Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Hardly any waiting....... my latest Consultants appointment!

Guess what?

Yes, you're right ........ I've just had an appointment at RD&E ........

You're going to be disappointed though ....... apart from me hanging on to the door handle squawking at times, we weren't our usual predictable selves!

We didn't leave ridiculously early!

How come I hear you ask.

Well I had a shopping  list ..... my trainers circa 1985 have been hanging on despite bits dropping off the bottom over the last six weeks. Trip to a trainer shop needed!

Having kept up and increased my running for three and a half months I still haven't got a sports bra. Trip to M&S bra department needed!
(especially as yesterday at the end of my run I had a sore and bleeding nipple on the cancer boob ....... more of that later)

Oh and the bathroom scales packed up a couple of weeks ago. Trip to John Lewis needed!

So we left after I'd finished the day job and washed the cow shit out of my hair, at around 10.15am!

Now I had a brain wave about parking ...... normally for our rare shopping trips in Exeter we use the Quay car park, however as I trundled off to work this morning I realised that after we'd shopped we would have to move the car and then do a big loop in a lot of traffic to get back to RD&E. The chances of a space at the hospital would be non existent so I had a cunning plan .......... we'd park in the Triangle car park and pay for a days parking, then walk into the city and then walk to RD&E.

So we did!

On our walk we passed Real Food Exeter, a community owned shop and café which I follow on Twitter and have always wondered where they were situated. Now I know. After a coffee there we bought the things on the shopping list and then it was time for lunch. We popped back for a sandwich and glass of wine ......... it was conveniently on the route to RD&E.

Despite all this careful planning, we got to RD&E way too early, so had a coffee and then went down to the clinic.
My appointment was 3.15pm so going on all previous clinics which have run one and a half to two hours late I expected to be called in at aound 4.45pm!

No! by 3.35pm I was sitting in a consulting room with one of the fetching gowns on waiting for Mr. Ferguson.

Actually it wasn't the man himself but a lovely Doctor from his team Dr. Mackenzie and a fellow lady Doctor whose name I've forgotten!

What a nice man, he had such a good bedside manner and definitely made up for the brusque Oncology Doctor on my last appointment!

Now over the last 17 months I've been prodded and poked and always been asked if its ok for this to be done, however this guy is the first to say 'if whilst I'm doing it, It hurts please tell me to stop'.

Brownie points!!

He and Lady Doctor also got Brownie points as during the discussion about Tamoxifen I mentioned that different brands had different side effects. They both said they'd heard this before and that I should ask the pharmacist to try and get my preferred brand every time, and it should be possible due to them having different suppliers!

Ah yes the sore and bleeding nipple .......

Now I'm sure that this is down to pre menstrual tenderness (yes! I'm still having periods!!) and being chafed by my bra, but of course with my history it could be a sign of breast cancer so I mentioned it to him.

After he'd examined me he said everything felt fine and he couldn't see any changes in my skin but if the bleeding continued to get in touch although he thought it was just the chafing responsible for it and that my new sports bra would sort it out!

By 3.50pm we were on our way back to the car!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Its not time to say good bye yet!

Oh hello!

Yes I'm still here ........

......... and yes I know I've neglected you! I'm sorry!

I know you thought that as I'd got the all clear I'd just bugger off  and leave you!

....... but I couldn't do that to you ....... we've been through so much.....

...... and I know its been two months since we last spoke but suddenly life took off and I've been living it to the full ....... I'm sure you'll understand especially when I tell you about my friend who has recently been diagnosed with an inoperable tumour. (future blog post)

I have missed you and our chats though .......  just not had the time to write!

So here I am .......

Is this goodbye?

Well! during my dance you asked me not to give up writing the blog and since the all clear I have gained more readers, several of whom, who after reading the blog in its entirety have asked me to continue writing.......

What can I write about??

Well, I am still having regular consultant appointments but now you know me so well you'll be able to write them for me ........ left ridiculously early, no parking spaces at RD&E, clinic running one and a half hours late etc!

Ok how about life after the dance?

My ramblings.......

 ...... I have kept up the running and am doing around three miles a day four or five days a week although some of you will know and for those that don't I had an accident a couple of weeks ago where I went arse over tit, crossing the road in Bideford (and that was before a drink) and seriously hurt myself, bruising my knees, hands and right leg. So nine days without running......

At least  I was still able to hobble out for a three mile walk with the doggens.
However prior to that I had even gone out morning and evening and run a total of six miles on a couple of occasions.

Everyone is joking that I'll be running marathons soon but actually its not really my thing ......... famous last words I know but of course you'll be the first to know when I've signed up to one because I'll be wanting your money for a breast cancer charity!

I'll never know what caused my breast cancer ...... it would be great to know so I could poke it in the eye with a sharp stick but that's not going to happen so a bit like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted I will continue to improve my lifestyle, hence the running and continued diet of eight to nine portions of fruit and veg a day.

Interestingly Breakthrough Breast Cancer currently have a campaign at the moment about How active are you? Raise your pulse, reduce your risk

Apparently 30 minutes of daily physical activity or 3.5 hours a week can reduce the risk of breast cancer by at least 20%.

Stable door and horse spring to mind ........ but ....... its never too late and I'm doing my best to prove it and inspire others!

