Weekly Blog No 135 – Overview of 2018

 
Overview of 2018

Wow what a year, it’s been. I started the new year recovering from post op with an open scar. I had high hopes that I brought myself more time but that wasn’t to be the case. The cancer was very determined to grow and cause me ongoing symptoms. I took the stance then, that I was going to attempt to do things before I couldn’t do them anymore. Here’s an overview of 2018.  

January – Birthday Celebrations

In January I turned 49 and 4 quarters, it was an amazing birthday. I was lucky to be showered with flowers, gifts and cards and so overwhelmed by people’s kindness. The love shown to me was outstanding and still to this day, it blows my mind.

February – Scan-a-thon

February was the month that my scans started again and have remained  continuous throughout the year. It was also the month that my new bathroom was taking shape to the point I was able to use the facilities. I was no longer feeling I was showering in a telephone box unable to stretch out my arms. 

 
March – Sailing the Seas
 
March was my delayed birthday trip from Mr Zebrakat. A week on a Mediterranean cruise. It was lovely to have a week away  to relax. It was pretty much house arrest on the ship due to symptoms and of course I forgot some of my medication.  Never in my life, will I ever forgot to take all my medication again. Lesson learned for life. 
 
 
April – Welcome Hamish
 
As many of you know, we got another 4 paws to join the family. Hamish is a ginger tom cat aka Frank the Tank. He’s is still only just over 10 months old and he’s huge. He’s a great addition to the family. 
 
 
May  – Royal Wedding/Oxford
 
May was an exciting time in the U.K, as everyone was so hyped up for the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan, the Duke & Duchess of Sussex. I remember the day very well as I had to travel to London for another scan. The roads were so clear as everyone seemed to be glued to the television watching the build up to the wedding. Meghan looked stunning and they looked so in love.  
 
We visited Oxford during the Royal Wedding. Oxford nicknamed it the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’. A city known for a prestigious university made up of 38 colleges. Honey coloured buildings of stunning architecture. A beautiful city and well worth another visit sometime. 
 
 
June – London is Calling
 
We went to London as Mr Zebrakat was attending an award ceremony to receive is fellowship membership. The ceremony was in a beautiful building and the event was exquisite. I’m so proud of Mr Zebrakat in everything he does and achieves. 
We took a quick ride on the DLR to Greenwich. Another hidden gem of prettiness and such a glorious day too. 
 
July – Renovations
 
The renovations have continued and the house is starting to take shape. The loft space, study area and store on the 2nd floor is ready for painting. The 1st floor, bathroom is complete minus a touch up of paint.  The master bedroom and walk in wardrobe is complete but we have to find our extra clothes, shoes and bags from storage. The linen cupboard shelving is nearly complete.  
 
 
Aug – Off to Weegie Land/Glasgow
 
We flew to Glasgow for a couple of days it was important for me to go with Mr Zebrakat to see places that where emphasis in his family tree. It was good for him to show me were he lived, went to school etc. We have previously been to Glasgow but it usually involves visiting people not this time. This trip was about him and for me to take things at my pace due to my difficulties. We had such a lovely time as it was 10 yrs since our last visit. 
 
 
 
Sept – Ibiza Sunshine
 
I don’t have a bucket list and I don’t want one either. I don’t feel the need to put pressure on myself to do things before I go. All I do know, is even though its hard for me to do things now, I need to push myself now before I can’t do it at all. 
 
I’ve had a lot of appointments etc and we decided to get some rest in the sun. Who doesn’t need some sunshine in paradise. I’ve never been to Ibiza and it was only a couple of hours flight so perfect for a mini vacation. 
 
I didn’t forget my medication this time and enjoy my days sitting at the poolside absorbing some vitamin d. I was all ready to begin scans the following week.  
 
October – Additional Storage 
 
I wanted to design some more storage and a bookcase in the area under the stairs. Who doesn’t have enough of storage for specific items. I have a lot of books and thought this area would be good for my paperbacks. I want to keep specific books by favourite authors but I’m also good at giving books to friends & family. I need to paint the bookcase etc but we haven’t chosen a colour scheme for the hall as yet. 
 
 
November – Petting Farm 
 
My niece had a sleepover so we took her to a local petting farm. I don’t know who was more excited me or her lol. I did love stroking and feeding the animals. Seeing my niece getting excited and Mr Zebrakat teaching her how to stroke animals. These are precious moments and it’s times like this, you do wonder how many more precious moments I will  have. 
 
