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. 

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Weekly Blog No 88 – UK Garden Centre’s

Today I was feeling a little better so I seized the opportunity to venture out to buy some gifts. Mr Zebrakat & I went to a local garden centre as they are a mecca for unusual gifts. Gone are the days of garden centres just offering trees and plants.

We started to walk around and I spotted this cute little bird house resembling a British post box.


Then we spotted a scarecrow looking very familiar to Worzel Gummidge.  Worzel Gummidge was a children’s programme in the late 70s about a scarecrow that comes to live and his girlfriend Aunt Sally.

We maneuvered our way around the garden centre in the garden ornaments and came across these cute animals.

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Around the corner was the Christmas section, starting to develop with Santa and other associated Christmas theme animals.

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The next section was gifts but I can’t show this section because I don’t want to spoil the surprises for the individuals. However I did buy this book  “Mary Berry” cook book for myself to try out some recipes.

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Following the gift section you navigate your way through the food section, where we brought a few goodies.

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The blackcurrant jam was bought for nostalgic reasons, I believe my grandma used to make blackcurrant jam in Ireland.

The last stop was the café, which has always a good experience with its various food & drink choice. Mr Zebrakat had a full English breakfast priced at £4.75, not only was it overpriced but it was luke warm and didn’t come with toast. We shan’t eat there again as it was a massive disappointment.

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Do you have a great place to shop for gifts, let me know.

Weekly Blog No 45 – Family Tree Update 1

Family Tree

Over the last couple of years I have been in and out of researching my husband and my family trees. I would strongly recommend you concentrate on 1 family tree at a time for ease. I personally love a challenge, so I take on 4 family trees because of my inquisitive mind. I am flipping between them all and to be honest, I’m stark raving mad, however I do have the time.

My new hobby is proving to be costly, time-consuming and addictive. Furthermore it can be very frustrating if you don’t have patience trawling through realms of information. Whatsoever, If you don’t use your diligence along the way, you could inherit imaginary family members taking you down the wrong track. It still tickles me when I see family trees on a not to famous family research website, claiming to be my family members. I can imagine what they are thinking ” They have the same name as me, so let’s attached them to my family tree”. Cross referencing is the key to success.

My husband’s father side of the family tree seems to be the most successful so far. I have reach 7 generations back, I’m currently in the 1700’s. Its seems that his family originated from Ireland and moved to Scotland in the early 1800’s to work in the mines. In Ireland they were farmers/farm labourers went on to Scotland to be coal miners. I know some family members worked in the Glasgow ship yards but I am going up the line rather than being side tracked and going sidewards.

Miners

Photo Credit to Terry Harrison

I’m currently investigating the following leads to either eliminate them or own them. A family priest, a convict sent to Aussie on a convict ship and finally a family member connected with slavery. I hope not the latter and can’t see how its possible but still, you never know. This is were you see your researching is very important as you don’t want to be jumping to any conclusions.

Convicts

Some additional facts;

  • There is a trend of family forenames, J being the most popular initial.
  • His surname was misspelt approx 4 times over the years.
  • His Scottish grandfathers always married Irish woman.
  • His immediate family and previous generations always had a minimum of 7 children.

I will do another update in the future as there is some interesting family history.

Weekly Blog No 26 – Overview of 2014

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As 2014 is coming to an end, I thought I would give you a snapshot of my life in the last 12 months

January

Just 2 weeks into our new home I was still unpacking the boxes from our British & Canadian homes. I hadn’t seen some of the stuff since it was packed back in January 2009. Still to this day I’m unpacking boxes and saying to myself I forgot I had that or that won’t work in our new home.

It took 9 months from purchasing to entering our new home. We moved walls, extended areas, chose finishes from wall finishes to light fittings.  We had commenced the process of purchasing of our home when I was rushed into hospital (March 2013) for an emergency op. We hadn’t signed the contract with the builder yet when I got my cancer diagnosis. I’m sure some people at the time must have thought we were mad to buy a new home when we were going into the unknown of cancer. We have all been exposed to cancer and the outcome is not usually good, why would you make such a big investment. At the time we did explain to people that life does go on and to this day we don’t regret making our decision to continue as we have already enjoyed 12 months in our new home.

