Here’s wishing everyone a very happy and healthy New Year – may 2013 be filled with all the things you wish for and none of the things you don’t…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Image: edited dom_perignon-Brand_advertising_wallpaper
This is an account or diary [sort of] by an ordinary woman, in an ordinary life, who suddenly found herself with ovarian cancer. How extraordinary! And rather startling to say the least. When I looked for information for myself, I couldn't find anything 'personal' by other ordinary women like me. Lots of info, but mainly medical facts and scary statistics. Then I discovered blogs. This might cheer up or help other people like me to see there can be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Here’s wishing everyone a very happy and healthy New Year – may 2013 be filled with all the things you wish for and none of the things you don’t…
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
Image: edited dom_perignon-Brand_advertising_wallpaper
This evening, I feel very close to death.
Not because I am ill – although I am, I have the stupid virus. Stomach ache. Bone pain. Headache.
But I know very well I will recover.
I feel close because I am thinking too much
Note to self; stop thinking.
lots of us – cancer survivors – trying to be ‘normal’. Oh that’s so never going to happen is it? I am now ALMOST at the 5 year deadline. February 2013 I will have been diagnosed exactly 5 years ago. Amazing, sad and scary what can happen in 5 years. Some things you never recover from. Some of those things are nothing to do with cancer at all.
But a cancer diagnosis can wreck your life, and the lives of those around you. Simply through misunderstandings – through people just not ‘getting it’. And why should they? If you haven’t HAD cancer, it’s impossible to understand the impact it has. Psychologically and physically.
But also amazing, fun and brilliant too! Incredible how many wonderful people I have met and things I have done. My treatment finished in August 2008 – so for me and my cancer team, the ‘five year deadline’ is August 2013.
My life, and my husband’s life, were both devastated by my cancer diagnosis – I lost my freelance contract because I couldn’t travel, and went from Mrs Prada-Handbag to Mrs Cleaning Chalets-For-A-Living. Oh scrubbing floors was such a joy. Not. I went from earning a rather nice wage to earning the ‘minimum salary’ or less? For the maximum work I might add.
But at least I COULD work. I was and am, so grateful for that. Many people couldn’t have done what I could do at that point. Not because I am better than them in any way – simply because, physically, it was extremely demanding, and physically, I could do it. And again, I was lucky, as I was able to take a circuit training class, and eventually beat the physical weakness following chemo.
I also went from ‘lots of’ friends to ‘different’ friends. I went from being one kind of person to a ‘different’ kind of person…according to some…the mortgage, pension and sundry other things all went by the wayside. Life became a game of credit cards.
I am so grateful for the fact that I am now back to running my own freelance graphic design house. Mad hours, mad everything – but wonderful after 4 years of struggling, networking and wishing…I am finally getting back on my feet. So, cancer – up yours!! I WILL beat you. You bitch.
I know. Blah – sorry about not posting. I AM alive! AND kicking! Doing another of these mad cycles next year – 400km across Cuba this time. Uff.
Life is chaotic – I'm sure you all have the same problem. Going to do this, going to do that – in a minute; after I do THIS [which is urgent] and after that. Everything is URGENT – particularly in the world of print/publishing. People seem to think that they can give you a [publisher / word / Coleslaw = CorelDraw] file one day, and that, as a graphic designer you will magic it to be 500 printed fliers within two days…well. Never gonna happen. But what DOES happen is the graphic designer gets totally stressed and calls about 90 printers, the printers go bonkers and send demented quotes and the client – well, they go out for lunch and enjoy a nice glass of Chablis and a salmon fishcake…
Which is precisely what I did today! I am usually a non-luncher – which is to say I normally eat something over the keyboard and quickly at that. Today however, I went straight from a client meeting at 9.00 to an exhibition [such as it was] at 11.00 – in between I did an 'urgent' car sales advert, found my cats and applied some makeup. Ugh. Frenzy for a person with the residuals of chemo brain.
Then, after the 'exhibition', a friend of mine, whom I went to said exhibition with, said we should go to lunch. I nearly said no, but then had a wild moment and said yes. I am so glad I did – what a delightful change! We sat in the window of the hotel, had a drink apiece and a light lunch. Met the friends charming son, and planned his future :) It really made a nice day.
Thanks Shaun for that – some little things can make your whole week different. And another absolutely fabulous thing – one of my clients MIGHT sponsor my event t-shirts! Getting on that tomorrow, but seems he might pay for production if his logo is all over the back – bring it on! Logos of whoever – who cares? ..if they generate funds? bring 'em on!!
"Look at this shit" – and I quote from here because I totally love this post.
October is breast cancer awareness month. PLEASE try to avoid the 'pink' crap, and instead promote actual/real awareness by telling your friends how to check their breasts [men as well] and how to give practical support to women & men who have / had breast cancer.