 
December – Cardiff Christmas Market 
 
Mr Zebrakat and I took a trip to Cardiff before my spine appointment. There was a Christmas market on and we met up with friends who live in Wales. What a beautiful place Cardiff is, and the people are very friendly. We did an open bus tour, which is an excellent way to see key points of interest in the city. I would definitely return to this lovely place and beyond. 
 
 

 

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Weekly Blog No 132 – Cancer Update

Cancer Update  

Immediate family have been informed.

Many of you may have read on my personal fb page that I seen a Spine Specialist a couple of weeks ago, who kindly informed me that the cancer had spread to my spine. He had viewed a scan that I had given him from 2 years ago. He has since requested an up to date scan and X-ray.

I went back to see my Oncologist yesterday and what can I say. After sitting with him for an hour, I’ve headed out the door again, for more bloods & urine tests, new meds, more scans asap, referrals to be made to local Specialists and Palliative Care Nurse.

Eight tubes of blood were taken yesterday and urine samples are to follow. I need to discuss the outcome with my GP and hand him a prescription request for medication that costs a lot of money. It’s very likely the GP will refuse to issue the 10 day course medication due to the excessive costs.

How do I feel. In one hand I do understand the process my Oncologist is taking, call it protocol but in the other hand, I don’t understand it, as my body is an enigma machine.

Let me give you an example, my Oncologist wants me to be referred back to my local Cardiologist to control my very high blood pressure. A known symptom for Carcinoid Syndrome/Cancer. He is obviously concerned, which is understandable to get this addressed. Recently my GP has been monitoring my hbp and it has increased my medication twice just lately to resolve the issue,but to no avail. My body tells me when my blood pressure goes high and that the likely cause is tumour activity. Therefore my hbp can’t be controlled because the dandelions (tumours) are secreting hormones to raise my blood pressure.

The medical data acknowledges tumours in various parts of my body but my body enigma doesn’t reveal the full extent. My body has a habit of not revealing the full extent of tumour loading on scans. (remember the grapefruit sized tumour in my last op). My tumour markers have always given me normal readings.

Here’s a question for you, Does the doctor go on medical data or listen to the patient’s body reactions. We all know he has to go by medical data and in the meantime, I will continue to endure endless symptoms and more invasive tests.

I’ve been here before, it happened in Canada and the result was I ended up in hospital. You will hear it here first: I will end up in hospital again because medical data doesn’t reveal the true picture and I will have to undergo additional surgery. These current tests may provide the code to my enigma and I may have to eat my words but let’s see. Subsequently it’s frustrating and I need the universe to help me overcome this obstacle. I’m grateful to all the people in the medical field who have supported me to date but in allow to rant.

Love to you all. ❤️

Weekly Blog No 131 – Cancer Friendships

Copyright ZebraKat 2018

When you start researching the disease, you start to develop friendships with people who have been diagnosed with Carcinoid Cancer around the same time as you. They’re also learning the implications of living with rare disease, therefore you start to gather knowledge from each other. Even though you can live miles apart, there is a special bond that is hard to describe. You share information and support each other through thick and thin. You’ve formed a friendship like a pen pal or should I say a cyber pal. The friendship can progress to private messages, cards or even telephone calls. Through illness we unite and friendship blossoms.

Nothing prepares you for when they die. You feel the heartache that their family and friends are going through. Nevertheless you feel a sense of loss, a friend who has travelled your journey with you. Furthermore there is a niggling thought in your head at each passing. Is your time on this earth coming to an end soon. I don’t think that there, isn’t one person on this journey who doesn’t have the same thoughts.

This year, I have witnessed a lot of friends who have departed to hopefully a symptom free resting place. I have many friends who continue to travel my journey with me. I would like to personally thank you for your continuous support. There has been many friends that I haven’t been able to thank personally, because it was too late.

Make sure you thank your cyber pals, let them all know you are grateful for their support and guidance. To all my cancer friends that have passed, you will be forever in my thoughts. ❤️

Weekly Blog No 124 – A Hard Week/Death


This week has been a hard week on so many levels. For a while, I have been experiencing problems since my last surgery in Nov. I suspect I have a partial bowel obstruction. I knew at some point I would get another bowel obstruction from either scar tissue or dandelions (tumours) but just not this soon. My recent bloods have recently shown high and low level readings, therefore my bloods etc were retested on Friday.

