Weekly Blog No 127 – My Life Continues

Once upon a time, there was a girl called Kat who dreamed of travelling the world but she was stuck down with a disease called cancer. How her life changed……

No one can prepare you for life with cancer, it’s an ongoing assault course. I don’t want pity but everyday its a challenge. It’s wasted energy, which I would have preferred to use in my career. Cancer was not my chosen career, however it is a full time job of manoeuvring through symptoms, medication, side effects, appointments and procedures.

My last blog, I did mention there may be more tests between appointments. Subsequently there was, I even had some scans last Sunday, ready for my Oncologist next week. Hopefully he will have a treatment plan, which may involve a clinical trial with PRRT. As soon as I’ve been to the appointment, I will update you within a couple of days.

I’ve also been to see my Neurologist, who would still like to stick a needle in my head. I’ve chosen the less invasive action of increasing my medication for migraines. Sometimes the medication is not so effective that the only solution is a drink of Coke or Pepsi. Don’t ask me why it works but it does.

Let’s move on to more happier events in life. Mr Zebrakat has been awarded a Fellow in the construction industry. There was an award ceremony in London and I couldn’t be more prouder of him. He deserves the acknowledgement for his contribution to the construction industry

Whilst in London, we went to the London Docklands Museum. I will do a separate blog for that visit.

Although going out is a challenge, Mr Zebrakat & I have adapted to my needs. Only now, did I had realise what precautions we actually take to make travel more accessible for me. It’s become the norm for us but there is a degree of planning & organisation. You learn to adapt very quickly and I’m sure it’s the same for any illness.

The story continues……….

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Weekly Blog No 96 – Life Continues

I thought it’s been a while and I should give you an update and elaborate what I’ve been doing in the mean time. 

I’ve been missing in action for a while now because of the challenges of carcinoid cancer. It’s been an  ongoing obstabcle course and I’ve had to climb over walls, swing on ropes and jump through hoops. Only, my adventure is not the wonderful experience you would imagine. 

My new Family Physician has been excellent and on the ball referring me when there has been concerns and there haven’t been many. I had scans, tests and Specialist appointments. On one appointment my medication intake increased a further 5 different meds due to my symptoms. The medical hamster wheel never stops for me.  

Next week I have an endoscopy and the following week my GA68 cancer scan. My tumour marker blood tests that have always remained normal even though, I’ve had 3 cancer ops. My tumour marker result has done a long jump out of normal range with a personal best and doubled within 6 months. Well done cancer, what are you telling me now.

Here’s comes the honestly part. There has been occasions were I have thought is this my downward spiral. Do I seriously need to get my life in order before I decline anymore. My life was in complete order in Canada but isn’t so complete in the UK. It’s something that I need to address. I have ideas but it needs to be down on paper.  

I’m not the person I was and my life has changed so much. I miss work but I do understand why I can’t work. Furthermore I’m don’t have the freedom I once had but I’m also grateful for the freedom I do have. Going anywhere is a challenge, yet you have to try to get to places if you can and Mr Zebrakat is very supportive and never a whinge is heard.

I’m not a crier as a rule, however I did end up crying to Mr Zebrakat a few weeks ago when nothing would take the pain away. It was a Sunday too, so not everyone was accessible for assistance. On the Monday my butt dart nurse saw I was out of sorts and crossed the procedure line to get me assistance. A box of chocolates is in the waiting for my next visit. Thank you so much to my nurse and her diligence.

You do start to question things, for instance, is this it, or if your deemed to have an extended life, how can you possibly maintain symptoms like this every single day. I now understand why people want to throw in the towel. Trust me it’s very easy to comment on these things, when you haven’t physically experienced it yourself. Therefore please be mindful when discussing people’s health issues. I have personally made comments on people’s health in the past, saying I don’t understand why people don’t try more or I don’t understand why they are doing that blah blah blah. Speak to the person and get their prospective on the situation.   

Yes it’s wonderful having a life but no one wants to be feeling horrible everyday. We have all had a viral infection at some point and you feel so terrible. Imagine that feeling most days, it’s the only way I can explain some of the symptoms/situations. Don’t worry, I’m not giving up and my Specialist is working hard to control my symptoms.Thank you Prof C.  The reality is that I may look ok but truth is my life is tormented by my cancer. 

My priorities have changed in life, what may have been my 1 – 5 year goals have immediately become my current goals. I’ve been fighting this for 4 years on Mothers Days (UK), which is a wonderful achievement. Even longer if you count the years it was growing inside me before being diagnosed. 

I will continue to fight and challenge my body. I will keep reading and thank you to Auntie P for the continous supply of reading material. I will be lost in Victorian times for a while. Thank you to K for keeping me up to date in showbiz gossip.  

The house renovation plans are nearly completed for Local Authority submission, well done Mr Zebrakat. Roll on brick dust. 