Researching this is easy. Get your ass on Google – first lesson: do NOT tell cancer patients to 'be positive' – just a warning, so you don't end up with a hot waffle iron to the face ;) They WILL be positive…in their own time. But it takes time. And it isn't helped by [well-meaning] people TELLING them they SHOULD be positive. Quite often, you just can't. Losing your hair, going through painful treatment, gaining weight through steroid treatment and knowing you may die are quite off putting when it comes to the 'being positive' stuff.
Breast cancer is NOT about 'pink' trowels. It's not about pink shirts/shoes/hats/dollies/M&M's or Kentucky Fried Chicken!
It's about pain, loss and devastation [none of which are particularly pink!]
DO help by being proactive and spreading a sensible message. A colour or an obscure Facebook message about where you keep your bloody handbag / hat / heart / whatever the fuck, does NOT define, explain or help people to be aware of the symptoms of this disease. And the saddest thing is that even by being aware, it doesn't help – breast cancer can strike even the healthiest people – it just does. Sort of like any cancer really. BUT by checking, you may be diagnosed early, which can help your survival rate enormously.
Please promote awareness of the symptoms of breast cancer by telling women and men HOW to check for it. Simple yes? You'd think so. There is an awareness pack here. It has a lot of 'pink' stuff all over it – ignore that nonsense and READ the information.
There is an excellent blog post here, all about why 'pink' is so totally ridiculous [do read it – very interesting] I particularly liked the bit where he says:
Being aware of the hazards of shoving a spindle up your ass and lighting your clothes on fire while smacking people in the face with a hot waffle iron and singing “Kumbaya” in a falsetto voice… well, you get the idea. Prevention is the key reason for awareness.
Oh, and if you read the post AND the comments; it's apparent that 'pink' is totally sickening to the majority. Pink? No. Remove it from my sight please. Information? Yes – bring it on…
I am very afraid of breast cancer. It is closely linked to ovarian. Happily, I had a physical check up recently and I am fine. Just waiting for the scan results now…waiting. It's really not good for the 'positivity' factor. So; no-one best be telling me to be positive – 'ware that waffle iron!
This is the story of my dear friend Gaynor Hall. The girl with the glorious smile.
Gaynor died of ovarian cancer not too long ago and is sorely missed. This book is written by her sister, Jill Herring. It contains advice that could be very helpful to women in treatment. I haven't read it yet, but I've downloaded it to my trusty Kindle. I will read it when I have taken enough calming breaths.
"This is a true story based on Jill and her late sisters experience of ovarian cancer. It is a guide about the things they learned along the way, the do's and the don'ts, some helpful hints, questions that should have been asked and questions that should have been answered. What to do and when to do it, when is 'enough' and when to look elsewhere."
I am raising money for ovarian, cervical and breast cancer research. Please donate if you can – every penny really does help. I need to raise a minimum of K3 to qualify to do the 400km across Cuba in 2013.
And noooo – this is NOT a 'jolly'! Getting up at 5.00 in the morning to cycle up and down hills all day for 5 days on the trot; staying in a different place every night [it's sort of: pack, cycle, unpack, pack, cycle, unpack - daily!]…is fun, but it's tough. As it should be, or how could we ask for sponsorship? Rest assured - we do earn our sponsorship money :) So if you can, please spare a bit of cash for my Cuba fund? Thanks!
Last weekend we did our third 100km cycle of the year in the Cotswolds. It turned out to be 67miles! It's a brilliantly organised ride for the Shakespeare Hospice, and the Kenya girls use it as a 'meeting up' ride and for training. It's through incredibly picturesque countryside, and has some MONSTER hills. But, stupidly, I didn't train well this time, so I really didn't enjoy the cycling as much as usual. BUT we made it and got our next medal! If the FH hadn't been with me I probably would have sloped off into the nearest pub after 30 miles. My knee was agony, and I had lost the will to pedal for the last 10 miles.
This is before the cycle, quite chilled at the Youth Hostel – I was slightly more frazzled AFTERWARD, as I'd had no sleep as well as no training. A lot of noisy Americans arrived home at 2.00 in the morning and proceeded to bellow merrily until 3.00. Happily, they went instantly silent upon a polite request from me. Impressive manners – I'm sure they thought they were the only people staying there? Who knows…I got about 3 hours sleep.
And here's a bit of fun – featured below with my fellow survivor, Michelle, in the Ovarian Cancer Action newsletter! A bit about the Kenya cycle. Another one of those where I read the text and thought 'eh? I didn't say that!'. I think I said far too much and they had to précis it to fit just some of my waffle in…
And here is another friend, Tracey [her blog is HERE], in the papers! I know we probably seem a tad tedious, banging on about cancery stuff – but if ONE woman's life is saved through her reading about the symptoms in the paper or in a newsletter or magazine, or seeing us cycling past in the middle of the jungle and wondering 'WHY' enough to enquire…well, that's gotta be good eh?
I waited just 7 days [which seemed like 10 years] for my CT scan result – but well worth the wait, as my scan is clear. I had an after hours call from my lovely nurse, Gail [Mr Renninson is on his hols] – first thing she said after letting me know who she was is that she had GOOD news. What a pro :) The instant one hears that it's 'The Hospital' – well, the brain goes haywire. Waiting for results makes ones head a gigantic maelstrom – so, 'good news' was a great thing to hear.