So I'm thinking its not time to say good bye yet!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The dance is over ........

Finally ........ my results letter has arrived!

Yes .............only eleven days since my phone call to Mr. F's secretary about it and six and a half weeks since my mammogram!!!


I've got the all clear ......... the bastard cancer has fucked off!

The dance is over, the music has stopped and the orchestra has gone home ......

Time to open the prosecco .....................

Friday, 9 May 2014

The wait goes on .................

You may remember that after my mammogram on the 4th April I was told that if they needed to recall me it would be within two weeks. If not they would send the results to Mr. Ferguson who would then write to me with them. If I hadn't heard anything within four weeks I'd need to phone Mr.F's secretary.

Today is exactly five weeks since my mammogram..........

I haven't heard anything!

Now you may wonder why I didn't phone Mr. F's secretary last week when the four weeks was up.

Well you should know me by know ........ put off today what you can do tomorrow ......... especially when it involves phoning someone who never answers the phone when I call and doesn't return answer phone messages or the answer phone cuts off before I can leave my number...... this sort of thing makes me anxious.......... that's why OH has usually phoned in the past.

This morning whilst OH was at a market I gave myself a strict talking to and looked up the number.

Well you could have knocked me down with a feather ........ four rings and Mr.Ferguson's secretary answered!

I explained everything, gave her my hospital number and she looked me up on her computer.

'The last letter you should have received was dated the 8th March'

'Yes that was the results of my cyst removal'

'Um, there's nothing else. I'm new here and can only look at letters sent so I need to speak to a colleague and phone you back.'

Oh bugger I was going to be in and out all day and the previous secretary wouldn't leave a message!

'If I'm not here you can leave a message'

'Thank you'

Sounded promising.

Anyway she phoned about an hour later .......

'I have just finished typing you a letter with your results, so we now need Mr. Ferguson to have a few spare minutes to sign it and it will be with you very soon. You have a follow up appointment with him on the 6th August which we'll still keep. So the letter will be with you very soon'

' Can't you give me my results over the phone?'

'No sorry, not until Mr. Ferguson has signed the letter.'

Soooooooooooooooo the wait goes on ............


Monday, 28 April 2014


I'm still waiting for the letter from Mr. Ferguson ...............

No news is good news I guess so I'm presuming that my mammogram is clear BUT whilst we hang around waiting I thought that perhaps we could make polite conversation and discuss Tamoxifen.

On Friday I collected my latest Tamoxifen prescription ................. yup this is the eleventh one from the surgery (first one was from a chemist) so I've been knocking them back for a year!

Now you may recall that last year I put off taking these bad boys as I was worried by the side effects ........... weight gain being top of the list. 

I really wasn't bothered by the other side effects ....... DVT, face swelling, unusual vaginal bleeding, hot flushes, leg cramps, dry skin, confusion, depression etc etc ........ oh you can google the side effects , there are too many to mention here!

Sooooooooooooooooo 12 months down the line whats the verdict???? ............

Well I had the same make of Tamoxifen for two months (as I mentioned at the time) and then it changed to Teva .........Teva and I jogged along, and apart from the dry skin, dry eyes, leg cramps, oh and all the other things I realised that everything was ok as I hadn't grown two heads, a tail or hairs on my palms.................

.......... and the weight gain??????

Well at the end of August I decided that I needed to lose weight.

Before my diagnosis I was already over weight and during my treatment with all the inactivity and socialising I piled on even more weight and possibly the Tamoxifen made me gain a few pounds. Who knows.

So I and a few other twitter friends formed an online slimming club.

Once a week we announced our weight loss (or gain). What an incentive to stick at it though!

By cutting down on what I ate and of course trying to fit in 8-9 portions of fruit and veg a day I lost one and a half stone. However it was difficult and most of the time I felt hungry, even after eating a big meal. Tamoxifen makes you feel hungry that's for sure. So I now understand how weight gain is a side effect.

Last month I collected my prescription and knew instantly by the feel of the packet through the bag that it was a different brand

I tried not to panic but wondered what Wockhardt had in store for me?!

Oh noooooooooooooo what are they like??? will I have all the initial symptoms again???

Oh for goodness sake .......... get on with it!

Do you know what?

These ones are great ............. no leg cramps ............

So much so that on Friday I dug out my trainers from under the stairs where they have been for at least the last ten years and after hoovering them (of cobwebs and stuff) I went for a run with the dogs!

Do you know I was really chuffed because although I ran then walked then ran on our 3 mile route I found it quite easy! All the walking has clearly improved my fitness.

The only odd thing you will have notice should you have been stalking me is that I have to hold my right boob as I run ....... a strange sight I know but I clearly need to  get a sports bra!! The lumpectomy has made bouncing around painful

Yesterday  I tried it again (along with boob clasping) and I ran further. 

I'm sure those of you that run miles on a regular basis will just shrug but I'm really chuffed. Infact so much so that I posted it on facebook and twitter and then discovered that I had inspired a twitter friend who suffers from depression to put his running shoes on and kick the black dog into touch.

There is a down side though to no leg cramps ................

I seem to get emotional and teary for no apparent reason. Just like I did at the start of taking Tamoxifen.