The garden is now missing a silver birch tree, conifers and  a vine. Hello, fresly painted bird table and proposed space for veggie boxes.  I have sowed some seeds indoor seeds for bedding plants and veggies. A new skill for me and I’ve been learning from others and a big thank to Lady T for the beginners guide. 

I’ve also being working on Mr Zebrakat family tree and mine at times. His is my priorty, I’ve rechecked the facts that I have gathered to ensure that I’m following the right line. It’s amazing how people attach your family members to thier family tree. Clearly assuming that their family member is married to yours.You can’t make assumptions, you have to get the certificates to double check the info provided is correct. The Scottish certificates tend to give a little more info, like marriage date of parents and addresses making the trial a little easier, although I will be crossing over to Ireland now. I know with my family tree, Ireland is a little harder to trace and I believe a lot of records were destroyed by the British. However on a good note, Mr Zebrakat was able to reconnect with a 1st cousin through my research. #happydays.

Althrough i’m problematic times and I may question things, I’m still proactive in one way or another. I would to thank Mr Zebrakat, my family and friends for keeping me going, you know who you are. #specialpeople. 

Weekly Blog No 89 – My Reading Challenge  

In the last twelve months, I’ve attempted a challenge to read as many books in a year. My goal was 24 books and to experiment with some different authors. I have about a month to go and about 3 more books left to read.
Here is my list to date:

  1. East End Jubilee – Carol Rivers
  2. Pam Weaver – For Better or Worse
  3. The Kelly Sisters – Maureen Lee
  4. A Summer Promise – Katie Flynn
  5. The New Arrival – Sarah Beeston MBE
  6. War Baby – Lizzie Lane
  7. Without Trace – Lesley Pearce
  8. The Ophran’s – Dilly Court
  9. Sins of the Mother – Irene Kelly
  10. Too Close to Home – Susan Lewis
  11. The Buffer Girls – Margaret Dickinson
  12. Me Me Me – Charlotte Crosby
  13. Ragged Rose – Dilly Count
  14. Lights Out Liverpool – Maureen Lee
  15. Love Me Tender – Anne Bennet
  16. The Swan Maid – Dilly Court
  17. The Girl With No Name _ Diney Costeloe
  18. A Family Scandal – Kitty Neale
  19. Our Country Nurse – Sarah Beeston  MBE & Amy Beeston
  20. Finding Tipperary Mary – Phyliss Whitsell
  21. Polly’s Angel – Katie Flynn (Still reading)

I did read on social media the other day that a woman had read 70 books so far in 2016. Kudos to her, however 70 books is an incredible amount of reading. I have experimented with some new authors in the last 12 months, however my genre doesn’t seem to have changed. I have read a few biographies as you will see from my list above. It’s always a learning experience when reading about someone else’s life.

The books, I tend to read always have a historical and cultural element, which I find very intriguing. It certainly makes you appreciate the life you have today. I feel the only way I could beat 24 books a year, is if I stop watching television. I really don’t think that is going to happen. I shall attempt another reading challenge once this one is complete.

Weekly Blog No 43 – The Differences Between UK & Canada


In this week’s challenge, I thought I would try to explain some of the differences between UK & Canada services, since my return to the UK. Please note this is only my opinion formed from personal experience to date.

Health System 

Just when you think it’s straightforward, you start to get frustrated with protocol.  I’m due my next cancer injection next week yet I’m no nearer to getting the treatment I need.  I know when I’m in the system, I will be ok and I will have access to all relevant parties. I don’t understand why I’m the person who’s doing all the chasing between various parties to do their job. My symptoms are terrible and I need their help to improve my quality of life. NHS you will be the death of me yet.

A further update since writing the above paragraph this morning.

I was in touch with a fellow UK patient this morning and she gave me some great advice. With her guidance,  I reacted and contacted a local Net Nurse via email. I honestly thought I wouldn’t hear from her until tomorrow morning, yet she responded today. She’s arranging my injection for this week and getting me in to see a Net Consultant ASAP.  Thank you L.

Library

Very helpful in the UK, like Canada., absolutely no complaints but just praise for the service.

Banks

I’m going to send the UK bank management team to Canada for work experience.  UK banking you believe you are super efficient and provide an excellent customer service, let me tell you, that you are rubbish at execution. We had to speak to 5 different people to open an extra bank account at our branch.

Canada you get the thumbs up. One person and bingo it’s done. Our branch contact in Canada was both super efficient and customer focused, we miss you KNC.

Post Office/Post Man 

My experience to date has been on par with Canada, however UK you get thumbs up for pricing and delivery.  It is wonderful getting my mail through the door before 10.30am in the morning.

Cinema 

Pretty much the same experience although the food variety is so much better in Canada.

Supermarkets

British supermarkets are amazing and the choice is incredible. I think Canada learns you to make quicker decisions because you have less choice options. I swear I stood for 15 mins trying to make a decision on coffee.