If it had been bad news I would have had to ask her to call back when the FH was home. Nothing like bad news about a cancer thing to make one's mind a complete blank.
BUT! Seems my CT scan is completely cancer free. Rah!!
So I am off to the GP like everyone else, to see what the hell is going on with my back. I have been wondering if I have early Osteoarthritis - maybe due to the chemo which can exacerbate that kind of crap. It's in the family and the chemo amplifies any existing problem, so, better to try find treatment now? Or at east know what to do that will help NOT have this. OR, better yet, I have a muscle problem from sitting in the wrong position on my bike ;)
But in the meantime - bloody brilliant result eh?? Chuffed!
Oh, and one more medal for the [terrifyingly manic and traffic infested] Nightrider – and then, 10 days later we did the rather hilly Force 100km challenge – so, another medal :) I am Mrs Medal heh heh – amazed! Here we are at the end, looking rather windswept and interesting…
Well, this is your chance to do just that for a fiver!
As everyone no doubt has gathered by now, I am doing another fund raising / awareness raising / crazy making CYCLE! This time, 400km across the island of Cuba in October 2013. In order to qualify to go, I have to raise a MINIMUM of £2800.00. ALL the funds go to Ovarian Cancer Action, Jo's Cervical Trust and Breast Cancer care. This is my first proper stab at fund raising this year.
This is a FABULOUS prize, kindly donated by a member of the public. South West Balloon Flights have also donated some champers for the trip; LOVELY!! :)
If you'd like some tickets, please READ the poster below, and you can either send me a cheque [made out to 'Women v Cancer'], drop the cash in OR put the money in my justgiving page, with a message saying how many lots of £5 you want to buy [five tickets for a fiver]. I will then put your name and address on the tickets and let you know the numbers. [which will be random].
The tickets are sold as strips of 5, so a £5 minimum spend. But for a champagne balloon flight for two? That's SUCH a bargain! BUY BUY!! Raffle ends Friday 13th July 2012!!
Please either comment here for more info, or find me on Twitter here and ask. The raffle will end on Friday 13th July 2012. I will announce the winner here, on twitter and on facebook. And I'll get in touch directly.
Thanks for reading! Please share with anyone who might like this prize – it'd make a fab gift too!
Today was Father's Day. I feel like I shouldn't be this sad, because lots of other people are sad too, so why should I be special? But I AM sad. I miss my Dad. He was a sweetie. I still can't believe he's gone – dead, unreachable. It makes me feel sick thinking about it, so I don't. Think about it. Much. If I can help it. Because it causes a massive pain somewhere in the middle of me. But Father's Day is rammed down one's throat every which way; email, marketing, adverts…it's hard to ignore.
So. Dad. Love you – miss you.
I'll NEVER forget you. My memories of you are all good. Rudyard Kipling; the Jungle book - Winnie the Pooh, bike riding, your rescuing me from sleep walking down the road, drawing, projects, fried bread, killing spiders in New Guinea, discussions about work, discussions about life….
I wish I had told you.
Here we are – that's not actually all of us. But it's most of us! Charlotte, Juliette, Julia, Helen, Mazerati, Rachel and I. All of us did Kenya and it was lovely to get together again. MIA are Lorraine, Julie, Richard, Delyth and a few others that had wandered off.
Richard, Julie and I started the day in a rather novel fashion. Julie managed to get a fellow to GIVE us a van [yay that fellow & Julie's powers of persuasion!], plus a tank of petrol to transport us and our bikes to London. We need rather a large vehicle, as Richard has a tandem. So, all organised the day before – 11.30 ETD and we were all packed and ready. But the van broke. Hmm. Panic stations – but a new one was organised and we were off! Three and a half hour trip, including collecting Laurence from Heathrow, who flew in from Switzerland [I think] for the ride. We stuffed him unceremoniously in the back with the bikes for the last 50 minutes – poor fellow. In the dark! But he had coffee, sandwiches and Julie's head lamp, so he survived. I am wondering what the CCTV chaps at the airport thought…kidnapping?
We went off at 00.30, about 75 of us. And promptly got lost. ALL of us! Quite chuckalicious, as we were still fresh, so going down and then up three extra hills didn't seem too drastic at the time. The signage for this ride was NOT very good. Green plastic with black text. NOT luminous. Ok in daylight, but try and find one of those at night in the middle of sign infested London whilst watching out for buses, taxis, drunk people and massive potholes [who knew? roads are worse than Kenya!]…suffice to say, lots of people got lost. Happily, there were so many of us  that eventually everyone found someone else.
There was a marked lack of marshals too.
Having found our way back onto the route, we were off! Again! And it was fun! But exhausting- we didn't factor in the 3 billion sets of traffic lights – literally stop start stop start all the way. About 90% of the lights were red…so our overall time was terrible, but it isn't a race, it's a team effort. The first half we did an average of 4 miles an hour…the second half [after 4.30 when everyone was off the roads apart from us and a few random prostitutes – who, by the way, cheered us on thinking we were Olympic cyclists :) ] was better – about 10 mph.