Which one do I prefer???

The latter .......... at least I can blink away a few tears without any pain!

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

My breast cancer article for our Parish magazine

Last month I was asked to write an article about breast cancer for our Parish magazine.

Its three weeks since the magazine was distributed to local households. I assumed people would read it and hoped that maybe it would help someone, if not now but at a later date.
So I've been pleasantly surprised by the positive response it has received.

The last lady to get in touch was someone who had known from the start of my diagnosis but had appeared to go out of her way to avoid me over the last year. She made a point of phoning to tell me how brave she thought I was for sharing my story and that she was sure it would help someone and that she was going to keep the article just incase ..........

I've only had one negative reply, a person telling me that my advice about TLC wouldn't have helped her ..... it wouldn't have helped me either, because as you all know the mammogram was my saviour.

I was just trying to cover basic awareness in the article.

Anyway I thought I'd share the article with you.........

Breast cancer


v    Breast cancer is the most common cancer.


v    One woman in eight will be diagnosed with Breast cancer in her life time.


v    Around 50,000 women and 400 men are diagnosed each year with Breast cancer.


v    The NHS automatically invite women aged 50-70 who are registered with a GP for breast cancer screening every three years.


v    Around a third of breast cancers are diagnosed through screening.


So what? You’re thinking this is just a load of statistics, why should I read this? It doesn’t affect me.


A year ago I would have been thinking the same as you but in March 2013 I became part of those statistics.


Two days after my 50th Birthday I attended the mobile breast screening unit in a Holsworthy car park and had my first mammogram. It didn’t take long and soon I was on the way home and to be honest I didn’t give it another thought.

Nine days later I got a letter with an appointment to go to Exeter for further screening. This involved another mammogram and a biopsy. Five days later I had to return to Exeter for the biopsy results.


It was breast cancer.


The lump was small which is why I hadn’t felt it and if it hadn’t been for the screening I wouldn’t have found it for maybe another couple of years.


Initially I was shocked, scared and angry.


I decided to start a blog and write about my breast cancer. Not only did I find this cathartic but it also helped people keep up with my treatment without feeling they had to phone or e-mail every few days to see how I was getting on! Perhaps rather naively I didn’t realise at the start that it would be read worldwide in fact I just thought a few friends would look at it every now and then, however to date there have been over 8700 page views and I’ve been told that I’ve made some people laugh and been an inspiration to others.

It can be found at


Now enough about me!


If you are invited for a mammogram please go, it could save your life!


Are you breast aware?


Do you know what your breasts look and feel like normally?

Are you on the look out for any unusual changes?

It’s a good idea to get into the habit and do it regularly, maybe in the bath or shower.

Me? I do it first thing in the morning on the way down to the loo!


I’ve pinched this from one of the breast cancer charities but it’s as easy as TLC.


T ouch your breasts – can you feel anything unusual?

L ook for changes – Is there any change in shape or texture?

C heck anything unusual with your Doctor


Now there’s no special way of checking yourself and each Doctor and Consultant who has examined me has their own way so don’t be scared to have a good feel of yourself.


If you have any breast cancer or breast health concerns or you are a friend or relative of someone who has, who can you talk to?


Well there’s your Doctor and then there are also breast cancer charities, two of which are listed below.


They also have a free helpline 0808 8006000



The best advice I was given and which I will pass onto you …. DON’T google anything about breast cancer ……. It will scare you to death unnecessarily! Talk to the healthcare professionals.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

I think I can stop holding my breath......

Soooooooooooooooooo for the last thirteen days I've been there waiting for the postman, hoping that he hasn't any post for us but also willing him (them)  ...... (yes we still have the job share muppets) to deliver our post to the neighbours by mistake! Although the neighbour always brings it over as  ...... The Holstein Journal, Down your Whey and Know your Curds magazine doesn't interest them!!!!

Ha ha ... prize if you guess the made up names!!!!

I think I can now stop holding my breath ...............

...........................and breathe!

Yup ...... the two weeks is up tomorrow and as its Good Friday ........and .........useless piece of information exactly a year to the day that I had my lumpectomy - can you believe that?

I don't think there will be a letter on Saturday.

I'm beginning to believe that my mammogram results are clear!

I have to say that I've been worrying on and off over the last fortnight and felt like I'm in limbo again  because of last year  but also I've had the 'I've been there done that, got the T-shirt' thought and realised that I fought the BASTARD and won so how dare it even think about showing its face again.

It probably sounds easy to you but the bastard cancer does mess with your head .......

Anyway .......... just waiting now for one of the muppets to deliver my results from Mr. Ferguson.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

My family part two.......

Those of you have been with me from the start will know that my family (parents, sister and her family) spend Easter in South Devon.

We live in North Devon.

My blog post 'My Family' (8th May 2013) explains most of what you need to know.

Soooooooooooooooooooo this weekend was all planned ....... cheesemakers workshop at my favourite Bistro in Plymouth ( and then on Sunday back to Plymouth for the Good Food Market at Royal William Yard.

It was a bit of a shock during yesterdays workshop to hear that RWY was cancelled due to the weather forecast. Thank goodness for people with fancy phones! Otherwise we wouldn't have known until we got home.