Watch Repair Man

One service we struggle to find in Canada yet in 10 mins I had two watches replaced with batteries for £8 ($16).

Phamarcy 

I had built a wonderful relationship with my pharmacy in Canada and had found them to be excellent to deal with. In the UK, I will have to make the same relationship, however my first visit to an UK pharmacy was interesting to say the least. A woman was verbally abusing the pharmacist and then she continued to abuse a customer waiting for her meds. I turned to my husband and said “welcome back to the UK”.

I’m really happy to be back, nevertheless clearly there is pros and cons to every country.

Weekly Blog No 9 – Calgary Stampede 2014

 

Copyright 2014 KMcG

Calgary Stampede 2014

The Calgary Stampede is know as “The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth” and is an annual show held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada every July. The show events are rodeo, chuck wagon racing, barrel racing, funfair rides, food trucks and the list is endless. The show kicks off with a Stampede Parade consisting of many floats, bands and horses etc around the city. This year the parade was opened by William Shatner originally known as Captain Kirk in Star Trek.

The dress code for the period in the city and stampede is western wear, plaid(check), denim, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat. Everyone gets into the spirt around the city even holding stampede breakfasts. You basically can eat for the 10 days for free.

I was lucky to attend the stampede on a corporate event with my husband. We had access into the park, a meal & drinks in a corporate tent and front row tickets to the rodeo. It was a gorgeous day so we were able to walk around and see the market stalls in the BMO Centre, the cattle in the Agrium Arena and the funfair rides on the Midway.

I have attached some photos for you to see.

 

Copyright 2014 KMcG

Preparing the Horse

Copyright 2014 KMcG

Western Wear

Copyright 2014 KMcG

Stampede Girl Riders

Copyright 2014 KMcG

Cowboys & Cowgirls

Copyright 2014 KMcG

Cowboy Getting Ready

Copyright 2014 KMcG

Saddle Bronc

We are looking forward to the stampede in 2015 as we missed so much.

Copyright 2014 -KMcG

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Weekly Blog No 1 – The Ironing Basket

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Having a cancer can prevent you from doing simple mundane tasks, however this could be considered as a blessing in some cases. My pile of ironing has been building up for several weeks now and it never seems to deplete itself. Ironing can be therapeutic at times and I’m not sure really why, it is the depletion of your pile of ironing, the creation of nicely ironed clothes or an empty basket. The Brits love to iron with ironing services being offered everywhere, however Canadians are all about the tumble dryer. I have to admit I am now a combination of both so if I can avoid doing certain things then I will. This ironing basket may take me 3 – 4 attempts this week but my goal is to complete the task in hand.

About Me

A little about me, I’m a Brit who has lived both sides of the pond. I’ve worked most of my life in the construction industry both in the UK & Canada. Since my twenties, I’ve been fighting various health issues but I’ve just dealt with them as they came along with the guidance of the medical profession. I’ve not been a person to sit back and wait for things to happen, that’s just not me. In 2009, my husband & I moved to Canada for a slower pace of life., however we have returned to the UK at the end of May 2015 to be nearer to family. 

In 2010, I had developed some back pain and it became more clear whilst working on a construction site as a professional in Canada. To cut the story short I had 2 spine operations that failed and had a 3rd in July 2013, following being diagnosed with carcinoid cancer. In Mar 2013, I was rushed to hospital for stomach pain only to be diagnosed with neuroendocrine tumours on my midgut following a bowel resection operation. In the months to follow, I commenced treatment for carcinoid syndrome and was diagnosed with liver metastases. In Jan 2014, I had a liver resection operation and gallbladder removal. In May 2014,  I had emergency surgery on my appendix and cancer was located again. This was confirmed on the pathology report.  In July 2014, my oncologist told me I had 1-3 years to live as my cancer is progressing quicker than predicted. In the meantime, I’m on various medication and a monthly injection to control things. This is a rare incurable cancer and survival is down to monitoring, medication and a positive mind.

In April 2015, I had my 4th spine surgery on my lumbar spine and we don’t know if there is a connection between the spine problems and carcinoid cancer that is causing my ongoing spine problems. In March 2016, I was informed that I had more progression of cancer in my liver and stomach area. In May 2017, I’ve been told again I have progression in peritoneal and liver areas. Read weekly blog no 100 for latest info. In Nov 2017, I had an another carcinoid cancer op, therefore read weekly blog no 111

The reason for my blog is that I don’t have the energy I once had whilst dealing with my carcinoid cancer/symptoms. My life can be very restricted at times. I want to attempt a weekly blog, whether it’sbaking a cake or writing about something I believe to be interesting. If my blog motivates people, makes people smile, gives you something to read or offers you some additional knowledge/tips. I’ve achieved what I set out to do.