Monday, 26 September 2011

Yeah! Another target met.

This weekend I was able to travel to Belgium for my cousin’s 70th birthday celebration. This was one of my targets that I posted about in my first blog entry. I really enjoyed myself (even if the marquee was freezing cold!). We stayed in a hotel in Ninove which is between Ghent and Brussels and travelled via Eurotunnel. I really do wish they could sort out the horrendous queues at the border control at Calais. It was great to meet up with people I hadn’t seen for a few years and I shared a good few laughs and reminiscences. I came away feeling buoyed up and ready to face what could be a potentially stressful week. I seem to be in a better place emotionally now and when leaving the party I did not wonder if I was actually saying good-bye to people for the last time. This is a big and positive step forward for me. So let’s see what changes this week will bring.
Having met one target I am now setting another – to take a short holiday somewhere warm for my birthday – end of October. I have a few places in mind but will need to wait until after my next assessment to do any booking. For most people, travel insurance is a fairly straightforward part of booking a trip. But for those affected by cancer, getting cover can prove extremely difficult, even if they have been free of cancer for a number of years. So a terminal diagnosis can be a nightmare insurance wise.  Since my diagnosis I have travelled to France a few times without additional ‘pre-existing medical condition’ cover. I travelled to Italy in May when I was only 2 months out of chemotherapy and the insurance was astronomical in fact more than the holiday! My recent trip to Canada for a longer period of time was far less on insurance because I had been out of chemo for 6 months and a letter from my consultant stated that in her opinion I would live for 6 months after the trip! I like to think this was an underestimate! I have pasted a few links which may be useful if you are planning a trip. Now where did I put those holiday brochures?
Thanks for popping by today. Tess x

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Put the kettle on mother!

Put the kettle on mother!
Have you noticed that a kettle is always up to its neck in hot water and still manages to sing!
Well maybe we should try and be bit more like that kettle! It is so easy for this awful disease to get  us really down and take us to dark places. If it is not the awful symptoms it’s the effects of treatment or the waiting for appointments or the subsequent waiting for results or the look in the eyes of loved ones – the fears and sadness that they try to hide from us. But all of this is so negative and does nothing at all to help the situation. I am one of the world’s worst worriers at the best of times and I have these periods of doubt, sadness, fear just like everyone else. The 3 a.m. gremlins are quite common visitors. Sometimes crying relieves a lot of the tensions (I should take out shares in Kleenex) and I do believe crying is good but other times I just give myself a good talking to, focus on something good in my life (and I have plenty), put on my big girls knickers and get on with it! Sometimes talking to others helps but sometimes I just want to keep things to myself. It is all OK. So I will now go and put on the kettle – I feel a song coming on.

Here are a few web links that may be useful.

Thanks for popping by today. Tess x

Monday, 19 September 2011

Eucalyptus and Lemon

Today I have been for an aromatherapy massage. Anything that helps me to be less stressed and more balanced has to be good. I was given details of the ‘Supportive Therapies Unit’ that is linked to Canterbury Hospital. This info was in my ‘Welcome Pack’ given to me on my first meeting with the oncology consultant. I have used their services many times over the course of the last year and have availed myself of Reflexology, Reiki as well as Massages. All very enjoyable! Shiatsu and Indian head massages were also available. Acupuncture was also on offer but for some reason I have gone off needles! So today the choice of oils was Eucalyptus and Lemon as the therapist thought I needed to be uplifted rather than relaxed. I think it is amazing how all these different essential oils have such different effects on one’s mood. The first 4 sessions were free for either myself as a cancer patient or for my husband who is my carer. Needless to say he refused! Subsequent treatments are at a subsidised fee. A friend who attends a large hospital in London has 12 free sessions!

I have copied this paragraph from the Cancer Research UK website

‘Many cancer clinics and hospitals in the UK now offer patients aromatherapy massages free of charge. So always ask your nurse or doctor if this is available where you are having your treatment. If not, they may be able to direct you to a voluntary organisation that offers complementary therapy treatments free or at a reduced cost. Look at our complementary therapy organisations page for organisations that can give you advice about where to get an aromatherapy massage.’