Anyway a fab day was had by all and OH went to get the car after paying £7.20 for the privilege of parking in Plymouth for 6 hours.

The other privilege is parking on double yellow lines toute suite  to pack everything back into the car ....... (thank god they don't have the same traffic wardens  as we have at Bideford Farmers Market ) by that I mean muppets with no common sense and no sense of humour.

However in between all this OH phoned my Dad to tell him that we would be at a tea room near Ashburton delivering cheese at 11am.

Yup another downside of the market cancellation was that the trader who would collect our cheese at Plymouth and then deliver to a tea room just down the road from his store wouldn't happen. So we'd have to do it ourselves.

Dad said that they wouldn't get there until midday and he doubted if the others would come.

Fast forward to today ... Sunday 6th April.

So Ma and Pa were there when we arrived , we had coffee and talked about cheese, cheesemaking, food, my Dads health, after fifteen minutes OH announced that it was time for us to go ......... bloody hell ...... really ....... even for me that's rude ......

My Ma then said my niece had said to say 'Hello' ... great! but no message from my sister then..........

Dad then asked about our no supermarket shopping ... apparently its the talk of the golf club!

We eventually managed thirty minutes.............. thank goodness  the coffee at Hill House Nursery is fab!!

Driving back I mentioned to OH that I thought fifteen minutes was rather quick. He said that they hadn't asked how I was or how I was getting on even at the start when I'd popped to the loo and that he thought that by him trying to get us together they might at least acknowledge my cancer.

Too late lover ........ its a year on........

They don't even know about my mammogram ..........

We haven't seen them since November and rarely talk on the phone so how can you catch up in thirty minutes.

Well you can't.

However I'm sure as I write this my parents and sister and her family  are all playing happy families in their holiday let and no doubt slagging me off as I have just done them ........ that's life ........................that's families................ well my family anyway.

Oh I forgot to mention ....... to make it all better we went for lunch at my sanctuary .....................

..... for those that don't know - its The Ring of Bells!

Friday, 4 April 2014

The dance goes on ......

OH woke up fairly early this morning ...... well, before the alarm anyway (I think it was set for 7.30) and did his usual routine of yawning, sighing, tossing and turning when I'm trying to sleep .................

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh 'Shut up ... I don't want to wake up'

Actually that's a lie, I really wanted to get today over and done with, but he's sooooooooooo annoying!!

I know it seems that I'm wishing my life away at the moment but I just need to know now!

After doing the cheese brining, salting, turning type things and egg packing stuff we set off with the dogs for a walk.

Great no time to think about things!

OH hurt his foot last night (one of his clogs split and did some damage to his toes -and he does have sensitive feet after the Navy amputated his little toes in the 1960's. Bastards! ) and within minutes of starting out this morning he had to return home as his foot hurt.

To take my mind off things I tried to identify the bird song serenading me and also all the wild flowers that are springing up daily as well as bellowing at Tilly before she shot off after bambi's and pheasants.

Now you know that we have a lorry and courier game that we play on our way to RD&E ........... well it started early today ..... one of our big fuck off wagons came chugging up the lane past me and the doggens. Bloody hell ...... he must have a satnav malfunction, coming to our neck of the woods ....... anyway I ticked him off!!!! (just as well, as you will find out)

Get to the point I hear you cry......

Ok, Ok,

Yes, we left ridiculously early ..... but in my defence they are doing loads of resurfacing on the way and one lane at Alphington/Marsh Barton junction is closed.

Not much to report on OH's driving apart from the sudden braking near B&Q when I wasn't paying attention due to looking at my phone and my sunglasses (propped up on my forehead) flew off and I was made to let off some expletives. I'm sure he did it on purpose!

Our lorries weren't playing either .... only saw one!

...... and yes we got there in plenty of time ....... loads of parking spaces and time for a coffee and a sandwich before popping up to the breast care unit for my appointment.

The last time I was in this department was on operation day when I had the wire inserted to identify the bastard cancer for Mr. Ferguson and then OH and I  sat for hours in the corridor waiting for me to go down to theatre. (not forgetting my sexy get up of hospital gown and white stockings with my addition of green dressing gown and pink slippers!!)

Today there was no one in reception (well it was 1.35pm - everyone was at lunch I presume) so after hissing at OH to sit down after he did his wandering around bit and poked his head through the window ....... yes its me booking in not you and there's no one there so 'READ YOUR KINDLE!' I stood there watching David Cameron on the TV with sub titles telling me how brilliantly 'we had got the railway line repaired at Dawlish' before three radiographers appeared. Just like buses!

Took a seat and before I could get into my book I was called.

Four x rays of my squashed boobs later and I was out!

The quickest appointment ever at RD&E and called in before time!

However ........... and this is the thing ...... the breast care unit will look at my mammogram and if they want to recall me I'll hear within two weeks ..... if not they'll send the results to Mr. Ferguson and he'll send me the results. If I haven't heard within four weeks then its a phone call to his secretary!

Lorry result on the way home, lots of ticks!!!!

So, my dance goes on ......

Saturday, 22 March 2014


You've probably all seen or heard about #nomakeupselfies

If you don't know its a trend started at the Oscars with a load of selfies being posted on social media by the loveies of this world. This snowballed and then thousands of women nominated by their friends shared pictures of themselves without makeup to raise awareness of breast cancer.