This is Regents Street at 3.30 in the morning! Buses, cars, taxis, and the Pedicab Rickshaws. They take up the entire cycle lane [when there is one] and drive like maniacs. This was manic. The level of concentration required was high, so it was more tiring than a normal cycle. London is NOT cycle friendly.
Back to the cycle – the break stops were not the best. Usually there are bananas, fruit and cake – stuff to eat that fuels you but also tastes nice. This lot had those horrific corn chips that kids eat [they were in the shape of ghosts for heavens sake! what? yuck!], and energy bars covered in chocolate. Ugh. Lots of water though. And lovely friendly people to help if you needed it.
The main break in the middle was shocking – bendy pre-packed sandwiches. A choice of ham and tomato on dry brown bendy bread, or cheese and tomato on dry white bendy bread. Hmm, what to do? Mainly, choke it down! And we had to pay a pound for a coffee or tea. After paying £99 to do the cycle?? Lots of rather startled cyclists. Plus only ONE chuck wagon to deal with 3000 cyclists? Poor women were run ragged – they did their best, but it was bad planning. Look – yum eh?
At about 4.30 in the morning, the sun started to rise – it was amazing. All night we were lucky with the weather. It was warm enough. No rain! With sunrise it got very cold, but still not unbearable – and the Thames was incredible! We gave the third break stop a miss [please – no more revolting ghost chips!] and took a break on the bridge – brilliant [no corn chips was a bonus]. The skyline is wonderful.
At this point we were a tad delirious…check out the Shard! To the right of Helen, who rather resembles a delirious 'X'
Cycling round London is fabulous – you see so much that is impossible to see from a car, and cover lots more ground than you would on foot. The idea of this cycle is great, but the organisation en route needs some tweaking. If I hadn't been with my friends I don't think I'd have made it round – the last bit being the worst as it was a massive hill back to Alley Pally. Here I am with Maz egging me on, I cannot believe I am laughing! I couldn't see where I was going, as the sweat was pouring into my eyes. I didn't dare raise a hand to wipe it away, in case I just stopped and fell over! But we made it – no walking, we cycled the lot. All 76 miles!
One highlight was my lovely friends Jack and Bill came to see me in at the finish line!! I was so touched – hope you had a fab birthday Bill, and that the 75 baked potatoes were all ok. Thank you both for being there. It meant a lot!!
In conclusion – it was brilliant to do this ride, and we're all very pleased we did it. We enjoyed most of it - but none of us want to do it again. At the end, when one should go and grab a bacon bap and celebrate, there was a 90 person queue and they actually ran out of food. Same single chuck wagon. Silly. To say the least. Back to the Plastic sandwiches, which, by now, were decidedly sweaty…ugh. BIN!! So we were starving. The medics had gone home by 9.30 too. Not the best form, as there were still a lot of people coming in an hour later.
Charlotte, Lorraine, Julia and I then had to cycle back to the B&B! We were cold, tired, starving and grimy. But amazingly, we were still cheerful! Another 4km…thank goodness for Charlotte, or we'd probably still be at the finish line. Thanks Char!! And thanks London for having us and not killing us.
Off for my CT scan tomorrow - another early start. I think I need a week of sleep to recover. No such luck, as the appointment is at 9.15. No eating. Then contrast fluid which tastes disgusting, then a wait, the the scan. Oh joy – but I'm glad to be having it, as the little niggles are becoming bigger. THEN the wait for results…ugh. That's the bit that sucks.
But I am thinking on the positive side – after all, I did manage to cycle 76 miles this weekend. And I am cycling another 100km for Force on the 24th. I feel ok, so let's hope it's a trip to the osteo that's needed and nothing else eh?
Thanks for the photos Helen and thanks for the support girls! Roll on the Shakespeare Ride!
ugh! Next Saturday I am cycling 100km around London. In the dark. As you do. IF you're bonkers. Starting at 12.30 at night and ending at breakfast time —whatever time that may be, as it will be when we finally huff and puff our weary way back to Ally Pally!
We do a massive sort of figure of 8 around London, passing all the cool things...the London Eye, Westminster, Canary Wharf, the Emirates Stadium, Camden Lock [which, for some odd reason, I absolutely love!], Regents Park, Hyde Park, the Royal Albert Hall, Covent Garden [we can pop in for a pasty there I think!] – the Oval, the Houses of Parliament…on and on. We will really be doing the Tourist Trail! Expect lots of barmy photos :)
We will watch sun rise over the landmarks & bridges of the Thames! Cool or what??
Here's a map if you're remotely interested ;)
So, we have been training. Last week I think we cycled about 85 miles. Not all in one go, but nonetheless – it's a good amount as we need 'butt in saddle' time. I am still having the stupid backache, and on hills it's torture, as I usually stand in the pedals. But hey ho – too bad. I am SO going to do this!
