fun, weird to say but they were. I lost count of the amount of times we explained how Rob was very sick to ensure no one thought we were lesbians!  We laughed at the loudest ticking clock ever, took pictures of Brave Rogers in her gown and bed socks, found our new best friend Liz (the NICEST lady you could ever meet and perfect to work with cancer patients), got asked to pass our positivity on to other patients who were incredibly scared and withdrawn etc.  Even though we both were aware of what Brave Rogers would be going through, we had such a special morning and one I know has made my friendship bond with her stronger.  Five minutes before we walked down to theatre together, her consultant told us that Erin had got in fact two lumps in her breast not one.  I kept in what I felt and told Erin it was great she was having her operation now and that it could be sorted.  We didn’t know then that in fact she would need eventually a mastectomy. You deal with what you are presented with. Near theatre, after hugging her, kissing her cheek and telling her I loved her, I walked away telling myself not to look back.  I just couldn’t (even though she was having a memorable time with Dr Love!).  I turned the corner and the moment I knew that she couldn’t see me, I was overwhelmed with emotion.  I’m not ashamed to say I cried like a baby, suddenly unable to breathe, knowing I’d have to ring Rob. I couldn’t remember how to get back to her ‘private suite’ and luckily Liz found me, hugged me, swept me up and took me back, with me sobbing and apologising to strangers in the lift and in the corridors.  I called Rob (not an easy phone call) and set about buying her some treats and basically arguing with the receptionist to let me back in.  I’m a girl who likes to get her own way.....and usually does!! I’d been gone about an hour and a half and then I crept back into the room when no one was looking (in case nasty, evil receptionist saw me) and waited for another hour and a half before she came back. When I saw her she looked very tired and strangely quiet.  She was smiling, still smiling, and immediately asked me how I was and commented on how I’d changed my clothes! It then became Piccadilly Circus in her room and after half an hour of nurses, doctors, consultants and THE TV man coming in and not leaving us alone, she started to weep, but only a little. That’s the only time I’ve seen her cry throughout finding out about the C word and throughout her treatment. I know she has.  I know she has a lot, but never again in my presence.  I held her hand and told her she was doing so well.  We looked together at ‘the damage’ and were surprised with how ‘normal’ it looked.
That day changed everything for me.  That and a chemo lesson. And seeing Erin without hair for the first time. And seeing her scar for the first time after her mastectomy.  Basically Rogers having cancer has changed me, and I know it has for ‘The Core’ too.  My perspective on life has been changed ‘for good’.  What is important in life, above all other things, is love, honesty, family and friendship. With that, anything is possible.  ‘Team Rogers’ and ‘The Core’ shall always be friends. Before this we were good friends, now we are best friends.  We see each other a lot more - a silver lining, as Rogers likes to refer to it as.  Some friends come and go in life; these friends shall remain the tight knit group we are forever.  We have, and continue, to go through a lot (as a group we have all had our fair share of crap) but Rogers having cancer has made us all realise life is precious and should not be wasted and we should not take anything for granted.  The bravery, determination and inspirational attitude of Rogers continues to astonish me. If there was a way I could obtain and wave a magic wand so all her pain and discomfort, and ultimately cancer, could disappear I’d buy it, whatever the cost, and wave it as frantically as I could! But I know she’ll kick C’s butt ‘for good’.  Between all of us who love her and her positivity, strength and optimism, those cancer cells don’t stand a chance.  I picture the girls from ‘The Core’ as old, silver haired ladies still laughing our heads off together and drinking tea. 
I have been changed ‘for good’. 
Love you Rogers,
Your Girl Skidderz xxx