This then went viral and and suddenly the coffers of cancer research were £2m better off.

Now being a social media babe (as you know!!)..... twitter, facebook and instagram are my thing ...... all these #nomakeupselfies popped up in my timeline of laydees I know and they were nominating other laydees to do the same.

Everytime I logged on I breathed a sigh of relief that nobody had nominated me!


Well, I'm a country bumpkin and don't own any slap so I look the same all the time! Not much point doing it really!

Ha! I thought about it and then realised that it doesn't matter what I look like as long as I donated £3 towards research into this bastard disease.
So I posted my #nomakeupselfie (normal me) on facebook and donated.

Now I'm probably going to sound like a kill joy (and 12 months ago I'd have yawned and moved on too) but I do wonder how much this campaign has raised awareness of breast cancer.
In so much as are you and all the thousands women with their #nomakeupselfies breast aware?

Do you know what your breasts feel like normally?

Are you on the look out for any unusual changes?

Do you regularly feel them?

Me? I do it first thing in the morning on the way to the loo!!

Now there's no special way of checking yourself and each doctor and consultant who has examined me has their own way so don't be afraid to have a good old feel of yourself!

It could save your life!

Monday, 17 March 2014

I'm the talent you're back stage!

'I'm the talent, you're back stage'

Ha ha ... what a fab expression.....

Just heard it on the goggle box as OH is watching the thing with Rupert 'phoar' Penry -Jones as I'm logging in to write this post!

Yeah Cancer I'm the talent, you're back stage so fuck off ...............

So actually I was going to write about something else until I heard this, now my post will be very short.
As I've said before it writes itself and tonight its now not was planned.

Unbelievably my last post went viral ........ well in my world ..................Ten thousand page views of the blog is amazing.

I just want to tell you that two days after my last post I got my mammogram appointment........Perhaps Mr Ferguson reads it!!! Yeah right .... anyway its 4th April ....... such a relief and hopefully I'll be able to draw a line under it once I've got the results and leave you all in peace!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

The music is fading and the dance is nearly over.......

Well it looks like its almost time to say good bye .........

You lovely readers have stuck with me through thick and thin over this last year but I can hear the music fading and my dance is nearly over ................. we are going to have to go our separate ways very soon......... however the thought of it makes me sad.


What do you mean sad? I hear you cry .....

...... just last week Oncology said they would see you in 12 months time ... so that's got to be good news? Hasn't it?

(Oh yes two days later they sent me an appointment for 3rd March 2015)

......... You should be happy ...... you've kicked the bastard cancer into touch.

Of course I am, however when I started this blog I had absolutely no idea of the cathartic release I would have from writing it nor the impact it would have on others. In fact I had no idea if it would even been read by anyone. In my naïve mind I assumed maybe a few friends would look at it every now and then! I also thought we'd all be done by July and life would be back to normal!!!!

Ha ha ......  how we live and learn!

So I'm sad that I won't have anything to write about anymore ..........maybe a strange thing to say but I've enjoyed writing it ....... well really its always written itself and like tonight when I've felt the need to talk to you its just happened!

You may be wondering why I don't just cut the cord and be done with it.
Well, I'm still lingering because until I have my yearly mammogram and results I can't put my mind at rest ............ its due every March for the next 5 years.
So at the moment I'm like a lovesick teenager every time the post man delivers, I'm rushing to check the post................

I'm really showing my age now aren't I? I guess in this day and age lovesick teenagers are glued to their phones waiting for a text!!!

How times change.................

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

A year to the day .................................

Two days after my oncology appointment in September a letter arrived with the next six monthly appointment .................. 4th March 2014. Amazingly efficient. I also hoped that Dr. Goodman would be seeing me.

I also wouldn't forget it as it fell on the anniversary of my mammogram which started this bloody dance!

Yesterday I had a 4am start for the day job but was back home by 9am to get on with the accounts and vat return which I'd put off doing for over a week ....... talk about going to the wire!

So after a successful vat submission, dogs walked, fritters made and eaten for lunch I turned my attention to banking ..... credit card bill and Birthday money to pay in. However OH was getting twitchy and said we really needed to leave..................

'Ok I'll do it on Wednesday then' (big sighs!!!)

Then he announced that he needed to stop at the bank ................. oh for goodness sake then I do have  time.

Rewind a year ago and I'd be the one insisting we left ridiculously early............................ (as you all know)

So I wrote out paying in slips with OH standing over me breathing down my neck ..............

................... and guess what? We left ridiculously early!!!!

No queue at the bank and nothing to report until we got to Exeter other than we still play our lorry game but the lorries weren't playing.

We then got to Exe Bridges .................. where I always twitch, squawk  and hang onto the door because of OH's lane discipline or lack of it!!! Actually it was fine until we got to the second set of lights.

 'Why have you changed lanes?'

'Which one do I need?'

'The one you were in' squawk 'follow the black car'

'Mind the learner, no look he's going across ....... stop he's going across all three lanes'

'....................and breathe'

At this OH started to laugh uncontrollably and my hanging onto the door got more intense! squawk

Guess what?

No parking places at the hospital.