Towards the end of the month, I was looking forward to my liver resection operation so nil by mouth on my birthday was absolute joy. Lol. This was the first time I can honestly say I was scared, I don’t know if it was fear of the unknown or it was the fact I had 2 very experienced surgeons operating on me. I had previously had 2 major op’s in the last 9 months. (A bowel resection and spine fusion) so being a patient again was getting exhausting, nevertheless you are always grateful for the care and the thought that this is extending your life.

I was very fortunate to have daily visits from a close friend who worked at the hospital. She would visit everyday armed with pictures of Jason Statham – Actor and words of wisdom. It was better than medicine, she would always come with a smile and still to this day she is constant in my life. My care team would look forward to my evolving noticeboard, which had me and few other people giggling with laughter.

One nurse that cared for me sticks out in my mind. She came into my room and said to me ” how can I make your day better”. I shall never forget those words as long as I live

February

Post op recovery was slow, nevertheless I was getting there. My husband was taking good care of me as always, ensuring I was resting and eating. Friends and family were a huge support, however I was finding it hard to sit still and recover. I had far too much time on my hands so I was already planning and relocating furniture around our new home in my head. It can be dangerous for my husband when I have too much time to think because it involves him doing a task lol.

March

My recovery seems to be very slow or I am very impatient. I was starting to have concerns that I was not 100% right but it was still early days and doctors thought it was post op recovery, in the meantime scans were being organised.

At this point I was ready to drive again after not driving for 12 months due to health restrictions. My husband &  I decided to buy an SUV known as the black beast. I wanted to achieve independence again and attend my continuous medical appointments. Freedom is huge, most of my life I have driven a car and was considered as one of my work tools, therefore it was very fulfilling to drive again. The black beast has been a blessing in disguise, a cliche I know. Today I consider the black beast as one of my therapeutic tools. A car is something we all take for granted, I really appreciate mine and the inventor of motor vehicles, a complete genius.

This month I tried meditation for the first time in my life, I would recommend this activity to anyone who is looking for some form of relaxation.

April

In April, I loss my Uncle to cancer. I was so overwhelmed by grief for him and his immediate family. He was a very special man and had impacted my life hugely. I’ve experienced loss before but this was the hardest to date. I still think about him often and I am constantly reminded of him by the little things in life. He will be proud that I’m still maintaining a positive attitude and attempting new cooking challenges. Uncle T, my new cooking ingredient is coconut flour, let’s see what develops and feel free to giggle at my attempts. I will not be conquered by the coconut lol.

I went to the Rocky Mountains this month even though I was still experiencing some discomfort. It was lovely to see the mountains, get some fresh air and see a sprinkle of snow. Since being diagnosed everything has more meaning, for example familiar smells bring back memories, which I would of probably ignored before. Whilst in the mountains I got a familiar smell that brought back memories of Ireland. Madness I know otherwise I have psychic nose

May

In May, my husband and I started to plan the basement layout for future development. The plan is to have a furnace room, store room, bathroom, 4th bedroom/craft room and recreation room. In the interim my husband started to plan the boundary fencing to the rear garden, whilst I started to draft a garden landscape design.

My cancer symptoms continue to be persistent, however nothing showed up on recent scans. I knew this was not just post op recovery, there has to be something said about the saying “we know our bodies best”. It was time to go back to my family doctor who is very compassionate, and when he saw me, he sent me straight to hospital. To cut the story short,  I had another emergency op and the pathology report confirmed additional cancer spread. The moral of this story is, go with your gut when you know there is something wrong.

I was operated at my local hospital and was lucky to have another close friend working in the facility. She would bring me a cup of tea in a china cup everyday rather than a plastic cup to help my recovery. I have amazing friends in my life and without them my life would be so hard.