See above for a pic of the route – it's the same as the map, but if you don't fancy the map link, there you go. And check THIS out :) We are on the Alley Pally site!
So, lots of cycling. And this weeks post has been rather frightful, as the first letter to arrive was my CT scan date, the second was a date for a mammogram – hmm. Lots of nuking this month. Rather hair raising. But it's the 'waiting for results' that is really hair raising. I think it's going to be a LOOONG month! Poor old FH is going to be living with the Bitch from Hell.
Today's 34 mile cycle was 'Interesting' to say the least – I had my THIRD puncture this month!! Unreal! A sharp piece of metal stabbed my tyre [last time it was a piece of shale], but handily, Richard had absolutely everything to hand – including a plastic basin to fill with water to find the leak in the inner tube. Brilliant – he fixed it, and off we went. Hacker; the Secret Weapon!
Tomorrow we are supposed to do the same run, but as it's raining stair rods, we don't think so. Just need to do one more long ride before the Nightrider though. Hopefully the weather will clear for ONE evening this week.
Then, two weeks later, I am doing the Force cycle.
Yes. I know. I've lost the plot! But it's all good training for Cuba!
Recently I have been useless at blogging. Confidence in what I am saying and why = zero. This seems to be a common thread across my life right now. And I am determined to resolve it. Joining the jolly old BNI being one way of regaining some confidence. At least in the work area. And to be honest, BNI is really helping. I didn't think it would – but seems I am wrong about quite a few things lately!
Strange that it took very little to make me think this blog was worthless and that I shouldn't bother. Even stranger; initially I wrote the blog, not for me, [oops – that's a lie – I did write it for me. Self therapy – and oh yes, it works!] but more so for women like me who were looking for something on the internet that didn't tell them they should immediately 'Get God' [no insult implied – merely a term intended for the rather deranged out there who think if you Get God instantly, you will be cured. Er – no.] or that they were immediately, if not sooner, going to DIE. I forgot my place. I forgot that it doesn't matter WHAT people think of me, actually.
IF THIS BLOG SAVES ONE WOMAN'S LIFE I shall be reprieved [oh and doesn't THAT sound trite? But it's true]. If it helps ONE woman deal with her diagnosis in a more informed manner, I shall be grateful.
Well, I have now recalled my place in the scheme of things. This blog is for me, as a therapeutic exercise, and for all the women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and are frightened. It is so frightening.
I am still frightened. I am waiting for a CT scan – frightening.
It's here simply so that those women can read it and sigh with relief. IF they want to. No, you do NOT have to become a Born Again Christian [although, if that helps, why not?]. No, you do not have to read this blog. No, you do not have to take the stats into account. Why bother?
And no, you are not necessarily going to be dead in 4 years [hello statistic people – we say STICK it, you Doomsayers!] and no, losing your hair isn't the end of the world, even though it really DOES feel like it is when it happens.
The last few weeks have made me think again. Four women, and two women's sons [imagine that!] have been in touch. Through this blog. Saying that the blog has helped them [all new diagnoses – IS that the plural of diagnosis?] and that it has been useful. So. Yay. Maybe I will be a little more proactive blog-wise again. We will see.
The main reason I am posting this evening is because I have NEVER been more grateful for the NHS than when someone shows me a blog like this; Jen Thompson's blog. She has ovarian cancer. Have a read – the photos are fab! Maybe give a donation to help her survive. Can you imagine that? Having to ask people to donate money or meals so that you can live? Is this civilised? No. No it's not.
This is Jen. Voted Woman of the Year by the Source Weekly, an edgy weekly magazine in her area. 'Highlighting some important issues and bringing the ovarian ick, to the surface.' Ick? Yeah.
I really do thank God for the NHS. I would probably become one of those crazy people that plan assassinations if there were ever a time we would lose it. I didn't have a single worry about my treatment. It was all on the NHS. Yes, I have paid my stamp – but it was never a lot. And what I paid has been reciprocated tenfold. If not more. I have had chemo, surgery, anaesthesia – scans. All paid for. I didn't have to ask people for help fund me to survive. I didn't have to ask people to feed me. My only worries were my immediate self [and when you get cancer – boy oh boy, that is all you think about!!]
So please, if you can, donate either a meal, or a little money to this young woman. She so desperately needs help. If we don't help, the System she lives under will simply allow her to die. And that's what is so horrific – the inhumane 'allowing'. There are treatments that could save her. IF she had the money. So let's help her get the bloody money!! And bloody it is.
Confucius says - “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest."
So much has been experienced by me; and hardly any of it has anything to do with cancer. But the cancer. Bitter? Isn't it? No. Bitterness eats us. But it IS infuriating. And Sad. So we have sadness…guilt. And rage.
And we have happiness, peace and love. Personally I prefer the latter :)
So now just to await the scan. And it's results.
well, we've started at last! just did a 32 mile round trip to Budleigh - the same training ride as I did for the Kenya cycle. We did this a few weeks back but then went into hibernate mode. Bloody British weather – grr. Rain rain, sleet, wind…I ask you.