 What to do? 'Park on the grass' 'No! it says not to'

Waitrose? No, only two hours there, the clinics bound to over run.

The triangle car park and put loads of money in? Nope.

'Lets just drive around again' ................ 'Park on the grass'  'NO it says not to and I know we did before but I don't think we should!'

We actually drove around all of the car parks again and luckily came across someone leaving.

How much to pay? Well we're old hands now .... pay the minimum (£2 for two hours) and then when the clinic over runs go to the desk and get an extension.

Despite everything we definitely got there ridiculously early so went for a coffee.

Half an hour before my appointment I checked into Oncology.

Oh dear ................ the receptionist was having a bad day........... thank goodness I know the drill otherwise I would have been less than impressed with my treatment from her.

The waiting room was heaving but to my relief I saw from the board that the dapper Dr. Goodman, he of the bow tie and dyed hair was running the clinic.

A nurse then announced that Dr. Goodman was running 45 minutes late .......... thank goodness for my Birthday present ........ a kindle.

Next announcement ...... he was now running an hour late!

Queue 'Complaining Man' behind me!

Yeah whatever ... we're all in the same boat .... shut up I'm trying to read.

So after he was pacified by a couple of nurses he still went on ....... we learnt that his appointment was 4pm, he was 22nd in the queue and that they clearly make these appointments not to keep them.

Thanks for the info ..... that means I'm 23rd and after you. ...... and by the sounds of it you'll be in for a while!

OH then went to reception to sort out parking .......

Whilst he was gone a nurse again spoke to 'Complaining Man' and said that they now had two Doctors running the clinic so it wouldn't be long before he was called.

My heart sank ..... I knew I wouldn't see Dr. Goodman.

OH came back ......we got an extension to 7pm!

'Complaining Man' was called in ......... To be fair on seeing him, I realised that his need to see Dr. Goodman was greater than mine and this was clearly his first consultation.

Not long after I was called.

In came Dr. Peter 'Someoneorother' ......... a rather brusque young man who hasn't made it onto my Christmas card list this year.

A few questions about how I was getting on and how Tamoxifen was affecting me followed.

Now when I first met Dr. Goodman before my radiotherapy and before I'd started tamoxifen he discussed the the effects of it on periods and went into great depth about it.

Now I'll spare you the details (unless you really want to know) about me, Tamoxifen and my periods and told Dr. Peter 'Someoneorother' about it.

Phut! Not interested ........ 'How old are you?'

'51' aaahhhhh the first time I've mentioned it since my Birthday!

'Well at your age it will be the natural menopause affecting them'

'No it fucking isn't ..........' I wanted to say but being the polite, shy and retiring wallflower that I am I just agreed.

He then asked to examine me if that was alright.

Errr yes I've got the fetching gown on.

Did I want a chaperone???

What?????? Haven't you noticed my husband is sitting next to me???

So he prodded and poked and I breathed in and out as requested.

He felt the non cancer side first and I have to say rather unnerved me as he asked ' have you found any lumps or bumps?'


 He looked puzzled and felt a bit longer ........ It seemed to me that he was feeling lumps  ... I could feel him feeling them as it were. Oh shit!

He then felt the other side and did all the other bits before declaring everything was fine.

He then had to wait for Dr. Goodman to finish with 'Complaining Man' to find out if he could discharge me back to surgery. Apparently he normally works with Dr. Hong so didn't know his procedures. In the meantime he also went to check the results of my cyst removal as I still haven't had a letter from Mr. Ferguson.

The cysts were benign and Dr. Goodman will see me in 12 months time ........

Oh and my mammogram which is due in March?

Not his department ........ got to wait for surgery to send out the appointment!

We then went to my favourite sanctuary for a night away ......... yes you've guessed it - The Ring of Bells which makes everything better for me!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

What a difference a year makes!

Walking down the lane with OH and the dogs today in the sunshine, with the birds singing and primroses starting to flower in the banks, spring seemed just around the corner and life seemed good!

It made me think back to Monday 11th March last year when I had similar thoughts......... (that week is etched on my mind incase you're wondering why I can be so specific!)
We had just had a very successful Food Festival, had plenty of cheese maturing and lots of plans for the coming year. I was going to one of my favourite places the next day for an Italian breadmaking workshop and I was hoping that Tilly would like to try sheep dog trial training and maybe one day we'd be on One man and his dog!!!!!! ...........

Little did I know that Wednesday would be the fateful day when THAT letter arrived and turned everything upside down!

Yup! You lovely readers have been sharing my life for nearly a year now! Doesn't time fly?

So this year we don't have much cheese maturing and the Food Festival along with another big market has been cancelled due to the apalling weather so sales will be down big time ....... oh well, thats life I suppose!
Now if you'd told me last year I'd be shrugging something like this off and not panicing I wouldn't have believed you .............

This afternoon I heard someone on the radio say 'things happen for a reason' and although I still haven't worked out the reason for the bastard cancer it did get me thinking about how this dance has changed my perspective on life.

For a start it woke me up, not only a wake up call as far as my lifestyle was concerned - I've mentioned it before ......... weight loss, healthy eating, cutting down on wine, exercise etc.  but also it made me open my eyes to things going on around me, take more notice of them and others.

