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. ❤️

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Weekly Blog No 85 – Cancer Update 

 

AWOL

I seem to have disappeared off radar but I’m very much here dealing with the challenges of health.

I’ve had tests, scans and even seen Specialists. It’s an ongoing cycle, which you learn to adapt too. No one prepares you for a full-time role in the delights of medical facilities. If I had known this was my life plan, I would have done a bit more travelling. I only had one continent to do and it was Australia. Never say never.

During this period of disappearance. I’ve had bed rest and when I am awake I enjoy the pleasure of reading. I’ve read a few books but one in particular got my undivided attention. Mr Zebrakat couldn’t even speak to me when I was reading this book.  Usually i am great at multi tasking, reading, listening to the television or radio and conversing with him. On this occasion bless him, he got nothing. The book was called “Finding Tipperary Mary” by Phyllis Whitsell. You all know I have a passion for Irish stories especially true stories. Thank you Auntie P.

Finding Tipperary Mary

I’ve had some friends over entertaining me. What enjoyment they are, you know who you are. I have to say they are the best medicine, I’m always giggling at something or some memory we had. I am always grateful to the people who put themselves out for me. I know I’m not always the instigator of communication nowadays. As it can be quiet challenging maintaining contact with everyone. I tend to be reactive than proactive. Therefore I do appreciate the people who acknowledge my illness and make the effort to keep up contact. To all those people who put themselves out for me. Thank you.

I know I’m on Facebook but sometimes I am just to tired to respond. I will always respond when I have a spike of energy. Please don’t think I don’t care because I do.

My biggest achievement this month is being able to visit 4 shops. I know that may sound nothing to some people but that is huge for me and without symptoms. The latest tablet increase has made a difference. The only problem is when I experience more freedom I get my back issues.  I recently had an MRI on my spine and even though I’ve had 4 ops, my spine is a complete mess. I am waiting for a Neurologist Appt, there appears to be a waiting list and I may not be seen until Oct. My GP Referral was made in July. I’m back to London for Oncology Ga68 scan at the beginning Oct.

I will continue to do what I can when I can. Whoop whoop to managing another blog.

Weekly Blog No 69 – Reading Books

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Books are a marvellous pastime of mine. I do have my own little library and assortment of books from fiction to construction.

My personal library has been back and forth to Canada with me. I believe I brought back about 300 books on my return to the UK last year and I’m sure its nothing to some peoples collections. The UK retail pricing for books is outstanding compared to Canada.  I can buy 3 paperback books for the same price as one in Canada. I’m grateful to the UK for competitive pricing. I have since added more paper hoarding to the collection and seem to have added more in the 8 months in the UK than my whole 6 years in Canada.

I have attempted this blog like a Q&A scenario for a change

Who is your favourite author and why?

I have to say Dilly Court, she also writes under the name of Lily Baxter. I have only read Dilly Courts books to date. She has me completely immersed in her work from start to finish. She is consistent, I’ve enjoyed every book so far.

What was the last book you read?

“Ragged Rose” by Dilly Court published Feb 2016, so you will find it on bookshelves now. A story of secrets, heartache, poverty, love and 20th century history. Incredible read.

Which book are you presently reading? 

“Me Me Me” by Charlotte Crosby

The book is about Charlotte’s life as a child leading into her reality tv career on Geordie Shore. I know Charlotte is like marmite, you either love her or you don’t. I do find her hilarious and her one liners always has me in giggles. I would give her parents a trophy for their dedicated love & support for their daughter.

Your reading material does seem quiet varied?

Yes that is very true, my genres are from historical romance, autobiographies to true crime only to name a few. I would say that I consider myself diverse but not diverse enough.

What other authors do you read?

Katie Flynn

Maureen Lee

Pam Weaver

Rosie Goodwin

Gemma Townley

Danielle Steel

Your choice of authors seems more about historical romance?

I do enjoy cultural history, a lot of my reading material does involve the Irish, which I can relate to coming from an Irish Catholic family.  I am extremely passionate about history so by reading this material, I do learn something new too and widen my knowledge base.

You also said you read autographies too, why?

I love to read about life experience,  good or bad. No one has a perfect life. We all tend to make a lot of assumptions about things and people, therefore reading these types of books can broaden your opinion to be more open-minded.

Is there any books that you read recently that touched you in some way ?

Yes most definitely  “Sins of the mother ” by  Irene Kelly

OMG the book had me in tears, what an incredible woman on so many levels. She deserves happiness and her family too and I hope she is achieving that.

This is one book that I would give to people who are constantly negative about their life and don’t appreciate what they have now or had previously.

Is there any books you are waiting to be published?

Yes last year I read “The New Arrival” by Sarah Beeson MBE

Again amazing insight into nursing in the 70’s and how her career developed arriving in Hackney, London from Staffordshire. A dedicated nurse who writes about her career progression. The follow up book is going to be the next stage in her career.

Do you have a favourite book?

Yes, ” The diary of a young girl” by Anne Frank. It should be on every child/adults reading list.

Do you prefer a book or e-book reader?

I like a physical book but I do like an e-book reader when I’m on holiday for convenience. I could not bring myself to read all books on a e-book reader, call me old-fashioned at heart.

Are you likely to read a book and then watch the movie or vice versa?