June

My husband was organising fencing with our lovely neighbours. I was still recovering from my recent op and enjoying further rest until i had to rush back to UK. My mum was rushed into hospital even though it was not the ideal circumstances to rush home for, it was great to spend time with my family. My brothers took good care of me, however saying that they ripped me to bits as brothers will do. I’m still to this day laughing at things they had said to me. They only said things they knew that I could take, trust me it would kill some sensitive soul but I have a hard skin. I’m sure they had fun too and we all created some memories.

My mum is much better but needs to learn the art of rest and to look after herself.

July

My husband & I decided to start on the garden landscaping design first rather than the basement so that we could entertain and relax in the sunshine for the remaining summer months.

July was also the month that I learned my cancer was progressing rapidly, I was given a lifespan of 1 – 3 years. Everyone reacts differently to this type of news therefore it not surprising to most people that I said life goes on and a bucket list is not for me. I still feel a bucket list is not appropriate for me and I will continue life to the full within the limitations of my health.

August

The garden was taking shape and I was able to enjoy the sunshine . Lottie would sit on the sun lounger with me basking in the heat. She is a sun worshipper for sure  It was an exhausting month for me with tests and scans, which appears to be my new life

September

No medical visits until mid September, yeah. I was able to enjoy a couple of weeks off with my husband, who took some pre booked vacation leave. We just relaxed and enjoyed our time together.

October

We decided to go to Banff for Thanksgiving to get into the spirt of the holiday. The hotel was amazing and we had a great time, however when we were about to collect the car, I took a turn for the worse and travelling home was not an option. It was the first time I had seen the fear in my husbands eyes, I will never forget that image. Being the man he is, he went into reactive mode, do I take her to hospital or organise another nights accommodation. I didn’t need a hospital just the comforts of hotel room for some rest. It was clear to both of us that my symptoms were not improving but getting worse and this needed to be addressed with the oncologist.

I have made it known on numerous occasions that I appreciate my husband so much, nevertheless he lives my life. What I mean is, he not only accommodates my illness he lives my illness too. J I love you and will always love you as Uncle T would say we are soul mates  ❤️

November 

A visit to the oncologist to discuss our concerns and discuss the latest results. More tests, scans and procedures were ordered before the next appointment in December.

This month I was starting to receive more food parcels than the Salvation Army. I can’t thank my family and friends around the globe who have enchanced my taste buds with the flavours of home.  The only problem now is I can’t drink Canadian tea, it’s like dishwater compared to Irish tea. Dishwater is no longer appealing to my taste buds. I’ve clearly been spoiled by the black stuff called strong tea.

December

My oncology appointment proved my suspicions of more cancer on the liver and wherever else it is lurking , the little pesky devils. My oncologist has increased my cancer injection to 2 every 28 days, oh my 1 butt dart was enough without 2 butt darts. I’m glad that the dart has been increased because it may improve my symptoms, which will improve my quality of life I hope.

Christmas we stayed at home but did visit a few friends over the Christmas period and New Year we will be certainly celebrating with friends.

Final comments

J and I have achieved more than we had anticipated this year under the circumstances. I am now in my 20th month since diagnosis and to be honest I didn’t think I would see this far with an incurable cancer. I don’t know if it is determination or pure luck. In 2015, I intend to continue to fight cancer, attend a family wedding, and give time to personal activities.  😄

(Written in UK English)

Weekly Blog No 13 – Saskatoon Farm

After an exhausting week of scans, my husband and I decided to take a trip down Highway 2 to a place called Saskatoon Farm. I am assuming the farm was named after North American fruit. Saskatoon berries are grown on dense bushes in Western Canada, a dark purple fruit, which tastes both sweet and nutty. It is staple food with multi uses, jams, syrup and pies the list is endless.

Saskatoon Farm is a property with multi uses, a garden centre, a shop, a party venue, a chicken pen and a café. The farm has created various buildings that resemble a street scene in old town. I have taken various photos around the farm to show you its beauty and appeal to many visitors.

 

Copyright 2014 ZebraKat

Street Scene

 

Copyright 2014 ZebraKat

External Seating

I think they have really capture the old town feel.