When speaking to my GP/FP about the situation he said “the surgeon wouldn’t operate again”. It’s not the first time I’ve heard such words and I’ve defined the odds. Nevertheless I think my surgeon would as he appreciates complicated cases and also the challenge. In reality the GP/FP and his thought process is right because I’m sure my abdomen looks like a plate of spaghetti with a few dandelions(tumours) thrown in for a pop of colour.

You all know my last op in November was not very pleasant for me and I am in double digits were op’s are concerned. I’m still super sensitive were any medical treatment is given to me, which involves a degree of pain. This week, I had hip injections to eliminate pain and boy did it hurt. I came out of the medical facility saying to Mr Zebrakat “why do I put myself through this”. The answer to my own question is, I have no choice. If I want to sleep at night, it has to be preformed. I’m also waiting for my surgeon/team to return my call, regarding a course of appropriate action to be taken. Let’s see what develops over the next couple of weeks. In the meantime, I have my PET scan the beginning of May.

Since the last op, my abdomin feels slightly distorted and even the open wounds have healed larger than a normal scar line. At this moment, I don’t necessary like what I see, nevertheless they are survival scars and no one is going to see them. After all, it doesn’t really effect me as they are just scars at the end of the day. Furthermore the scars are not on show for all to see, therefore I do embrace them as survival.

On a positive note, I have lost a lot of weight since my last op (that could be considered as good or bad thing). Now to me its a blessing in disguise unless told otherwise as I’m going back to my original shape. Obviously when the undetected cancer was growing, my body was just inflating from hormones secreted from the dandelions. Even back in the day my physical trainer from the army would see me twice a week to torture me. He could never understand why I wasn’t losing weight from the exercise regime I was carrying out. It was always an unresolved puzzle and I consequently learned to live with the matter of contention. Regardless of feeling ill at times, people nowadays can’t believe how good I look. They are seeing a slimmer me and I’m seeing a sick person. The biggest thing they notice is the weight loss, in spite of me living with ongoing daily symptoms. Nowadays my clothes can be purchased off the rack without even having tried them on. It is an excellent feeling whether you are sick or not.

This week, I was informed of two friends passing away from cancer. Both suffered from different cancers, yet they were both so brave in their own right. It’s been rough week emotionaly for me and their families. One of my friends, even though we had different cancers we had similar symptoms in some respects. It was like I was opening up the suppressed emotions of death. Don’t get me wrong I am realistic, I knew one day that I would die of the disease, still I was living in the moment. I think these emotions were brought forward due to my friends passing from the disease and me dealing with more symptoms with no possible outcome but death in time.

No one wants to be faced with death. I’ve heard the phase used before, we could all die tomorrow crossing the road etc etc still bottom line is that its unexpected, with cancer you’re dying slowing and not all of a sudden. Yes we all know we are going to die one day, however we don’t know when or how, it’s the unknown. Please don’t be alarmed I don’t think I’m there yet, in spite of medical aid, I know deep down I’ve exhausted that. Therefore organs have to start failing to work efficiently. I could use another one of my nine lives and live for years, who knows. Under the circumstances it would be normal to think this way. I’m sure I will again and again, nevertheless it’s gave me a kick in the butt to get my paperwork in order. I did have anything in order in Canada but I haven’t completed everything in the U.K.

Cancer and death thoughts are always going to dovetail with one and another. Even patients who are cured with cancer will have had these thoughts somewhere throughout their journey. People who haven’t had cancer and who know of someone who’s had cancer will immediately think death. Bottom line the thoughts are unavoidable.

Weekly Blog No 116 – Goodbye 40’s and Hello 50’s.

I had previously mentioned in a blog that when I was diagnosed with cancer, I put out to the universe, to please let me reach my 50th Birthday. I’m glad to report, I made it. I do believe its a combination of a positive attitude and gaining a knowledge on Carcinoid Cancer.

The last decade was a mixture of excitement and emotions. We moved to Canada experiencing everything Canadian. Then I suffered with my spine and endured 4 surgeries. To add to the emotions, I was diagnosed with a rare cancer. Yet my husband & I continued to enjoy Canadian life with such amazing friends. 3 Cancer ops later it was time to go home to be nearer to my family in UK and Ireland. We have no regrets but my heart is still in Canada. Therefore goodbye to my forties and hello to my fifties.

Firstly I would like to thank everyone who has been telling me I look mid to late 30s. I have to thank my parents Irish genes for that one because its nothing I have done. I haven’t had any invasive beauty treatments or used any special beauty products.