The London Nightrider is only 100km but it starts at 12.35 on the 9/10 June 2012 [after midnight] with a big fat hill, and ends who knows when? But with yet another big fat hill to climb at the very end. Oh joy. But we will have brekkie at Westminster no matter what though! Keep your fingers crossed that it doesn't rain.
IN THE MEANTIME…MORE CYCLING!
Plus more WORRYING. Check up coming up soon. Why does it never get easier – why don't I get used to it? I suppose because every single time, it could mean the beginning of the end? Feeling like I have lots of 'symptoms' too - low back pain all the time, odd attacks of nausea….total exhaustion some days. Hey ho – we will see what we will see eh? In the meantime, cycle cycle cycle!
Why is it that candles always have more wax than wick? Life is full of these little random questions isn't it? While you're waiting for the bus, having your hair done, getting the washing out of the machine...the brain is constantly asking asking asking - it needs to know. Which can be rather exhausting, depending on your brain.
Mine for example, never stops - I am not sure if it's because I am an artist or if if it's because I am inquisitive. Perhaps a combination of the two? Maybe everyone's brain is like this? Either way, my brain never ever stops. Even when I am asleep it is churning away, presenting me with astounding nightmares, amazing dreams and shockingly realistic scenarios...which I sometimes wake up thinking are real. Ugh!
The last few weeks have been a frenzy as usual - March was ovarian cancer awareness month, and of course we all try our best to get info 'out there'. And I did. Try my best.
Now it's April. Already! I haven't been doing much training as the weather has been ghastly. Oops. Not good and making me worried - I really want to enjoy the Nightrider. Best get cracking eh?
Well, I was getting more and more nervous about appearing on 'Lorraine' tomorrow, but they shelved it! The girls at Ovarian Cancer Action, the girls in the Facebook group and I were a bit disappointed at missing a good opportunity for the awareness campaign, but actually I was quite relieved - live telly? Scary!
So another day maybe. Apparently we are 'on file'. And I was trying to post this here yesterday but YouTube was being awkward...
This was outside the Port Royal after our cycle. Making the most of the beautiful weather! The swan was not impressed at our invasion of his space.
Today the FH and I did 17.5 miles/av. sp 12.5mph / mx sp. 26mph [love those down hills! hate those UP hills!]- ended up at the Imperial after the proper cycling, which was amazing! Full of chirpy students and really sunny :)
Then we nipped in to the Port Royal Best to see Carlos on the way home...lots of swans there & more sunshine...a really nice afternoon. A bit of 'we don't care' cycling ;)
NOT the best training day, as wine and cycling don't really mix, but hey ho - as we are expecting SNOW we thought we'd make the best of the sunny weather while we could after we'd done a few miles. Sitting next to the canal in the sun is one of the fab bonuses of living in Exeter. Plus we have excellent cycle paths!
Which today were full of people with kids. Either the parents don't teach the kids left from right [as in: STAY TO THE LEFT you small person! Oh, and you large person!] or the kids just don't pay attention grr - I have smashed my knee a good one today, avoiding a tiny girl on a scooter. She went bumbling casually right across the path, and I nearly drove into her. Shock horror and cursing. I jumped off the bike just in time, bashing my knee a good one in the process...the little girl was a darling - she turned back and said: 'I'm so sorry' - bless her... Wasn't really her fault - she's a child, and children don't understand about big fat adults zooming toward them on unwieldy bikes! But it would have been rather nice if her parents had explained to her about staying on the LEFT!! Stupid parents.
So my knee is now twice it's usual chubby size and hurts like a very hurty thing. I am sure it'll be a lovely shade of black and blue tomorrow. Great!
What a week. I went to my BNI meeting on Wednesday and after being unmercifully ragged about the YOU magazine article, one of the members blurted out privately to me that a friend of his had died that week of ovarian cancer - in one week! And just before her wedding.
I almost threw up in his lap. He was sitting next to me. Fortunately I didn't but it was a close call. My skin went cold - horrible. It was 7.00 in the morning! It turns out that the woman in question had had ovarian cancer 4 years back, and been in chemo ever since. Her story is here. It's tragic. But I was relieved when I read it - sad to say but I felt better knowing she hadn't been killed by this in only a week - that would have been too much...
Other friends in the OC facebook group are going through hell. Rising CA 125's, CT scans...random things that are scary to say the least. They are my friends. It's hard to read their messages and not want to jump or a plane or train and go and see them...sadly, it's not possible. And it's hard to deal with. I just want them all to be well. Or at the very least, to achieve remission for some time.
And that's the worst thing - some women never get into remission. That so sucks!! And that's why I am so concerned with raising funds for research!
I get the impression that some people have the idea that I am 'self aggrandising' with all this 'Awareness' stuff [radio, TV, newspaper etc] - just for them/you to know; I would rather have never ever been heard of by anyone than have had cancer.
