These comments have left me rather bemused ... wondering whether I am now looking so good that people have forgotten what has featured during my year ... or (what is more likely) is that they have very short memories. You see, to be honest, I wouldn’t say this year has been totally plain sailing. Why not? Well, let's spend a moment flicking through my 2010 diary ...
January ... mmm ... that was when I had my seventh and final chemo. Moving onto February there were discussions about a mastectomy – something that I really didn’t want – though the ultrasound showed Yukky Lump had not totally disappeared or dispersed but had shrunk and a lumpectomy was indeed possible. In March I had surgery – including the removal of 11 nodes – which was thankfully successful, and finally seven months after my diagnosis I was told that at this moment in time I was cancer-free.
Moving onto May ... when I experienced the high of returning to work ... and the low of four weeks on my back enduring radiotherapy. June and August saw sunny spells in France ... with the final removal of my trademark Baker Boy caps ... coming back to discussions in September regarding further surgery. Then, in mid-November, I saw not one op but two ... asymmetrical surgery on my ‘other side’ and the abstraction of my ovaries. Following a few nail-biting weeks, when I was dreading further bad news, I was informed that the tissue removed had been tested and everything was looking good ... and I was finally done and dusted ... in time for the festive period and the New Year.
Last Christmas I spent a lot of time thinking about this Christmas ... and this Christmas I spent some time reflecting on last Christmas. Twelve months ago I wasn’t in a good place – not really mentally and definitely not physically. I had just received my sixth chemo – Taxotere number two – and the weird second wave of side effects were just kicking in. I probably could have endured the cardboard mouth and achy joints – but the sore throat, hacking cough, the loss of voice and the hideous rash were terrible. On Christmas Day family members cried when I walked into the room, I missed the Pigeon Pooh Crew Annual Festive Outing ... and by Boxing Day I was visiting the out-of-hours GP to discuss the possibility of being admitted to hospital so I could be treated with antibiotics.
During this horrid spell I remember sitting on my bed – feeling isolated and lonely – flicking through my Favourites and deciding to pop over to Alright Tit. Now, for those of you who have had some unfortunate experience of BC the chances are you will also know Lisa .... Lisa is the Queen of the BC blog world.
I came across Lisa very shortly after my own diagnosis and, although it sounds funny to say it now, I couldn’t bring myself to read large segments of her blog. It was so brutally honest and detailed there was only so much that my distraught emotional state could take, so I would read one entry, switch off and return at another point. However as time went on ... and as I came to terms with what I had ... and the treatment I was to receive ... I became a regular reader.
So what did Lisa have to say during the 2009 festive period? Well, she had posted a photo of herself and husband P. In fact two pictures. The first taken on a bus in London a week after her own diagnosis ... and then the second, more recent snap, captured on a boat on the Seine. She looked lovely in both. Not just lovely ... but happy... a girl that looked a picture of health and fitness ... who was having fun. Lisa’s accompanying commentary basically said “this was me then” and “this is me now ... we made it”.
So I dropped her a note (mine was one of 31 comments on that entry – I told you she is the Queen of blogs, I think the maximum I have attracted is half that number) and this is what I wrote:
Hey - that is just what I needed. I am having a totally shite time in the middle of this cancer crap - and Christmas crap. Gives me hope that one day I can truly smile again.Lisa’s pictures and lengthy personal response to my comment gave me inspiration and on my own blog this very day last year I said:
Love and hugs - P x
“I bought myself a camera for Christmas. I know, I already have a camera. But the camera I have is big and bulky ... in your face ... so I decided to purchase a little cutie which I can pop in to my back pocket. And it is pink! Yes, how girlie. Now, I am usually very practical with these things. Normally I would buy one in black ... or silver ... with view to the fact that once I have outgrown it then I can pass it on to one of my boys ... they are both broad minded and level headed but they don’t ‘do’ pink . But I didn’t this time. I just thought sod it. I want pink. I am having pink.
So far I have taken one picture with my new pinkie camera. Yep, just the one. Of what? Of me. Yes, rather surprisingly of me. Me, who hates having my pic taken at the best of times ... and this definitely ain’t the best of times. Now, don’t worry I am not gonna post it anywhere. Not yet anyway. I think the description above probably gives you a pretty good idea of what I look like at the moment. Perhaps the word ‘pretty’ isn’t the most appropriate word to use ...And so that is exactly what I am going to do ... what I promised a year ago today.
You know the last week has been really tough. The worst in terms of feeling physically poorly. I won’t lie ... there have been tears. But not that many really. Yeah, I got cheesed off ‘cos I wanted to enjoy Christmas Day. I didn’t want my children to wake up on their special day and see their mum looking and feeling so God damn awful. And all the nice things I had planned ... meeting up with my friends for brisk walks and leisurely lunches ... a Christmas party with colleagues ... have all been knocked on the head ... I was really disappointed about that. But mentally I could have been worse ... and am not quite sure why I wasn't ... why I haven’t dissolved in the middle of the kitchen floor. And the only thing I can put it down to is that I have felt so physically poorly that I couldn’t slip mentally ... ‘cos my mind and body would not be able to cope with both. Or perhaps when you feel so so bad that you know that the only way is up ... I dunno. So what has kept me going? Next Christmas. Yeah, I know, it sounds a bit odd. Especially from me ... who doesn’t really ‘do’ Christmas.
You know I mentioned that red silk dress of mine ... the one that I wore to the Christmas party last year. The one where my Little Friend said that I looked like Jessica Rabbit. Well, I have been thinking about that. Thinking about it a lot. And I have made a promise to myself ... that next Christmas I am going to be back in that dress ... and I ain’t going look like I did for Christmas 08 ... no, that is because for Christmas 2010 I am going look even better.
I am going to have the little pixie crop, just like I had done a week before my hair dropped out, and which everyone loved. My brows will be back ... and hopefully my beautiful long black lashes ... Oooh ... and as a treat ... I think I might buy some new cracking killer heels ... red of course. Then I will take a second photo with my little pinkie camera. And I will be able to say ... that was last Christmas ... poorly, blotchy and hairless ... but I made it ... just look at me now. I am back ..."
This is this time last year ...
And ... this is now ...
Me in a new red frock ... and new red shoes ... with that pixie hair cut ... with a celebratory glass of red. I hope you think I have "made it" ... and that it gives inspiration to anyone who is currently where I was this time last year.
I talked about rollercoasters in my very first ever Red Shoes Green Peppers blog ... so I think it is only fitting to refer to them in my very last.
Indeed life is a rollercoaster ... but I am getting used to riding it. In fact, I would say I am riding it bucking bronco style, one hand gripping and the other swinging, into 2011 ...
Appreciating that most women would not want to stand in my shoes ... but that there are a few out there which gladly would ...
Saying farewell to Red Shoes Green Peppers ...and possibly hello to Red Shoes Red Wheels ...
Someone out there knows what I am referring to ... the rest of you will just have to wait and see ...
In the meantime I would like to wish you a happy, healthy, fit and fun New Year!!!