Last week, I was fortunate to have friends come and see me throughout the week. We celebrated with bucks frizz, coffee and tea. There was chatting over a variety of cakes and fresh fruit. I do love a girly gatherings because there is no subject out of bounds and the room is always full of giggles.

Saturday was my birthday and I was showered with birthday cards. Every available surface was covered with cards of love. I got balloons full of helium floated in euphoria. I had flower arrangements, salt and peppered around my house. I was sprinkled with gifts of generosity. The house was full of bliss and kindness.

I’m so so grateful to everyone who made my birthday so special. My 50th Birthday is one I shall always remember. Thank you.

Love to you all. ❤️

Weekly Blog No 112 – Overview of 2017

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog, due to me recovering from my surgery. I thought I would count how many blogs that I did last year and the result was only 20 blogs out of potential 52.

My health evidently had an impact on me posting blogs this year. I will endeavour to improve that number next year, even if it is just by one. On a positive note, my followers have increased in numbers and since commencing my blog in 2014, the number of views is approximately 12k. Woohoo.

Friends & Family

Thank you to friends and family for your continuous support. I have a huge amount of respect for people that consistently care and support Mr Zebrakat and I. Honestly from the bottom of my heart, thank you so much for everything. Specifically all the people who sent cards, flowers, plants, mags, chocs & sweets, biscuits and messages.

I have to be honest though and say there is a few people on my radar who haven’t fully supported me and that does shock me. In my eyes that can’t be justified why but maybe in their eyes they can, who knows. I’m certainly not going to invest anymore time wondering why.

Lottie (Dog)

She has settled into her new home and loves the garden. Just like in Canada, she likes to sit in the garden facing the sun catching the rays.

She has adapted so well with all the changes we have put her through including the construction on the house.

Thanks to K who looks after Lottie when I’m on appointments etc. Knowing your pet is in good hands is very reassuring and I have gained a coffee buddy too.

New Home

We been here for a year now and the changes to the property are progressing. New windows, stone window cills, shutter blinds, roof lights, guttering & downpipes, new brickwork, forming a new bathroom, knocking walls down, new stairs to loft, chimney removed, new fireplace, loft conversion etc.

The list is endless and I have to thank Mr zebrakat, my brother and nephew for their hard work. Your help to reach our goals has been invaluable and is really appreciated by both of us. Obviously various trades have done certain things but they moderately have been done by family.

Health

I’m sure most of you have read Weekly Blog No 111 – Post Op Update. I’m now 6 weeks post surgery and doing ok. My wound is still being dressed daily by the district nurses and has a little way to go. I’m no longer in pain, nevertheless I am still contending with symptoms that are relentless. No medication at this moment in time is helping but hopefully that will change.

I still haven’t received my post op follow up appointment but my Net Cancer team are chasing it for me. I will have scans again just before the beginning of February before seeing my Net Cancer Consultant. Mr Zebrakat and I have a lot of questions for that appointment but I’m unsure if we will get satisfactory answers.

Despite the endless scans this year, I don’t have complete faith in them. I will continue to listen to my body, which has consistently given me warnings of tumour activity. I think 4 times on the surgical table makes me an expert in some respects. I definitely feel a lot lighter having less organs. Hopefully this coming year is going to be a more healthy year with less issues.

Hobbies

Well, I did have a successful year gardening. My first year of sowing seeds and planting cuttings did indeed produce various fruits and vegetables. I will attempt sow directly into my vegetable boxes next year to see if I am as successful with my crops.

My reading of books hasn’t stopped but I have been completing books at a much slower pace this year. This year I’ve been lucky enough to be in contact with a couple of authors whose books I read. I’m always amazed how they produce such wonderful work with an outstanding imagination. Were would we be without books.

Travel is on the cards next year and optimistically my health won’t prevent me from reaching those goals.

Theatre visits is a must, there is a couple of big shows in London I want to see. Who doesn’t love a musical.

Overview

This year has been quiet challenging, nevertheless I’m still here to tell the tale. I’m so grateful to the surgeon for making me pain-free and possibly extended my life a little. I’ve learned new skills in the garden and been covered in the bottomless pit of dust through building work. I’ve spent quality time with people I love. Furthermore Mr Zebrakat wins the award for husband of the year for his love and dedication as always.

Happy New Year Everyone.

Love to you all. ❤️<<
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