But as I HAVE had it, and as it may kill me eventually, I WILL take every opportunity to raise awareness, and I WILL try to get it out there as much as I can. Think what you want - as long as there's a chance of even ONE woman being saved/warned/woken up - I will be there.
This is not about 'me' - this is about what I can do to help by being out there. And I am simply trying my best to do just that. Things like live TV terrify me - but I will do it, because an ordinary person like me could just make someone think that 'one' thought that may save her life.
I hope to help women like me - women who have no IDEA about this insidious disease. Women who could survive a diagnosis if they get diagnosed early enough.
So, no, it's not about me - it's about being AWARE!!
Photo courtesy of http://www.adriansherratt.com/
This is Lily and me....Lily not too impressed with being photographed as you can tell from her grumpy expression! But I've put this on the blog simply to say thank you to Adrian Sherratt for sending me some of the pics from the photo-shoot for the Mail on Sunday You magazine article. See his site. Good photographer! He actually managed to make me look normal ;)
Apart from running around like a chicken with it's head chopped off trying to grow my freelance graphic design business, I am mainly trying to do as much for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month as possible, plus start training for The Nightrider and start the fund raising for the Cuba Cycle 2013. At the moment, that amounts to selling some Havaianas! Best get cracking...
Two weeks ago, on a whim, we did the 'Home to Budleigh and Back' route with Rick and Julie [they ride a tandem], which is about 37 miles. This was the first cycle I have done since the Kenya Cycle in October 2011!
I was fine...until the next day when I felt like I'd been hit by a Mack truck!
So this week we started a training 'plan' - 11 miles a day [weather permitting] Alphington to the Turf Locks. That's the Plan for this week, then add two hills to that next week to make it harder [and further]. Then we'll do the 'Home to Budleigh and Back' round trip at weekends. Plus I need to get back to spinning once a week! Groan...thank God for the FH or I'd never achieve anything!
Cycles I am doing this year so far:
The Nightrider [100 km] - 9 /10 June 2012
The Force Century Challenge [100km] - 24 June 2012
The Great Shakespeare Ride [100km] - 12 August 2012
A cycle in Manchester in October - no idea what or when!
This is to try to keep up a modicum of fitness so that training for Cuba next year isn't a total nightmare!
Feeling very nervous about appearing on 'Lorraine' next week Tuesday, but hey ho - if it helps raise awareness of this stupid disease, bring it on! I had a horrible experience this morning. Someone told me that a friend of theirs had been DX with OC, then died within a week. That completely spazzed me out for the rest of the day. But, he also said his Mum had been OC FREE for for 8 years...yay! A little less stressful.
Oh, and I really need to do my garden!!
If you would like to help me raise money for research into Ovarian, Cervical and Breast cancers, please donate here? Thank you :)
And by that I mean how silly that it's only ONE month - we need to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer ALL YEAR. All the time.
I have been pretty busy - did the first training ride for the Nightrider a few weeks back - 36 miles. Nearly had a heart attack! Started serious training today with an 11 mile round trip to the Turf Locks. Much more sensible! So, we've started, now we'll get out as much as possible and build up to the 100km in June. Boom boom!
It's been an excellent month for us as far as 'Getting the Word About' goes. I was on Sky News, looking rather demented I might add, but it seems I got the message across ok. Live TV? Shriek! It's quite scary and I so admire all those women who manage to look so fab and so calm! I am NOT posting the footage! I spent the whole interview squinting!
Julie was in our local paper, the Express & Echo, at the launch of a £10m collaboration between Cancer Research UK and Tesco.
Ovarian Cancer Action were chosen as the 'Vitality' shows 2012 beneficiary charity at Earl's Court. The Vitality Show is the UK's largest health, beauty, fitness and wellbeing event for women. Featuring VIP makeovers, hair and massage experiences, free cooking demos, health advice, free fitness classes and seminars, etc.etc. A big event - let's hope it raised lots of money for research.
Ovacome teamed up with OPI to launch Teal Tips: an initiative to encourage women to wear teal coloured nail polish and prompt awareness of the fourth most common cancer affecting women in the UK. Teal is the recognised colour for ovarian cancer.
OPI and Ovacome hope that by wearing the polish, women will get their friends and colleagues talking about the disease and its symptoms.
OPI’s UK distributor, Lena White, is donating £1 to Ovacome for each bottle of its Ski Teal We Drop shade. It sells during March in upmarket outlets such as Harrods, Selfridges and John Lewis as well as salons and spas throughout the country. RESULT!
This weekend the article came out in the You magazine in the Mail on Sunday, featuring Yours Truly and two other women who have had ovarian cancer - quite a few of the facts were muddled - the 400km cycle became a 240km cycle [all the cycle girls would have loved that!] and I am now 48, which is excellent! Two extra years, gratis!
Friends have remarked that this article has been commented on by women they know, so another good result. The more women who KNOW the symptoms of ovarian cancer, the better. For those we've lost and those still to be diagnosed, this is so important.