There is more info available on Complementary Therapies on the Macmillan website.

I was talking to another cancer patient who did not know of these services – she lives in a different Health Authority and she was delighted to find that such services were indeed available to her so maybe my blog entry today may help others too.

Thanks for popping by today. Tess x

Sunday, 18 September 2011


As you might imagine I have been researching widely on the net to find out more about this awful disease. One person I have been reading about is Graham Sherlock Brown. His PETAL philosophy for living with mesothelioma is a good one and one that would hold true for so many people living with major illnesses. This is briefly what his philosophy is about:

P = Positive attitude

E = Eating and exercising well

T =Targets

A = Adapting to change

L = Living your life

Please do a search on ‘PETAL philosophy’ to find out more.

Sometimes I find spending too much time searching ‘mesothelioma’ is so distressing. Reading about other meso fighters that have lost their battle to asbestos is heartbreaking. There are no really happy stories because you know there is not going to be a ‘lived happily ever after’. So we must make the most of each day as it comes. One saying I like is. 'Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today.' (attributed to James Dean). A lot of truth in that.

Well I had a blood test last week to check on kidney function before my next scan. The contrast medium they use is potentially harmful to the kidneys. I assume all was well as I received an appointment for my scan in the post this morning. Unfortunately the scan is a couple of days after my appointment with consultants so that will need to be changed! Ho Hum – these things are set to try us.

Thanks for popping by today. Tess x

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Walking like Frankenstein

Feeling more positive these days – my recent holiday certainly helped a lot – there were times when I really thought I would never meet my granddaughter Lilah and those times were hard. A positive development is that the peripheral neuropathy I was experiencing during and since the chemo has subsided – the powers that be said it would clear up in 6-12 months. It was very weird and at times frightening when my feet went red hot and heavy, then tingly, then numb and I went from walking like Frankenstein to wobbling like I’d hit the vino! Me! Drink wine! Never! So a new target for this weekend is to walk – probably along the prom as it is nice and flat.

My crafting activities are also keeping me out of mischief. Love playing with paper! I am making 2 scrapbooks chronicling the 1st year of my two grandchildren’s lives. As Ethan is fast approaching his first birthday I’d better get cracking! Another target is to enter at least 2 craft blog challenges a week – not so good at thinking ‘outside the box’ these days but I’m having fun. I even made my first Christmas card today! You may be interested in my crafty blog also. Here is the link.

Went out for lunch today – I really love going out to lunch! We went to the Ambrette – well worth a visit if you are ever in this neck of the woods.

So another good day today. Thanks for popping by. Tess x

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Reflective Mood

It was a year ago in September 2010 I was given the devastating news that I had terminal cancer. Mesothelioma. never heard of it! It is assumed that I was in contact with asbestos during my 32 years of science teaching in several schools during the 70's & 80s. My world stop turning. The prognosis was poor - weeks, months, possibly a year or two. But then things happened to keep me moving on - the unending support of my wonderful, truly amazing husband Alan, the arrival of my first grandson Ethan in October 2010 and then the arrival of my my first granddaughter Lilah in June 2011 in Toronto. The love shown to me by my two amazing sons and their wives keeps me thinking positively. Even in the darkest days when the chemotherapy was so difficult to cope with somehow we made it. Sometimes things get so overwhelming and tears are never far away but I have just returned from holiday in Canada with all my family - meeting my new granddaughter Lilah was so special - this really has been my holiday of a lifetime . I have called this blog 'Targets' because I have got through this first year by setting myself a series of short and longer term targets to strive for. So far I have been able to meet them all. So now I am on the next lot - to get to my cousins 70th birthday party in Belgium in a couple of weeks time, to be at my wonderful grandson's 1st birthday in October and to meet again with my son, daughter-in-law and beautiful granddaughter Lilah when they come to UK for Christmas. This will do to be getting on with. I will add more in due course. I have been inspired to start this blog by reading the blogs of other Mesowarriors - Mavis, Debbie, Ronny and others. I hope my friends and family will look in from time to time to see how I am doing - I appreciate how hard it is for them too - not knowing if I am OK or not. They have been a tremendous support.
Thanks for popping by today. Tess x