No not anymore. I had read the book “lovely bones” by Alice Sebold. I bought the book after seeing it on Richard & Judy’s Book List, it was a great book. I was so disappointed when I had watched the movie. I’m sure if I hadn’t read the book and had just watched the movie instead, there wouldn’t have been an issue. I kept comparing the movie to the book. Following that movie, if I have read the book I won’t go see the movie or if I have seen the movie I won’t read the book.

Is there any books that have captured the world, which you haven’t read?

Yes Harry Potter collection, which has never caught my desire.

Another one is ” Fifty shades of grey” by E L James. I think I’m the only person that hasn’t read this book.  I just don’t have the craving to read this book although I have heard mixed reviews.

I am open to new authors or books, which you would recommend. Please send me your recommendations.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 28 – My Love for Music

 

 

 

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Where does my love of music come from? Where and when did the passion start?

Could the passion be passed down the genes or is it a learned behaviour. I don’t know,let’s see what you think with my situation.

My parents and brothers are all huge fans of music. I can remember my parents playing music around us from an early age. Country, Rock & Roll & Irish music seem to be their favourites, my earliest memory is an artist called Jim Reeves. Jim Reeves was a country western singer from the USA in the 50’s. My mum would play 7″ or LP vinyls and my dad played 8 track tapes moving onto cassette tapes.

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Jim Reeves

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7″ Vinyl

Most weekends we would attend an Irish dance after watching Val Doonican on the “The Val Doonican Music Show”. Val was an Irish singer from Waterford, Ireland who was around since the mid 60’s. He had various hits like ” What would I be”. He was a man with a girl’s name and wore an amazing array of knitwear.

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Val Doonican

My extended family is very artistic too, with musicians and singers. They use their talent both professionally and as a hobby. As for me, yes I can play a couple of instruments but I can’t hold a tune. My poor husband has to suffer my awful singing and I’ve had 40 years practise, yet I can still murder a song. Although I do have one talent, if you can call it a talent. I can sing along to nearly every song that I hear yet I can’t name any song title beyond one word. Lol I can’t even manage to name the band, yet I can sing all the words. Anyone who knows me, knows that I have a sharp memory and I can name groups/singers from different era’s yet I can’t necessary put a song, title or a band together. How weird is that!!!!!!

I was trying to remember what instrument I learned to play first and like most children I am sure it was the recorder. I was an owner of a recorder at a young age, nevertheless at about the age of 7, I got my first percussion instrument, a xylophone. I received this Christmas gift in the 70’s and nearly 40 years on, I still have the instrument to this day.

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 Xylophone

I did learn to play percussion, woodwind, string and harmonic instruments, nevertheless I couldn’t make a living from my talents. My dad was a self taught accordion player but I have other family members who are exceptional on the accordion/squeeze box.

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Accordion

In school I played the guitar with a group of school friends, who also read my blog. Well girls, I still have my guitar in its original case too lol. I got my guitar when I was about 13/14 it must be a vintage piece. I need to replace broken strings, which I am sure got damaged whilst travelling from the UK to Canada.

From a young age, I was exposed to music by other family members. I had a cousin who took me to a friends record shop on the Narborough Road, Leicester, UK owned by a band member from Showaddywaddy I believe. Showaddywaddy was a Leicester band and had many UK hits including a number 1 “under the moon of love” in 1976. Thank you cousin K for the introduction and you can correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t they buy me ice cream too? If I remember the ice cream was more interesting than meeting a celebrity.

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Showaddywaddy

Another fond memory was when I stayed with family in Yorkshire as a teenager and my cousin P brought a 7″ vinyl. The song was ” can’t take my eyes off you” I know Andy Williams sang the Frankie Valli hit but I don’t who the artist/band was of her version. All I do know is, she played, played and played the record and when I hear that song now, I think of cousin P and the wonderful time I had in Yorkshire, UK.

I have another cousin A who was into northern soul and still to this day she travels around the UK attending events. I don’t know if I loved some of the music because of her or whether it was because of the mod influence in the 80’s. Cousin A used to dress in 60’s attire and could totally pull off the look.

As kids, music was involved in our chosen activities discos at the local social club and “Studio” nightclub in the city centre. Every weekend we would go to roller skating at Granby Halls were they would have, what they called a roller disco. Basically dancing on skates and going around in circles showing off our skating techniques.

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 Granby Halls, Leicester

For years I would listen to the UK Top 40 on Sunday evening, whilst washing up the pots with my brother. I would buy fortnightly magazine “Smash Hits” and learn the lyrics of songs with a friend on the bus travelling to college.

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 Smash Hits Magazine

I could go on for hours telling you different stories of my music journey but the blog would be never ending. My music taste is quiet diverse from Dean Martin to II Divo to Olly Mars but my ultimate favourite music is dance music from my rave days. I am a big fan of dance music and I haven’t missed a Ministry of Sound annual cd as yet. My cd collection is ridiculous and I have to get used to downloading. Furthermore I have a collection of 7″ vinyls dated back to the 60’s including LP’s & 12″s along the way. I’m afraid I can’t let them go so am I now considered as a hoarder. Lol.

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Ministry of Sound CD

What do you think, is music in my genes or is it learned behaviour?

(Written in UK English)

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 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.