And, imagine this! This morning I had a call from Ovarian Cancer Action about appearing on 'Lorraine' next week Tuesday, followed by another call from a lovely woman who works with the program, to try and arrange things.
This is a terrestrial TV program on ITV! Massive audience of mainly WOMEN for this program - yippee! It's not 100% definite, as TV people change things last minute, but so far, so good. I am nervous of course, but what a fabulous opportunity to get info out there - well impressed :) The FH will be coming with me to London, and it should be an interesting day all round. So fingers crossed it comes off.
One last thing - see the BEAT tracker. Just for info. And, if any of you would like to help me raise money for research into Ovarian, Cervical and Breast cancers, please donate here?
Thank you very much. The smallest amount makes all the difference to women diagnosed in the future, and women who have recurrence...we desperately need more funding for research.
It has been estimated that the lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer [in 2008] is 1 in 54 for women in the UK.
ONE in FIFTY FOUR!!
Please help if you can?
See here for a map of the Cuba cycle.
Flight : London to Havana [Jose Marti International Airport]
9 hours and 30 minutes – see customs regs here
Met by a local guide, transferred to a hotel in the Miramar District.
Event briefing and buffet dinner.
Warm Up Ride [approximately 30km]
Early start – 6.00 [not too bad!], bike fitting after brekkie [taking my trusty saddle!], then a tour of Havana on our bikes! 1st Avenue to La Puntilla where we will stop to regroup, then continue toward Bosque Metropolitano which follows the banks of the Almendares River. Then a sharp uphill to Nuevo Vidado, to Revolution Square with the iconic images of Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and José Martí. I can't wait to see those!
From here we cycle down Pseo toward the sea, then cut back up into Central Havana, then directly to the Capitolio building and Parque Central.
Then we take the long route round past the main railway station to the Harbour, to have lunch at the waterfront El Patio restaurant. Looks great but we will probably be half dead by then!
Transfer to Varadero for dinner and overnight. [lots of snoring on the bus]
Varadero to Baños de Elguea (approximately 94km)
An early start [ugh] setting off for Baños de Elguea - cycling through the resort and then passing through Cardenas and then heading East. Through farming communities providing us with an insight into how the Cuban rural heartland works. A relatively flat and well paved route, but plenty of kilometres to pedal! Stop for a quick lunch along the way, and check into the Spa Hotel at Baños de Elguea. Basic but clean accommodation, built around thermal springs – yay! We can chill there and recover from the days ride.
Dinner at the hotel. [plus speeches and random encouraging stuff]
Baños de Elguea to Santa Clara (109km)
This is the longest days ride, setting off early in the morning to hopefully achieve a ride of 109km [whaaa! – although that is only 67 miles…]. Continuing along the Curcuito Norte road, we head for Sierra Morena where we take a lesser road due South and cut across country toward Santa Clara, famed for being the location of the most decisive battle between Batista and the Revolutionary Forces when Che Guevara and his men ambushed a train full of soldiers loyal to Batista. Che's successful ambush effectively defeated Batista's forces and resulted in the dictator fleeing Cuba the following day. A spectacular mausoleum commemorates Che's outstanding contribution to Cuba's revolution.
After visiting the Che Guevara Memorial, we will set off East along the Carretera Central which was once the main road connecting Cuba's capital city to Santiago. The road is now a secondary route and although busy by Cuban standards, it remains remarkably free of fast moving traffic. [Oh good – so we won't be hit by speeding juggernauts at any rate…]
The undulating road takes us through farming communities and we share the road with horse drawn carts, vintage American cars and farm vehicles.
It's a relatively easy cycle today and we should reach Sancti Spíritus in time to enjoy the pool before dinner at our hotel .
Sancti Spíritus to Trinidad (about 70km)
Today is sugar cane country. We cycle toward Trinidad [woohoo – tobacco country!], one of Cuba's most charming Colonial cities. The road undulates past fields of cane, once Cuba's most important crop. Trinidad and the surrounding area was extremely wealthy in the 18th and 19th centuries, thanks to sugar production. However, once slavery was abolished, sugar production dropped and Trinidad's importance declined. It is now a sleepy provincial town full of live music and beautiful Colonial architecture.
We stop for lunch at Manacas Iznaga [one of the sugar plantation hamlets in the valley above Trinidad de Cuba] and arrive in Trinidad mid afternoon. In time to celebrate our achievements with a Mojito [or two!] before dinner. And we have a chance to investigate the nightlife too!
Return to Havana
This morning we have time for a bit of sightseeing in Trinidad before we depart for Havana at about 11.00 – we stop for lunch in Cienfuegos, then we continue on to Havana – arriving late afternoon. This evening we celebrate in style with a dinner in the centre of Havana's Old Town.
Return to London.
This morning is 'free' [lots of packing and running about!] then we check out of the hotel at around midday before leaving for the airport and flying home to the UK.
From experience in Kenya, this will also be a very emotional day – many friendships are created on the cycle and it seems awful to part – but we don't really! We keep in touch – and these friendships are the kind to last a lifetime.