Copyright 2014 ZebraKat

Home Accessories

This is a small section of the home accessories, they have arranged the accessories into colours and themes. I brought two pieces of art for my home so that my Great Room & Laundry could be katjazzled.

Copyright 2014 ZebraKat

A beautiful bride & groom just married

We were very fortunate to see a bride and groom who just got married at the farm in one of the greenhouse areas.

Copyright 2014 ZebraKat

Chicken Pen

I love chickens, it reminds me of happier times on my grandparents farm in Ireland.

Copyright 2014 ZebraKat

Another Beautiful Building

 

Copyright 2014 ZebraKat

Totem Pole

Another couple of photos around the farm, certainly worth a visit.

Copyright 2014 _ ZebraKat

Weekly Blog No 12 – Family Tree.

Family Tree

Family Tree

I do appear to be falling behind with my blog entries lately as I am struggling with various cancer symptoms. Cancer is causing me some limitations; nevertheless I am finding it both difficult and very frustrating at times.

This week’s challenge was to continue the family tree as I am intrigued by the information that is discovered. I am intrigued to see if my family worked in mines, farmland or is there something else I will discover. I love family history and I am a fan of the TV programme “ Who do you think you are”. My parents were born in Ireland and moved to the UK in their early twenties for employment.

I am looking forward to investigating the family history through British Rule, The Great Famine and Land War etc. I am just waiting for more information from my Auntie to continue my mother’s side. On my father’s side, I have to ask some questions before I can proceed further.

In the meantime, I have started my husband’s Scottish family tree; however he has been led to believe he also has Irish roots. I am curious to see if he is related to some Scottish King or Queen, ok I’m being a little ambitious.

I have managed to discover on his father side there is a generation of coal miners and he is very much Scottish so far, as I am in the early 1700”s. He has relatives that have served in the Great War & WW11. His Christian name has been used from generation to generation; likewise I have both my grandmothers Christian name too. I have a feeling that his grandmother, which is his father’s mother may be the Irish link and only time will tell.

I will keep you posted on the family history.

 

Weekly Blog No 10 – Overcoming Reality.

True Quote

True Quote

This weeks challenge is overcoming reality of the situation and remaining focus.

A week today, I went to see my Oncologist to discuss the way forward. This was going to be a difficult meeting with my Dr due to my recent op and its findings. When I had my liver resection in January, I certainly didn’t expect to be back in hospital in May for an appendix op. I just wasn’t ready for further a operation, nevertheless I was truly sick of being a patient. 4 operations in 14 months, now I’m not looking for sympathy but the reality is when you have cancer you have to be prepared to accept the unexpected as you don’t have control over the situation.

This appointment was to discuss the facts of the current situation, the Oncologist informed me that my cancer had spread and net tumours were located in the mesoappendix. He informed me that the disease was progressing quiet rapidly, which I then asked “how long do I have”. He told me that I have years rather than months but it would be a good idea to start actioning my bucket list immediately as my health is deteriorating and I might be too sick to do activities in the not to distant future.

This was shocking news and no one ever wants to think they are dying especially so young. My immediate thoughts were, how do I tell the family and will I ever work again. My family are both in the UK & Ireland so not really on my doorstep and I do miss work terribly. It’s the 1st time, in 16 months I said “why me” and “how did this happen”. During this week I was experiencing the angry phase too ” why did doctors not detect my symptoms sooner” and ” why was I only diagnosed at Stage 4″ the final stage. I have since calmed down, nevertheless those feelings may come back again with many tears.

The bucket list, I gave it some thought previously and have considered things in the last week including taking ownership of some goldfish. My husband bought me the goldfish this week, which I will discuss further in next weeks challenge. I have came to the conclusion that a bucket list is so final and could be too much pressure. Why put pressure on myself when trying to deal with an illness just makes no sense to me. I will wing it, I will attempt to do things when I can and just make the most of life. This would not be everyone’s decision but Ive been very fortunate in life to have travelled and reach my own personal goals. I will continue to be the proactive person I am as long as my health allows me too. Live life to the fullest is my motto.