I'm still haunted by OH's comment 'you're a long time dead!' when last January he proposed we went on holiday in September and I wouldn't agree as we had a Food Festival. We didn't go on holiday. Two months later I wished I hadn't been so stubborn.

Life is too short.

This year we ARE going on holiday and although I would like to do the Food Festival and one the week before they do fall again when we should be away ............. I still haven't sent off the application forms ..............

I have learnt that its ok to take time out during the day to read a book for a while, go for a walk or just sit down ...... something I'd never dreamt of doing before. Oh no, I was always too busy (doing what I don't know) to fit that in. I have to admit it took a long time to realise this and perhaps if I'd done it during my treatment I might have felt better in myself.

I appreciate simple things more ..... meals, phone calls, seeing friends .......

If I don't want to do something I don't do it ...... initially saying no was alien as I'd always done things whether I wanted to or not usually out of loyalty or guilt ...... saying no more often has been a revelation.

By making changes to my life I have less stress now, I'd be lying if I said I didn't have any but I don't get stressed up to the eyeballs anymore.

I've learnt to love my life, appreciate small things and value myself more. I feel so much happier now and this in turn makes me smile more!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

I didn't want to speak too soon!

I'm sure you've all been wondering ............

......... and yes I was going to tell you .............

BUT ..........

I didn't want to speak too soon ..........

I did that once before and I didn't want to make the same mistake again!

Anyway I'm jumping ahead ..........

Twelve days after I told you that mojo was missing I heard the wonderful Jennifer Saunders being interviewed by the equally wonderful Simon Mayo on his drive time show.

When she described how post breast cancer (and taking tamoxifen) she couldn't be arsed to do anything, nothing was right, and even when her husband took her on holiday it wasn't any good and he couldn't get anything right in her eyes etc etc. It eventually took a close friend to tell her she was suffering from depression. She now has pills which have sorted it out.

OH who was also listening ( he has the hots for Jennifer and once stalked her around Okehampton Waitrose!!) came over and just hugged me.

The penny had dropped for both of us.

I was suffering from depression ......... really? Me?

Yes really ........ the symptoms although worse than mine had just been described on national radio!

What to do?

Well as you know I don't do pills .... its bad enough having to take one a day, so I decided that I'd wait and see how I felt in the New Year ........ classic head in the sand!

The Ring of Bells at North Bovey was the only medication I needed...... as I posted at New Year a great weight was lifted from me at the stroke of midnight!

Mojo returned and since then cheese making has been a pleasure and other things are getting done!

Its now a month down the line and things are good so I think its safe to say normal service has resumed!

As a post script  .........

I know a lot of people are cynical (yes I've seen your expressions) about how I felt the weight lift from me when someone opened the door and the breeze came in on New Years Eve. However I have since read an article in the weekend papers where a TV presenter was contemplating ending it all by jumping from a balcony when out of the blue a breeze came and made him step back. At that moment he felt a huge weight lifted from him.

So I rest my case ..............

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Local or general anaesthetic??????

Sooooooooo today was small operation day!

OH set the alarm for 0630hrs so that we could have tea in bed and then I could have breakfast before the cut off time of 0730hours.

We then walked the dogs and I changed the bulb in the yard light which blew two weeks ago as its not fair expecting J to do the animals in the pitch black. (getting up early has advantages...... jobs get done)

A cup of black tea (not too bad) and a bath followed.

We then set off for Tiverton .............. and no, you'll be disappointed to hear that for the first time since March we didn't leave ridiculously early!!!!!

OH's driving wasn't too bad ....... only single lanes so no squawking required apart from when we caught up with all the old farts (OH not included) and one stopped (whilst OH was going off on one about Jeremy Vine .... yes it was 11.30ish and he was wanking on, on the Ken Bruce show) and the old fart in front stopped just off a roundabout to let a woman with a pushchair to cross. I let out a few expletives and OH stopped just in time, slamming his hands down on the horn, as I slid down the seat into the footwell  he carried on ranting.

£2.40 for 24 hours parking ...... blimey I'll go there again ....... only joking, I'm now done with hospitals and am hoping to get my life long aversion to Drs. and Hospitals back.

I checked in ..... sounds like a hotel really and we went and sat in the lounge with eight other people.

Gradually everyone except me was called to see the consultant then the anaesthetist ....... I was trying to read my book but also thinking have they forgotten me .........

ta dah ....


I stood up and so did the other one who'd already been called out twice ..... my turn!!! I became Sarah two!!

Mr Ferguson had a look, a prod and a poke and then got the black marker out and drew his arrows and things.

'I'll do it under local'

'That's what you said before but the hospital have told me its a general despite my telling them what you said!'

'The hospital don't listen to patients although they are usually right'

I then signed my life away. (consent)

'Unfortunately the locals are after the generals so I hope you've got a book in that bag'

'Oh yes!'

Just before 3pm I was called onto the ward and changed into a gown, put my dressing gown and slippers on!

A short walk down the corridor in my dressing gown and slippers and I was in theatre ( I still have the memories of the long corridors at RD&E with me shuffling in my dressing gown, sexy white DVT stockings and bright pink slippers!!!) Nothing like that here!

Within 10 minutes it was all over and I was back on the ward drinking coffee and eating a cheese and tomato sandwich.

So what exactly did you have done I hear you ask?

Yes ok...............

Actually whilst Mr.F was doing his stuff I was selling my cheese making courses to the theatre staff!!

So ....... he removed two sebaceous cysts from my lymph node scar which will be sent off for analysis and then stitched me up....................the stitches are dissolvable (erm like the previous ones which caused all the infection in the first place)

Apparently the anaesthetic will wear off after 4-6 hours ..... 45minutes to go. No pain so far! If its anything to go by after Mr. F did my Op in April I didn't have pain so fingerscrossed ......

Sunday, 12 January 2014

My latest operation saga...............

By the way ....... I forgot to mention that I have  a pre-op date and a date for the op with Mr Ferguson at Tiverton,(for the flap of skin removal in my lymph node scar)

All straight forward then.........................


Why is nothing ever simple in my life????

I was surprised that I had to go for a pre-op as I thought they were just for operations requiring a general anaesthetic but my knowledge of these things is limited!

Two days before Christmas I got the operation date through and all the information enclosed indicated that I was going to have a general anaesthetic.

No, no, no Mr Ferguson had definitely said it would be a local anaesthetic.

Sooooooooooooooo I phoned the day care unit at Tivvy and spoke to a lovely staff nurse who couldn't help me as all my notes are still at RD&E.

The answer was to phone Mr. Ferguson's secretary........

Yes all well and good but when I had cause to call her in April, left her a message, she didn't call me back and when OH called her she reckoned that she'd phoned but got no reply...................

So I phoned her her voice mail and managed to leave my name and number before it cut me off as I launched into my message although it told me my message had been received and that I could now call another extension if I wished............. oh here we go again.

Now I get a bit anxious (I don't know why) about phoning people I don't know as in the above situation but as long as I strike while the iron is hot as it were then I'm fine.

Now I wasn't fine.

We heard nothing and because of Christmas and New Year I left it.

On Monday OH phoned Mr. F's secretary and got someone standing in for her, she gave him the name and number of a lady at Tiverton Hospital to phone. This person had a stand in too...........
She must have apologised for taking a while because I then heard OH say 'not a problem, Mr. F's secretary has someone standing in, you're standing in and I'm standing in for my wife!'

The result was that the letter that had been sent didn't stipulate what I was having done or what type of anaesthetic. So a letter would have to be sent back to RD&E to clarify the situation but as it stood I was to go for the pre-op unless I heard any different.

We didn't hear anything................

On Friday OH phoned Mr. F's secretary, the real one, not the stand in and she didn't know, he was in theatre all day so the long and short of it is I have to go for the pre-op on Tuesday, then starve myself on the following Thursday in case I am having it done under general anaesthetic.

What a bloody palaver!!!!!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

What a lovely start to 2014

During their Darby and Joan phase back in November 2013 Darby was still a resident of the spare room and Joan was still making and taking tea to him first thing in the morning.

Darby 'I think we should go away for New Years Eve this year ......... to The Ring of Bells'

(oooohhhhh yeeeeessssss my favourite place)

Joan 'Of course we can't .... there won't be  anyone to look after the animals'

Darby 'J will'

Joan 'Have you asked her? She might be doing something'

Darby 'No, but I'm sure she will'

Joan 'I'm sure they'll be booked up anyway...........'

....... and so the reasons as to why they couldn't go kept coming out of Joans mouth!

Last night was New Years Eve and you will have found us walking the dogs, fannying around packing an overnight bag and writing instructions for J .........

At 15.40hrs we checked in at my favourite place and after dumping said overnight bag in the room we took up position on our favourite table in the window drinking wine ...................... well what did you expect??? Its us, its a hostelry and its the end of a crap year!!!

Actually we did only have the one and then retired to our room for tea and biscuits.

Once tarted up we went down to the bar to party......................

My very naughty friend M had phoned the landlord and paid for our first bottle of wine ......... what a lovely start.

As I turned out of the bar to go to the table I saw a couple who I recognised ...... we had met them  there back in May when we stayed for our wedding anniversary .......................... they were back over from Germany........... we got reacquainted ........ what a lovely start.

When we sat down for supper C and I were on the table opposite so we were able to spend the evening chatting .......... what a lovely start.

It was a set menu and I've known for weeks that the main course was Roast beef............... yup I haven't been able to face red meat for months but............... I decided that I wasn't going to ask for something else and that if the worst came to the worst I'd just have to apologise for leaving it.

.................. I didn't have to - it tasted amazing!

At midnight we drank pink champagne with C and I ............... Happy New Year 2014! .................. what a lovely start.

Now ................... I don't care what you think ............. most people think I'm eccentric and away with the fairies but after all the shit this year I think I'm entitled to be ................

On the strike of midnight someone opened the outside door and the lush cool air rushed in and I felt a huge weight lift from me and disappear ....................... I said she felt the same ........ kindred spirits maybe?? dunno ..... too much to drink? .... Not on her part that's for sure..........

I had hoped that the start of 2014 would feel different and that my mojo would come back but I hadn't expected it to happen straight away ..........

............. it really was like someone had waved a magic wand

So we stumbled into bed around 1am.......

And .................guess what??.....  bloody insomnia ruled!